The land of the holy cow has taken its holier than thou attitude up a notch.
I refer to the "Bharat Mata Ki Jai" fiasco that has hijacked the headlines in the Indian media for weeks now, shoving other important issues like world terrorism out of the limelight.
The story won't go away partly because of RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat's dogged persistence on complete compliance from all Indians.
"Now the time has come when we have to tell the new generation to chant 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai'. It should be real, spontaneous and part of all-round development of the youth," Bhagwat said.
|At a ghar wapsi havan in Agra.|
His comments raised a few eyebrows but the most volatile reaction came from AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owasi who said he won't chant "Bharat Mata ki Jai" even if a knife was put to his throat. As if on cue, Shiv Sena sang its usual hit song "Go to Pakistan".
The controversy refused to die despite AIMIM MLA Waris Pathan's suspension from the Maharashtra Assembly for refusing to chant "Bharat Mata ki Jai". One would hope that the Congress Party would be the voice of sanity, but no, they joined the circus too.
However, the party is just getting started. Now jumping on the bandwagon are the people of India's largest seminary, Darul Uloom Deoband, which has just issued a fatwa stating that Muslims should refrain from chanting the slogan as it against the basic tenets of their religion.
In the fatwa, the seminary stated that there was no doubt that India was their nation and that all Muslims love their country. "But we cannot worship the country. Muslims cannot worship anyone other than (God). In that slogan, Bharat has been called equivalent to a goddess," the fatwa stated.
The BJP has already established itself as a sanctimonious, judgmental Hindutva joyless group, but now it seems to have completely lost its narrative.
This can be seen as a desperate attempt to wrest control from the people of India, who seemed to be getting louder and more vocal in their protests. These are the "anti-nationals" who have been in the news.
Students, activists and some journalists who are expressing concern over the BJP's politics.
The BJP really needs their voters to stay stupid and complicit. They don't want independent, free thinking individuals because frankly, they will be too difficult to fool and govern.
They can't dominate the rich who are marching to their own anthem, which goes something like "Audi, Gucci, Prada, Rolex, Channel and Louis Vuitton. Jai India for the flights to these shopping destinations."
The government caters to the rich because they grease the corrupt system.
So they are going after the poor and the middle class. It's a game of intimidation and control. They ask the masses to be "national" and subservient.
Because the BJP knows it has no answers to the questions that the country and Indians worldwide are asking. Where are the fancy plans of "development" and "achhe din"? What has improved? When will change come?
What about basic human rights? India has the largest population in the world without access to clean water. Water Aid, an international charity, says that 75.8 per cent of Indians either buy water at high rates or use supplies that are contaminated with either sewerage or chemicals, or both. How about the BJP chant the slogan "Clean Water for All"?
Amnesty International states that India has effectively failed to implement laws on crimes against women. Every 15 minutes, a woman is raped in India. Here are the figures they document:
2014 - 37,000
2013 - 33,707
2012 - 24, 923
2011 - 24, 206.
Their report also says that every two minutes, a woman in India is a victim of a crime.
We have learnt nothing from the Nirbhaya gang rape. Women continue to be raped. On February 23, 2016, a woman was raped in a New Delhi hospital just hours after she gave birth by C-section. On March 8, 2016, a 15-year-old girl was raped and set on fire. How about a BJP chant a slogan "India will be safe for women and children"?
And then there are the other issues - of homelessness, pollution, diseases, education, health insurance, human rights violations and poverty - that need to addressed. These are just a few examples.
I think the BJP, who have become the self-appointed guardians of "nationalism" and "patriotism", spectacularly demonstrate their ability to divide the nation.
Now, they should reevaluate their agenda and focus on uniting the country as one nation. Improve India and citizens will want to sing about its greatness because no government should have to force its people to do that.
Make India great and the world will pay attention and maybe they will want to salute India with "Jai Hind". Maybe.