By C Anand Velayudhan
Disclaimer : Serious cases of oppression, violation and even murder have occurred during many riots in India . This piece is not to belittle the abject suffrage of the victims. Writer supports and wishes to fight for the cause of victims . More importantly work towards ensuring end to such barbaric behavior by citizens.
In India ninety percent Indians have only ‘HEARD’ about atrocities committed by religious groups. Not one among this large percentage has witnessed, live, any hatred or been a victim of racist/ religious attack. This does not prove riots and strife were just imagination. I am sure there have been inhuman atrocities. But there are many more instances of inter-faith friendship, trust and caring,
Time and again international and domestic media have derided ghettoization in India as a fall out of religious intolerance. Even before partition Muslims and Christians in India lived largely among themselves. Remnants of a Christian gaon (village) are still visible in parts of Mumbai. That is really because Indians being deeply religious and spiritual continue age old practices till date. Thus they maintain their rituals with out inconveniencing people of other faiths. Imagine the plight of a brahmin living next to a muslim on Bakra Id? After partition and the riots, these separate settlements got labeled as ghettoes. No denying that with so much of ’ hate talk’ , new settlers were naturally attracted to such unofficially designated areas.
But Despite their diversity or religious divide market forces ensure continuous interaction between needy people regardless of their religion. In India and may be in the whole of 3rd world trust is the backbone of trade , for if a debtor reneges there is very little one could do. People of all religions trade with each other, which was impossible if deep inter religious distrust, really existed.
Apart from religious groups you find regional groups regardless of their religion decidedly populating a particular area.
South Indians love to live close to each other, ditto for Gujrati’s. How is it bad for the nation. It is great from market point, ask the local bania ! No body calls it a ghetto. In Kochi, Kerala, one can see Kutchi traders living in close proximity. Now is that a Kutchi ghetto?
In Bangalore one would be surprised to witness Marwari’s living in a predominantly Muslim area called Cottonpet, which is most famous for its Dargah. Marwari families own buildings bang opposite the Islamic place of worship which really is very noisy. What would one call that?
In Kurla, Mumbai till date a Christian man, Lawrence D’souza organizes Sai Palkhi every every week. He has a huge following. Whatever motivates him, religious divide has not affected him. Kurla is a muslim ‘Ghetto’.
But there is a divide and that is not religious.
In Mumbai for example most large gathering and illegal assembly are in the poorest neighborhoods. One rarely sees a Saibaba Bhandara (Feast) in the tony Malabar hill and never much revelry for Republic day except a quite somber flag hoisting. In the slums of Mumbai Republic day is a daylong festival with too much noise and loudspeakers. No religion here only poverty and illiteracy.
The real divide is rich- poor, the global, age old, anomaly. But it is convenient for governments to paint it in colors of religion. Religious divide deprives people of their true strength in a democracy, which if applied would root out bad politicians, bureaucrats and most importantly bad policies.
Rulers in India will NEVER do anything about this.
C Anand Velayudhan is Special correspondent – India for an American Television Channel ‘
(Views expressed are his own)