Sunday, July 27, 2008

I am Indian, first

“I am a Muslim. I am an Indian, and I don’t see any difference in the two” – Omar Abdulla, on 22 July, 2008 in the Parliament.

How very true and so well spoken. India has always been a country of many religions. In fact, that is our strength. We may all belong to different religions and follow different paths, or even be atheists, India has the space to house all. We cannot at all say that just because we are called, Hindustan, this is a country for the Hindus. Certainly not! There is in fact, no true Hindu. We are all a mix of many religions. Hinduism has taught us to be receptive to all, because it does not bar any. This is mainly because, Hinduism, per say, is not a religion, it is a way of life. And in that it has been more receptive to all religions.

It is a known fact that in the last so many years, India has never attacked any country, it has only fought to defend its own territory whenever attacked, or helps out a meeker and powerless nation around her. Like Bangladesh, when it was attacked brutally by its own Big Brother, Pakistan, because it fought for its own independence. But, even that, only on the behest of the warring nation. The reason for this lie in non-violence. We would defend ourselves when attacked, but never attack ourselves.

We, as Indians would never ever attack our own brothers and sisters within our country, because they are from a different faith, or religion. Yet, it has happened in the past and continues to do so. These are politically motivated attacks. We as Indians, have no issues around whom we live with, where and who is our neighbour. We as Indians, resist and abhor, statements made by Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, of Hindutva, “ in this land Hindus have been owners, Parsis and Jews the guests and Muslims and Christians the decoits”. It is a disgraceful statement that could have come from only a genetically challenged and culturally dysfunctional person. In fact, at the grassroots level, people of this country can easily say with pride that we are Indians, who have a little of every religion in us, imbibed through the years of coexistence. For really there is no, true Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jew, Buddhist, Parsi, Jain, Sikhs or any other person belonging to any religion here in India, who can say for sure that he is not all of these and more….

That more, is being Indian. Hence, Omar Abdulla’s statement, is the true spirit of India, no doubt.

Speaking of democracy, at the time of Indian independence, noted historian, Ramchandra Guha, in the booklet published by Outlook Publications, Will India Become A Superpower? states, “Back in 1948, doubts were also being cast about the Indian experiment with nationhood. Never before had a new nation not based its unity on a single language, religion, or a common enemy (or, preferably, all of the above). However, all Indians did not have to speak Hindi or be Hindus. ……As an inclusive, plural and non-adversarial model of nationalism, the idea of India had no precedent or imitator. It set itself apart from European nationalism, which was based on a common language and, often, a shared faith and common enemy as well. Thus, the citizens of England were united in the fact that all spoke English and they were mostly Protestant and that many of them disliked France and the French”. – pg 10 -11 Further he goes on to say, “meanwhile through its collective coexistence of different faiths, languages, cultures and cuisines, India is better model for world governance than more homogeneous countries such as China, Japan or the United States. Once, the heterogeneity of India was seen as its great flaw, now, it may justly be celebrated as its greatest strength”.

This is the true fact of being India. Those in minority in India may jump up to remind us that the atrocities done towards their community or the lack of vote bank, proves otherwise. But the fact is that all Indians, irrespective of caste and community, stand up together against the atrocities delivered. We see it as atrocities done with political ill motivation and we do not support such actions.

The recent talk of land being passed on to the Amarnath Yatra Trust is only one such. Why should land belonging to Jammu & Kashmir be given off to Hindu Trusts. This land belongs to them and for thousands of years Kashmiris have been hosts to the yatris and devoted their time and service towards them. And they will continue to do this, even if the service is delivered by humans born as Muslims. What has faith got to do with, practice and support given to fellow worshipers of a different religion? In the Gujarat riots or for that matter, the Bombay riots, hundreds of thousands of Hindus and Muslims opened their doors and their lives for their neighbours, friends and even strangers, and hid them from the ugly face of genocide carried out by bigoted and evil politicians in the garb of Hindus. At a basic level, as humans and as Indians, we are one, we are bhai-bhai.

Hence, the enlightened statement made by Omar Abdulla, on the floor of the Parliament, must go down in history, as one of the most powerful statement ever made on this soil, and in the seat of the highest respect we pay to be Indians. This statement truely mirrors the real face of the Indian heart.

It is no less a statement, that brought tears and joy in the eyes of millions, when Pandit Jawaharlal Nehnu made his historic speech on the night of 14 – 15th August, 1947.

"Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity."

Vande Mataram!

I am Muslim And I am An Indian
Jammu & Kashmir Unrest
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