Thursday, September 25, 2008

For Sanity's Sake

A blast is a blast is a blast. Let's not forget this fundamental premise when we get into a post-encounter discussion on theDelhi blasts. The facts are too cold, too bloody to be ignored. The death toll stands at close to thirty; we don't have a definite calculation of how many have been maimed or crippled. A blast goes against the very essence of life and the living. It's a lust for blood for reasons that are worse than obscurantist.

Neither should we arrive at a conclusion on the police encounter. We don't have the wherewithal to crosscheck the police story and, therefore, we don't have the right to jump to conclusions. There are a few gray areas which we can talk about later; but definitely, not now. We are all aware of the kind of voices on the streets, depending on the neighborhood where we are. And that ominous geography of varying opinions is seriously worrying.

As an individual residing in probably the world's most vibrant democracy, I am proud that we question everything; it's my fundamental right to do so and I am glad that I am being able to exercise that right. But should we be carried away by hearsay and what each of us would like to believe? There are moments in history when the real picture gets blurred because strong opinions come in the way. It's difficult to see beyond the immediate smokescreen. Truth, as always, hurts and hurts badly. Do we need to make a fair assessment just now and judge the police harshly?

We don't even have to step out on the streets to feel how badly divided our battered society is. It's almost split down the middle and our respective belief depends on what our surnames are and which religion or community we have been born in to. We know faith carries with it the extraordinary power of kinship, where the mind of a mob takes over and colors our reasoning. Let me reassert that it's possible to drill holes in the police story, which, I admit, appears to be extremely fluid and simple with everything falling in place with considerable ease. To the incredulous, my plea is just hold on to those thoughts. Don't let that disbelief become disillusionment.

Why do I repeatedly say let's not dissect every story told to us just now? It's because I am trying to read the pulse of the country; and I can feel the two distinct beats, which creates a shockingly violent rhythm. We are sitting on a powder keg that won't even need a fuse to erupt. The slightest of tremors will be enough to start a fratricidal war. We need to talk, to listen to each other before communal sensitivities revive that old theme of "us and them". This time it's dangerous that even the rich and the successful of both communities, who generally subscribe to the one-dimensional religion of money, have taken hardened positions.

It's a countrywide confrontation. Ask the young man in Jamia Nagar inDelhi or Muhammed Ali Road in Mumbai, the verdict is the same; the views are equally harsh and strident. It's similarly rabid in the malls and the markets where a majority condemn blasts, as they should. But they don't stop there; they extend the culpability to an entire community; which prays daily during the holy month to extend the blessings of life to whomever they can.

It is time we realized that minority-ism doesn't give us a right to insecurity, to a persecution complex. It is time we also realized that majority-ism isn't an easy responsibility; it doesn't hand over the license to brutally impose one's will on those who are fewer in number. In fact, it is the sacred duty of the majority to instill a sense of confidence in the minority.

These are difficult times; these are also exciting times. We are a world power. Let there be no minorities in this country; let us all be a unified majority.India deserves that unique togetherness.

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