Unity in diversity
Source : Google photo of unity in diversity in India
Synopsis : A great change is coming to India where a great leader is changing the country fundamentally by making “ progress for everybody together “ his mantra and is making all Indians proud for the first time in their life. He is bringing unity among the diverse population of the country by saying that we are all Indians first and we are all brothers and sisters who have the same aspirations as others to grow in prosperity and live in peace and harmony.
I must admit that I have not always believed in unity in diversity in India because as a child I was led to believe that the Muslims were the root of all the problems in India. They failed to assimilate with others no matter where they lived and created their own communities where they felt safer and where they could be a Muslim according to the tenets of their faith.
This feeling of separateness was very evident everywhere including the schools where our Muslim classmates remained aloof and separate from the rest of the class although at a very young age, we did not understand this separateness in them or the reasons for it. They never became our friends and we never invited each other to our homes or public festivals or religious events so this feeling of separateness never left us and had a great impact on the way we looked at each other as we were growing up.
There seemed to be a great divide between the Muslims and the rest meaning the 70% of the Indian population where the Hindus were the majority but there are the Christians, Sikhs, Jains, the Buddhists and many other fringe groups like the Bahais, the Parsis, the Jews and others but this divide became more pronounced after the partition of India into large Muslim dominated Pakistan and Hindu dominated India known as Hindustan.
I was too young to understand the full impact of the vivisection of India because in 1947, I was only 3 years old but my father knew. He had worked under the British in the pre independence India in areas that are now part of Pakistan where some of our siblings were born. He was awarded a prestigious medal by the British for his services in Wajiristan that is a tribal area of Pakistan in the west and worked closely with the Muslim tribals in that area. He lived in Quetta in the Sindh province where one of my sisters was born so my parents were quite familiar with the Muslims wherever they lived.
Then came the politicians who started to see great benefits for themselves in dividing the Indians based on their religions thus creating the barrier and animosity that still prevails 70 years after the independence and has led to 4 wars with Pakistan alone.
I will not repeat the history here and dwell on the reasons because there is no room for such a topic here that can become a very big subject that can’t be discussed in just a few words here so I will stick to the subject of diversity and unity here among all people living in India no matter what their religions and beliefs.
So I will go back to my grade school days and try to understand this great divide that existed then and still persists today. One day our teacher while taking the attendance noticed that one Muslim kid was absent so he asked a few of us Hindu kids to go to his house and find out why he had failed to attend school. We had never been to any Muslim house before but we found his house and entered when no one answered the door.
Inside we found our schoolmate in tears but what was most shocking to us was that he was chained like a dog to the wall by probably his parents but we did not know why. We did not know what we could do so we returned to our school and reported the matter to our teacher who kept quiet. We did not see that kid again in school and moved on to the next grade. He was soon forgotten and I can’t recall his name or his face now but I do feel the shock even today seeing him chained up like a dog and treated so badly.
In other countries such matters would be reported to the Police who will then take some actions to free the kid and ask his parents about it but I do not know to this day if they did and what happened to that kid. Then one day I saw him in the market selling joss sticks while his father stood nearby keeping an eye on him. He had a cruel look on his face and perhaps it was he who had chained his son like a dog in his house but why?
We were also shocked at the abject poverty in which the kid lived so perhaps his parents could not afford to send him to school so made him sell a few things in the market at his tender age. This is the story of millions of Muslims who have remained poor and without education because they had other priorities like survival. One classmate who one day came with a shirt that his mother had hand stitched entirely for him made us gasp because we had never seen such a beautifully hand stitched shirt before but it also signified poverty among the Muslims.
The politicians have always treated the Muslims as their vote bank by telling them that only they can look after their needs but failed to do so because it was a political gimmick to get their votes so the Muslims now feel that they have been deceived by the people who they voted for.
But it was not always this way. Netaji Bose was the first national leader who made no distinction between people based on their religion and welcomed all to join his Indian National Army ( INA) to fight the British and make India free so thousands of Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Christians joined INA and fought together to oust the British and some 26000 died doing so. The survivors who are now over 90 years old ,feeble and poor shed tears remembering how great a leader was Bose who gave them self-respect and dignity and called them all to fight for a cause so people from all religions , caste and creed responded.
But the seed of division was sown by some extremely greedy politicians who wanted power in the post independent India so chose to divide people on the basis of religion and separated India into three parts in 1947 that led to Hindus fleeing East Pakistan and West Pakistan in large numbers that got them massacred in the hands of rabble Muslims. They were encouraged by their political leaders and Mullahs to get rid of all Hindus from Pakistan. Hindus in India then took revenge on the Muslims thus creating the barrier and mistrust that we as children saw and I write about today. Indian lives lost in the struggle for freedom and the consequent massacres in large scale proves that Gandhi’s non violent struggle was a blatant lie that the world still believes in.
When I left India at the age of 22, I saw for the first time how Muslims lived in other countries and how they were in no way any different from others. They treated me so well in Algeria where they invited me to their homes and fed me sumptuous meals during the Id festival. I have already written about how they invited me in seeing that I was getting wet in the rain on the road to Mascara near Mostaganem. Nobody had poisoned their heart against the Hindus the way the crooked politicians had done in India and use them as their vote bank for selfish gains.
It was a group of Palestinian boys who found me a trattoria in Sienna, Italy one day and a Pakistani gentleman in Sudan had given me shelter in his home one night so I began to realize that all people no matter what religion they follow are simply people with same aspirations as anyone else and dream of a peaceful and prosperous life no matter where they live. I have shared meals with them and their hospitality in many countries outside India but in my home country people still live separate lives.
Now for the first time in India a new leader has emerged who has said that all Indians deserve the education, jobs and prosperity irrespective of caste, creed, color, race and religion so that the country as a whole can move forward and make progress. Muslims were so surprised by this declaration that they at first thought that it was too good to be true but soon realized that in New India there was room for everybody where anyone can make progress and come out of poverty.
For the first time they were told that the Hindus are not their enemies but are their brothers and sisters who do not look down on them. They saw for the first time that the government is helping the poor people everywhere by bringing electricity to all villages and building farm to market roads, by building millions of toilets in the villages, by giving poor farmers debt relief, by providing subsidized cooking gas to the poor people, by making universal health care a reality, by giving everyone free medical insurance worth Rs. 500000, by giving low interest loans to people to open their own business, by guaranteeing a good market price for the farm-produce and reserving 10% of all jobs for the minorities like the Muslims.
Muslim women for the first time were called sisters by the Prime Minister of the country who promised them to repeal their hateful practice of Triple Talaq rule that any Muslim man can use to divorce his wife and throw her out as a destitute. They were in tears of disbelief when this law was passed in the parliament because no one had ever thought of helping the poor divorced Muslim women this way.
There was a Hindu lady social worker in Lucknow who freed the Muslim women embroiders from virtual slavery and abject poverty and from the clutches of the exploitative agents who were making these poor women blind from the hard work of embroidery , paying them pittance and making huge profit from their exquisite work. Please read my blog : The pride and strife of embroiders of Lucknow. ( power point )
Note : Just highlight the link and right click to go to the powerpoint
This had never happened before so slowly the Muslims have begun to understand that now there is a government that is not dividing them just because they are Muslims but actually helping them come out of their poverty through numerous schemes that are providing them education, jobs and business opportunities.
Slowly they are beginning to support the new government in increasingly larger numbers although the hate mongering is still fashionable among many who have not supported the new Government and continue to support the old politicians who still use them as their vote bank and continue to make fake promises to them.
So I see now a change in the offing that is slowly starting to transform India into a more progressive and prosperous country where more and more people from all sections of the society are coming to join the ever growing middle class because the government is determined to help everyone and treating people of all religions equally creating an inclusive society for all.
The Ram mandir issue :
When Baber destroyed a Hindu temple to build a mosque in Ayodhya some 600 years ago, he laid the foundation of hatred between the Hindus and Muslims that his successors to his throne kept alive by their large scale destruction of thousands of Hindu temples. They converted Hindus to Islam by force and killed wholesale those who resisted thus creating the large Muslim population that it has become now.
Then one day, thousands of Hindus went to Ayodhya and partially demolished the Mosque so that they could build the temple of Ram there but hundreds died in the process when the police opened fire on them. Ram is a Hindu God who was born in Ayodhya and is venerated by hundreds of millions of Indians.
But many Muslims opposed it that led to the intervention of the Supreme Court where the matter stagnates. Now many Muslims say that it was wrong for the Mughals to destroy the Hindu temples so they will help the Hindus re build the temple at the same spot and help correct a historic wrong.
The future as I see it:
There has been a drastic change in the attitude of many Muslims and countries like Saudi Arabia and Quatar among others are helping build Hindu temples there which was unthinkable a few years ago. When Geeta was translated into Arabic, it sold hundreds of thousands of copies in Saudi Arabia in a short time showing that the Muslims there have the thirst to know Hindu scriptures like Geeta. This is a bitter pill for the fanatic mullahs to swallow but times are changing that brings better understanding between the Hindus and Muslims.
But dividing people on religious grounds and their political affinity has been in fashion in many countries where the politicians try to gain their advantage by labeling people by their race, color, religion, ethnicity etc. Hitler declared that only the white Germans were blue blooded and of pure Aryan descent while the rest were impure people not worth being called Germans. This group included the Jews, many minorities and Gypsies who were brought to the concentration camps to be gassed.
Many political parties in many countries thrive on the notion of white supremacy so they look down on their citizens who are not white or of a different political persuasion creating many difficulties for them. The rise of hate crime against the nonwhites and recent immigrants is a result of homophobia that their political leaders promote.
The discrimination based on one’s religion, race and skin color is an old practice in many parts of the world even today but people are waking up and are demanding equal rights for themselves that does not sit well with some politicians. Could anyone believe that a black man with a name like Barack Hussein Obama will become the President of the United States? But he did that shows that people are changing and voted for him based on merit only.
This is also happening now in India where Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Christians alike are voting for a Hindu who wants to change fundamentally the country so that all people can live there in peace and harmony and all can participate in the growth of the country. He has not seen people as Hindus and Muslims but Indians first just like the great national leader Netaji Bose long ago and is working hard to unite the people under one nation, one flag, one rule of law for all and equal opportunities for all so that everyone can improve his life.
The fanatic mullahs will not be pleased because it will dilute their prominence in dividing people when Muslims ignore hate and embrace love for all but I see the change taking place right now in India and am very optimistic that it will one day emerge as the great nation where people irrespective of their caste or religion will live in peace and greater prosperity than they had ever imagined possible.
I can see the unity in diversity in India and hope that other nations will emulate this trend and work on it to make racism, intolerance and prejudice a thing of the past like slavery and fanaticism.
The diversity is akin to different flowers in the same garden, each beautiful in its own way and should be appreciated. May be India will show the way.
Note : My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese languages at the following links as well as my biography:
La biografía de anil en español.