I remember being a volunteer for Aman Ektaa Manch in Ahmedabad in June 2002 and staring at a building where only the second of three floors was burnt to black ash while the other two remained intact. I learnt that day that violence, even that of a ‘spontaneous’ mob, can be very precise.
I remember being a researcher in Ahmedabad in December 2005 and listening to a Muslim autowallah tell us that he had not crossed the three bridges over the Sabarmati to go into ‘New’ (and largely Hindu) Ahmedabad since 2000. I learnt that day that fear has an insidious and niggling way of remaining buried within us.
I’m wary of Narendra Modi’s predicted and much-publicised ascent to prime ministership of India because I’ve seen the poison of communalism that has spread during his rule in Gujarat and in the capital city of Ahmedabad. I’ve seen the silent division of that historic city into identifiably Hindu and Muslim areas. I’ve met students of top colleges in Ahmedabad who have never crossed the Sabarmati to go into old Ahmedabad because ‘they’ live there.
As an actress and cultural activist, I’m scared of what will happen to our shared and syncretic culture. Will Khusro and Kabir now be less Indian? Will Dilip Kumar, Madhubala, Meena Kumari, Nargis be less the legends of Indian cinema? Will Sikh-Urdu poet Gulzar or Hindu-Urdu poet Chakbast be examples of a forgotten literary history?
As a woman, I’m wary of the BJP’s and Hindu Right’s regressive positions time and again on women’s issues and their repeated linking of character, clothing, western culture and crime when it comes to women and gender violence. Should I be extra cautious if I wear jeans or shorts and go to a club?
As a student of history, I’m cynically expecting more rewriting of school and university history textbooks and curriculum as happened when we were in school the last time BJP was in power. Will good old Akbar no longer have the suffix ‘Great’; will the aesthete nawabs of Oudh be denied their role in the creation of the syncretic Ganga-Jamuni culture; will Maulana Azad and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan have their parts erased in India’s freedom movement?
And as a citizen of India, I fear that the real danger of the ascent of the great ‘messiah’ of development to power is that lumpen Hindutva goons will feel no fear of law or accountability to the Indian Constitution. Pravin Togadia and Yogi Adityanath’s inflammatory speeches are already indicating thus.
On May 16, I fear I will be ashamed.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
Looks like Outlook has set no standards whatsoever for its writers. Any idiot who speaks and writes in English and can string together a few words - however meaningless - can contribute.
Do you know the meaning of the word?
You should be ashamed. Because you are a fake. You define slavish imitation of the ways of the white as modernity. You are intellectually and culturally damaged.
So far you the secular fascists had a free reign. You poured scorn over the native idol worshipping savage's ways.
The savage has now woken up and challenging the self proclaimed intellectual superiority of the progeny of McCaulay.
And that is understandably causing bewilderment and disorientation because you are not used to being challenged.
You are only good for getting photographed as the grey matter from your head is completely missing.
"As a student of history"
Did you get thorough your exams or you got your degree in cornflakes box. As far as credentials of Dilip Kumar are concerned we are aware of them and where his loyalties are. He is lucky to be in India. Outlook must change it's policy of interviewing only idioits like nandita and this third grade unknown actress.
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