Gujarati Hindus: An Identity Crisis

  • SumoMe

ModiPerhaps, the toughest conundrum that the “majority” of Gujarat faces today, has much to do with themselves. Are they Hindus serving Gujarat, or Gujaratis subservient to Hindutva? Or are they simply being hoodwinked (Moditva)? Much before a certain Mr. Modi decided to transform the state into his Hindutva laboratory alias ‘vibrant Gujarat’, Gujarat was actually a land of tangible vibrancy. Historically, Gujaratis were a race famous for shrewd businessmen, affluent civic society and exotic cuisine. They were candidly admired for their simplistic humor. Coming back to the present, the same cannot be said now. Gujaratis today are mere remains of what 2002 left behind or more aptly, what 2002 ‘could have’ left behind. I am writing ‘could have’ because the Gujarati Hindus could have saved so much more. But they didn’t, partially by choice and partially because of reasons untenable. What is important is, that they didn’t.

But why didn’t they? Why did they bring back to power a man who, Tehelka claims (with what many believe should be regarded as a substantial evidence), was the man behind the 2002 riots? The question is how a civic society, having a history of being affluent and tolerant, could suddenly back a hardcore fundamentalist. One argument would be that the man has charisma; he is a great orator and he backs development (which some say is farce because, as farmers point out, he backs bijli, sadak, pani at the cost of roti, kapda, makaan). In the words of Mr. Kapil Sibal, he is also “the best spin doctor in the country” today. But are these qualities good enough? The “majority” of Gujarat thinks so. 25, 000 Gujarati Muslims in transit camps justifiably don’t think so. But then, they are a mere 9% of the total population.

The Gujarati Hindus have to realize that their strength, which stems from sheer numbers, cannot be used to steamroll others. That is the biggest mistake they can ever make. They are Indians first and Gujaratis later, and not the other way round. The unique position that India enjoys in the world is precisely because of its diversity, and the model of Gujarat has come to threaten this very basic fact. This is obviously a national concern. Having said that, I am still confident that the Gujarat model cannot be replicated in other parts of India. Coming back to the Gujarati Hindus, it’s important to note that they have clearly missed a trick.

They have ignored the lifeline of democracy that is incumbency. Backing Mr. Modi to the core, and that too thrice already, is akin to digging themselves into a hole. Supporting Hindutva makes sense but preaching Moditva? Well, that is contentious. Hindutva has always been only about national pride, but Moditva, to be frank, is a bit “dictatorial and extreme” and thus should be discouraged. Gujaratis should have learnt lessons from the “Emergency days” under Congress and, more recently, from Nandigram in the Left bastion Bengal. Both these cases were fallouts of overtly aggressive governance.

For now, they can’t undo their votes. However, what they can definitely do is introspect about their true identity because, just like in this article, the one question will always come back at them: Are they Hindus serving Gujarat or Gujaratis subservient to Hindutva or are they simply being hoodwinked (Moditva)?Prateek Kapil

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(image by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/atomicmak/229843232/)

Perhaps, the toughest conundrum that the “majority” of Gujarat faces today, has much to do with themselves. Are they Hindus serving Gujarat, or Gujaratis subservient to Hindutva? Or are they simply being hoodwinked (Moditva)?
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