This week the neighbours of the sub continent , India and Pakistan, are celebrating the 70th anniversary of getting independence from British rule.
The paths followed by the two new nations were divergent , Pakistan becoming an Islamic state and India choosing a secular path with no state religion and many state sponsored support system for minorities and Dalits to ensure they can thrive in the society.
But in recent years the paths are converging. India under Hindutva leader Modi is becoming more and more like Pakistan.
India and Pakistan are also remembering the 70th anniversary of bloody partition which saw millions die. Jinnah, the most forceful proponent of Pakistan insisted on partition warning that Muslims in a predominantly Hindu India would be severely suppressed. Now it seems Modi and the Sangh are proving Jinnah was right.
Manini Chatterjee in this article drives home the point forcefully.
Advani’s praise for Jinnah may have become a forgotten footnote in history. But as India celebrates the 70th anniversary of Independence and Pakistan too turns 70, a bigger irony is unfolding: the sangh parivar now ruling the country is paying a much more profound tribute to the founder of Pakistan than Advani ever did…..
…But the biggest refutation of the two-nation theory was India’s vibrant secular democracy that was no mere constitutional abstraction but part of everyday lived reality manifest in food and music, films and clothing, sports and culture, imbuing all Indians with a sense of a shared history and a common destiny.
That history and that destiny are now under threat. A combination of neglect, complacency and opportunism had frayed the secular fundamentals of India for some time past. But in the last three years, it is being ripped apart – sometimes violently, more often insidiously. The prime minister may go on making lofty speeches about creating a “New India”, go on repeating the shibboleth of ” sabka saath, sabka vikas”, but the sangh parivar’s foot soldiers and storm troopers make no bones about their mission to make India a Hindu rashtra.
It is not just the lynchings in the name of cow protection that mark this mission. It is in the daily invocations to a nationalism imbued with Hindutva: making the singing of Vande Mataram compulsory in schools, deleting Mughal history from textbooks, altering facts to glorify a mythic Hindu past, uttering cries of “Jai Shri Ram” at official functions, imposing diet codes on everyone during Navratras, abusing an outgoing vice-president for expressing the same concerns that an outgoing president did because the former is a Muslim and the latter is not.
Pakistan underwent a similar stifling in the name of Islamization after Zia-ul-Haq seized power. But in India, we cannot blame unelected clerics or army dictators or a conquering power for imposing a new order upon us. It is a democratically elected government which rules India after all, and rules in our name whether we like it or not.
Jinnah, in that same 1940 speech, had evoked fears that a democratic system where Hindus are in a majority would only lead to a Hindu raj. Those ominous words ring truer today than ever before in the last 70 years.
But is there any light of hope at the end of the tunnel ?
But today is also a good day to remember that the accommodative ethos of India triumphed over the frenzy of hate that gripped the country during Partition seven decades ago. That the reservoirs of hope and resilience still run deep in this land even when silent and invisible. That the deep bonds that bind the Indian people may take some hard knocks but can never be permanently breached. That is why, try as they might, the RSS and its affiliates will, hopefully, never succeed in proving Jinnah’s dark prophecy about India right.
Yes, let us hope and work to ensure Modi and Sangh will never succeed in proving Jinnah’s prophecy right.
HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY to all in the Indian sub continent.