Friday, February 25, 2011

Thus Conscience Can Make Good Indians of Us All

By Badri Raina, ZNet, Thursday, February 24, 2011

“During my interaction with Kaleem, I learnt that he was previously arrested in the Mecca Masjid bomb blast case and he had to spend about one-and-a-half years in prison. During my stay in jail, Kaleem helped me a lot and used to serve me by bringing water, food,etc. for me. I was very moved by Kaleem’s good conduct and my conscience asked me to prayaschit by making confessional statement.”

(Swami Aseemanand in his confessional statement to Magistrate.  The statement was recorded on December, 18 under section 164 of the IPC, and is thus admissible in evidence. Kaleem, the Muslim boy, has been accused of the crime, namely the blast at the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad, that Aseemanand says was infact committed by Hindutva terrorists.)

I was asked the other day what kinds of people I thought to be the greatest danger to the  “idea of India.”  Hopelessly enough, as many in the audience must have thought, I came up with  a complicated answer, contradicting the clarity that seems rampant these days.
Yet my simple point was that the answer to the question must depend greatly on how one is placed within the nation-state.
Ask the question of  a Tata, a Birla, an Ambani, or those that comprise the country’s  land and mining mafia, or those in politics and the bureaucracy who largely do their work, or those in the  corporate media who remain busily occupied in  peddling with penchant  the ever-more avaricious aspirations of India’s upwardly mobile  classes, or the endowed  non-resident Indians impatient to do away with the  uncouth habits of the masses and to pave some ten percent of the “homeland” (which they have deserted) with gold (that they may also  own), and  the answer you might get is left-wing extremism, trade unionism, NGO activism, wasteful social spending and so forth.

Ask the other eighty or so percent of Indians who sweat in fields, farms, factories, or vend the day for a pittance, forest-dwellers who are told not a tree, a bush, a  patch of land, or a drop of water  belongs to them anymore, or millions of children who rag-pick, or slave in  shops or  homes, who feed on crumbs and get roundly abused and beaten routinely and die like flies in the cold and heat, and they might not even comprehend the question you ask, being past all conceivable danger all their wretched lives.  The “idea of India,”– what might that be?  Ask those who still scavenge for a living, and get treated like lepers for their labours of keeping the rest of us clean, and they might say that the greatest danger is that they may be dispossessed even of the privileges of scavenging which keeps them just this side of starvation.

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