July 26, 2007

Where is the citizen?

"We wanted only a Muslim candidate for vice-presidential elections", a daily quoted a senior Left leader on why they chose Hamid Ansari. And every other party fell in line.

It was not that everybody, just by sheer divine coincidence zeroed in on a Muslim, but all of them wanted it. It has become so obvious and natural to emphasise the need and assert the demand for a Muslim or anyone other than a Hindu that none found it pertinent to ask a question, even in a feeble voice, why sir, didn't you say, we need a deserving Indian?

Although personally I find all the three candidates good, people who have brought the vice-presidential election to a far superior and dignified level than the murky Presidential one, yet the reason behind the selection of "only Muslim" candidates is a disturbing one for India's secular fabric. It's nothing but a brazen manifestation of a reactionary secular-communalism being practiced by all – without even a face-saving exception.

Why has being an Indian become a matter of less significance than being a Muslim, Christian, Yadav, or a backward? This fragmentation of polity is a result of a fragmented society and weakening of a pan-national outlook. The thread that binds Indians and India together was never a political one but cultural and civilisational. That is being abused by political expediency so much that it has been strained to the limit of breaking up.

So far, a strong sense of nationalism, a pride in being an Indian, and equally in our Hindu identity - i.e. a majority that has woven the nation's extreme corners into a oneness of cultural flow -- from Parashuram Kund and Rukmini's Bhishmak Nagar in Arunachal to Hanuman's Andamans, Sindhu's (Indus) Ladakh and Krishna's Dwarka to Rama's bridge of victory over the wicked in Rameshwaram -- held us together. It's our grandmother's concept of unity in diversity that has survived the vicissitudes of millenniums, and the same is now under threat from those who do not have any feeling for the past, no vision for the future but try to earn their daily bread of governance walking present times with their sullied footmark.

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