|Image from Republic World|
Communal hate has been a national pastime in Uttar Pradesh for quite a while. Now they have made it official and legal too with the promulgation of the ordinance against ‘love jihad’. Other BJP-ruled states will soon follow suit. Cows always belong to the herd.
There are so many interfaith couples in India just as in any other country today. When Sharmila Tagore married Mansoor Ali Khan, the sky didn’t collapse, the earth didn’t quake. Nothing happened except that they made love like any other couple and begot three very normal children one of whom followed the parents’ example and married from a different faith. There are numerous such couples who live happy lives though their allegiances are to apparently irreconcilable gods.
When Kamala Harris became the vice president-elect of the US, India’s right wing celebrated her Indian origins though her father was a Jamaican-American-Christian. This same right wing has no problems about Indian Hindus leaving their sacred motherland to live in countries where beef is staple diet. This same right wing is okay with Hindus marrying Christians or Muslims or Jews in other countries. What then is their problem with Hindus marrying persons of their choice in India?
Is it sheer hypocrisy? The kind of nationalism that is in vogue today in the country is highly hypocritical. It can build a temple for Donald Trump and worship him as an idol but it can’t accept its own citizens who worship Trump’s God. It can accept dollops of American and other dollars for itself but will block all funds coming for the poor through charitable organisations. It will accept all the western science and technology and will justify it saying that it was all originally Indian – and quote a couple of abstruse Sanskrit shlokas to prove the point.
But this war against love may not be only hypocritical. It is more political and as much psychological too.
Politically, it is easy to use religion as a tool for winning votes and at the same time marginalising certain groups or communities. People like Modi, Shah, and Yogi have been practising this kind of politics ever since they took charge of affairs. It is the lowest or cheapest or the most facile kind of politics one can practise. The war against the so-called love jihad belongs to that low, cheap, facile gimmickry that passes for politics today.
But it’s not just that either. There’s some psychology too involved. The kind of nationalism brought into play by the present heroes of India belongs to what V S Naipaul referred to as “a wounded civilisation”. The feeling that India was subjugated humiliatingly by the Muslim invaders first and the Christian British later has created an indelible scar, one that refuses to be healed, in the collective psyche of the Hindus. The pain is all the more acute because underlying it is a stabbing consciousness that Hinduism was the eternal ideal (Sanatana Dharma) that was brutally jolted by alien forces. In a way, it was a failure of Hinduism itself, a failure arising from its sacred supremacy and superiority. In simple words, the surrender of Hinduism to Muslim and Christian invaders was like the mightiest god being brought to his knees by some mleccha elements. That is worse than a defeat. It is a shame. The scar of that shame still seethes in the flank of Indian nationalism raising ample hysteria.
Image from Indian Express
The cry against love jihad is part of that hysteria.
When hysteria is at play, there can be no rational or sane remedies. Actually the government has no business to be a marriage broker with a patronising morality. The citizens should be free to love people of their choice. Love is not what foments troubles. It is hate that should be kept under the leash of the law. The BJP governments in India are doing just the opposite: oppose love and promote hate. Every wounded psyche walking around with a seething stigma between its ribs has first to heal itself. Otherwise the stench and germs from the stigma will pollute the surroundings. Aren’t we living in one such colossal pollution?