Thursday, July 23, 2020

Vilification of Muslims as a political strategy: Majoritarian tendencies and obsession with minority in Indian society

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

A cab driver who was not earning well, even before Coronavirus, still felt that 'all Muslims were poor'.

It was well entrenched in his mind that he may not be rich but 'all Muslims are poorer' than him. Enough to give him satisfaction!

Truth is all communities have rich, poor. As far as social backwardness is concerned, on most parameters, Muslims have done far better, despite lack of adequate government support.

Meanwhile, another guy finding difficult to pay his rent, casually said that 'ye log bahut bol rahe hain' [they are speaking too much], because Muslim youth were holding a protest, then.

He said he was sick 'with them'. He wanted them to be shown 'their place'. The dominance, majoritarianism gives him happiness.

That's what he expects from his leaders, party or elected representatives too, obviously, not infrastructure or something else. More than own issues or aspirations, he gets happiness is something else. Third person was angry with a Muslim leader who speaks fearlessly.

He doesn't want a Muslim to be so vocal. He wants to even decide this that how much they (minority) should be allowed--speech, rights. TV channels have drilled in their minds this that all Muslims are poor, backward.

They've little idea about Muslim society. If they come across an educated Muslim, they tell themselves, 'oh, this is an exception'. There are poor among Muslims but certainly there are lot of positive aspects. Muslims certainly had a drawback--didn't get due favour in government jobs.

But education, intelligence or mastery in job-art-work doesn't need govt job validation. There are reasons Muslim economy still works, thought it is not proper to reveal all. Strangely those who never had decent friends, never ventured into Muslim localities or seen Muslim households--rich or poor.

No interaction, yet, feel Muslims backward, still competing with them. Drown yourself in hatred, delude yourself, your choice. It is this systematic propaganda, the debates on Halala & Talaq, ignoring all the social evils among Hindus, that led to this strong belief among majority community.

A reason that why many 'self-styled' intellectuals didn't like the sight of Muslim women taking charge of protests or Muslim girls speaking confidently, conversing in English. This is because there are forces that have invested in it, this project, they want the entire nation to believe something else.

This is a very complex society.  On one hand, they want everyone to believe that Muslims are the most backward community, they also want to 'compete' with them, yet have strange fears about Muslims, still want to outdo, dominate.

The political project: How it helps get rid of incumbency, how it continues to work

All the passion, fire, anger among youth in this society, is not for better facilities, a better future, basic amenities or policies that help them. But all this is turned towards a group that has been turned into a common enemy. It helps this political project.

Even if a person is suffering, he is delighted that the 'other, is suffering even more. That's what he gets to hear on TV, the same news he gets on WhatsApp. That's why so much emphasis on propaganda, even on celebrities who tweet rubbish.

As everything comes to the level of Hindu Vs Muslim, as political class, mass media and society keep pitting communities against each other, nothing else is needed. All frustrations, all anxieties, anger, everything, it goes to just one thing.

They suffer, but are content that 'country' is safe. The feeling that finally those parties that appeased minority, are out. The satisfaction that even if there is bad governance & we may remain or not but the sole country where we are a majority, will remain (Our culture, supreme, dominant again).

All the passion goes into divisive aspects, so there is no anger over poor governance or anti-incumbency factor. When everyday, you just heard primetime hour dedicated to debates over Azan, Namaz, Madarsa, Infiltration, Rohingya, Triple Talaq, Temple, how can you not feel strongly about it!

You have to understand the depth of emotion. 'Those' who were trying all means, overpopulating, encroaching, infiltrating, shown their place. The idea that, 'We may not live long but at least, our faith reigns supreme now, no more pseudo secularism'. 'Main rahoon na rahoon, ye desh rahna chahiye...'

Sometimes people feel that 'economy' will force people to have a rethink, but the reality is that the communal temperature has been too high for years and entire generations have grown up, hearing just one thing--day and night. That's the political project and it works.

READ: Lack of jobs don't anger youth, electoral success of Hindutva politics in India