Borders define countries. Boundaries cannot contain people. The history of the world has many examples of large numbers of people migrating from one country to another. The 20th century was – and now the 21st century is – remarkable for migration.
There is a body called the International Organization for Migration (IOM) which is part of the United Nations system. Founded in 1951, IOM has recognized the link between migration and economic, social and cultural development as well as the right to freedom of movement. Migration, both internal and external, cannot be stopped. (There are 65 million interstate migrants in India.) We can only work, as IOM does, “to contribute to the orderly and humane management of migration”.
Migration of millions
The partition is a cause of migration. War is another. India has witnessed both. The partition of India in 1947 is believed to have caused one of the largest “forced” migrations in human history – estimated at nearly 18 million. Before and after the liberation war that gave birth to Bangladesh, 8-9 million refugees came to India. Most settled in West Bengal, a significant number settled in Assam. They included Hindus and Muslims. At the same time, millions of Muslims remained in India, thousands of Hindus and Sikhs remained in Pakistan, and large numbers of Hindus remained in Bangladesh. Of the three, India and Bangladesh, self-proclaimed secular republics, are severely tested.
Over the years, millions of Indians, including Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs, have migrated to the United States. We proudly call them the Indian Diaspora, but they are a minority in a secular country, but largely Christian. The same is true of Indian migrants settled in many European countries, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The Indian government is legitimately concerned when one of them becomes a victim of racial or religious prejudice.
213 million Muslims have their homes in India where their ancestors lived. Likewise, 15 million Hindus (out of a population of 160 million) in Bangladesh are the descendants of families who did not emigrate to India either during the Partition or during the War of Liberation.
Both groups of Muslims – descendants of Indian citizens and migrants – reside in India. They are, from time to time, victims of religious prejudices. Yet the Modi government refuses to protect them or condemn the violence against them. If a country raises questions, the Modi government warns it against “interference in the internal affairs of India”. Compare the concerns expressed by India when Hindus and Hindu places of worship were attacked in Bangladesh. Also consider Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s direct statements and his firm instructions to his Home Secretary.
Let me recall what Mr. S. Golwalkar, one of the founding fathers of the RSS, wrote in his book We or Our Nationhood Defined: “Muslims must have no idea but those of the glorification of race and Hindu culture… the country entirely subordinate to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing… not even the rights of citizens. Have the current leaders of the RSS / BJP strayed from this philosophy?
Assuming they did, their actions and words belied this assumption. In fact, their silence in the face of excess on Muslims tells us more.
– Will a secular nation justify a blatantly discriminatory law such as the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which embraces people of all faiths but excludes Muslims? Can it be said that the CAA and the threat to detain thousands of so-called “foreigners” will have no impact in Bangladesh and elsewhere?
– Will a multicultural nation tolerate the lynching of Pehlu Khan who was transporting cows to his small dairy farm in Rajasthan, or of Aklaq suspected of keeping beef in his house in UP?
– Will a multi-religious country tolerate the pernicious theory of jihad in love when two young people of different faiths fall in love or wish to marry?
– Will a modern nation pressure Tanishq, a popular brand, to release an advertisement suggesting that an interfaith couple live happily with the husband’s family?
– Will a multilingual country take offense at an Urdu name given to the launch of a clothing line by Fabindia, an international brand, over the allegation that it has given an Islamic color to a Hindu festival that is taking place? held in two weeks?
– Will an impartial state bound to uphold the law tolerate the kind of results in the investigation and prosecution of those accused in the communal violence of Muzaffarnagar and northeast Delhi?
Pluralism is here
If some Indians – not all – can find excuses to taunt, abuse, hurt, hurt, terrorize or kill other Indian Muslims, will not Hindus and Sikhs living in other countries become the object of mockery? , abuse, harm, harm, terror or homicide? In a combustible subcontinent, “action” and “reaction” can never be neatly separated.
Pluralism is a reality. Each country must learn to live with people who belong to different cultures, practice different religions, speak different languages and follow different manners. What binds a nation is acceptance and mutual respect. India has failed in this regard in recent years.
Violence seems to have replaced tolerance. It is abhorrent anywhere, anytime. Violence will breed violence. he for an eye will blind the world. Ask yourself, who said that?