I just now read my post that I have written as a dialogue with myself, and I am so disturbed to realize that there is an unequivocal communal streak in the tone of my voice in that post. I am sure I was very angry while writing that stuff, but I am surprised that I could have been so angered as to lose the perspective I have maintained for most of my life. Thanks to our politicians and their vile, to have created again a situation in our country that made people of two major religious persuasions to be at each others’ necks with the loggerheads. I had almost fallen prey to this malicious political propaganda. Thank God that I didn’t get carried away!
I am a secular! Yes. I don’t mind living with a mix of people, following different sets of religious persuasions and living by their own standards, practices and customs.
However, what I am extremely against is the disregard towards a Nation’s policies and laws. The lack of respect towards the integrity of a country, in the current age of cut throat professional (economic) competition, by the citizens of that country. I recently visited Malaysia and Singapore, both of which regard themselves as Muslim countries. The infrastructure, civic sense and development in these two countries are amazing, given the fact that they are both at least 10 years younger than India (in terms of attaining political independence.)
Now, how can I say that it is a certain religion that comes in the way of development of a Society or a Nation as a whole. That is certainly not the case! These two countries are not only with the largest Muslim proportions in South East Asia, even the cultural and social system (based on whatever I could observe as a tourist) is not as communal or racial as I would have expected it to be (having lived most of my life in India and having been taught to look at the other religious practices only from the corner of my eye, as if they were ready to convert or kill me if I dared to look at them wholeheartedly or if I looked at them and decided to be indifferent.) With more than 70%, 80% or 90% people belonging to the same religion that the whole world is criticizing for encouraging world wide terrorism, these two Nations have come a long way in terms of growth and development. And I heard the natives say more than once (of course I had provoked such a reaction) “We are not racial!”, as an indication that they didn’t subscribe to the much promoted Jihad that militant groups like LeT and Taliban are endorsing.
Masjid on the way to Mutiara Burau Bay Resort
So, what makes people in these countries focus and work towards the growth and development aspects of their Nation. Why would they not spit all over the road as symbol of freedom in a democratic country? You can often hear the cabbies say, “It’s a free country.” What makes them so proud of it and honor the traffic regulations, lane driving and cleanliness requirements of the city life.
Why can’t we, the Indians, have equally clean roads, and by-lanes that don’t stink of urine and human faeces? Why can’t we follow the lane discipline or honor a pedestrians’ right to cross the road, without the fear of being run over? Why can’t we expect our children to walk through the market unattended and return home safe and sound?
It is not that there is no crime in these two countries, of course there is. I recall hearing the Crime Prevention Beureau commercials, requesting the citizens to be attentive and fight crime by following security guidelines. However, a normal family in such countries spends more time planning a picnic to the tourists spots than worrying about the queue for public facilities at the tourist spots that are either hardly usable or way too outnumbered.
A village house in Langkawi
One might say that it is because the people (the majority being that of Muslims) of these two countries don’t feel any threats to their religion and hence have no insecurities. And only because they are safe and secure, they tend to focus more towards the development of the Nation.
I have major objections to such frog-in-the-well mentality. Indian sub-continent has nations that are mostly homogeneous in terms of religious mix of people. Yet, they haven’t managed to follow the growth path as phenomenally as Malaysia and Singapore have. Tourism is widely popular means of earning a living in these two countries and citizens take all the care in maintaining the cleanliness, infrastructure, public transport and other lifelines of a country rather than mutilating them by over use or misuse.
Why then is it so hard for a Nation that so proudly carries a heritage of more than 5 millenniums?
To be continued…