The last one month has been crucial for the art industry in India. Of course, you know what I am talking about! The writer fraternity in India has been actively returning their awards one by one to demonstrate their protest against the killing of a renowned writer last month and religious intolerance on the whole. Initially, it was only a dozen of writers who had chosen to demonstrate their protest in this way. But the issue has become deeper and more serious with time and seems to have assumed the character of a non-violent movement. And here’s why it is serious and has forced me to come with this article!
The entire fuss began when Maleshappa Kalburgi, an academic from Karnataka, was shot dead at his home last month, i.e., September. The writer had previously gotten threat calls for his criticism on the practice of idol worship among Hindus. It is this killing that has forced all the writers across the country to come together and show their protest. Of course, these are the literate class of people in the society and hence the protest has remained non-violent so far. But, religious intolerance has been rising more phenomenally than we think and know, and, if it grows at this rate, India would soon witness a riot like that which Mumbai experienced in 1992.
First and foremost, what is religion? And why so much of fuss over it? Religion is something that we people have created to bring like-minded people closer to each other and connect with divinity. No religion, absolutely no religion in this world, preaches people to be violent, to kill the people of other religion or disapprove of them and their ideologies. Every person has a unique way of thinking, a unique of worship and connecting with God. This is what religion is all about! And yes, no individual comes with a religious tag on him. A newly born child doesn’t know which religion he belongs to; it is the parents and the society who teach them to behave in a certain way, act and react in a certain way and practice certain things, irrespective of whether the person approves of it or believes in the ideologies. When children are first admitted to school and get exposed and connected to their numerous classmates, no one asks one another what religion they belong to! Relationships and friendships are irrespective of any barriers such as caste, creed, religion, sex and race.
Something that was created by people to get close to God and divinity and connect with like-minded people has however now taken the structure of violence and intolerance. The writers’ movement is undoubtedly non-violent but what about what is happening across the country? Innocent people are being dragged and killed in what has become the issue of beef ban, bans are imposed by the government on the way people live and eat and people are killing each other over petty issues. Is this what our freedom fighters had fought for? Is this what our soldiers are battling on the borders for? All of these great Indians have a simple belief and desire – to bring Indians together so that they can fight evils together. ‘Unity in Diversity’ is what we are taught at schools! Imagine what those kids must be feeling when they see this violence on their TV sets that results from a thing such as religion!
Why are we Hindus and Muslims and not Indians? Why are we teaching our innocent younger generation to fight with one another on the grounds of religion? Why is violence taking over India? What do people want? Do we want the government to exercise control over the way we live now? Would we be happy if the government now tells us what to eat and what not? If people want beef to be banned in India, why is chicken, mutton and fish not banned? Just because cows are sacred for a particular religion? And what about the chickens who lay their lives daily to fill the stomachs of numerous people in the country? Aren’t they living beings? My only point here is, let people eat what they want. No one has got the right to tell anyone what to eat and what not and, if people are so concerned about the killing of cows, impose a ban on animal killing on the whole! But, do this to save the animals and not in the name of religion!
My entire point of writing this is to suggest people,
Enough of the religious fuss, please, let’s be Indians now!
Disclaimer: This, again, is a topic suggested by my dear friend Sheetal Maurya. Thanks Sheetal. J