Thu, 28 May, 2020

The dangers of ‘us’ versus ‘them’

Frenzied divisive Hindutva narrative is being postured as the new aegis for a community that is in any case in majority, and is under no real threat

11th May 2019, 02:41 Hrs

Sajla Chawla  

If the politics of exclusion were to be celebrated, Hitler would be known as a Messiah. But history has shown us otherwise.  

If an individual or a political party constantly seeks claim to an identity which is limited to only some people, be it religious, regional or caste-based, and rants about its exclusive purity and superiority, be warned!   

It is certain that such an ideology is designed to use you and is trying to appeal to, the lowest, most crude, part of your brain, which can think of nothing except its false sense of identity, even at the cost of killing another. Hence all polarization begins with creating and reinforcing boundaries between “us” and “them”.  

This agenda is carried forward by instilling a sense of insecurity in the majority community, such that they identify with their common identity of race or religion, or region, for example, as done in the regimes of Trump, Modi, and late Raj Thackeray, respectively.   

And then a larger than life image of a leader is created who can valiantly fight and protect the majority community, needless to say, to garner votes.  

 Something similar seems to be happening in India, wherein a frenzied divisive Hindutva narrative is being postured as the new aegis for a community that is in any case in majority, and is under no real threat from anyone. This polarization of the people is being done largely by political leaders, and the media that they have bought over.   

In subtle and blatant ways the majority community is being told that they haven’t got their share of Hindu entitlement and a latent disgruntlement is being ruffled which always must have been present in some people. It is just that, now, there is a political dispensation which emboldens them. Sadhvi Pragya and her gloating over climbing Babri Masjid to destroy it, cursing police officer Hemant Karkare to his death are examples of this inane emboldening.  

The very fact that an accused terrorist like her, out on bail, can now contest elections, in India, is a warning bell, setting dangerous precedents which any democratic country should be protesting against.  

 But, there is not enough protest. Why?  

Firstly, last five years have been a mental conditioning of sorts, wherein countless hate crimes have occurred, against Indian Muslims, a community who chose not to go to Pakistan during the partition, believing in the idea of a free, equal and secular India.  

 Journalists, judge, police officers, standing up against the administration, merely doing their duty, are killed. One Sadhvi announces that “All beef eaters should be hung” and another Sadhvi, with bloodied hands and clothes, shoots at a picture of the Mahatma. Some of the ruling party leaders have publicly said that the word ‘secular’ should be deleted from our constitution and that if Modi wins this time there will be no more elections again in India, indicating a Fascist state! The list is endless. The ruling party takes no real stand on all this and doesn’t distance itself from such elements. Its silence is acquiescence and support.  

 We are a country that accepted all this and more. Pragya is just another step on this 


Secondly, in all this polarizing of ‘us’ versus ‘them’, nothing comes in handier than the issue of the mandir/masjid, which is kept ever festering and used when required. After every few months we hear “Mandir wahin banayenge!”(We will construct the temple there). It seems we are a country constantly competing with the long dead Babur because, allegedly, he destroyed a temple there.   

A Ram Mandir has not been and will never be the need of a poor country like ours. The real need of the people of India is employment, health services, education, women safety, water, electricity, law and order. But these core issues are never comprehensively addressed by our politicians. Instead they smother these issues under the mandir/masjid, or some other regional or religious controversy.  

Thirdly, in yet another example of ‘us’ versus ‘them’ polarization, many opposition leaders, especially congress leaders, both dead and alive, are either abused or branded as anti-national and secular. It is interesting how the word “secular” becomes pejorative in Modi’s India. When I was growing up “secular” India was something to be proud of.  

 Perhaps this regime has very little to show for itself except a dwindled economy and a divided nation. Demonetization hit the economy at all levels, besides killing people who were waiting to access their own 


Fourthly, the needlessly loud and vehement war cry was an epitome of this false narrative. Certainly, war is a situation that might become inevitable in certain circumstances but it is most definitely nothing to celebrate. No soldier wants to go to war, any side of the border. War, an extreme example of the ‘us’ versus ‘them’ division, is almost always a creation of politicians, any side of any border. Garnering votes by executing surgical air strikes on barren Pakistan land and then thumping chests in political rallies, TV studios and living rooms is the most abysmal form of patriotism.   

True patriotism arises from positives within one’s country and not from negatives against another country or another people. True patriotism arises from a progressive, corruption free, secular country that gives accountability, employment and equality to all, irrespective of caste, region, religion, gender or 


True patriotism arises from strong independent institutions that citizens can unanimously look up to and trust, be it the armed forces, RBI, CBI, media, courts...the integrity of which has been sadly compromised in this 


Times Magazine has called PM Modi “The great divider of India”. It would be in interest of the nation if it adheres to the great constitution of India and looks beyond divisions towards an all inclusive India. 

There is great common ground in every human heart. And that common ground is greater than any differences, 

by far.  

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