February 17, 2008

Even after sixty years, an Indian remains alien in his own country!!

At times I wonder why there is so much of contempt when fellow Indians are bashed up in Malaysia, when Indian immigrant labourers are ill-treated in West Asia, or often when they are at the receiving end of various forms of racial abuse in Europe, or for that matter when the Indian cricket team finds itself at the receiving end from the Aussies! It amazes me to no end because India is the same country where the treatment meted out by one Indian from one region to a fellow Indian from some other region is no different. In fact, at times the manner in which the natives of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and the entire Northeast belt are often treated in other parts of the country is even more brutal and inhuman when compared to the treatment meted out to fellow Indians in a foreign land, amply vindicating our appalling double standards. Whatever is happening in Mumbai right now is a perfect imagery of how people of the same country are increasingly becoming aliens in their own homeland. For that matter, this alienation and the resultant intolerance in Mumbai is not happening for the first time, as almost five years ago, people from Bihar who had come to take the exam for the Railway Recruitment Board were termed as ‘outsiders’ and literally beaten up and packed back in trains. Almost for similar reasons, some five years back, around 30 people from Bihar were killed in Assam. This ugly phenomenon has time and again been repeated in states like Karnataka, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir. And then, it is no secret how women from the Northeast are being treated in our national capital, New Delhi!

The root of this ever growing strange intolerance among Indians for their fellow citizens lies in our political history. The reality is that over the past 60 years, our political leaders and political parties have succeeded in engaging themselves in the politics of non-development. And no one can be blamed more for this than our national parties, who had been at the helm of governance for the maximum period of time and had perpetually and conspicuously failed to deliver on the developmental agenda, a fact which is quite evident from our global rankings on socio-economic indicators. Whatever little development that has happened, has happened just around state capitals, and that too primarily around Delhi and Mumbai. On account of the sustained non-developmental agenda and perpetual non-deliverance, the national parties have lost their entire grip over the nation, resulting in mushrooming of local parties and regional outfits that clamour mostly upon self-centric, trivial, regional and local agendas with no sensitivity towards the nation at large. It is incredible that during Independence, we had only a handful of political parties, a figure which now has grown to more than 750 (as per last General election statistics), assertively indicating the extent of failure of politics at the national level.

In addition to this, the sustained non-development has also manifested into mass-scale migration of poor and underprivileged inhabitants from impoverished states to the so-called ‘more developed’ cities. And with limited opportunities available in the cities, coupled with a growing self-centric attitude, the local inhabitants have been increasingly turning hostile towards these immigrants, for they look at them as the ones who have come to take away whatever little productive engagements that are there in the cities. The hostility has been so severe that today terms like ‘Bihari’ or ‘bhaiya’ have been grafted to become more of a disgraceful address than anything else in our society! What is worse, is the very fact that most of this hostility has been instigated by regional political parties, who in the absence of any national agenda, and ever hungry for publicity, have time and again resorted to cheap politics of creating damaging ethnic-rift and establishing themselves as cultural heroes. It is unfortunate but true that the media too has been equally responsible for the current state of affairs, as, instead of communicating the larger perspective, it has almost played the role of a mute spectator to this mass-scale subtle genocide.

It is so very tragic that after 60 years of Independence, an Indian remains an alien in his own country! All thanks to Indian politics and its political leadership, as it has been instrumental in completely robbing the very idea of ‘India’.

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