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EDITORIAL: 16-31 July 2001

The politics of exclusion

The internal security report, discussed in this column in the 16-30 June 2001 issue keeps agitating the community’s mind. Statements are being issued and meetings are held in all parts of the country. But we take the risk of predicting that things will die down soon and people will accept this escalation too as a fact of life which they are destined to live with.

This fatalism has taken roots as a result of the consistent policy of exclusion followed by the powers-that-be to ‘show’ Muslims their place, to marginalize them, to make them forsake their civil, political and constitutional rights and live at the mercy of those power-that-be as vote banks or on the margins. Earlier the Congress considered the community as its vote bank and taught them lessons in the shape of communal riots whenever the grips showed signs of slackening, and now it’s the saffronites who are busy creating their distinct vote bank at the cost of the Muslims and to prevent them from using their right to vote for whosoever they wish.

To achieve this state of mind the myths of fundamentalism, extremism, terrorism, Taleban-Ben Laden-ISI connections are invented in order to put the minority community perpetually on the defensive. This is done through a barrage of propaganda in which certain newspapers, especially some Hindi publications, have played an active role. Now the government of the day has also decided to enter the fray on the official level and with full force.

We concede that this hate-mongering may offer a temporary respite for its architects and may prop up coalitions here and there to keep the saffronites in good humour until they are totally rejected by the masses. The last three years have shown that these super-nationalists are much worse than the ‘pseudo-secularists’ they wanted to replace in order to save the country from disaster. Today we can say that this brand is more corrupt and more inefficient than any previous government which ruled Delhi after Independence. Security is compromised, economy is out of gear, corruption has reached diabolical heights and the super-nationalists are ready to use any weapon, political or financial, to stay in power.

The country as a whole will suffer for many decades due to these policies especially one that actively promotes the exclusion of a people on a vast scale from the political, cultural and civil life which, in turn, will also lead to their exclusion from the economic life. And when this policy of exclusion will succeed in showing off its ugly results the victim will be blamed to be living out of the ‘mainstream’, a term the victim fails to understand.

No wise and responsible leadership can even consider such a policy or line of action. In western countries governments implement proactive policies in order to assimilate the marginalized and immigrant people and to create a middle class among them so that they too have a stake in the system and carry along their less fortunate brothers and sisters. But here we see an active policy of destroying any flourishing segment of the community. This has been traditionally achieved through the engineered riots and mischievous policies which strengthen the monopolistic grip of certain groups on the markets and the whole-sale, distribution and retail business while the real creators of wealth are left to lead a hand-to-mouth existence. It is time the elite thought about these issues and came up with a positive new approach to build a strong, brave and content society in which all have a stake.

Indo-Pak relations
Yet another start is about to be made in the relations of the two most identical countries which are kept apart by vested interests and hate-mongers. It is time, four idiotic wars taught the hate-mongers on both sides of the borders some common sense about the futility of cutting off one’s nose to spite the other. Certain people on both sides of the border seek to re-affirm their ‘national’ and patriotic commitment by stoking the fires of hate and defining their nationalism in negative terms. In the process they secure power and wealth for themselves while the common man in both countries suffers.

Fortunately the interlocutors on both sides this time are those who have been most opposed to such a normalization: the saffronites in India and the army in Pakistan. Apart from the foreign pressures since the nuclear blunders, both sides now realize that their economies lie in shambles and there is no hope for any better prospects until the large defence budgets in both the countries are slashed to the level normal in other countries. Only then the infrastructure could be built and more money spent on the core sectors of education and health. We have called for such rapprochement when there was no hope of such a summit and we again hope against hope that the two sides will see wisdom and bury the hatchet for the benefit of the coming generations which will curse them if they fail to put their beleaguered countries on the right track of progress and rapprochement in a world where yesterday’s enemies are fast friends today and the world is fast shrinking and geographical lines are getting blurred and melted in the global village. No one can now afford to live in a secluded heaven or hell.

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