Communal Violence in India

India is the largest democracy in the world. No other country shows the diversified coalition of people living together as India does. One sees people from different castes, backgrounds, cultures living in a single street in the urban areas. There is this close interaction and association between people that have resulted in stronger ties, cross cultural exchange and learning. This has moulded a semi westernised society. Semi westernised essentially means the inculcation of western society practises such as freedom to young adults to choose their partners, moving towards women empowerment, personal freedom and choice and a lot more. We do not call ourselves particularly westernized as we set boundaries for ourselves keeping in mind certain values that resonate with our life style.

The urban cities for the same reason have been referred to as the melting pot of cultures. It has been long debated about sticking on to our own culture and non- acceptance of other community practises. Some radical actions have been performed by extremist parties like the Ram Sena to eradicate any westernized behaviour. Celebration of Valentine’s Day and the “club-culture” of the youth today have been termed as acts against our culture. In order to portray their disagreement they resorted to vandalism by raiding pubs in Mangalore City. Young girls were physically ill-treated and pulled out of these places. Couples spotted on Valentine’s Day were beaten up for compromising on culture or taken to temples to be married. In certain places, any girl observed talking to a boy was ill treated and the male counterpart was brutally assaulted. Till date, there is a high degree of insecurity among people to go out on valentines even if it meant with siblings or friends. Isn’t this curbing the freedom of individuals? There has been a registered case where talking to a Muslim boy was condemned and the girl was beaten up for giving in her Hindu value systems by interacting with him!

The Ram Sena claims to be performing these acts to preserve our culture but in reality aren’t they letting go of the very values of respecting women which forms an integral part of our culture?  The shining emergent India is overpowered by illiterate bigots who are hypocrites themselves. These people lure people by the big ideology and only promote disharmony. If clubbing and partying of today’s youth not a part of our culture, so is rape, child marriage and female infanticide. But do we see them stand up for such social issues? Their objective by nature is not clear and they resort to superfluous violence which leads to dissonance and negativity. Suddenly, due to this the image of shining emergent India collapses and the face of dark shameful India ruled by ‘Demogogs’ haunts behind in our minds.

It is necessary for them to realise that this is the age of continuous communication. Invariably there will some practises which are compromised while some others take its place. But the heart of Indian culture will never be lost. A large portion of the adolescents still despite their ‘cool portrayal’ go to temples, perform rituals, respect the elders in the family and follow family traditions. These aren’t forced acts but are a part of their upbringing. The magnanimity of Indians is observed in our hospitality, our resistance to violence, our subtle yet strong nature and our readiness to accept change. Such values are an intrinsic part of any Indian which is why he gains high regard anywhere in the world. Portrayals of such demeaning acts by the fanatics shrink us as a community to mere pettiness.

On the other hand even if there are a few who do not believe in following culture and traditions, they must be given the freedom to live their way. In a democratic society , where there is freedom of expression of thought and speech , one should be given the liberty to choose what is best for them as far as it does not affect the life of other individuals in the society. Even if one wants to condemn such acts, one has the freedom to do so but not by means which involve damage and destruction. Cross religion communication must be encouraged, not restrained! Isn’t it a light of luminescence in the tunnel of prejudice and bigotry that have lasted over decades?

A day to express love should be celebrated be it whichever culture it is a part of. Instead of being cynical, one should plunge into learning the morals and values each culture holds. Cross cultural exchange has what has helped to break free from meaningless practises like Sati. Exposure to other lifestyles gives an idea about the good and bad in each culture, thus the good values can be inculcated thereby enriching one’s culture. Building boundaries to preserve one s culture will not promote growth. It is necessary to remember that Trivial issues like alcoholism or clubbing cannot wipe a culture by itself. We are, by nature  deep rooted, strong  individuals who can create a stance for ourselves anywhere and everywhere – that’s what makes us completely and truly Indian !

Varsha Srivatsan