By M.S.N. Menon
They say, a nation must have a common history. But we can have none, for we can never agree on our history. To the Hindus, Muslims are invaders; their rule was a tyranny. To the Muslims, Hindus are kafirs and their rule was most glorious. Such are the deep antipathies that separate us. There is no way to bring us together. I can'tthink of one.
A people must be sovereign. They must be free to pursue their temporal and spiritual goals. But we Hindus cannot be sovereign in our own land. We must take the permission of the minorities for almost everything we do. Partition did not make us sovereign. But the minorities, too, can never be sovereign in this country. We are thus as if in a tragic trap. How did we create this situation? Above all, by permitting conversions to take place. They created the problem, because every Hindu converted to Islam or Christianity becomes an enemy of the Hindus. Why? Because he is filled with hatred against the Hindus before the conversion.
A nation must have a common destiny. But we Hindus can never work out our destiny in this land of ours according to our light. Muslims have many other countries?Islamic countries?where they can work out their destiny according to their light. So can Christians. So can even Buddhists. But not Hindus. They have only one country of their own. Imagine, to even talk of a ?Hindu destiny? in this land is taboo!
Can we Hindus, Muslims and Christians?now that fate has thrown us together in this land?evolve a common destiny for all of us? We cannot. We are men of very small minds. Ask our minorities whether they are willing to sink their separate identities ever so little. They will tell you, they cannot. They will prefer to hang about in this country as unwanted guests, not claim their equal rights as proud sons of the same mother.
Imagine, to even talk of a ?Hindu destiny? in this land is taboo!
A nation must have pride in its achievements. But we Hindus suffer from a loss of memory of our past when it comes to Hindu achievements. All for the sake of secularism! But Muslims have a lively memory of their past?that they were rulers over Hindus for eight long centuries. They don'tbelieve in secularism.
And a nation must have unity. But the Muslims long for a separate existence. They say they can have their salvation only in an Islamic society. Their Prophet himself was a party to this doctrine. They want to create ?Pakistans? wherever they live in mixed communities. Perhaps the Christians too long to live alone? Can there be unity in such a nation? I doubt it.
Why, Hindus themselves are not united. Caste has kept them apart. Hindus are individualists. They seek personal salvation. They pray alone in their temples. They believe in the transmigration of their souls. Naturally, their thoughts are on the individual, not on Hindu society or the state. They divided society into self-governing castes.
In Semitic faiths, man has a soul, but only one life. The individual is unimportant, society (the Uma) is important, congregation is important, state is important. While the church and mosque seek the collective salvation of the congregation, the state seeks its temporal well-being and security.
To get a foothold in politics, and thus a share of power and pelf, every ambitious political upstart in our Hindu society is ready to drive a spike through every crack and crevice in the body politic to serve his purpose?to create his own constituency. And being a country of extreme diversity, the cracks are as numerous as the ones we see in our parched lands. This is the Dead Sea fruit of our Parliamentary system.
The logic of fragmentation was lost on our ?founding fathers? as also on our political parties. That fragmentation of society could lead to the fragmentation of the country, as has already happened, never seems to have occurred to them.
So, between the silence of the ruling party and the cacophony of the opposition, there are endless possibilities for permutations. The process of split and division today continues with such gay abandon and threadbare distinctions that one despairs for this motherland of ours. Do these political lilliputs, that strut about on our public platforms, think of the country?
The Parliamentary system spawns parties and interests through a process of division and fragmentation. If the Congress, however, continued to remain an amorphous leviathan for so long, it was because it had provided shelter to the most diverse interest groups, as also to the criminal and unscrupulous elements of society. But there is a limit to this kind of accommodation. The nemesis has at last caught up with the Congress. The rats are leaving the sinking ship.
Would the process of involution now begin? Should we opt for the Presidential system of government or some other? Let'swait and see. The Presidential system is not a panacea.