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Civilisation is skin-deep

R G Collingwood, professor of metaphysics, regards civilisation as an attitude which enables ideal social relationships of ‘civility’.  In practice, this means becoming progressively less violent, more scientific and more inclusive. This never happens, though. Most people remain savages at heart. Scratch any civilisation and savagery will bleed out.

If there is a little support from the government, even tacit support, then savagery will become the dominant force in any nation. Savagery appeals far more to people in general than civilisation. Let us take a quick glance at what is happening to India now.

Both the society and the polity in India have been transformed into sites of discursive and physical violence, increasing fidelity to myths and superstitions, and burgeoning hatred of certain communities – just the opposite of what Collingwood described as characteristics of civilisation.

This situation is largely a creation of the government at the Centre which is doing all that it can to convert India into a Hindu nation. Making Gandhi a Hindu icon, pitting Patel against Nehru, and designating 14 Aug as Partition Horror Memorial Day are just a few examples of reshaping history and thus reshaping the nation itself. Institutions, persons and practices that embody secular ideals are attacked systematically one way or another. Savarkar and Godse are made heroes.

There are open calls for genocide of both Muslims and Christians, the former bearing the larger brunt. The Dharam Sansads convened in Haridwar and Delhi in Dec 2021 pledged to exterminate Muslims from India altogether. The Haridwar Sansad started with making a public mockery of the Indian Constitution which was brought on the stage and lampooned. Soon the audience was exhorted to take up arms against Muslims. One of the speakers said that if he was an MP in Manmohan Singh’s parliament, he would have pumped bullet after bullet into Dr Singh’s heart for defending the rights of India’s minorities. Another said, “If we have to finish their (Muslim) population, we are ready to kill and go to jail.” In the Delhi Sansad, 250 people took a solemn pledge to kill the minority community people in order to facilitate the creation of a Hindu nation.

This is just how Nazism ran its roots in the German soil. Collingwood cites the Nazi Germany as an example of a highly uncivilised nation.

India is claiming to be the cradle of an ancient civilisation while perpetrating atrocities against chosen people. Collingwood must be sneering in his grave.

Violence is the most conspicuous characteristic of the present dispensation in India. In the first three years of Modi’s tenure as Prime Minister, a research report found that 97% of all cow-related violence in India came after he came into power in Delhi. The Indian Express reported on 20 Jan 2020 that offences promoting enmity between groups more than doubled over 2016. From 478 case in 2016, the number rose to 958 in 2017 and 1114 in 2018. The numbers for the next years will come in due course of time. Will we be shocked? Or will we feel smug?

The answer depends on what bleeds out when your civilisation is scratched.

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  1. "Most people remain savages at heart. Scratch any civilisation and savagery will bleed out- very interesting observation. Sadly, we see the scratching happening frequently these days.

  2. Hari OM
    Clear Collation of the Concept... the very root of 'civilisation' is that there be civility! Something that has been cruelly crushed these days... YAM xx

    1. I have repeatedly spoken of the role of the leader in the shaping of a nation's attitudes. India unfortunately has a leader who is going to take the nation to its worst history. That's my prediction.

  3. After reading the post and the comments shared above, I'm left silent. Poetry is what I'll be reading to find solace. I know it's not the thing to do but for now--that'll have to do for me. It takes courage to write what you write Tomichan. Clarity and courage.

    1. A hug to you, Arti. Most people think that I'm just an armchair critic of Modi government. The truth is i would love to be part of a revolutionary movement in this country. But i too choose the way of poetry though my lines jar almost invariably - like in this post. Another thing which most of my critics fail to understand is my love for the genuine version of Hinduism which is so very tolerant. My happiest years were spent in a Hindu residential school - not 1 ot 2 years, a decade and a half, the longest i ever had in one single institution....

  4. Caste and religion are easy weapons to activate the commoners in to criminals. Communalism - in any form , by any sides - are threat to our growth.

    1. Exactly. The more number of people realise it, the better for all of us.

  5. As always, you write to the point and back it up with all the facts and show us the real mirror of the current times which is nothing but alarming. I was appalled by what happened during the recent Hindu New year celebrations! I feel numb when I see such news.

    1. I, like you and many other Indians, look forward to a better India. My fulminations in writing are only signs of that longing for my nation.

  6. Absolutely. "Violence is the most conspicuous characteristic of the present dispensation in India." Unfortunately true.


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