Friday, October 31, 2008

Regionalism is as bad as terrorism

India has been already under the grip of perhaps the widest range of terrorism for quite some time.  With 509 incidences between 2000 & 2006 India ranks 7th in the world in of terrorist acts - just behind Afghanistan and ahead of Pakistan. During the same time there have been 899 official deaths due to terrorism in India - that's 5th highest in the world - even ahead of Pakistan and Afghanistan. With all these India ranks first in Global Terrorism Indicator. In most cases of terrorism the government very easily point fingers to 'foreign hands' - thus shedding their own responsibility. Most of the terrorist acts are linked to Pakistani agencies. Incidentally most of the terrorists lately have been Muslims. This makes even easier for the government to link them to the Muslim fundamentalist organizations of the world. Osama Bin Laden has created enough such organizations for our government to resort to.
No doubt most of the terrorist acts are caused directly or indirectly by the so called foreign agencies. But not all can be attributed to outsiders. By 2006 more than a third of India's 600 or so districts were affected by various acts of insurgencies and terrorism. Apart from the Muslim fundamentalists there are the Naxalites & ULFA - perhaps the two most important in-house terrorist organizations. The reasons of terrorism in various parts of India might not be very similar. Also it would be tough to generalize the terrorisms across the entire nation. For example the terrorism in Kashmir is not exactly same as that in the tribal districts of Chattisgarh, Orissa & Jharkhand. Socio-religio-economical reasons sometimes polarized with politics are widely the reasons of terrorism in most cases. The Naxalites or the ULFAs might not have been active had there been proper growth and prosperity in the tribal and north-eastern areas of India. But same is not true in Kashmir. Perhaps the government pump in most funds and 'packages' for Kashmir. The subsidies that the Kashmiris enjoy are perhaps more than that in any other state. The terrorism is Kashmir is mainly politico-religious in nature. The 'outside' hand is also very strong here.
What-so-ever be the reason or nature, each act of terrorism is like a dark black stigma on our country. More than the loss of life it's a loss of trust. People lose trust on government for failing to curb terrorism, the government lose trust on people because everyone becomes point of suspicion. Terrorism can't be justified under any circumstance, be it the Muslim fundamentalists fighting against American imperialism or the LTTEs fighting against decades of social discrimination against the Tamil speaking Sri Lankans. Each terrorism arises from some genuine reason which in most case related to oppression or discrimination. In most cases at least a few of the terrorists are also very selfless people, who really think they would do some good for people by sacrificing their lives. That's why many terrorists often become legends and martyrs. So if you think very deeply, you might start having a soft corner for some of these terrorists even for an iota of second.
But would you ever have any soft feeling or sympathy for persons like Raj Thackeray or Karunanidhi or so many other people who are responsible for spreading the cancer of regionalism in India? Don't you think that regionalism is even worse than terrorism? Terrorism is often a natural outburst of oppressed people. But regionalism is just a parochial and selfish tactic of some vested politicians, just to get some short term political mileage. Raj Thackeray thinks Maharashtra is for the Marathas and Karunanidhi has the audacity to threaten the sovereignty of India by forcing our Prime Minister to ask Sri Lankan government to stop their war against the LTTEs, which is supposedly the most advanced and organized terrorist outfit in the world with access to both navy and air force. Karunanidhi feels bad when Tamil speaking innocent people are killed in Sri Lanka. He doesn't feel bad even when much more people are getting killed in so many parts of the world in acts of terrorism. Does he ask Israel to stop killing innocent Palestinians? Does he go and ask Talibans to stop killing innocent people in Afghanistan and Pakistan? Does he go and ask the Somalian pirates to not attack the inncocent sailors? Does he go and ask Pakistan to stop supplying arms to so many terrorist outfits in India for killing so many innocent Indians across the length and breadth of the country? He doesn't care for the thousand people who have died over the past few years in various terrorist activities because most of them didn't speak Tamil. Not only is this just hypocrisy, but also utter selfishness and a serious bolt to our nationhood. We all have just only one identity - and that's of being Indians. We don't write our state or language in our passport. Just because I speak Bengali that doesn't mean that I've to stay in West Bengal. Every part of the country is as much mine as it is others'. It's my fundamental right to settle in any part of India and work and earn. The states were created just to facilitate efficient administration. The states had to be created based on some formula and linguistic basis did make a very simple sense. But that doesn't mean that language should become more important that nationality. Every one in India should be equally sympathetic to any death to any innocent person, be it from Sri Lanka or Uganda or Somalia or Honolulu.
If people like Raj Thackeray and Karunanidhi are given way it's not very long that we'd go back to the medieval period of multiple nations each speaking a differnt lnguage. The idea of India doesn't make any sense when people start talking about region and language. It's the responsibility of the local governments to provide proper education and health care to its people so that they well equipped to get the right employment. It's not the responsibility of the any government to reserve employment or opportunity for any particular community. Who-so-ever is the fittest for any job would come and fill in irrespective of his/her caste, creed, religion and language. Each of the Indian languages is very strong and it doesn't require anyone to protect it from extinction. Marathi language will thrive many more thousand years despite any of Raj's effort. Even if the people speaking Marathi decline in Bombay, that doesn't mean that the Marathi manguage is perishing. Language and culture are too fundamental to be impacted by anything. Sanskrit perished despite being protected by so many emperors for centuries. If a language has to die, it will do so naturally even after all efforts and if it thrives it will do so despite everything. You don't show more respect to Kannada by just enforcing all shop owners to write the bill boards in Kannada. You don't increase the staus of a language by putting the tag of a classical language on it. Each anguage is unique and is classical in its own way. It's really silly to fight for a language.
Terrorism can kill people. But regionalism will kill the very backbone of our country. If India breaks down into multiple small countries, that's the most pathetic thing that can happen to us - much much worse than our brothers and sisters getting killed every day in various terrorist acts.
It's important to curb terrorism. But it's even more important to curb regionalism.
Thanks & Regards,
Sudipto Das