American President Donald Trump was in Saudi Arabia the other day. The man who came to power riding the anti-Muslim wave, the man who told the world that Muslims were the enemies of civilisation, now praises the great contributions of Islam to the world. He mentioned the “ancient wonders” as well as the Saudi Arabia’s modern “soaring achievements in architecture.” He listed such “wonders” as Giza, Luxor and Alexandria to applaud the Islamic achievements. He sought the cooperation of Saudi Arabia to bring peace and harmony into the world.
Whether Trump underwent some spiritual transformation is yet to be seen. We know that he is a devout Christian who attends prayer services regularly and religiously. But prayer services and rituals really don’t make people any better. If they did, the world would have been a paradise long ago.
Whatever that is, Trump has apparently changed his approach from one based on hatred to one based on cooperation. This new approach might work. I hope it does. At least it gives hope a chance while hatred can achieve no good.
This is one lesson that India’s Right wing is yet to learn. The latest example is Paresh Rawal’s suggestion to the Indian Army to use Arundhati Roy as a human shield in Kashmir. Leaving aside the insult it implicitly sticks to the Army, the suggestion smacks of the pettiness that accompanies the entire outlook of India’s Right wing.
Arundhati Roy stands far, far above petty nationalism. She has described herself as a “global citizen.” That’s what we all should be: citizens of the world who respect every human being irrespective of race and religion. Ms Roy’s views on Kashmir spring from that broad, global outlook. Narrow-minded bigots like Rawal cannot be expected to understand such benignity.
Donald Trump was lauded as a great hero by India’s Right wing because he spoke the same language of hatred which the latter has not only mastered but also is wielding effectively in most parts of the country. But Trump seems to have learnt better lessons. Are people like Rawal ready to learn? If they are, India might still have a chance to stay united as one nation.
“It is a choice between two futures,” as Trump proclaimed in Saudi Arabia. “If we really want to address that crisis (in Kashmir),” Ms Roy wrote a year ago in Outlook, “if we really want to stop the endless cycle of killing and dying, if we really want to stem the haemorrhaging, the first step has to be a small concession to honesty. We have to have an honest conversation.”
Yes, it is basic honesty that the Right wing in India should acquire first. And then the willingness to shed hatred – if they are incapable of learning love, at least that: shed the hatred.