Friday, 20 September 2013

The great enemy Pakistan?

The legendary Indian film actor Dilip Kumar (born Muhammad Yusuf Khan in what is today Pakistan) recently had a heart attack but is, at the time of writing, recovering. One may recall that he received, amongst countless other honours and awards, the Nishan-e-Imtiaz from the Pakistani government in 1997 - the highest civilian award in Pakistan. The Shiv Sena predictably objected, but Dilip Kumar decided to accept the award anyway.

In India, the forces of communalism need nothing more than a permanent Pakistan-hating frenzy. If you doubt how important this is for the Sangh Parivar, visit the twitter page of VHP head Pravin Togadia. In August, VHP and Bajrang Dal activists were arrested for vandalising an Ahmedabad art gallery displaying work by some Pakistani artists. Togadia tweeted condemning the arrests, suggesting this was about getting (presumably Muslim or secular) votes. But after some prolific VHP tweeters started sounding sulky about Modi, Togadia had to reassure his supporters: in allowing some Brownshirts to be arrested, Modi was not really turning against his core fanbase. "We [Modi and the VHP presumably] are ONE & the same", he explained, and "let him [Modi] add secular votes". So in the run up to the elections there may be some mild bickering in the Hindutva camp, but their bigwigs understand the need for a bit of realpolitik at this important moment when the RSS finally has another shot at getting to the top.

Returning to the question of Pakistan, I'm sure most people know instinctively that people of the subcontinent are all much the same, even in our foolishness (for example, getting worked up over religion). Sure, Pakistan has its nutters and terrorists. As does India. If speaking rudely of Pakistanis was unacceptable in India - even considered a form of communalism - it seems likely the Sangh Parivar's power would wane. This highlights the importance of events like the Pakistan India Peoples' Forum For Peace & Democracy's recent seminar in Delhi: Talking peace in the times of war mongering.

Here are some other initiatives which seem to be in the right direction:

No comments:

Post a comment