History Can Be Unkind

By Ananya S Guha

There are many ways to appraise the socio politics of present India. One is to perceive discord and divide which people allege is being perpetrated by agencies (read government). The divide referred to is that of a fanatical majority and a hapless minority. Abrogation of article 370 has further heightened suspicions and animosities. But a nation must continue to function and exist. The argument that India is a nation of heterogeneous sub nationalities is subsumed by an overriding one nation postulate. The advocates who want one in everything, in governance laws and even say taxes, are ironically a prey to the one nation theory. This is because the one nation concept cannot preclude diversity, heterogeneity and secularism, which the powers define differently. Thus espousing a Hindu ‘secularism’ as many attempt to do has many difficulties. The diversity is not only in terms of religion, but also in terms of language, topography and geography. The divide and rule theory will become irrelevant. This is so because the people of India are far too intelligent to understand that divisive issues will not affect diversity of culture. And that is because divisiveness is being created not only in terms of religion but also of language. Take for example the Hindi issue. People do not mind speaking in that language, but they do mind the politics of expediency being thrust on them. The very people who talk about the NRC in avowed terms, take pains to maintain good relationships with Bangladesh, bordering on trade and mobility of people of the two nations. But one would have thought that it is exactly this mobility that is causing problems of illegal immigrants.

The problem is that politics talks in one voice and political leaders of countries addressing one another speak in another voice. In the middle the people speak in a babble of voices. Groups which, say, belong to outside of politics are very much a part of the politics of the times. So are individuals. So suddenly we notice after several centuries that we are a victim of Muslim invaders. That is not history they say, that is a wrong which must be righted. So the voices of the majority rise in chorus putting themselves against mute voices of the minorities. What is forgotten is that politics raises an orchestration for convenience, the divide will take care of the next elections. What is also forgotten is that the vast diversity is the majority, speaking in many voices, languages and religions. That is a unity, not so much of a nation but of the people, irrespective of their language or religion.

Politics which is short sighted will fail to see long term destinies of a nation. That is how a nation will come out of chaos as it has been consistently doing. Protest movements are part of diversity and a forging ahead of unity. Yet it is not that politicians and the powers that be do not see it. But they play on vulnerabilities. The nation historically speaking has been vulnerable, but there have been dialectical and opposing forces who talk not only of sanity, but insanity when required. For, it is the insanity of voices which will suppress insanity of politics and political leaders.

So there will be talk of economic downing and crisis and apportioning blame on the government. The government in turn will talk about how development has benefitted the common man. The intelligentsia will talk about the corrosive nature of politics and how the country is to be saved. But those who speak of good relations with a neighbouring country are the ones who are the detractors of the people who helped that country to be free. My enemy’s enemy is my friend. In internal politics it works out that way as well.

So there will be a continuity of the politics of expediency bordering on division of hate. For many the present government is a saviour of the majority, because a minority pampering, they allege, deprived them of their rights. In clear conscience minority and majority are two sides of the same coin, obverse realities of a nation with a tempestuous history and silent stories of suffering and misery. It is up to the political forces and determinants to stamp out indeterminacies of language, culture or religion and foist the masthead of diversity in more than a notional unity. Only then fissiparous tendencies will disappear, but if the political powers continue with divisiveness and spouting the venom of hatred to keep some happy then the fragmentation of a solid foundational diversity will be inimically threatened.

History will not make a choice. History has inexorable laws fashioning out of events and time. It also restores people to safety and tides crisis. But it is people who mar it, and they may have to pay a heavy price for it. History can be unkind.

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