In the name of secularism, our politicians have created an environment of distrust and fear in all communities in India. There are religion-based divides, caste-based divides, linguistic divides, regional divides and class divides. The only real politics being practised in the country is divisive politics. And each of these divides is experienced with great intensity by the citizens in every aspect of their lives. While the political parties create vote banks out of each divide, we are further compartmentalized and get more fearful of the “other”.
What is the definition of secularism ? If secularism is truly all-inclusive why is the word bandied around to deepen existing wedges and create new ones? How come politicians talk of being secular to appeal to “minorities”? Are there truly minorities? Instead of terming different groups as minorities, if all people are treated equal, would all this infighting, demands for special status for other benefits and perks still exist?
Minority itself is a condescending term. It smacks of superiority. There is a thinly veiled and vaguely obscure superciliousness in branding any group as minority or marginalised. All people are simply people and the duty of the government with regard to health, safety and security is the same towards everybody. To label some groups differently is in fact, quite insulting to them. Promises of special concessions in reality end up ensuring that these groups always remain in status quo and there is a permanent creation of “we” and “them”. Every group secretly looks down on the other.
The political parties that claim to be working for the benefit of groups that have been falsely created by them, use these very groups as a shield for non-performance or under-performance of goals that would be globally beneficial to everyone – this is the ground truth , the true definition as can be seen on the streets. Truly, does inflation spare any caste, religion, community, regional, class or linguistic group? Is corruption faced only by a certain section of the society? Poor infrastructure affects every individual equally. When terror strikes, as in the case of the attacks in Mumbai, did the terrorists ask the religion of a person before opening fire at the crowded CST station? Do bombs selectively target only “them”? Food, shelter, clothing, security, health, infrastructure – these are global concerns. And we all deserve the best of these. Corruption, development, energy affect all citizens equally.
The shrill cries of secularism by politicians are a sham. We need a government formed by parties that have development as their agenda, not secularism. Coalition government is a long-term reality for India. We have had that for about a decade and a half and it will continue. In the past, regional parties that have got an overwhelming majority in their areas have only agreed to throw in their lot to form a government in exchange for important portfolios and huge packages or subsidies for their areas. There have been very few, if any, partnerships based either on common ideologies or on common vision for the progress of the country. As a result, a decade ago, India, along with China, seemed to be on the cusp of becoming a super-power in the world. Today China has raced way ahead of India while we still struggle in the shallows.
Election 2014 can make a watershed change – it is up to us, the voters, to ensure that we get what we think we deserve. Can the civil society end this divisive oppression and ask for equality of all citizens?