Friday, June 21, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

The damned united

Update : 28 Dec 2015, 07:33 PM

When one of the leaders of India’s Bharat Janatiya Party claims that he envisions that, one day, India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan will reunite under the banner of an “Akhand Bharat,” or undivided India, colour me sceptical with regards to the purity of his intentions.

His opinion was voiced as a member of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, and he went on to claim that this would not be a forceful annexation through war or by other similar means of the other nations, but through political and popular goodwill of their respective citizens.

Colour me sceptical because, it is especially rich coming from the RSS, a right-wing, Hindu, and nationalist organisation, with history of being deemed extremist in nature and subsequently banned by various past Indian governments; one of whose former members assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, whose willingness to co-operate with Muslims was rejected; members of which were involved in the religiously motivated demolition of Babri Masjid in Andhra Pradesh; whose leaders have openly shown adulation for Adolf Hitler; were, conversely, and ironically, supportive of the State of Israel; marketed a cow urine soda (I kid you not), Gau jal, believing that it treats diseases like diabetes; and blames the “Western” influence for incidences of rape in India.

In a country which has, of late, not been able to decide on the mere issue of beef, where a Muslim man was killed because of the very fact that he had consumed an animal which is deified by the majority of its population, as a result of the right-wingedness of its current government, this seems unlikely, if not flat-out impossible, with the current state of affairs in the Indian sub-continent.

But I, personally, do appreciate the fact that this was brought up in a public platform. Some of us, who have idealistic (but, perhaps, naïve) notions of a united world, where issues of race, religion, and creed are ignored for the greater progress of humanity, find such a possibility comforting. Those of us who see this idea of unity, maybe, as a stepping stone towards a more inclusive and just future. These are the same people who, perhaps now ironically, decry -- “Why can’t we all just get along?”

Am I one of those people? I don’t know. But it’s a nice thought, nonetheless.

But issues abound such a unification. When you look within India itself, a country that was, before 1947, some claim, a landscape of religious harmony, such a possibility doesn’t seem all that impossible. After all, we were all together before. So why can’t we all be together now, under one singular banner?

One only needs to look at the Israel-Palestine situation to understand how, after something is done on such a massive scale, it is next to impossible to go back, especially with the passing of so much time. How far do we go back, really, to a time when all of us were one, to an era of unaware tranquility, to Pangea?

India is host to two religions which very directly and adversely contradict each other. One promotes vegetarianism with a fervour, and the other offers yearly sacrifices of animals for the very purpose of consumption, with the main animal of choice being a literal god among the eyes of many.

And let us not forget the Christians, whose consumption of pork interferes with one of the dearest tenets of Islam (and Christianity too, for that matter, but that’s another topic for another day).

And Pakistan, a country which played host to the last days of Osama bin Laden’s life, whose port seal warrants an immediate and without-question dismissal of any application for visa, would be a mismatch amongst India and Bangladesh, two countries, which are, as of yet, still at least maintaining the façade of secularism.

Bangladesh would prove to be a more nationalistically stubborn child to convince. It has yet to move on from the fact that it did some great things 44 years ago (to take nothing away from the achievement) and harps on biased narratives on the supposed great men it has had in its history, people who have stood in direct opposition against the very forces such an idea would unite them with.

Our hatred for Indians and Pakistanis (for vastly different reasons) is notoriously illogical, and only serves to reinstate the idea of a “you mess with me, so I’ll mess with you” paradigm. And if you’re expecting Bangladeshis to unite under the label of India, fat chance.

A united India? We can’t even think of a united Bengal, and we share the same damned language.

Such an idea is, in its essence, a humanist one. It considers the people of the Indian sub-continental landscape to be what they really are: People. And a humanist notion would have to rid of archaic notions of religion out because they are too different and conflict with each other in ways from which we cannot escape without practicing some compromised and cherry-picked version, which a lot, if not most, of us are unwilling to do.               

It is only in culture that we come together, and can offer some form of coherence. The bases for our language are the same, the colour of our skin is the same, the food we eat is the same, the art and music we practice are the same. But if countries were forged out of things we actually had in common instead of mythical beasts and discussions of where to find them, the world would indeed be a vastly different place.

We could, potentially, offer a EU-like solution, where the Indian sub-continent would be essentially borderless for its citizens, but our beliefs are not even close to being as in tune as it is within the European continent. Religion over there was not a factor (which, over here, is really the biggest issue) and culturally, too, they were in sync. And even then, there are complaints, dissent, discontent. Even then, discussions continue over whether the EU was, in fact, a good idea.

But, again, I am glad that such a notion was put forward. It brings to light the problems we face, not merely as a significant part of a continent, but as a planet, and highlights what seems to be holding us back from progress. We must, in fact, decide on whether we want to live in a version of Utopia where each human being is judged solely based on their merit and goodwill. If not, though, let it be, and tear the world asunder.

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