Monday, April 14, 2014

To a Young Agnostic: A Letter to (my) Son.

(Narendra Modi)

Dear son,
I know at this early age itself you have started questioning the existence of god. The other day when you were talking to me, while I was driving you to your school, and you said, gods are non-existing beings and all we know about them are just stories. I was trying to reason with you and was telling you that gods exists as certain moral check dams of the society. Had it not been gods people in any country would have remained barbarians. Gods were a necessity to create a controlled society as people afraid of all those things that were beyond their comprehension. They worshipped thunder, lighting, storms, forests, sun, moon, stars, shadows, snakes and all that made them fearful. To tame them they had to name them. They named them and those people tamed these forces and communicated them with secrete languages became the mediators between the mortal beings and the frightening ones. Such mediators were called shamans; they were priests, occultists, magicians, dancers, singers and painters all rolled into one. People believed that they had ethereal powers as they could communicate with even the dead ones. As times passed, personal stories, oral tales of wonder, saga of chieftains, ballads of warriors and all such came together to have a heady mix and over the years they became legends of gods. It was a necessity of time. And without our noticing, these myths and legends take newer forms and become new gods, new myths and even new histories.

Definitely your dislike for gods is appreciable. I believe that at this tender age itself you have seen the truth in your own way. You insist on scientific truth and mathematical calculations. That is wonderful and even you try to tell me that everything could be explained by and through science even if you do not know yet how to go about it. It is a great thing to see that how you will use your power of logic to set up different fielding patterns as solutions to the current problems that is faced by the Indian cricket team in the fielding and batting fronts. It is interesting to see you speaking in first person singular as if you were the captain of the Indian cricket team already. But the cutest thing that I found in those observations is that you imagine that your fellow team mates would be the same Dhoni, Virat, Yuvraj and so on, when you become the captain of the Indian team. I too had a dream when I was a child like you; my idea was to fit an engine to my cycle and make it a moped. Somewhere in a magazine I had read at that time that if you bought a Raleigh Engine and fitted to your cycle it would run like a moped. I had even written to a cousin who was in Gulf at that time to get me one of those engines. Another idea I had was to become a horse rider. I had spent several days day dreaming me as a jockey. But I became a writer. And I am sure your idea of becoming the captain of Indian cricket team may change and you may become something else. But the important thing is that you have a dream, I am sure all your friends have such dreams, and you are working towards it. Great.

I was very touched when you told me that I should not be voting for either Congress or BJP. You had just set your eyes on a little boy working in a shop on the way to the school. You started screaming in the car itself, ‘Look Dad, Child labour.” Your logic was simple; child labour is a sin and a crime and any party that does not assure the abolition of child labour did not deserve your papa’s vote. Further your logic went in this way: both the Congress and BJP were promising so many things but if they cannot do the simplest thing on the earth, that is the abolition of child labour then what kind of change that they were going to bring in for the society. I was really amused to hear that. I could understand the sensitivity that children of your age have today. Though you and your friends watch a lot of television, I am happy that you people have not lost your tenderness. But you gave me another surprise while I said that I might vote for the AAP. But you said, Papa, if there is a ‘none of the above’ option, you should be pressing it. I have never heard a better advice than that except in the competitive questions of application forms.

In fact I want to tell you something very different yet connected to your way of thinking. Today I happen to watch the noted documentary film maker Rakesh Sharma’s two and half hour long documentary movie on Narendra Modi’s rise and his claims about Gujarat and India. The film titled ‘Final Solution’ focuses on the post Godhra ( February-March 2002) violence in Gujarat instigated, strategized and executed by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the lumpen elements in the Bhartiya Janata Party and all other right wing fundamentalists in collusion with the state civil administration and police. The film is an eye opener. The film came to me as a surprise as I have been reading Manoj Mitta’s ‘The Fiction of Fact Finding’, a very interesting investigative literature on Post Godhra violence, for the last few days. This film gave full visuals to what I have been reading. The film starts with Narendra Modi’s Gaurav Yatra in order to establish and consolidate his regime in Gujarat immediately after the pogrom. The horrendous violence unleashed on Muslims is unimaginable. The survivors are still in rehabilitation camps, which Modi is desperate to close down. Muslims were killed in thousands as retaliation against the torching of the S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express that had carried the Ram Sevaks who were returning from Ayodhya after a VHP call. Fifty six people had lost their lives in this incident. They said that there was a Muslim conspiracy against it. So they killed thousands of Mulisms, raped their women and looted their business establishments. All for what and in whose name? In the name of God.

I am happy that you believe that there is no God. You are too young to take a decision on your choice to be an agnostic or atheist. But at present when you say this I am so proud of you. If there is a god who asks the believers to kill the sons and daughters of other gods, then what kind of god is that? Which is that god that asks an eye for an eye. There is a great saying by Gandhiji, ‘an eye for an eye would leave a country of blinds.’ You should believe in that. If people kill each other, rape and loot in the name of god and if they could justify all their actions based on bigotry, false nationalism, imagined mother land and all based on one or two religious texts and exhilarating speeches by illogical orators who put on the guise of great theologians and spiritual persons, then what kind of a world that we would be given to live in. With what kind of face that we would look at young people like you? You should see this documentary, if possible. This is full of pathos. One cannot justify the Muslim conspiracy in killing the Ram Sevaks in Godhra. Its retaliation in the form of genocide also cannot be justified at any cost. Those leaders give inflammatory speeches invoke Pakistan, Islamic terrorism, the backwardness of Muslims and so on. But none cares to ask what the dominant Hindu religion has done to its own people, the tribals, the backward Hindus, the Dalits, women and children? How could Hinduism survive as an exclusionary religion as leaders believe? How can they claim that India would be land of Hindus? In the documentary one of the leaders in Pavagad in Gujarat says that they are not asking the Muslims to leave the country but in any family there are big brothers and small brothers. The small brothers are expected to follow the big brothers whatever they say. Muslims in India also have to live like small brothers. It is a chauvinistic attitude. The patriarchy that thrived in the joint family systems amongst the Hindus has given birth to such kind of arrogance. Today, where people live in apartments and flats and in nuclear families does anyone think that younger brothers blindly follow the older ones?

The film of Rakesh Sharma shows some graffiti written on the walls of Muslim shanties. They are all abusive and provocative. I was reminded of the similar graffiti during the Nazi regime in Germany. Also it is clearly shown in the film Great Dictator by Charlie Chaplin. I thought those were the album pictures from the dark history of the previous century. But it is happening right in front of our eyes. Nazi people used propaganda in different ways. They used to call for mass meetings at night and it was compulsory for the people to attend them. Leaders used to give inflammatory speeches in highly charged hysteric fashion. They connect their illogical ideas with the larger idea of nationalism and they tie it up with the imagined enemy and ask the people whether they agreed with it or not. The people are very susceptible in those hours and they shout out that they hate the Jews. And in those moments they are ready to kill. When these meetings become a regular feature, they are intoxicated by these speeches. During night, after a long day’s work, people’s brains are very prone to suggestibility. They could be taken in to a hypnotic trance with mere suggestions filled with histrionics. Hitler was exactly doing it. He moved the large masses of hypnotised people and they were ready to kill the Jews. In this movie, you could see how the right wing leaders were using the same technique of moving people in the same Nazi fashion.

What touched me in the film was the last seen where we see a four year old boy in a kindergarten class. He had already been shown in one of the earlier segments of the film. To the query of Rakesh Sharma, the innocent boy looks at the camera and tells us how he witnessed his parents and relative were hacked to death right in front of his eyes. He even says that they forced the women to strip and they did all the wrong things to them. Mere aunty ko bhi nanga kar diya (they stripped my aunty too), says the boy. If you are a human being you will be shattered to hear this, not because it is done to his aunty but because he was there to witness it and later recount it. In the final scene of the film, the same boy is interviewed again. He wants to become a soldier when he grows up. What he would do once he becomes a soldier? He would burn them. Who? The Hindus. Is it right burning Hindus? Yes, I want to burn them. I am a Hindu, tells the film maker to the boy. Will you kill me too once you become a soldier? The boy hesitates for a moment. He looks deeply into the camera (into the eyes of Rakesh Sharma). He says, No, I will not kill you. But I am a Hindu, insists the film maker. But you don’t look like one, says the boy. Son, I cried watching this.

You may also see the resonances of Ram Ke Naam (In the Name of Ram), a documentary done by Anand Patwardhan, almost a decade back from the date of the post Godhra violence. History repeats first as tragedy and then as farce, said Marx. Ayodhya movement led by Advani was a tragedy, a national historical tragedy. Godhra led by Modi was a farce. But in both cases innocent human lives were put at stake. Massacre was large scale and absolutely remorseless. The same Advani justified Modi during the Godhra days. Like the irony of history, exactly after a decade from the Godhra days, Advani was sidestepped by Modi to become the official prime ministerial candidate of BJP. The game of political dice is still on, where women, children and old people are made into living victims. Most of the men are killed in the process. One of the right wing leaders says, all the Muslims are not terrorists, but if there is a terrorist, he is a Muslim. The Orwellian double speak is blatantly put to use by these leaders to seduce the lumpen to commit atrocities against Muslims. All in the name of God. I am happy that you do not believe in God.
With love

1 comment:

Artville said...

Great ! Your son is as lucky as you are!