Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Owaisi arrested. Now go after the real hate mongers….

Hate speeches are an unfortunate reality of Indian politics. Regionalism, communalism, casteism, ….there are many playgrounds for politicians to exploit. Unfortunately, in most cases, politicians get away without having to face any action. In this case, finally….and after consistent media pressure…..Owaisi has been arrested. Hopefully now, the spotlight will shift to all the others who have made making hate speeches their only business.

Communal politics is the primary reason for hate speeches. The most prominent abusers are of course M/s Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Vinay Katiyar, Vijay Raje Scindia, Uma Bharati and the scores others who form the BJP’s top leadership. They provoked the mass of kar sevaks to demolish the Babri Masjid. There are reports of how these leaders, far from asking their followers to stay calm, actually urged them to push ahead with their dastardly act. There is power in numbers, and these so called leaders, who have no courage to speak up for the right cause, watched, with satisfaction, the demolition unfold as a result of their speeches. Once their job was done, they scooted with their tail between their legs. Pretended they had no role to play. Claimed it was just public anger. Nothing has been done to these leaders. All of them roam free and in fact, occupy positions of even more power. Advani is the leader of the BJP in Parliament and a contender for the PM’s post in 2014. Imagine this: a hate monger becoming the PM of the country. What is worse is that instead of regretting their past mistakes, these leaders continue with their hate speeches.

To be fair, the biggest hate mongers are not BJP politicians themselves, who realize that India is a heterogeneous society and hate speeches cannot work beyond a point. The biggest hate mongers are their sister outfits who pander to the extreme elements of society. It is the Vishwa Hindu Parishads, the Bajrang Dals, the RSS and other Sangh outfits that carry on this agenda on behalf of the BJP. Sometimes, this hate spills over from merely speeches to actual violence and murder as happened with Christian missionary and welfare activist Graham Staines who was murdered by a Bajrang Dal extremist Dara Singh. There are many more instances of hate politics degrading into murders with most of Gujarat’s fake encounters being nothing but that. Gujarat in particular is full of this variety of leaders….people like Praveen Togadia and others.

There are an equal number of hate speeches made by Muslim leaders, and Owaisi is just one of them. Since most Muslim leaders compete on a communal card, getting votes from Muslim voters, most of the electoral speeches of these leaders tend to have communal overtones. Again, nothing is done to stop these speeches, in spite of the election commission apparently video recording many of these.

The recent speech by Raj Thackeray in Mumbai must also be brought up here. His diatribes against Biharis and UPites are well known and there can be no doubt in anyone’s minds about the hateful nature of these speeches. What is even more upsetting is that he has no qualms in admitting to his hate speeches. In TV interviews also, he has admitted to his belief that people from these states are the reason for Mumbai’s infrastructure and social problems. Recently, he connected the subject of rapes with the influx of people from these states into cities like Delhi and Mumbai. But is anything done to stop him? Nothing at all. In fact, the Congress government treats him with kids’ gloves. But he’s not the only one from the Thackeray family who can be held guilty of this. His uncle, the legendary Bal Thackeray, made a career out of this. When the state does nothing to prevent such speeches, an able cartoonist turns into a hate-spewing politician. Completely unnecessary. Given his charisma, he would be a popular politician any which way.

The problem in India is not with the laws as the same laws that have existed for decades have now been used to book Owaisi. The problem is with the politics, and especially with the fragmented mandates that the electorates keep throwing up. Raj Thackeray is an important politician; he may well be needed one day to prop up or topple a government. Likewise Owaisi’s party till recently was supporting the Congress in Andhra Pradesh. How strange that the party withdrew support on the same grounds that its MLA now stands accused! Apparently, as per his party MIM, the Congress was not withdrawing cases against some “innocent” victims and was pandering to the wishes of the sangh parivar! This would be a good comedy show, if it had not been for the subject being so fissile.

There is a lot of inflammatory rubbish that goes on on our TV channels also. Now I know the Pakistani action yesterday was extremely provocative and India has to suitably respond. But the response has to come from the government, not our TV channels. The show on a particular channel last night was most inflammatory. There were Pakistani and Indian ex-generals on the show. All of them speaking irresponsibly about each side teaching the other a lesson. They saying we should not forget Kargil and we telling them to remember 1971. They threatening us that Kashmir is not a part of India and we telling them to remember Balochistan. They reminding us of their nuclear weopons, and we reminding them of ours. They raising the tempers a hell of a lot; and we managing to go beyond. What the hell is all this if its not spreading hate? Is this the way sensitive diplomatic matters are handled? If we don’t stop this, we will force a war upon our two countries. TV channels will scoot and run away; having secured their TRPs. Or worse, they will relish the possibility of war, because that would give them financial gains.

The malady that inflicts politicians and TV channels is the same. It’s the tendency to stoke the most primeval instincts of humans. We get provoked easily; and we fall prey to the tricks of certain agents provocateurs. These agents think staying calm (but firm) is being cowardly. They believe in visible display of anger, even if it is nothing but false bravado. Their idea is to scream, raise tempers….as if that will solve matters. They are usually shallow in their knowledge of matters, like the TV anchor was yesterday about Kashmir, but they are so full of themselves that they believe themselves to be the last word. They snub diplomats and government officials as if they are nincompoops; forgetting that maybe the reverse is true. They snub panelists who may advise restraint. The mood is contagious….and soon everyone is screaming and threatening. A politician only speaks hate in gatherings of a few thousand people. These TV channels spew venom over millions of their viewers. All of them stand accused of the same hate speech crime. All of them should be tried under the same laws.

The real truth is that we are surrounded by people guilty of hate speeches. Their objectives are extremely selfish – and they don’t mind harming national interests to achieve their objectives. We need to take action against all of them. This business of hate is like a cancer – before we know, it will devour the nation up….

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