By Humra Quraishi
Apr 29, 2011
Ram Puniyani is an academic activist who has been focussing on countering communal politics.
For several years you have been writing extensively on how to battle communal outfits. Do you think such writing makes inroads?
Communal politics had been planted during the freedom movement by the declining sections of landlords and later articulated by some educated people who joined in. The communalists were using religion for their political agenda of maintaining the status quo of social relationships. They resorted to vicious propaganda against the people of a different religion, leading to communal violence. From the 1980s communal politics has become stronger. Communal biases have also been propagated by a section of the media, and through school books. Due to this, biases against minorities have become part of the 'social common sense'. There is a strong need to bring forward the truth behind these falsehoods which are widely prevalent. So the need is not only to write against communal politics, against myths and biases, but also to develop mechanisms to reach it to society at large. That's where our efforts are not adequate, mainly due to our inability to develop young activists to work more on these lines.
And do you think that books like this ought to be introduced by the government at the school level so that they are part of the syllabi and make the upcoming generations aware of the lurking dangers?
During the NDA government, Murli Manohar Joshi further communalised school books. It is heartening that the UPA government has tried to bring back a rational viewpoint in history and social studies books in schools. Still the state boards are yet to fully adopt such books. In addition, it is clear that more efforts are needed from the government, as the state is duty bound to promote secular values. Introduction of books like Communalism Explained in school curriculum as additional reading will definitely curb communal common sense in the new generation.
Why do you think the government has not been able to curb or handle communalism?
To begin with, after the death of Jawaharlal Nehru, we have not seen any leader so deeply committed to take on communal outfits. Lots of opportunistic compromises have been made with communal politics. In addition, many communalists have infiltrated politics, bureaucracy, judiciary, media and the educational system. A case in point is the investigation of acts of terror and dealing with them. It is clear that many RSS affiliated groups are involved in acts of terror. But the investigating authorities kept deliberately looking the other way and harping on the theory that all terrorists are Muslims. The trend was seen in blasts in Mecca Masjid ( Hyderabad), Samjhauta Express, Malegaon, Modasa and Ajmer. Hemant Karkare meticulously investigated and unearthed the nexus involving Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Swami Dayanand Pande, Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit and Swami Aseemanand. The truth is out in the open and it is clear how a totally biased investigation led to the arrest of many innocent youths from the minority community. As far as terrorism unleashed by the state is concerned it is more in areas like Kashmir, parts of the northeast, and in areas where Maoists are a sizeable force. Here also the process of dialogue and understanding the problems of people have been bypassed, leading to the horrific situation.
Source: The Times of India