Monday, August 03, 2009

Ghettos of Modern India

A look at the morning headlines.
Shahrukh brushes off Hashmi's remarks as a "one-off incident" citing that he himself has never faced such discrimination.
Maybe, that's because you're Shahrukh, SK. Braithwaite describes his own mistake of confusing the general warm reception of the man in the uniform with the acceptance of the black man wearing the uniform in 'To Sir with Love'. The rude fact hits him only when he dons the civilian suit again.
I am not sure about the reasons why Hashmi didn't get his Pali hill flat -- for me the reason that he is Emraan Hashmi is reason enough to refuse -- but these incidents are certainly not one-off. Profiling on religion while leasing out apartments is rampant -- especially if you're a Muslim. A few years ago, while looking for an apartment to share with a Muslim friend, a couple of parties backed away at the brink of closing the deal after hearing his name. Ultimately, it took someone from the institution of army, with its exposure to the plurality of our social fabric, to rent out an apartment to us. Another friend in Delhi faced the same situation a year back.
The vicious spiral of ghettoizing, accelerated after the Bombay riots, where the Sena boys profiled apartments door to door, has been too visible to be brushed off.

I am usually sceptic about ever reclaiming the secular threads with the unfolding momentum of uneducated hyperbolic stridency of our nation. But there is still hope in reversing these disturbing trends of more and more separation. More and more participation in the public space. Coming from a vastly Muslim city, it took me some years to realise that the average Indian has never had much interaction with people of different faiths and, as a result, much of their understanding is based on stereotypes.

Secularize all education (education, I believe, belongs to the secular arm of the state and not the religious arm of the community the child is born into), and ensure that profiling at workplaces are dealt severely.

The differences between the communities, especially in modern India, are too superficial to be not overcome if only a forum for regular participation is created. And that forum can only be the stairs and the cubicles of our offices if we create equal opportunities - and aptitude - to take these opportunities for all Indians.

Remember, most terrorists come from ghettos -- physical or those of the alienated mind.

And let's not allow blabbering idiots like SK brush aside such serious issues (note: SK not only declares that Hashmi's got it wrong -- which he might have -- but brand the issue as one-off incident). Recognition of the problem precedes its solution -- and we Indians are notorious in brushing the dust of our most heinous practices under lush green carpets of Swiss countrysides where our hero-heroine caper and tell us - in the voice of Anu Malik which belongs to hell - East or West, India is the best.

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