By Dr. Arun Mitra
News as reported in the Nav Bharat Times dated 12 April 2023, referring to a post in which the mother of a child had mentioned that her daughter came home today crying asked me ‘are we Muslims so dirty’? This is after her class fellow in the 6th class spat on her face after the latter told her that she belongs to Muslim religion. This is a matter of great worry and is a reflection of what is being constantly discussed in some homes and fed into the children’s mind. Children of that age have no such concept of religious differences, least to talk about hating someone on the basis of religion, caste, creed, ethnicity or gender. But constant negative discussions have a long term impression on the developing mind of the child. Such observations were also made after the riots in Gujarat.
The Times of India dated May 7, 2002 had reported “Secularism is gasping for that one last breath of hope. Especially with children starting to spit fire against the opposite community. The seed of hatred is sown young and in some case even before the child reached puberty. A child told his father, who wanted to help Muslim family, that he did not feel bad for the victims of riot and that the family should seek help from those who burnt alive passengers of the Sabarmati express. Children of Muslims who were affected due to the large scale riot speak of revenge the Hindus”.
In our society where the prejudices based on the caste and religion already existed, it is easy to arouse the feelings of hatred against others. The German Nazi politician Paul Joseph Goebbels who was the chief propagandist for the Nazi Party, and then Reich Minister of Propaganda from 1933 to 1945 worked on the dictum “If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself. A lie told once remains a lie but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth”.
He unleashed a systematic propaganda against the Jews. It was propagated that Jews grow like mushrooms and they are the cause for ills facing Germany. After that the Nazis successfully carried out pogrom of the Jews. Not much far back the propaganda against Tutsis by the Hutus led to tribal war in Rwanda which killed over 800,000 people in a span of just 100 days in 1994. During the partition of India 2.5 million people, Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims, were killed as a result of mob frenzy. Recent incidents of violence in Manipur will alienate Kukis and Meiteis from each other for decades to come.
It was most disgusting to note that even during Pandemic when people needed to be united, a false propaganda was launched against Tablighis and they were hounded out after being blamed for spreading COVID without any evidence. They were however exonerated by the court at a later stage.
When some women held a sit in Dharna at Shaheen Bagh against the Citizens Amendment Bill, they were ridiculed. Only a few months back the murders and rapists of family of Bilkis Bano were released by the Gujarat government right at the same time when the Prime Minister was talking from the Red Fort on 15th August 2022 about his commitment to save the honour of women. Now we are watching women sitting on Dharna at the Jantar Mantar New Delhi demanding arrest of Brij Bushan Sharan Singh whom they are accusing of sexual harassment of the female wrestlers. These women do not belong to any minority community. They come from Jat community. This is a clear message that perpetrators of narrative of hatred spare no one.
It is time to understand that the narrative of hatred does not stop at one community or ethnic group. It becomes a mind set against the vulnerable sections who are blamed for all ills and are then persecuted. Hitler wanted to eliminate Jews and prove himself to be true Christian. But at the end of the day out of over 55 million people killed in the 2nd world war, vast majority of them happened to be Christians.
Bigotry is not part of human behaviour. People have always yearned to live in peace. The hatred against others is spread with ulterior motive. There are few reports of Hindus and Muslims fighting against each other before the British came to India. With a purpose to rule the country the colonial power used all tools to divide the society so as to strengthen their hold on the country. They even succeeded in dividing the country. However it is important to note here that despite killing of over 2.5 million Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims in the riots during partition, people of India rebuffed the politics of hatred and defeated the communal divisive forces in the first ever elections in free India and opted to build the country based on the ideals of humanism and dignity for all irrespective of religion, caste or gender. That was the ‘idea of India’ and a reflection of collective freedom movement against the colonial power.
What has happened now is big question? Why the people of India are being swayed away by the forces who never took any part in the freedom struggle, rather sided with the colonial masters?
Social learning and psychological make up in the process of growing up makes a great difference in future behaviour patterns of young minds. They are influenced by prejudices, hatred and many other negative ideas during the course of their upbringing. It is therefore important to study this with seriousness and prevent such disorderly behaviour from happening. People have to decide now what type of country- divided or united we have to develop further? Hatred will split the society, break the cohesion, destroy the idea of India and peaceful coexistence. Such forces will not hesitate to enter into full fledged war and put the health and lives of the people at high risk particularly when the region is nuclear powered. (IPA Service)