It’s strange that exactly an year ago, in the October of 2020, the religious sentiments of a fraction of
people from a certain religion were hurt over a jewelry ad- cut to the present scenario- those very same
religious sentiments, bound to grow in gravity over time are hurt because of the usage of a language,
not their own, captures the grandeur of their religious festival.
You may be surprised with the power these hurt sentiments hold. Please don’t mistake it for the
mere farmer protests going on for months, the resolution for which is still nowhere in sight. This hurt is greater, it has immediate effects, immediate enough to pull back ads just at the display of disapproval by a few people in power. I wonder how immediate the actions would have been had the same people shown some rage over the son of their own party member who drove over farmers
at Lakhimpur or at the daily hike of petrol prices.
But why does this happen? Why do these people
always try to divert our attention towards something as lame as the threat to one’s religion from a
language they consider foreign. You must have read a dozen pieces & hundreds of memes by now
explaining how the assumption of Urdu being the language of Muslims is absolutely wrong, so I
won’t even touch it.
I’m just concerned with what happens after such baseless remarks are made- why do we get trapped
in this web of fear, where even though we know we did nothing wrong we give in- we pull back adds
we apologize for promoting religious harmony because a handful of people find it outrageous and call
it love jihad. The more gruesome part is when such acts are lauded unquestionably by the diligent followers who justify these actions saying it is the right step towards 'preserving our heritage & traditions', their powerful traditions whose supremacy they’re always boasting about suddenly needs protection!
You may ask what the big deal is, after all no one was killed, just a few ads have been pulled back out
of fear. But that’s the big deal- fear. After 74 years of Independence, from being called the world’s
largest democracy with people of every religion, conversing in multiple languages, living
harmoniously together; how did we become a partial democracy and are being called an electoral autocracy
worldwide? The national project of instilling fear can be one of the reasons.
Reputed brands such as Tanishq, FabIndia, Sabyasachi remove their adds just because the ruling party finds it problematic. In a country known for its cultural diversity suddenly the religious majority becomes threatened. In the same week that witnessed floods in two states resulting in infrastructural damage and loss of lives
credited to the worsening climate change, instead of applauding the brand Ceat Tyres and Aamir Khan who promote an environment friendly Diwali, counter suggestions are presented highlighting the “us vs. them” mentality, asking them to focus instead on how roads are blocked when namaz is offered, indirectly highlighting the latter’s religion.
Many might dismiss such incidents as they are only of verbal nature. But these statements are more
than that; it’s a propaganda that has a domino effect. Coincidentally within just a day of such remarks being passed, Muslims offering namaz at a private property in Gurgaon’s Sector 12 A area were disrupted by a crowd chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogans (source NDTV). Can you imagine the level of tension or chaos that could have occurred had the characters been interchanged? To remind you the success of the Nazi regime in its murderous campaign was majorly because of propaganda. Only one singular narrative was stated and promoted in every way, no other narrative was allowed to
exist. People were molded by the propaganda, which only has one purpose- to create a mob- transforming it into a weapon. It is the mob that carries the killings, tortures and lynching. It is the mob that damages places of worship in rallies, or harasses students when their home team loses matches! The leaders appear blameless. And no one investigates the radicalization that fills the mind of this mob with such poison.
Our words do have consequences, as inheritors of a nation that struggled for its independence,
freedom of expression and right to life, we have a constant responsibility to speak up whenever it’s
at stake, and not only when it’s our turn on trial. And let’s ask our leaders to take an equal offense if
not more when farmers are being killed, and when women of their state are being raped and
murdered. Cause who knows we might finally get some immediate solutions for that too.