In a country where being a Muslim can either liken you to extreme or – let’s put it mildly- polarising assessment, and can, at the same time, make you resemble that thing called ‘vote bank,’ how interesting is the stand taken by a BJP-governed state toward an anti-conversion law?
In Madhya Pradesh, where Budhni-Born 61-year-old Shivraj Singh Chouhan happens to be the (seventeenth) CM of the state, a new anti-conversion law is said to be in the works.
So what is this about?
In the words of the state’s Home Minister Narottam Mishra, “The bill includes a maximum punishment of up to 10 years in jail and up to 100,000 Indian rupees [$1,358] in fine, with the burden of proof virtually falling on the accused and those associated with the accused, including organisations and institutions.”
So the question is- how does this make the staunch BJP supporter- in whose eyes, and unless you are living under a rock, anything that’s Muslim or Muslim-siding is clear abomination to mankind in no uncertain terms?
Will these men and women, who often reduce the term Muslim to uncouth, vile verbiage (if it can be called that) like “Mulle,” and why turn a blind eye to “Katue” take Madhya Pradesh’s stance on Anti-conversion law in their stride?
An official statement, that soon followed Mr. Mishra’s statement read:
“Those looking to change their religion will have to notify two months ahead, failing which the marriage will be considered null and void under the new law!”
India, there must be no doubt, has never ever portrayed an anti-Muslim stance or revelled in anything that would even remotely seem like a deliberate stand in going against a particular religion.
Little surprise then that even after seven decades of earning independence from the very colonial power that is today breathing on a ventilator-like economic situation, there are no fewer than 195 million muslims in India (some websites suggest 200 million), which also, as a matter of fact, happens to be one of the world’s largest muslim populations anywhere on the face of the earth.
What will happen to the religious community in the imminent future is both:
A subject of your understanding of the way the world is moving, and with it-
Another yet-to-be-made terribly cliched and who knows, “Made-exclusively for OTP consumption” script that your app-obsessing smartphone may soon notify you about.
Only in your heart, do you truly know what you feel for the Muslims- right? But as they say, those who know – don’t speak and those who speak- don’t know.
So why digress on the road to philosophy.
It’s not that another Hindu who hates a Muslim, having perhaps been poisoned to his soul by this really ridiculous idea that the other is hell- and no I’m not quoting Henry Ford- will make him any less meaningful than what Hemlock was to Socrates.
Make no mistake. Looking at a fellow Indian- who could be a Hindu- whilst raising a brow of suspicion that, “he or she may show me the door,” will also not make any Muslim any more gifted than the great Shah Rukh Khan’s character in “My Name is Khan!”
But what’s important is to understand why taking a stand against passing of some neurotic- can we call it that, O dear god-loving Hindus- matters.
Well, for starters it’s not because it would help Arundhati Roy sell another best-seller or make the Khan Market gang any more gorgeous than it already is.
It’s perhaps because Bhagwan//Khuda/hey Ishwar/ Ya Allah didn’t pass on the baton to you actually to lead humanity to a higher cause when he even considered creating a mammal like you or me.
Nor did India differentiate between a Hindu and Muslim whilst fighting its most important modern-battle, the one that got us independence, battling that very country that Dr. Shashi Tharoor schooled (in England) on why Her Majesty’s “Kingdom” owes India’s reparations.
If you have even heard that speech, did you for a second, pause to think how proud did Dr. Tharoor make India (he’s that very gent we poke fun at for his Thesauraus) on educating the Brits in their own backyard on what’s just (and fair)? Or did your proud Hindu or exclusively-Muslim DNA’d existence get busy in distinguishing between one another?
And if you still feel that you- and it could be a Muslim-hating bigoted Hindu or a terribly-biased Muslim who looks at a Hindu and disgusts himself into believing “he is my enemy,”- control another’s life, then kindly state in as clear a term as possible as to when shall be your last day on planet Earth?
And kindly involve the one-of-a-kind Greta Thunberg for she might have a few things to say on it as it concerns the planet.
Ready? Answers please!
Truth be told, to understand the role of the BJP in a country where there still are more Hindus than there are Muslims, even as both are constantly engaged in a FORMULA 1 like race to overpopulate shamelessly, you shall have to understand that BJP builds, constructs even as the narrative surrounding it is that it- divides and rules!
Where India’s post-independent history is concerned, then there are few parties that have managed to make headlines and participate in true ‘development’ of the country quite like the ruling Bharatiya Janta Party. And let’s face facts.
Since Prime Minister Modi- courageous leader, farmer
To the larger lot of the country that cannot perhaps stand the idea of the party often looked at as ‘powerful’ if not essentially ‘revered,’- the BJP is this Muslim-reviling party.
Who knows. I certainly don’t; last I heard they were sending fireworks in the West Indies when they learnt I’m no longer a fan of their overseas Test record!
But onto serious things- yes, because we Indians love a good debate or a mindless piece like this one!
To its credit and it’s not hard to see, there could be something ‘right’ that BJP might have done to remain in power since 2014, even as efforts to aid the economy through acts like Demonetisation, not yet spelled as DEMON-I-TISATION were put in place a little over three winters ago (something still publicly met with a raised brow or two).
During this period, that measures a little over half a decade, what’s also worth noting is that the very party that has batted for, or at least claims to, end corruption, has taken no-non sense stands such as:
Pakistan, courtesy the Balakot strikes.
Section 370 (J&K)
The Ayodhya Temple
Whether it was indeed Dharmik or eternally Karmic to show a widely-popular saffron-wearing mortal as greater than Lord Shri Ram is not the point of debate.
What’s important is to note that the same BJP that makes headlines for being in charge of a divisive plan of ethnic-cleansing the Muslims has made bright headlines in the state of Madhya Pradesh.
And in doing so, that part of the country’s that’s central-most has shown some balance if one were to put it that way.
And in a country where we use the phrase Dharma a bit too often (if not casually) citing the Mahabharata and Swami Vivekananda when giving lectures on rectitude (nearly every day) with about the effort it takes a child to lick a candy, one wonders if the BJP-governed Madhya Pradesh’s example will be followed by the rest of the country?
In fact, will that even be considered something that could become a norm?
Won’t that ease up the heat?
Well, who knows! I think the planet is warming- that, hopefully is not some CIA-backed propaganda or is it? Nonetheless, I’m off to drive an electric car. Maybe things like that can ease us up all.