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Mainstream, VOL LV No 32 New Delhi July 29, 2017

Oppressed to Oppressor

Saturday 29 July 2017

by Samit Kar

A major chunk of the Muslim population in India originated courtesy the inhuman oppression of Hinduism in the name of casteism and untouchability. Hinduism is the world’s most Catholic religion and several studies did reveal that hardly five per cent of the Hindus visit a temple or a Hindu religious institution regularly. Many scholars believe that instead of being called a religion, Hinduism can best be described as a liberal way of life. Whatever codes of conduct and religious high-handedness was introduced in the religion was largely a fallout of Brahminical oppression in the aftermath of the British rule in India. This regime of authoritarian and tyrannical subju-gation led to large scale conversion from Hinduism to Islam. The Muslims, who once got converted to Hinduism to escape the brute oppression, have now become the biggest religious category in India after Hinduism.

The growing incidence of conversion gained primacy during the British rule. The trend became ostensible mainly among the low-caste Hindus in order to get rid of high-caste high-handedness. However, that worst form of caste oppression was seen in terms of caste untouchability. But the system continued for centuries together long before the establishment of the British Raj. Even during the days of the slave and the Mughal dynasty, the process of religious conversion began to mount in order to escape the wrath of high-caste men and to win favour from the Muslim rulers. The social phenomenon of religious conversion, that began to happen as a silent protest movement against the Hindu caste high-handedness, has now acquired a different garb in the name of Politicisation of Religion and Religionisation of Politics.

Across the world, the minorities of a country are often used as a consolidated vote-bank by the political parties, in general. These special social categories like the minorities’ group or the SCs and STs in India have begun to feel that the wooing of the political parties has given them a unique scope of collective bargaining. The political parties usually cannot afford to ignore their unjust demands in order to grab power in terms of their support. These groups do not find it wrong to raise unjust claims while trampling upon the prevailing norms and rules of the Constitution or the laws of the land. As a result, in terms of attracting benefits from the government, the mainstream population, consisting of caste Hindus, are indeed at the receiving end.

The members of the mainstream caste Hindus are seen to follow the laws of the land as honest, law-abiding citizens of our country whereas the citizens belonging to different vulnerable social categories seem to enjoy unbridled freedom while raising improper demands and pleas. This has become a real push-factor leading to a tremendous groundswell in the Indian society—apparently very calm and tranquil at the upper surface yet very stormy at the ground level. The repeated breakout of severe law and order problems in various parts of India is largely a sequel to the prevalence of uneasy calm across the nation. How long would the natural desire of the numerically major Indians continue to remain unfulfilled as many political parties are found to be religiously committed to nurse their constituencies on the basis of their segregated vote-banks?

The nomenclature of ‘communal riot’ and law and order problem is a reflection of injured public sentiment owing to perennial toying with the prevailing laws of the land by the vested interest groups and political parties.

The Schedule Tribes in India, usually known as the ‘Girijans’, are the marginalised social categories of our country. They enjoy the Right of Reservation by virtue of the protective discrimination policy. But in order to gain more, many of them converted to Christianity. The Christian Evangelists were found to be more active in areas to dole out their charity where there is thick tribal population.

The huge funding from the Middle East through various mosques had been a major reason to incite many Muslims to engage in fierce religiosity. In Islam, there is always an element of ‘aggressive sacrifice’ for the cause of spreading their religion. They find achievement of higher religious value in terms of spreading Islam through conversion or otherwise. The Christian missionaries also pursue the same mission in terms of their counsel instead of ‘aggressive sacrifice’.

The people of our country got converted to Islam and Christianity either voluntarily or due to compulsion at the behest of the tyrannical rulers. India had been a witness to several conquests from the Middle East ransacking Hindu temples, butchering Indians to plunder our economy and establish their sway. The British rule in India was in no way better. A small group of Indian intelligentsia lauded the British. But the entire British India remained submerged under the darkness of abysmal backwardness. Many of us still eulogise them. But they continue to treat us as black slaves. The ignominy of India is our weak spine. We have been ransacked for many a time. But we could never retaliate. It is indeed comical to state that India, the land of the great Ashoka, had never wished to be vengeful.

India is indeed inhabited by the Hindus as the majority of our countrymen follow this way of life. But the liberal social outlook of this religion had been craftily made use of by the murky vote-bank politics. The significant rise of the Muslim population in many parts of our country had happened due to a strange standpoint of several political parties. When India had several Presidents as the constitutional head from the Muslim community, can our neighbours, Pakistan and Bangladesh ever accomplish to do so? When an Indian says I am a Hindu, many may label him communal. Will it be done in Pakistan or Bangladesh if a person identifies himself as a Muslim?

The term ‘secularism’ is a byproduct of ‘Pax Britannica’ and so also the many dictions of modern democracy. These are artificially put on jargons, which India could not afford to accommodate. Thus, the West-imbibed stereo-types of modernity in league with the precepts of the post-independence political regime had made India into a state of chronic and perennial lawlessness. The Hindu-Muslim divide showing critical fissures at different social junctures is more a manifestation of hidden chronic social maladies instead of a fierce tussle between two religious communities in India. There is indeed a small group of paid fanatics who indulge in the creation of a terror-like situation. But the majority of our countrymen, irrespective of their religious affiliation, do carry a deep calling of underlying unity to hold high the identity of India.

The author was a former Sociology Faculty in Presidency College, Kolkata.

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