Playing the communal card

Kiren Rijiju is not a political lightweight. He is the sole BJP member from Arunachal Pradesh and is the Minister of State for Home who has completely eclipsed the other MoS Home, Hansraj Ahir whose name is seldom mentioned by the media. Often, it is Rijiju who makes important announcements about his ministry. So, when Rijiju says that the Hindu population is declining because Hindus do not convert and that minorities are ‘flourishing’ in India, its sinister implication in the context of the ongoing assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh should be obvious even to the habitually gullible. When Rijiju said that Hindus do not convert, he had apparently forgotten the ghar wapsi or conversion of Muslims into Hinduism that his party BJP carried on with great fanfare a couple of years ago.
Indeed, Hindus do not convert. One is born a Hindu and unless one converts oneself to some other religion, one dies a Hindu. One is a Hindu, whether or not one is a believer or non-believer; a theist or an atheist; whether one goes to temple or does not; whether one is a dvaitavadi or an advaitavadi; a visistadvaitavadi or a dvaitadvwaitavadi. To the tens of millions of Hindus, these fine philosophical differences make no sense. They go about their business unconcerned about these casuistries and sophistries of Hindu philosophy. To them Hinduism is a way of life rather than an institutionalized, regimented religion based on a single scripture like the Bible or the Quran or the Talmud or the Zenda Avesta or the Granth Sahib. This is what gives Hinduism its uniqueness, its capacity for constant assimilation and self-enrichment.
As for the bogey that the Hindu population is dwindling while ‘minorities’ (the plural is purely rhetorical, actually it is meant to be singular) are ‘flourishing’, a look at the census figures since the partition of India reveals the fact that the Hindu population has remained more or less at 80 per cent, while that of Muslims at 13 to 14 per cent over the decades. The ‘minorities’ do not stand the ghost of a chance to outnumber the Hindus in India. But like the slogan “Islam in danger”, the other slogan “Hindus are becoming a minority in their own land” is a catchy slogan to whip up passion that can be cleverly converted to votes. And it is votes that lead to power that politics is all about. The incalculable future damage that it is causing to the social fabric of India is of no consequence because, to quote Walt Whitman: “The future cannot touch us, the present gain we heed.”

Thursday, 16 February, 2017