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Object of appeasement

One of the ploys that has been used to foment majoritarian grievance is ‘minority appeasement’, defining its scope as indulging the religious minorities ~ Muslims in particular ~ to the detriment of Hindus. What is the truth about this alleged aberration?

First, no government has had anything to do, directly and meaningfully, with the members of any minority religious community. They traded and trafficked in tokens, for diversionary purposes, with the putative leaders of these communities, who were always a class apart from their co-religionists, hitched to agendas indifferent to the welfare and empowerment of their lowly brethren. The measures of “appeasement” showcased from time to time involved no more than a public charade played by those in power and those who represented these communities.

In nearly fifty years I haven’t come across a religious leader who prioritized the welfare of his community over his own interests. It’s no secret that the elite in a community ~ especially in a minority community ~ have more in common with the elite in the majority community than with their own fellow believers. It is also the case that the benefits of the alleged measures of appeasement hardly reached the rank and file among these minorities. Nobody ever appeased them or even cared for them.

Second,  and more importantly, ‘minority’ and ‘majority’ communities have been misleadingly identified. For no government, including the present one, religious communities have existed as they exist for the rest of us. From the dizzy heights of the Qutab Minar of Governance in New Delhi, religious communities dwarf into invisibility. Religion itself ceases to matter. What matters is economics, which drives votes, vote-banks and politics in general.  And it is in this respect that minority appeasement has been the dominant feature of our political culture.

But before reckoning the dynamics of appeasement politics, a word about religions. The fact is that we don’t have many religions. If we go by how life is lived ~ which is the relevant criterion for judging religiosity ~ religions, in their spiritual distinctiveness, have little to do with how we live. I tremble to think of myself as a Christian for the reason that, though a priest, I am nowhere near the mark that Jesus Christ has prescribed for his followers. What I have done for decades is to condition people to stay loyal to the church, assuming it to be, for reasons I never bothered to find out, the proprietor of Jesus’ spiritual legacy.  But the church has very little to do with the way of Jesus. It runs on money, even as it markets Jesus. The sexual scandals that are coming to light are only epidemic rashes of this hypocrisy. This could well be true of all other religious communities; though that is not for me to judge.

Strictly speaking, India is not an example ~ as we are wont to claim ~ of the harmonious co-existence of religions. India is an example, instead, of religious homogeneity, with Mammon-worship as our shared, lived religion. That is why places of worship are rich and the people are poor. Yet it is the poor who are more ardently religious and most sacrificial in financing religious establishments. To mask this mendacious reality, it is necessary that members of various religious communities are made to hate and fight each other. Nothing is more dangerous to the present type of religiosity than people loving each other and, in the process, discovering the liberating truth that they are all equally children of God.

One of the ploys that has been used to foment majoritarian grievance is ‘minority appeasement’, defining its scope as indulging the religious minorities ~ Muslims in particular ~ to the detriment of Hindus. What is the truth about this alleged aberration?

First, no government has had anything to do, directly and meaningfully, with the members of any minority religious community. They traded and trafficked in tokens, for diversionary purposes, with the putative leaders of these communities, who were always a class apart from their co-religionists, hitched to agendas indifferent to the welfare and empowerment of their lowly brethren. The measures of “appeasement” showcased from time to time involved no more than a public charade played by those in power and those who represented these communities.

In nearly fifty years I haven’t come across a religious leader who prioritized the welfare of his community over his own interests. It’s no secret that the elite in a community ~ especially in a minority community ~ have more in common with the elite in the majority community than with their own fellow believers. It is also the case that the benefits of the alleged measures of appeasement hardly reached the rank and file among these minorities. Nobody ever appeased them or even cared for them.

Second,  and more importantly, ‘minority’ and ‘majority’ communities have been misleadingly identified. For no government, including the present one, religious communities have existed as they exist for the rest of us. From the dizzy heights of the Qutab Minar of Governance in New Delhi, religious communities dwarf into invisibility. Religion itself ceases to matter. What matters is economics, which drives votes, vote-banks and politics in general.  And it is in this respect that minority appeasement has been the dominant feature of our political culture.

But before reckoning the dynamics of appeasement politics, a word about religions. The fact is that we don’t have many religions. If we go by how life is lived ~ which is the relevant criterion for judging religiosity ~ religions, in their spiritual distinctiveness, have little to do with how we live. I tremble to think of myself as a Christian for the reason that, though a priest, I am nowhere near the mark that Jesus Christ has prescribed for his followers. What I have done for decades is to condition people to stay loyal to the church, assuming it to be, for reasons I never bothered to find out, the proprietor of Jesus’ spiritual legacy.  But the church has very little to do with the way of Jesus. It runs on money, even as it markets Jesus. The sexual scandals that are coming to light are only epidemic rashes of this hypocrisy. This could well be true of all other religious communities; though that is not for me to judge.

Strictly speaking, India is not an example ~ as we are wont to claim ~ of the harmonious co-existence of religions. India is an example, instead, of religious homogeneity, with Mammon-worship as our shared, lived religion. That is why places of worship are rich and the people are poor. Yet it is the poor who are more ardently religious and most sacrificial in financing religious establishments. To mask this mendacious reality, it is necessary that members of various religious communities are made to hate and fight each other. Nothing is more dangerous to the present type of religiosity than people loving each other and, in the process, discovering the liberating truth that they are all equally children of God.

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