By Tariq A. Al-Maeena
The title of this column is borrowed from Dr. Mike Ghouse, an American of Indian origin who is passionate about the native land that fed him milk in his infancy. Like many Indians abroad, Mike has been incrementally worried about the changing face of his beloved land of birth.
Concerned about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s continuous reluctance to censure his BJP party members who are forging a road of dissent and division, Mike says, that if Modi “does not speak up on the issues that are tearing the nation apart, and if he fails to restore freedom to speak, eat, drink, wear and believe what India’s constitution guarantees, and if he fails to warn the extremists in his party from destroying the social fabric of India, he will cripple the nation, making it a Langda (lame) India as we call it in Hindi.”
“For India to succeed as a nation, it has to stand on its own two firm feet; prosperity and social cohesion. The two are dependent on each other; one will not happen without the other. Indeed, prosperity will be short-lived if the social structure crumbles.”
Mike adds: “Social cohesion is like the cohesion in the human body, where the heart, brain, kidneys, liver, lungs, digestive track and all parts of the body need to function cohesively to live a normal life. Failure of one organ can cause dysfunction in others. If you think the discharge part of the body is less important, wait till it stops, it will give headaches and will affect how we function. Likewise, all people in a society have to function cohesively, and it is in the interest of the body that it makes up for deficiencies in our part through a system of integration. As humans, and as Indians, we have to meet those deficiencies in fellow Indians for the common good, and our own security and wellbeing.”
He cautions that such division will sooner or later encompass everybody and not just the minorities. “I cannot be safe if people around me are not, and if I threaten others, I am equally frightened at my vulnerable moments. No one will be safe, including Hindus, who may not think much of the situation in India now, but eventually they will get hit too.
“Those of you who are blinded by the love for Mr. Modi, I appeal to you to look for greater love for the nation. People like Modi will come and go, but the Nation will continue. I am challenging your patriotism; none of us want India to go down, so let our loyalty be to India and not Modi, until he proves that he can keep these two functions in shape, I will hold my praise for him, will you?
“Those of you cheering for Modi now, will come to regret it, unless Modi gets his act together. All that prosperity will go down the tube if no one feels secure. When injustice waxes to the extreme, it will tear the nation apart; the rich will run out of the country for safety, and ugly communism may run in under the banner of redistribution of wealth and equalizing inequality.”
Mike exhorts his fellow Indians with a chilling reminder. “It is time to wake up! Remember: Modi had given terrorists three days to finish their slaughter during the Gujarat riots, and now he has probably given three years to similar goons to finish freedom in India. Possibly the process has begun.”
How can the process be reversed and what do Dr. Ghouse and like-minded Indians want? “We want Mr. Modi to speak up! That is it. He can address the nation in this way: ‘I am the Prime Minister of all Indians. I will get blamed for the bad things that happen in India, and I am not going to put up with that. From this moment, everyone who messes with their fellow Indians will be punished severely, and if they have staged acts like the one in Dadri, everyone involved will be punished severely. This is my last warning and action will follow. Furthermore, I declare that no one will compel or tell other Indians what to read, write, eat, drink, wear or believe.’ This is all we want.”
What Dr. Ghouse needs is what any citizen of a supposedly democratic country would come to expect and nothing more. And Mike is not alone in his fearful assessment of the rising tide of extremism in India. The New York Times recently reported that Moody’s Analytics, an arm of the international credit rating company, had cautioned that Mr. Modi “must keep his members in check or risk losing domestic and global credibility”. They based their assessment on “Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s willingness to tolerate, even encourage, the Hindu hard-liners in his own party.”
As Dr. Ghouse reminds all freedom loving Indians: “I don’t want my India to be a Langda India, do you? If we all wake up and criticize Mr. Modi, guess what will happen? He will be compelled to do the right thing. Don’t you want that?”
— The author can be reached at email@example.com or @talmaeena