Saturday, February 16, 2008

Nasik's Ethnic Cleansing

The fragility of India's democratic structure scares me. A functional democracy in one of the world's poorest and most illiterate societies is nothing short of a miracle; It is indeed a bigger miracle that India hasn't fragmented into gazillion little pieces (like Europe has) - so the Recent brand of divisive politics played by Raj Thakeray (and his minions) does not surprise as much as it disappoints me.

National unity, it turns out, is a relatively liberal* ideal. (Any idea that requires people to think beyond their narrow immediate self-interest, is, in my opinion, liberal). And liberalism (as I have noted on numerous occasions) is something that the average poor man just cannot afford the luxury of. Petty regionalism will almost always seem more attractive. And that's why India seems an enigma to me.

I noted (in a sanguine note, it turns out) in my previous post that Mr. Thakeray's campaign in Mumbai would implode against him. Certainly his campaign is pretty impotent in Mumbai (with 4 million North Indains out of 20million people, this whole idea was a non-starter). But there's 76million other people in Maharashtra whose emotions are extremely amenable to manipulation.

I spent 10+ years of my life calling Nasik my Hometown. But Mr. Thakeray's buffoonery has more or less destroyed the city's creidibility: driving out 30,000 North Indians. In my mind this is plain ethnic cleansing. If 30,000 out of Nasik's 1.4 million are kicked out, this scales up to 3 million out of Maharashtra's 100 million. This is nothing short of a Humanitatian Disaster - remember Clinton went to war with Milosevic over 400,000 refugees? This is a humaniatian disaster.

In my book, this is ethnic cleansing - plain and simple. The only thing that separates this downright Lunatic Raj Thakeray from Hitler is a few gas chambers. It is a shame that news media is balking from drawing parallels between these two mad-men.

I might have railed against the follies and inequities of dividing the planet into little nations in previous posts, but here's a concession that I need to make: Nationality is a certainly a more broad minded (and therefore more equitable) notion than regionalism - the lesser evil, if you will. And hence, the necessity of patriotism - though I hate to say it.

Nobody has ever told me that I am not wanted here in the US. Neither implicitly nor explicitly. It turns out that there's a significant likelihood that they (the locals) might cleanse me ethnically if I drop anchor somewhere in India, say, Nasik. (I am not a local to any specific place, having been here, there and everywhere.). How ironic.


* Patriotism would be a liberal ideal in a nation where regionalism is rife, like in India. But patriotism in the developed world is secretly frowned upon by the intellegensia as it is often considered a form of pandering to the more base instincts of the hoi-polloi.

No comments: