10th Anniversary Issue
August - September 2003 

Year 10    No.90-91


‘It is, to me, the secular Gita of our time’

Swami Agnivesh

To me, Communalism Combat is not just a publication. It is the instrument of a movement that I deem to be crucially relevant and deeply spiritual, while being religiously neutral. In the last ten years that this inspiring clarion call to peace, communal harmony and social justice has been in existence, it has grown to be the most authentic face of the spirit of resistance to evil and oppression. It is, to me, the secular Gita of our national life, blessed with religious plurality and cultural diversity of a rare kind.

The Teesta-Javed combine is a living statement on the sublimity of the human spirit, which refuses to be confined to communal ghettos. Theirs is a partnership of liberation. And the proof that they are liberated is that they feel called upon to be ambassadors of liberation in a context of escalating mental and social unfreedom. Fear is the invisible and insidious prison, the shadows of which are lengthening over us. Agents of oppression have, all through history, used the weapons of intimidation and blackmail to disarm resistance and break the human spirit. It is a sacred duty, in such a context, to assault the citadels of oppression and to eradicate the virus of fear from the minds of the people.

The Teesta-Javed team has done yeoman service for the people of India in this respect. I am filled with admiration as I recall the heroic efforts they undertook in the wake of the infamous Gujarat genocide, to reach out to the victims as well as to expose the sinister faces of organised terror and mayhem.

Communalism Combat is exactly what it claims to be. Every page of this unique publication is imbued with a passion to battle the dark forces of falsehood, oppression and destruction. In an age that ascribes militancy only to forces of evil, it is a refreshing thing to see a publication that
embodies the dynamism of righteousness. The passionate commitment that Communalism Combat exemplifies to disinfect the soul of India, countering the cancer of communalism with the antidote of trans-religious solidarity and uncompromising commitment to justice and equality, makes it the foremost bastion of inspired journalism in our times. I deem it a privilege to be associated with this venture and I experience this as an engagement of true spirituality.
The question that arises in my mind when I reflect over the spirit and mission of Communalism Combat is: what is it that sustains the spirit of this publication and the team that keeps it going? The question assumes great urgency for me, as I feel increasingly troubled by the growing apathy
of religious leaders to national issues.

On the one hand, I find the unprecedented effervescence of escapist religiosity that is never far from nourishing communalism. I find that the Shankaracharyas, Maulanas, Jathedars and bishops ensconce themselves more and more firmly in their seats of comfort and prestige, even as our society and nation slip downhill. On the other hand, I see people like Teesta and Javed and their team of committed activists rush out with buckets of water to put out the fire that is consuming our society.

In terms of our orthodox understanding, they are not religious or spiritual people. But are they not more spiritual than the religious leaders that we venerate by force of habit? Is it possible to do what they are doing without their sharing the pains and concerns of God about this world of ours that today seems to be sinking under a crushing burden of corruption, injustice and inhumanity? There is this other thing that I am concerned about. All of us are waiting for moral heroes and heroines to emerge and bail us out of the rut in which we find ourselves. But, unlike Teesta and Javed, we do not want to admit that all of us must play a role in building a just and righteous society. There is something even worse than this. While we are willing to admire the diminishing species of social and spiritual activists, we do not have the courage to be in solidarity with them.

When the Tehelka team unveiled stinking corruption in high places, we admired them for a while. We drank the excitement of it for a while. But there weren’t many to stand by them in the hour of their ordeal. Forces of corruption and oppression are, in contrast, highly united and focussed. They come down ruthlessly on every emerging challenge and wipe out the agents of resistance.

I take this opportunity to call upon all right-minded people to strengthen the hands of Teesta and Javed and help build Communalism Combat as the national mascot of secularism, religious tolerance, rule of law and social harmony.

(Swami Agnivesh is a social activist and a fearless campaigner against escapist religosity).




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