Let’s get this over and done with. India is no more a Hindu nation than it is a Hindi-speaking one. One of the nicest things we can say about this country is that since ancient times it has provided a home for diverse people who have little in common aside from the shared identity of being Indian. But what exactly does that even mean?
The more misguided among us would insist that the real Indian is a vegetarian, devout Hindu, cow- and cricket-worshipper, Hindi-speaker, and Bollywood lover. Anybody who begs to differ, of course, is an anti-national terrorist who deserves to be lynched or trolled with the most-abusive language that can be conjured from the diseased depths of a sick, extremely prejudiced mind.
Never mind that an overwhelming majority loves animals (fried or roasted), buys all things made of leather at exorbitant prices, have been known to tuck with relish into a steaming hot plate of chilli beef or go to town on a triple whopper. Some of us belong to other faiths or proudly declare ourselves to be atheists or agnostics. You wouldn’t believe it, but there are too many of us who prefer chess to cricket, don’t speak a word of Hindi, and haven’t yet hopped onto the Bollywood bandwagon, thank you very much!
All those possessed with half-a-brain and a shred of decency would admit that preferences need not be confused with principles, that jingoistic nonsense cannot be tolerated let alone actively endorsed, and the ridiculous notions upheld by those who ought to know better but don’t are beyond ludicrous. But how do we deal with those who cannot be reasoned with and are deranged enough to stoop to murder over idiotic ideology?
It behoves us to take a stand against those who would try to beat us into submission and force their divisive beliefs on us, which goes without saying. Yet, for the love of all things, holy and unholy, let us be Gandhian about it and rise above violence in word or deed. There is too much of hatred-induced madness going around and it is tearing apart our motherland.
We need to acknowledge that for better or worse we are all Indians, despite the glaring differences between us. Without exception, we belong to a sprawling, extended family that is scarily dysfunctional and as far removed as it is possible to be from what Sooraj Barjatya would like to believe. And it is all the more reason for us to put up with each other’s nonsense, make nice even when it seems the hardest thing to do, and find a way to live with each other.
Getting mad at those who don’t see eye to eye with us will never help. Ever. Unless, of course, there is kissing and making up involved afterwards. Being Indian is a beautiful thing, which a lot of us take immense pride in. It is something worth doing everything in our power to preserve even if that means killing only with kindness and standing together, no matter what.