Monday, August 18, 2014

Never Forget the Partition

Our country is 68 years old, but unfortunately, it appears, none the wiser. Just as 15 August 1947 made us free people, it also rang home a horrific lesson of what divisive politics and intolerance can wreck. The trauma of the violent Partition appears to have erased itself from public memory with only opportunist leaders still revisiting it to collect tips on how to unleash such bigotry. In the nearly seven decades that have passed since, politics is still allowed to divide people, ideologies still shriek of intolerance and even though a majority of the people might be privately secular and tolerant, our mobs become rabid placards for reprehensible intolerance. The Congress claims on the number of communal clashes since BJP came into office at the Centre might be exaggerated, but is still a true reminder of how dangerously divisive politics has become and of how conveniently divided the people are. The stories coming out of UP and the following that Khap panchayats continue to attract and the continuing triggers in the heartland make one wonder at the parochial sensibilities which appear to hold strong despite the hope of improved tolerance that the wider exposures of the present times have potential for. In such an environment, the Prime Minister’s recent comment, wondering why, people who are now Indians and Pakistanis could fight together [and successfully] for independence, cannot get along anymore, becomes significant. Twins, born 68 years ago, celebrated their Independence a day apart over the last weekend. A combination of intolerance, politics and irreconcilable leadership differences split Pakistan and India away - making enemies out of fellow citizens and former colleagues and inciting a feud which keeps people apart to this day. The two nations are at daggers drawn and hold suspicions which sponsor the political and professional futures of the agent provocateurs who remain relevant because the hate sustains. A cruel con was played on the entire Partition/ Independent generation and because the people- a section hurting over the Partition violence and struggling with the challenges of survival as refugees and the rest swept by jubilation of being free – forgot to remind their leaders and future generations of what it meant to be one people, the fiction of ingrained hate and reflexive paranoia took over. A people who share a common history and draw identities from places which now lie in the neighbour’s land, have so completely bought into the seven decade old mischief, that they forget the common culture that they collectively fostered over several millennia. That perhaps is the price one has to pay when politics is allowed to define identities and short-sighted politicians allowed to set priorities. As the I-Day jubilation winds down, the people should resolve to keep themselves and future generations safe from communal and casteist divisions. They should remember the horrors of partition and every communal madness since then to demand better from their leaders and themselves.

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