“We have a responsibility toward Hindus who are harassed and suffer in other countries. Where will they go? India is the only place for them. Our government cannot continue to harass them. We will have to accommodate them here…As soon as we come to power at the Centre, detention camps housing Hindu migrants from Bangladesh will be done away with,” Narendra Modi said this past week.
Is this communalism, is this the Hindutva in Hindustan the liberal elite fear?
‘Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness. For he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you.’
That is all Modi is saying – and that quote from the Bible only shows that the Christians have the same values.
What strikes fear and why he won’t sweep each State is that he does not also state, we will always do what is right, regardless of favour to any faith. But because Hindus have nowhere else to go, and this is their ancestral and spiritual home, as Israel is to the Jews, we shall have a special protection for Hindus.
Modi aspires to greatness. A lesson from history, I would advise him to remember the words of Diogenese and remember true greatness seeks to save not only your own, but all who need saving. That is dharma.
First, think global: "I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a Citizen of the World" said Diogenese. That is why India’s problems are the world’s problems. Second, give to the world: "I threw my cup away when I saw a child drinking with his hands at the trough." That is why India’s problems are the world’s problems. Again, said Diogenese. ‘Take little from the world, It is the privilege of the gods to want nothing, and of godlike men to want little.’
I am not saying all Indians or Hindus should be clad in saffron, or that liberal democracy and freedom of speech and expression are not to be cherished. Beware, because apart from your culture, your history, one day, not every day, you will discover you are nothing, neither of this nor that, just bobbing around, without the sturdy safety and certainty of your culture and its values.
I am often teased for being a teetotal vegetarian. A ‘boring’ Gujarati. Funnily, as a barrister, I was never once teased about it by my English peers. I explain I am a teetotal vegetarian for cultural reasons. It is the way of my grandmother and hers before her. It is my connection to my past – it is my one way to say to my ancestors, many things I will not be able to carry forward, but this thing, shall give me strength in every meal, every day, every meeting, who I am. It is for me, as are the 5 ‘K’s to a Sikh – an article of faith. When was the last time you dared ask a Sikh why he wears a turban or a Muslim why he prays so many times?
Do we not realise we are respected around the world for who our ancestors were, not for who we are? We are respected because of the Vedas, because ours was the largest ever volunteer army assembled in defence of freedom – to fight someone else’s war because it was the right thing to do. We are not respected because of our ability to assimilate and integrate and become the same. Why would you throw away your birth right of respect? Why would a King abdicate his throne?
I am not being dictatorial, or pious, when I say, ‘do as you wish, but please have some sense of your own culture and history’. I am not advocating the hard-line right-wing of Indian or Hindu culture, itself alien anyway to India. But all things are not equal. Some things are better than others. Some things are right and some things are wrong. And one way to judge, yes judge, is based on your history and the history of your ancestors.
Just as we liberals strongly advocated against child marriages, dowry, caste discrimination, so too what based on our cultural heritage do we liberals ever advocate for – other than ‘do as you wish’? What do we hold on to? Do we say, ‘no this is what it means to be Indian, this you shall not take?’
I fear it is this lack of confidence, sometimes called the Indian inferiority complex, which permeates into the global political sphere, where unlike a China, India is not prepared to be belligerent, not prepared to be a global player shaping the world. It is also this, ‘do as you please’ attitude which I fear is at the root of corruption.
So when Modi says, you may not do as you please, you may not do as you please to Hindus, for we are a powerful India, just as Israel says you may not anywhere in the world do as you please to Jews, for they are protected, and America says you may not anywhere in the world do as you please to an American, for they are protected. So too Modi says, you may not do as you please to Hindus, for they have nowhere else to go, and India like America will use its economic might and like Israel use its military might in defence of Hindus. Fair warning to you all.