India: A Civilisational Regression
By Ghulam Mohammad Khan
22 October, 2015
Once upon a time, history confirms it, India was a great civilization; peace, security, a condition free of any bigotry, racism or casteism, a rich collectivistic cultural homogeneity, and a profound spiritual climate determined her political character. Thousands of years ago Nalanda and Ujjain and many other centers of learning were the cynosure of great intellectual activity. Intellectuals and scholars all over the world visited and benefited from these institutions. And if the recent archeological experiments are to be believed (many historians and writers believe that these experiments were a deliberate right-wing political maneuvering to distort history and re-frame a narrative that suited to its own newly discovered brand of cultural politics), then India has mastered science (plastic surgery) long before than any other western or African civilization. Here a question may crop up in any serious mind; why, over the period of time, have some European and other civilizations, which at one stage in history stood nowhere in comparison to the rich and diverse Indian civilization, progressed at a horse’s gallop and not the Indian civilization? Other civilizations that flourished around the same period in history as the Indian civilization, have now become the major power centers on earth. These civilizations have proven their worth in almost every sphere of life. When other civilizations have remarkably progressed and grown on the very foundations of yore, India as a civilization, paradoxically, has regressed and continues to regress. It is, I am not sure if this neologism could be right, a civilisational regression. The socio-cultural and political plight of the modern day India should be the climax of this cycle of seemingly inevitable regression. Clinging to an obsolete mechanism of religiosity and cultural politics and interpellating the same by force as the collective political consciousness in an age where ideological fixities or age-old epistemological structures stand deconstructed by the onslaught of pluralism or anti-essentialism, could only further the regression of an already fragile nation of India.
With BJP-led NDA’s landslide victory in 2014 elections, the wheel of history (in Indian context) seems to have taken an extraordinary turn. The fear of terrorism that had always been a threat to both the state and the government has recently been seen as promoted by the state herself. A number of unfortunate events in the recent political history have corrupted the very soul of Indian democracy. One won’t easily believe that it is same country that has as diverse and profound social and cultural history as any other civilization in the world. Institutionalizing oppression by forcefully excluding a target people from the political and intellectual geography of Hindu India seems to be the only major target of the present government. The problem is not that hideous discriminations are perpetrated against the minorities in the Hindu-majority India (because this discrimination is very old); the problem is that the mainstream politics has institutionalized/legalized this discrimination/oppression now. The clampdown on the consumption of beef in several states, including the Muslim dominated (beef eating) state of Jammu and Kashmir, annihilating dissent and rationalism in an ISIL fashion, flinging the black ink on those who stick to their profession and religion, lynching and setting ablaze those who eat beef, fore-grounding a poisonous anti-Pakistan consciousness, corrupting the otherwise called gentleman’s game ‘cricket’ by playing dirty communal politics with it, threatening the intellectuals who expressed their shock and resentment at the newly fascist regime sponsored by the state by returning their awards and honors, and the play of flamboyant rhetoric to befool the countrymen on the pretext of making India a super-power investment and manufacturing industry are some of the main targets of our politically motivated government.
It is just commonsense and heavens will not descend on earth to teach the dominant Indian political think-tank the simple truth that the problems like poverty, inadequate national education system, improper water management system, corruption, and regulation of currency (to include a few) are far more sensitive and threatening challenges to India than the communal politics being played on the irrelevant and ridiculous issue of the consumption of beef. Indian Constitution defines India as a Secular state, if Hinduism doesn’t allow eating beef, Islam does allow and so does Christianity and secularism teaches us celebration of all these faiths. Secularism doesn’t uphold the philosophy that empowers religious differences to the extant to intrude or tell upon all political processes of a country. If the consumption of beef hurts the religious sentiments of Hindus, then consumption of alcohol, eating pig meat, and worshipping the idols hurt the Muslim community. Having these differences doesn’t mean that the followers of one faith should abandon their beliefs to appease the followers of other faiths. But the BJP government, its enthusiastic supporters, and its maverick ideological defenders and propagators have the same ‘differences’ as the only stock-in-trade left in their political industry to instigate a religious and cultural terrorism. The Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s comment, “Muslims can stay, but in this country they will have to give up eating beef. The cow is an article of faith here” is not the first of its kind. BJP parliamentarians, Shiv Sena and RSS members have already established a tradition of making incendiary and communal remarks. After hearing about Khattar’s communal remarks, the piqued Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said, “This is not BJP’s position…. It is not correct to link eating habits to religion. People have to keep in mind the sentiments of others and eating is a personal choice of people.” Naidu’s remarks, with the recent unfortunate happenings in mind, are as unreal and delusional as Khattar’s are real. If eating is really a personal choice then why should be there an unconstitutional clampdown on the consumption of beef?
To cut it short, Indian civilization has now regressed to the nadir in the process of civilisational regression. The harsh ‘disciplinary mechanism’ , a Foucauldian phrase, internalized by the right-wing political administration is like rearing a bomb, which will explode one day and decimate the very diversity for which India is known for centuries now.
Ghulam Mohammad Khan, PhD Research Scholar at Central University of Haryana
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