India: Beyond the age of terror

By Kashif-ul-Huda,,

A lot has been written already and lot will be written in days and weeks to come about terrorism in India. Lots of advices have been offered and some more will be made public by commentators. Some will argue for Indians to be united, others will ask for stringent laws. For some solutions will be to replace the UPA government with the one run by the NDA and even a strong leader like Modi to be in charge. Hang Afzal Guru and make that a lesson for the future terrorists is one suggestion but the latest I read was to have “more overt and covert policing of the minority community.”

Support TwoCircles

As a Sanskrit saying goes ‘vinaash kale vipreet budhi” which roughly translated means your intellect works against you during the time of destruction. This is what has been happening in India. For many reasons, it is a critical time in India’s history but all our leaders and intellectuals can offer us are patchworks of solutions, if they are solutions at all. Some solutions, like the policing of minority community are wrong at so many levels that if implemented will make the situation worse than what it is now. For India to move forward and grab the destiny that it rightfully deserves we all have to think beyond our prejudices and think of solutions that go beyond our self-interests, regional interests, and communal interests, to become national interests that offers a vision for global peace.

Let’s start by looking at what we want for India to achieve in international stage. We all want India to become a superpower but without a clear definition of what it means and when will we know that we have achieved that status. In the multi-polar world we can not be the only superpower so what in reality we want to see is for India to become a global power so that we can influence world opinion and protect our interests as well as push a vision which we believe is important for the world. This does not mean only protecting our trade interest but rather having some moral values and ideals that will drive our international policy which will help us win friends and become a moral leader. We still need to work out a moral agenda that will help us become a world leader. India led the non-align movement but in the new world scenario it can be justice, end to poverty, and end to extremism where the world needs leaders and India can play a role in it. But for that to happen we need to have a neighborhood policy and lot of work need to be done at home.

The only superpower of this time, United States of America has two neighbors that it shares its borders with. Canada in the north and Mexico in the south have friendly relations with the United States and it doesn’t expect any threat from either of these two countries. Similarly, former Soviet Union by force and bribe was able to create a buffer zone around its borders. India on the other hand has unresolved differences or disputes with some of its neighbors. We need to resolve our differences with our neighboring countries – China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. To play a bigger role on world stage we need to be confident that our rear guard is well protected. This can happen only when our neighbors are also feeling safe and know that they expect to gain from our enhanced international standing.

It will also mean that it is in India’s interest to provide all the assistance it could to make sure states around us do not become unstable or failed states. We have to invest in programs that will generate economic activities and build institutions and provide more interaction between countries so anti-social elements are not able to spread hate among people to push their own agenda of chaos and anarchy.

This can be achieved when we have a confident India and that can happen only when we have developed a consensus within the nation on our long term and short term vision for the country and the people. We have to be sure of the continuity of our policies though political parties can be voted in and out of power. India is a nation where there are hundreds of languages and thousands of dialects are spoken. All major religions of the world have found a home in India and culture that changes every fifty miles. For India to survive as a nation we need to have ideals, morals, and vision that all Indians can identify and agree with. Like our freedom struggle we have to lead another grass root level struggle that will inculcate these ideals in our lives.

All the communities in India need to realize that all of them are set to gain from this new vision of India that we are forming. No one should feel that they will be left behind in the path to progress. There are plenty of actual and perceived grievances and all can not be addressed but they as a part of the country should have the opportunity to present their case.

Again, to make India a world power we have to make sure that India itself is free from violence and disturbances. Rule of law need to be strengthened and court systems overhauled to speed up the process of seeking justice. All violent crimes especially violence for political ends which includes riots and terrorism should be dealt with strongly and prosecution fast-tracked so that timely justice is served. Indian government should also ensure that all children are given quality education and everyone has right to live their life with dignity and according to their traditions.

Panchayati Raj system gives power to the people in running their affairs; this should be strengthened so that it can empower marginalized communities to improve their lot. RTI act has made it possible for common man to gain information from the government; further transparency will only strengthen the governance. While encouraging people’s participation in the government this will also ensure that public servants are accountable to the public that they are supposed to serve.

A significant portion of problems in India has to do with misunderstanding and mistrust between Hindus and Muslims. Both communities need to understand each other and that the suspicion and hate that has begun to grow between the two is not good for India. Hindus need to realize that declaring India as Hindu Rashtra will mean that they are prepared to let go of large parts of India and they will be content with a smaller land mass that they can call Hindu India. Other problem with Hindu Rashtra vision is that next fault lines of Hinduism will begun to appear and regionalism will creep in and the visions that Thackeray family has for Mumbai will be repeated in other parts of a smaller India leading to further breakup or severe conflicts.

People who champion Hindu Rashtra cause offer no solution for the problems of communities of other faith existing in India. It is not possible for such a large number (at least 200 million) to be transported out of the country, converted, or even killed. So let’s find an alternate vision for India where everyone wins not some.

Hindus have to sit down with Muslims and listen to them and also present their complaints to them. They will realize that Muslims love India not less than Hindus of India. Yes Pakistan is a Muslim country but so is Bangladesh and Malaysia if you don’t suspect Muslims of supporting other Muslim countries then why would they support Pakistan. So all this misconceptions about Muslims need to be investigated. A simple analysis can easily counter propaganda that Muslims will outnumber Hindus in India in few years. Rumors like this keeps Hindus in perpetual fear of a minority but as recent events has shown this fear may result in monstrous violence.

Muslims need to realize that there is a great mistrust of them by Hindus in general. They need to open up their madrasas, mosques, and community and invite people of other faith to visit them, ask those questions and have an opportunity to interact with them. Muslims also need to check growth of extremism amongst them. Increasing interest in religion is one thing but extremism that thrives on hate for others’ faith is against the teaching of Islam and practices of our elders. Those who are involved in criminal activities and in some instances become community heroes and leaders need to be identified and reported to the authorities. We can not afford to tolerate any illegal activity in our midst.

We all have multiple identities depending on faith, region, language, etc. but we all are also a human being and Indian. As a citizen of this country we all have certain rights and duties. As we demand our rights we also have to check whether we are fulfilling our duties. We have to promise that there is nothing that we will do that acts against the nation or humanity. We will not do any fraud for some quick bucks, we will be honest in all our dealings, and we will do the job that we are hired for to the best of our ability. We also have to promise ourselves and the nation that we will not take or give bribe however profitable that may be.

In this complex world where everything is linked together only an integrated approach can work and the change we hope to see in the world has to start from us.

[Photos by Nishant Desai]