January  2004 
Year 10    No.95


India's Taliban

True to India’s ‘tolerant tradition’, we tolerate everything, even extreme
intolerance. Of course, we do shake with moral outrage when the Taliban
bring down the Bamiyan Buddha in Afghanistan, or the Al Qaida flies
planes straight into the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. But be it
Gujarat 2002, or the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute now, or fre
quent similar incidents of hooliganism, vandalism and worse, by ‘sainiks
of various descriptions in Maharashtra, the ‘most progressive state’ in India, we are at peace with ourselves as intolerance, hatred and violence rages in our midst.

Rule of law now resides only in statute books while sentiments rule the streets. Violence unchallenged has bred more violence and we are now at a point where even the Prime Minister’s grandson can be flung into oblivion from a speeding train. So steeped are we in our tolerance that we are blissfully unaware of the Taliban we breed in our midst, who in turn have culturally prepared us for a Hitlerian takeover of our destiny. Please God, won’t you send us one more Mahavira, Gautama or Gandhi to preach to us afresh that tolerance is a virtue only when it meshes with the credo of non-violence!

Meanwhile, on a more positive note, we fully support the views expressed by Ashok Mitra, the India chairman of the Pakistan-India Forum for Peace and Democracy, in his piece for this issue of CC, arguing that all peace lovers must take at face value and endorse the BJP-brokered fresh bid for Indo-Pak friendship. We also welcoming Advaniji’s recent heart-to-heart with Hurriyat leaders for the prospects it holds for peace in Kashmir. But we need to remind our readers of the plight of Kashmiri Pandits who for too long have been reduced to the status of refugees in their own country and crave to return to the Valley, their home.

From Karnataka, too, there is good news. Of an extraordinary initiative by secularists that has resulted in Hindu holy men leading Hindus and Muslims in large numbers, along side numerous civil society groups, speaking up for communal amity and speaking out against the sangh parivar’s insidious attempt to convert a symbol of pluralism – Baba Boudhangiri’s dargah in Chikmagalur – into an insignia of Hindu supremacy.

From Andhra, however, we have a disturbing report in this issue of the shocking conduct of the upper castes who vent their spleen on the Dalits of Peapuly village in Karnool district because the latter ‘dared’ to imagine that, like everyone else, they too have the right to venerate Lord Ganesha and celebrate Vinayaka Chavithi. Particularly in the context of the continuing indignities of caste, CC salutes Dalit organisations and activists who chose to participate in the in recently-concluded World Social Forum in Mumbai in a unique fashion: four contingents of Dalit activists, starting from Jammu, Delhi, Kolkata and Kanyakumari, traversed the length and breadth of India, taking stock of the trials and tribulations of the ‘outcastes’ and reaching to them messages of hope before descending on Mumbai to share with the rest of the global community the ‘Another World is Possible’ dream.

The terrible times we live in notwithstanding, we wish all our readers, a Happy New Year.


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