The mantra of stability and sustenance of a nation is not economics alone, but its central strength lies in societal blending, the threads to common agenda. Mutual respect, dignity, and plurality are its characteristics. It is the trust that multitude of people look towards their leader, who has a legitimate, legal acceptance.
He or she might be of a particular party, but he generates trust that each one looks towards him. Nehru is now being despised, even being deciphered in genealogy, yet in his times there were no two opinions, even among his opponents about his purity of intentions and deeds. Atal ji’s tribute to him stands testimony to it.
It is not possible to take him out from history, even if contemporarily is overlapped in imposition. It does not mean that our leader is less charismatic or his intentions are not sacred, yet the popular discourses on television shows, and social media from ruling party to opposition, portray as if the Indian masses are fractured.
This is not true. Common people irrespective of their transactional arrangements are bound by their social and cultural capital over the centuries of an evolved society. Their needs are similar and they imagine a better life chances to prevail, so that there is holistic development of the entire society.
Affluence in imbalanced society creates discourses and power politics debates, only to generate social fissures. This in longer run produces cracks in the society, instead of connecting. Dividing politics is a weakening strategy. The health of the nation is the health of its worst off, it could not be measured by GNP. For,’the carrying power of a bridge is not the average strength of the pillars, but the strength of the weakest pillar’.
Our country, in the sense of western terminology, was never a secular country. They have their lived religion, which they know and it is set in their minds to guide them in daily routine. It has been nourished and interpreted by saints, Sufis and rishis of this country. They made formalism of religion so simple that peasantry and commoners would relate it with seasons and crops. Our religious tenets would strengthen it.
Multitudes had discovered their lived religion in vernacular languages. Their gurus or pirs would make them feel that their understanding was akin with their formal prescriptions in Sanskrit or Arabic. They had made it so simple and familiar; there were no contradictions in different religions. Common faith would interweave social threads.
What Bhakti Movement has taught us or messages we get from Tutsi’s Ramayana, we find its nobility and renunciations in the personal lives of our prophets and saints. Their life histories would teach us similar values of life. Its reinterpretation, we find in the tenets of Brahmo Samaj Movement and its echo we hear in the poetry of Iqbal and Ghalib. The vernacular poetry would reinforce it.
Sufism and Vedanta blended this pluralism and holism of human existence. Partition of India was its fragmentation. The new state of Pakistan built its society more on political orientations rather than on cultural requirements. It became different than India, for religiosity daubed its natural growth in inventing new music, new symbols, and made alterations in the functional language.
The new history opposed the evolved landscape of the society. It was not a religious moral society but a religious camouflage for power elites to retain power and dominate resources. It disillusioned those talented Artists, Poets and Hindustani musicians, who had migrated to that country.
An unlimited loss, it was for art and music lovers of both the countries. No wonder, within decades after partition, many poets and musicians came back to India. Sahir ran away midnight to be back to India and Ustad Bade Ali Khan sahib moved to India in 1957, disillusioned as he was with his profession life in Pakistan.
Nehru’s India had remained same India, despite a part of it was cut. All predictions made by foreigners in fifties of the previous century failed; that India would be divided into pieces. To their dismay, despite hunger, unemployment, poverty and wars, India steered through the previous century with many success stories, including women empowerment. It unleashed a nonviolent social revolution through the processes of development and democratisation that substantially brought socially peripherals and economic marginal to the core. Representative democracy struck its roots.
The foundational organisations based on institutional rationale and merit had intrinsic morality within to sustain the system. While in western societies, it had come from the Modern Project, in our case the institutional blue print was imbibed from the colonisation and its inherent moral strength was provided by our lived religion.
Sustainability of institutions is possible only, if the institutional ideology has deep-down moral component to hold it. Our institutions had strength to hold the challenges posed by the abrupt and rapid developments of the closing decades of previous century including the brunt of secessionist movements.
This century came with globalisation and free market. Both have become rolling engine of religiosity in the wake of demise of political ideologies. Political God is back. In this century the leaders have become charismatic and authoritative, for politics of dissent and inertia of movements have become too contested.
No consensus, to be fought on television and social media. This has exposed the shallowness of educated middle class to flow with the current. The leaders recognise it and choose their addressees, as per their power calculations. The present ruling party perceives subaltern Muslims, who did not or could not migrate to Pakistan, and the Dalit –OBC target chunks, as appeal targets.
The conventional middle class and upper castes, by and large are not its favourites. It is experimentation, alternative pick. Its messaging becomes problematic, that so far it has remained tacit. What is being displayed is that an upsurge of the tradition, which had remained wilfully neglected. It is against the overreach of elitist secularism. It is mixed with religious flavour and packaged to the social media and television shows. It suits to international audience as well.
For, the third wave inflow, especially after Arab Spring, the west has aggressively turned in plural societies. The ‘spur for pluralism is immigration’. Praised, but contesting for power politics. Peter Berger, the famous sociologist states, ‘we made a category mistake…we taught that the relationship was between modernisation and secularisation. In fact, it was between modernisation and pluralism”.
The imagined nationalism has a mix of religiosity, rather than exclusive notion of relationship with God. If God is back in public sphere, we had it in our lived religion. There is no need to take tradition for granted, for if you move back without any discretion, it is primordial retreat. History cannot be repeated. It evolves in its own form in a given space and time. The alterations imposed created imbalances in social and cultural landscape, which could lead to confusion and chaos.
People’s perception of their lived religion is simple and transparent. Besides following their basic mode of their worship, they have some common realms of faith and conviction. Both Hindus and Muslims at micro level have same conversations, when they meet one another. Ask any Muslim of our generation after ‘Salam’, he would say (Alhamdulillah) gratitude to God, Pandits would say ‘Anugreh’ His Kindness and both would riposte to their vulnerabilities ( Pushrav Khudayis or Trav Bagwans paeth) by leaving it to God.
Thus they would live in common blended evolved universe. In day to day interactions and engagements institutional rules and procedures would regulate the functions; its moral strength was drawn from the Pentecostalism, which was a local deity. It would give relief or healing touches.
History may not be repeating, but the very sense of history tells us that more you go down in tradition, dig past, the deeper you fall in the pit. We do not need such experimentation of exclusions and divisions. We need to correct present pathology with the treatment that is for the welfare of humanity.
For an average citizen, the day to day life has become hard, corruption riddled. Nothing moves without it. Procedural delays have made justice deniable. Consumerism without purchasing power has manufactured uncertainties. Run for materialism is a race that has weakened each one in a globally competitive market. Materiality without morality is a religion without God. Time has come to work for poor of this country. Youth has no meaningful work.
Their energy needs to be channelized, not by putting them in ritualism of religiosity, but in evocative engagements of work and livelihood. Let us be truthful to the nation and dream together for health of our children, quality education and above all we need to be the trustees of deprived.
The primary relation of the communities and their mutual trust is important to blend and move them together. The fissures that we have created should not be permitted to be breakers. This will ruin one and all. This has opened a fresh opportunity, provided we think alike and work for a consensus politics.
The author is an Emeritus Professor in Sociology at Banaras Hindu University
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.