Minority Rights Day

 Today, 18 Dec, is Minority Rights Day. India should celebrate this day heart and soul for various reasons.

First of all, as Shashi Tharoor claims in his new book The Battle for Belonging, everyone in India is in the minority one way or another. Take this example from Tharoor himself:

A typical Indian stepping off a train, say, a Hindi-speaking Hindu male from Uttar Pradesh might cherish the illusion that he represents the ‘majority community’. He’s wrong, of course. As a Hindu he belongs to the faith adhered to by some 80% of the population, but his language, his caste, his state and its culture – none of these belongs to the majority. If he is visiting a state in the Northeast, he will be astounded by the realization of how much of a minority he really is. He will be quite an alien among the Garos of Meghalaya and the Kukis of Nagaland. The diversity of tiny Arunachal Pradesh alone will be enough to strip him of any hubris about a singular national culture. Why, in his own religion he will be a minority. If he is a Brahmin, 90% of his fellow Indians are not. If he is a Yadav, 85% of Indians are not, and so on.

Defenders of Majority

“We are all minorities in India,” concludes Dr Tharoor. Castes, creeds, colours, cultures, cuisines, convictions, consonants, costumes, and customs… So many Cs that are held together by another C: Consensus. Consensus is the soul of democracy. It teaches us that we don’t need to agree all the time except on the ground rules of how we will disagree.

But, unfortunately, we now have a regime that labours under too many delusions. It assumes that there is a majority here to whom the country rightfully belongs. Only to them. The others have no rights. So there are blatant assaults on people belonging to certain communities. The government itself has made the assaults not only legal but also a moral obligation of every patriot.

Look at it from another angle. Take the example of the present farmers’ agitation. The farmers constitute about 65% of the country’s population. So they are a majority, so to say. The government and the private sector together employ a tiny minority of the country’s population. Yet this minority bosses over everybody else. Who decides the policies for the country, for instance?

When thousands of Adivasis are displaced from their forests in the name of development, are they consulted? No. The ‘majority’ [here, Adivasis] who are affected are never asked any questions or given any options. A small minority formulate the policies. A small minority decide to whom the forests should belong hereafter.

A small minority decide to whom the water bodies and water resources should belong hereafter. Thousands of fisherfolk suddenly find themselves displaced from their homes and jobs for the sake of Special Economic Zones or Special Ports or whatever.

Majority?
Who decided the policies for the farmers of India? The farmers say they don’t want what the government is claiming to be benefits for the farmers. The government has to impose benefits on citizens! You know that something is seriously wrong if a large community has to endure a bitter winter in the polluted open spaces of Delhi in order to say No to ‘benefits’ given to them magnanimously by a leader whose speech can sway the mountains and oceans.

What is wrong basically? A minority sits somewhere in an ivory tower and makes up policies. That’s what’s wrong. This minority has its own vested interests. That’s what’s wrong. This minority is pretending to be working for the majority. That’s an absolute lie.

Too many things are wrong about the present governance in India. People have been fooled by one man’s rhetoric and a collective delusion of national grandeur. You think you belong to the majority. Really? Think deeper; rub off the patina from your brain and think.

Comments

  1. Love the example of everybody in being in the minority, in our populous country! A very humbling perspective.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed. This diversity is India's greatest wealth, I think. No one should try to pulverise it into a deadening homogeneity in the name of things like nationalism.

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  2. Interesting thought about a "a benefit being imposed"! Yet sadly the very thing is happening... Remember ever having heard this line "I give you an offer, you cannot refuse.."

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