In 1999, Thomas L Friedman argued (in his book, Lexus and the Olive Tree) that no two countries that both had a McDonald’s had ever fought a war against each other since it got its McDonald’s. The decade that followed disproved Friedman. However, the point he was trying to make was valid. He was using McDonald’s as a symbol of the middle class. The presence of McDonald’s in a country indicated the rise of the middle class. And the middle class is not interested in violence and war. The middle class would rather relish a chicken burger than feel patriotism flowing through their veins when some semi-literate sadhu demands that the women give birth to ten children so that the population of a particular religion rises.
The middle class is essentially hypocritical. Its religion is not about spirituality at all; it is about social encounters, social niceties and mutual utilisation of social connections. The middle class is interested in improving their social and economic status and religion is merely another tool for that. The middle class is not interested in the ancient scriptures and other mumbo-jumbo unless it serves some very practical and mundane purpose (such as getting married or getting buried).
Friedman’s next book was The World is Flat in which he presented another theory: the Dell Theory of Conflict Prevention, according to which no two countries that are both part of a major global supply chain (like Dell) will ever fight a war against each other as long as they are both part of the same global supply chain. Once again, time disproved Friedman. But, once again, what Friedman wanted to suggest remained valid. Cross-border trade improves international relationships.
India, particularly under the present Prime Minister, is encouraging all sorts of countries to cross its borders with investments. India is not averse to Christians or people belonging to any creed or sect setting up industries in the country. And, be sure, India will have good international relationships too. And the country has a sizeable population with the typical middle class aspirations.
Why, then, are we Indians not able to maintain good relationships with the non-Hindus in the country? Why do BJP and its allies insist on retrogressive practices such as ghar vapasi and attacks on non-Hindu religious places? Why do they call for their women to undergo the agony of lifetime pregnancies? Why do they preach hatred and strife in the name of absurd notions that nobody takes seriously anyway?
Is it the typical Indian hypocrisy that motivates and sustains the BJP and its allies? We can regard our rivers as sacred and yet throw all our waste into them. We can worship the cow as Gaumata and drive them in herds on to the national highways to find their fodder. We can uphold the most sublime utterances of the Upanishads on our national insignia and perpetrate the most brutal assault on them in our actual deeds.
Hypocrisy runs freely and copiously in the Indian veins.
When the BJP has officially posed some 25 questions to AAP, I would like to pose only one question to it: when will it shed its shameless hypocrisy and ideological opportunism?