The world is in turmoil. The culture of hatred, violence and death is taking deep roots in our societies. Though love, forgiveness and compassion are at the core of major religions, it is, ironically in the very name of religion, that discrimination, mistrust and intolerance are being preached and practiced. The Islamic State continues to spread its reign of terror targeting innocents with no plausible reason and with regular frequency. Regrettably, these attacks have occurred in countries of Europe, which magnanimously sheltered thousands of refugees from Middle East and Africa. The height of ingratitude was that many terror attacks were carried out, reportedly, by these refugees themselves or by the second or third generation refugees. There are perhaps deep-seated hurts, which give rise to desire for revenge, but, as usual, it is the politicians who create the problems with innocent paying the price. After suicide squads creating havoc and taking away lives, now, innovative methods are used with heavy vehicles plowing through crowded streets, mercilessly mowing down blameless and unsuspecting pedestrians. Mercifully, we, in India have been spared such slaughter or perhaps we need to be thankful to our intelligence agencies and security forces.
Mistrust or a certain antipathy for “outsiders” or “migrants” is deeply rooted in human consciousness. Protection of identity, of demography and interests of a clan or people of a State and the constant fear of being marginalised or being reduced to a minority are the major concerns or reasons for the growing resentment against migrants, not only abroad, but even in India. This issue gets aggravated when job opportunities for locals recede as people prefer employing outsiders be it because they are better workers or they are prepared to settle for lesser wages or even to appease vote-banks. This aversion to outsiders is prevalent in many parts of our country and Goa is no exception, as was witnessed on Wednesday last at Merces, where a bunch of brutes, with past criminal records shamed Goa, known otherwise for the docile and hospitable nature and refined manners of its people. While the Police cannot anticipate such incidents, it is never untrue that goons and anti-socials find encouragement and support in their closeness to law enforcers and politicians and the certainty that no much harm will be done to them. The punishment to these rogues should be such that, not only they but others too, will not dare indulge in such acts giving Goa a bad name and damaging further our tourism which is the bread and butter of many of our people.
Apart from such sporadic, but grave incidents, what is indeed worrying is that we do not seem to learn any lessons from our own past experiences nor from what is happening around the world and could be replicated here, if we are not careful enough and are bent in going ahead with crooked ideologies and political and unacceptable agendas, which will ultimately divide the people and create additional problems, like unemployment, loss of livelihood, unrest and strife. These are already being seen in many parts of the country. The Dalits and the farmers are already up in arms, for very good reasons. They feel discriminated or marginalized. Instead of dousing these fires, the Government, the politicians and fringe elements seem to be opening other fronts which may eventually plunge the country into a communal cauldron and unbelievable chaos.
In an “extraordinary” yet thoughtless and senseless notification, the Centre has banned the sale of cattle for slaughter in animal markets, hurting not only millions of poor farmers, who depend on non-milch and ageing cattle for their livelihood but also squeezing supplies to India’s one lakh crore meat, leather and other industries, which source 90% of their requirements from animal markets. It may be noted that only 30% of slaughtered cattle is used for meat consumption and export, whereas 70% is used in industries manufacturing buttons, toothpastes, paint brushes, etc. While there was hardly any resistance to banning cow slaughter, in deference to religious sentiments of many in majority community, extending the ban to other bovines is being considered a proxy war against Muslims and Dalits, who will be the worst affected by the new rules and an indirect support to cow vigilantism, which has made many innocent victims in the country.
As if the anti-minorities rants by various fringe elements, including some BJP stalwarts and legislators, were not enough, the Hindu Janajagruti had its Convention for the sixth consecutive year in Goa, perhaps with the tacit support of the party in power, as is suspected by the indulgence shown towards the outrageous speech made by Sadhvi Saraswati at the meet. If calling upon Muslims and Christians to either do a ghar-wapsi or leave the country, asserting that her organisation will not be held back by the Constitution of India and requesting the Centre to hang beef eaters in public is not a hate speech which calls for arrest, what is it Mr CM? Praveen Togadia of VHP too had made an atrocious hate speech against Christians & Muslims in Goa, during Congress rule and the Government took no cognizance of it. Today, the Congress can well file a complaint and ask for registering an FIR against Sadhvi instead of expecting Parrikar to do it, which it surely knows he won’t.
Amid all this insanity, voices of reason have been raised by 65 top ex-bureaucrats in an open letter to PM, expressing a sense of deep disquiet at the happenings in the country and deprecating the climate of intolerance and vigilantism aimed particularly at Muslims. It is to be hoped that the PM will introspect and take corrective measures, before it is too late…
(The author is a retired banker)