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Opinionista

The Bayonet vs The Idea

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Afzal Moolla was born in Delhi, India while his parents were in exile, working as political exiles against Apartheid in South Africa. He is a poet who spent time in Egypt, Finland and Iran. Afzal works and lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Today, the land of my birth, India, is being seized and mangled by the thuggish truncheons of fascism. The rise of Modi and his goons, which sparked the tinder of repugnant divisiveness, feels like a 1970s Latin American dictatorship all over again. There can be no sugar-coating the reality of the fascist tide on the rise.

The single-minded pursuit of a twisted ideology and the lust for power through stoking the flames of communalism, sectarianism, casteist bigotry, odious jingoism, stinking nationalism, and inflaming of the worst demons of human nature leaves one sickened to the core.

The abuse of the pacifist religion of Hinduism, like the rabid excesses of Islamic fanaticism, the contemptible dehumanisation of Zionism, the stench of the notions of racial supremacy and white power, the narrow tribalism, and far too many weaponised ideological strands, exposes the stark noxious toxicity of the right-wing which is currently rewriting the inclusive constitution drawn up by of those who struggled against colonial domination and imperialist barbarity.

The exclusion of those who are of another religion, regarding them as a homogeneous whole, strips away at the very fabric India has for millennia sought to weave together.

The unique ability of India to withstand the pummelling invasions, the horrid epochs of Muslim domination, the scourge of casteist violence, the cruelty of colonialism and imperialism, reinforces the complexities of an ancient land where the collage of contrasts cannot be more striking.

From the easternmost states of Sikkim to the north-western desert of the Thar, from the towering peaks of the Himalayas to the backwaters of Kerala, the contrasts in every aspect of human life and religion and food and language and culture and tradition and history are bewildering.

This was “India” where Zoroastrians, fleeing the forced conversions of Islamic Persia, found a welcoming home; where Jews and Christians and Muslim and Sikh came in search of protection; where followers of Jainism and the believers in the Animism of the Naga in the west of India arrived to practice their fates; they were all bound not by tribe or religion or culture or language or tradition but by an “idea” of what India has been and what India will be.

Even as we witness the savagery of right-wing fascist religious fundamentalism that seeks to exclude Muslim Indians from being citizens of the lands and of the Republic of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the land of the Buddha and of the Mahatma, the “idea” that as tyrants and religious bigots come and go, no matter how much the extremist voices attempt to squash that “idea”, they will in the course of history be reduced to the garbage heap, where those bigots and colonialists who chose to try to alter that “idea” reside. Those who have never been able to sustain their narrow tunnelled prejudice as India has shown to cast off those twisted shackles over the ages.

Today, daily demonstrations and protests have erupted across India, the people of all faiths and cultural backgrounds are standing up to the whip of communalism, and every day the death count of those who chose, principally and morally, to oppose the yoke of Hindutva, mounts.

These are dire times.

There can be no sugar-coating the reality of the fascist tide on the rise.

There can be no sitting back and wishing away the grotesque actions of the current government of Modi and his fellow fascists. They belong to a party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), whose history has been intertwined with the glorification of Nazism and of Adolf Hitler by the leaders that came before Modi, and who will come after Modi is expelled, as he must be, if we are to regain the very essence of humanism and a collective respect for all human beings.

These are dire times indeed when the inclusiveness of the Constitution of India is being torn apart, with acts and bills being passed effectively shutting out scores of millions of human beings, and all because they believe in a different faith.

The protests, and the ongoing draconian response from the government, are an example of how flimsy even the all-powerful feel, when the will of the people rises as one at the risk of death and imprisonment, to proclaim that this is not the India of that “idea” that countless martyrs and freedom fighters gave their lives for. The “idea” that helped establish a democratic and free republic where all are equal before the law and where all minorities and people of many faiths and cultures can, and have, and will continue to find a home.

This is what the fascists, the bigots, the jingoists, the Modis and their toxic cohorts can never truly overcome.

The Idea. That Idea.

And as Victor Hugo said “there is no army that can stop an idea whose time has come. There is nothing that can stop an idea whose time has come”.

As India convulses today, it is for all of us to collectively take a stand and express and loudly proclaim that idea.

To not do so would be to besmirch the land of the Buddha, of the Mahatma, and of all those who chose to live and struggle for a country where the ideals of “unity in diversity” is not just a meaningless phrase but a living and vibrant and ongoing experiment to strive to bring out the best in human beings.

The time is now.

History will judge us if we remain silent in this time of hate-mongering amid the rise of brutal fascism. DM

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