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Bridging the divide between communities : Part I

Posted by Shreyans Jain Sunday, 16 December 2012 0 comments

India is a land of myriad ethnic groups, where more than 1,650 languages are spoken. Amidst such regional variations, numerous modes of apparel and countless mannerisms, the amorphous and flexible Indian culture has not lost its moorings. The real strength of Indian culture lies in unity, vigour and the ability to contain an amazing diversity within itself where progressive thought has always co-existed with conservatism. 

Veneration for other faiths is a part of our own secular system. It is, however, pathetic that in recent years the communal clashes, the increasing evidence of intolerance and disharmony and frequent de­nunciation of each other have increased so much as to indicate that the people are forgetting their true culture, and are allowing themselves to be exploited by selfish, uncultured people who seek to disrupt and destroy rather than build and consolidate.

This is the story of three artists self-employed as effigy makers who belonged to two different communities. The story is an attempt to applaud the true spirit of patriotism shown by the trio who embarked on a wonderful and fascinating journey of harmony and everlasting friendship. The story aims at reiterating the universal philosophy, “Live and let live”.

It was the month of October. Farhan, Gopal and Imran were working day in and day out to design the effigies and erect them on time on the day of Dusshera, the festival that is symbolic of the victory of good over evil. The election campaign was at its peak and a legion of supporters and volunteers thronged the streets to organise demonstrations to appease the voters. It was hardly a fortnight before the elections when a minor bomb blast (deliberately planned by some extremist forces) caused a tremendous upheaval in the region. Although there was no casualty, except for the loss incurred due to the damage caused to property, this monstrous act was deeply condemned. Several suspects were imprisoned and interrogated by the police many of whom were innocent.

How unavoidable circumstances can be!

It was indeed a great opportunity for the demagogues to bask in the glory of their rhetoric and the factions to widen the chasm between different communities, thus straining the social fabric of the region. Thanks to some local media persons who published and projected the biased views of the clerics and the priests arousing bitterness and provoking indignation among the people. Every other day, there were demonstrations by the leaders of both the communities. Neither several rounds of discussions on this imbroglio nor days of arson and rioting yielded any result. All that resulted was misery for people of both the communities and damage to public and private property. Shops were shut down. Schools and offices were compelled to suspend their respective schedule and those engaged in other life sustaining activities had no alternative than being mute spectators to this baloney at play.

“It seems people will not celebrate Dusshera this year around”, Gopal sighed with a deep sense of fear in his heart.
“Why are the people of your community always suspicious of our intentions?” Farhan questioned as he looked puzzled. “We breathe the same air that you breathe. We drink the water of the same river that you drink. Then why this hatred and discrimination on the grounds of religion?” he continued as a tear trickled down his face.

The young man had got his thoughts painted with communal colour. From one who had always respected and loved people of other communities alike, he had now started deviating from his values. Neither of them was involved in this morass, yet they had unknowingly become a part of it.

At this juncture, it is imperative for us to realise that it takes decades to build a relationship of mutual trust. The more it is exposed to testing situations, the stronger it becomes. Similar was the state of the trio who were undergoing a great mental turmoil.
Imran did not have much to say, lest he would aggravate the verbal spat that had broken out between Gopal and Farhan. He took out a matchstick from his pocket to clean his upper jaw and continued humming a mundane song.

To be contd...

Continue reading : Bridging the divide between communities : Part II


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