By Nina Rai: Plz note this article was written by me on 7th Oct, 2008 (not published) as a backdrop to the riots which took place due to the desecration of religious shrines of a particular community in Mangalore, Karnataka in 2006 and later again in 2008. But the lessons learnt from that incident is still very much relevant to all sections of society, in present times. A lesson we must never forget in a hurry. Hence a reproduction of the said article for readers.
Major attitude shift required by all communities
Reams of newsprint have already been exhausted, so much has been said, discussed, debated and condemned since the church attacks and subsequent violence which erupted in various parts of the city and other parts of Karnataka. The only consolation in these unsavory episodes was that there was neither loss of human lives nor any severe casualty. And just as the unbelievable good news broke out that the hatchet had been buried between the two communities namely Catholics and Hindus at a peace meet initiated by district-in-charge-minister J Krishna Palemar, came reports of varied so called ‘secular groups' and even human rights wings trying to vitiate the atmosphere with a barrage of harsh, negative words which had the potential of jeopardizing the chances of long term peace and harmony in the city. Credit in no small measure should be given to all communities who are basically peace-loving denizens of the city, for not getting caught in this cross fire despite much provocation and inflammatory remarks by politicians, NGOs, pseudo secularists and so called leaders of different hues.
What is significantly required by us now, is to do some deep introspection and soul searching, as to where exactly ‘WE' are going wrong, irrespective of our religion, caste, personal belief, ethnic identity and affiliation. Since several weeks all over we found various newspapers or websites or the visual media giving lop-sided versions of one community or the other, with each pointing finger and blaming the other as being brutally victimized and traumatized vis-à-vis one's hurt religious sentiment. But what is the end result of this kind of blame game or for that matter criticism made of the efforts made by both communities to reach a peace accord. How can an amicable long term solution be found for this vexing problem? There is calm now like an uneasy lull after the storm and it looks like things are back to normal. However, scratch the surface and there is deep rooted simmering discontent brewing between both communities Hindus and Catholics in the district, which needs to be addressed without delay.
Developing a broader perspective, a vision of a thriving secular progressive India much beyond the narrow tunnel mindset we have all created, is the only way out for us today. Only then can we truly aspire to get out of this self created, dead-end moral abyss, which if not rectified immediately, in all probability may spin out of control in the near future. This is by no means an attempt to either undermine or dispute the loss, pain, suffering and trauma undergone by countless women, aged, children and men in the past turbulent weeks gone by. In fact, our heart and soul goes out to each one of our fellow victims irrespective of their religion, caste, creed or social distinction. And from this turmoil of the past has arisen the desire to find a way out of the impasse. It's imperative now for us to rationalize and let saner, wiser voices prevail. The weeks gone by has seen a lot of finger pointing and gaining brownie points as to who has been victimized more. The deed has been done. And any kind of postmortem on the matter will only add to the problem, becoming counter productive and defying any solution. The daunting task ahead is that of healing and bridging the rift between the communities, who for centuries have been living in communal harmony and amity here.
While a semblance of normalcy has returned and we have tried to put out the senseless mayhem behind us, there is in this a stern lesson and dire warning, as to what can happen when things go horribly wrong. It does not always happen in other's backyards, it comes creeping into our homes and hearths too. We need to come out of this trauma and crisis as better, stronger human beings and start thinking with a different perspective. We need to think in terms of national building, proclaiming our pride in our nation and think as one and work towards the larger good. We need to whole-heartily ensure and support the State administration in bringing all the culprits responsible for the violence in the city, to book and end the matter. What is largely needed is a major reshuffle in our thought process beyond parochial, regional and sectarian thinking. Unless we do so as soon as possible, we will end up becoming our own enemies. See the amount of division taking place all over India in the name of ‘religion' whether in Kashmir, Gujarat, Orissa and all over. And see the advantage other hawkish neighboring states are taking of our infighting and even stroking the inner fires and the resultant damage to our economy and our collective psyche. That is because we are giving them the opportunity and playing directly into their hands with our infighting.
The only way we can think and remain as one in a relatively peaceful state of living, is by thinking in patriotic terms as this being our country, our nation and working towards the larger good. Of course, all this cannot be achieved in one day as the saying goes ‘Rome was not built in a single day'. But we need to start today and now. For this we need to at least lay the pathway, as we are now coming out afresh from this moral turpitude and pain with a bitter lesson learnt that in any kind of strife and turmoil there are no victors or gainers...all are losers. Most importantly the loss here is one of an INDIAN not a Catholic or Hindu or Muslim or any other ...and with that goes a yeoman loss of human potential covering various fields. Most importantly, we need to ensure separation of religion completely from politics in the long run. It's a personal space which is sacred inviolable, pious and needs to be respected, cherished, protected and honored at all costs both by the individuals and the state machinery. And no action and measure taken in this regard can be considered as minimal.
In view of the above, it is an impassioned and unbiased appeal to all peace-loving people of Mangalore city as well as Coastal Karnataka, lets all look beyond this narrow chimera of petty gains and make a conscious attitude shift to look at the larger picture and work towards making India a country to be reckoned with in the world, in times to come. This will ultimately ensure freedom for us to practice our faith and religion in peace, amity and happiness as per our heart's desire. It's only through economic prosperity we will be in a better frame of mind not to be influenced by anyone to create friction and dissensions between us and thereby ensure cordial and amicable relations of brotherhood with all. This in nut-shell, I sincerely believe is also the heartfelt desire of majority of the human beings, irrespective of whether they are living in Mangalore, Karnataka or for that matter any other state in India or for that matter any part of the world.
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