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Modern day Don Quixotes

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Many of us are familiar with Don Quixote. If not, it is well worth reading. Don Quixote in his most famous of adventures, tilts at windmills imagining them to be giants. You get the picture.

Our modern day Don Quixotes are activists without a cause. They are mostly Hindus. They are out to save secularism. From Hindus. Er. What does that mean? They are fighting persecution. Of whom? Of others (wait). By Hindus. They have always been doing it – the episode in question is the CAA act of a long story that has been commissioned since 2014 May.

Cut to pre-1947. India was always a secular nation, notwithstanding the hijacking of the constitution in the late 70s to include the word secularism

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Why is India secular? Because without the word itself, India is a mix of religions, languages, tribes, dialects. It is the very nature of Hinduism – ekam sat, viprah bahuda vadanti – there is one truth, the roads are different. Thus, from a philosophical level itself India and Hindus are inclusive. As are religions that originated with this ethos. Think about it – if you are arguing about one god (your god) that is the greatest and not other – you cant really be plural about other things right. Even if that is so, if you can worship any god with gusto – there is a higher likelihood that you have a plural belief system? You can argue about it, but you can see how it is around the world and come to a conclusion. Whether there is any genuinely plural Islamic country or Christian country that does not put ‘Christian first’? I will wait for your answer.

Granted the latter is more plural than the former. In this situation read the laws of India – it is beyond equal – it actually puts Hindus at a disadvantage. This must be corrected no doubt, but I digress. This is how secular India is. [I am not saying we were peaceful, we did not discriminate, there was no violence – but there is a tremendous capacity of the religion to look within and change and it continues on a daily basis with reform and change.]

Cut to history. In pre-1947 India, there was a demand for a separate nation. Not from the Buddhists, Jains or the Parsis (who ironically escaped persecution from Islam in Iran to come here), but from another community (clue, not Christians), who got a country named Pakistan. And that country split into another country Bangladesh. The CAA purports to enable persecuted Hindu refugees to come into the country from these countries (and Afghanistan) – because it is on record that Hindus are persecuted in Islamic nations. [Note, if you have found a truly plural Islamic nation, here is the time to present your case and rebut my argument]

Now I am not arguing that in India there is no discrimination. It exists as much as it exists in any other place – give or take a few. The point I am trying to make is that institutionally discrimination has been practically eliminated. If any there is pro-discrimination in terms of favourable laws to Christians and Muslims (and a few others listed as minorities) – not even to historically discriminated SC/ST/DT/NT – except in reservation in non minority institutions.

Now these Don Quixotes have risen to attack the windmills of discrimination. Because according to them this CAA law (and something else that has not yet been created) is discriminatory. And of course, there is persecution of the largest minority in India – a population of about 25 million – way more than any single caste group in India. More than the tribals. More than the nomads. More than all of them a global religion is being persecuted. This is the crux of the argument. The same religion has its personal laws, its cultural practices, autonomy for institutions, special government spending for schemes, scholarships and a board for its own land. All protected by the constitution.

The fact that Hindus are persecuted in Bangladesh and Pakistan is ignored. The fact their population has reached single digit percentages is ignored. The fact that this was a promise made to Hindus during partition – those who are on the wrong side of geography can always come back to India – their home is ignored. And going by the law – hardly 10000 people will be eligible for fast track citizenship. The fact that we harbour lakhs of Bangladeshi/Rohingya – who are infiltrators (not persecuted refugees, note) is ignored.

The CAA law has not been passed in the dead of the night by hijacking an institution. It has been passed by the rules of the very constitution of India that our Don Quixotes want to protect. And for this they are aiding those who shout for a second partition, the supremacy of their god, the protection of laws that are severely anti women and sometimes in a moment of enlightenment throw in freedom of Kashmir and freedom from Hindus.

So, what are these Don Quixotes fighting? They are fighting themselves. They are the object of their own hate. Why? Because somehow tilting at those windmills isnt helping. Every other day a new video of Islamic supremacy comes to the fore. A video of the police being attacked comes to the fore. A video demanding somewhat of partition comes to fore. And who do these supremacists hate? They hate the same Don Quixotes.

Our Don Quixotes believe that India shouldnt divide on the basis of religion. But on humanity. This I agree. Then we should repeal all religion based laws – like the HUF act, Article 29/30, separate religion schemes and bring in a Uniform Civil Code. But no, our Quixotes are neither aware of these laws, nor do they want these laws to be repealed and they surely dont want a UCC. But they want CAA to be repealed for sure.

Our Quixotes believe that Hindus cause all riots and Muslims are at the receiving end of all riots. Their clock stops at 2002.

They believe that stealing cows should be allowed and cow slaughter celebrated with abandon across the country. They believe that gau rakshaks (who are saving their own cows from thieves) are a greater threat than ISIS and that a private property owner choosing to rent his property to a person of his choosing is a greater discriminator than persecution in the neighbouring country. They do know that if someone steals their precious iPhone regulary, they will slap the offender or if they see a man in a women’s railway compartment – he too shall be slapped, but people who see their cows being stolen, must take a deep breath and look inward.

Such are our Quixotes….You will meet many of them and sigh in wonder at how they can lazily arrive at belief systems only by seeing Instagram posts and Facebook memes (or was it the other way round?).

Bonus: There was a Don Quixote by the name of Jogendranath Mandal. Read about him.

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