A nation of minorities
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Parliament fiddles while the nation burns. Assam is still aflame. The repercussions of Kokrajhar have spread through the country. The slightly ridiculous attempt to blame Pakistan for all the troubles has now run out of credibility. It should never have been tried. All it did was to breed complacency in the powers that be about seeking the reason behind the contagion of violence. Congress likes to think that whenever India's Muslims maybe involved in a negative situation, they can be absolved of responsibility by blaming Pakistan. This fosters the Hindutva myth that India's Muslims are tools of Pakistan and is insulting to them, showing them as people incapable of initiating their own actions.
Of course, a secularist does not say Muslims, he says 'the minority', as if India has no other minorities. The Kokrajhar conflagration is an instance where a fragile community —the Bodos—who thought they had carved out a small territory—Bodoland—where they could be a majority, discovered that they were a minority even at home.
They should talk to the Thackeray household. Ever since Samyukta Maharashtra was set up, the cry has been that the Marathi manoos finds himself not the ruling majority in Mumbai. All sorts of 'outsiders' —the South Indians first and then the UP-wallas and who knows which minority next, are illegitimately in Mumbai. Of course, within the Marathi manoos community, there is a struggle between the Marathas and the Brahmins as there has been since the days of the Peshwas. The beauty of Hindu society is that the elite rule by dividing people into a thousand cells, telling each that it is higher or lower than the other. This is how the Brahmins ruled for centuries without a powerful State to give them sanction.
The nationalist movement sought to overcome this. It tried to build a coalition of, at least, all the caste Hindus under the Congress (There was a small number of nationalist Muslims but they were a minority within a minority. The Congress was, and remained, a caste Hindu party). The rest—Harijans, Sikhs, were patronised to receive the crumbs off the top table. But at least the Congress tried to unite Hindu society under a non-religious umbrella. After independence, Nehru expanded the umbrella to include Muslims. For 40 years, the Congress leveraged its combination of caste Hindus, Harijans and Muslims. While the Congress system lasted, India had a single logic of unity though it was mean towards the outer margins—Dalits, tribals, other minorities. Even the linguistic division of India did not fragment the country since language was common across religions.
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