Tuesday, 29 December 2009


Discussion over lunch with boss and colleagues and much of the prejudice I've seen over the last one and half years in my time here resurfaced. A blanket injunction against Muslims without a sense of history, assuming that religion is to blame and not more human qualities of conquest, desire and greed.

Every time I hear a conversation like this, I think of the damage our education system and politics have done to the teeming multitude that constitutes this nation. How many of us pause to question, find out, read? Somewhere (and I don't know whether to blame the system or each individual who chooses to accept without thinking), we have become creatures of rote as opposed to creatures of curiosity. Politics has exploited this amply, feeding the frenzy. Each time such conversations happen, it disgusts me. I want to sit them all down and give them a crash course and a reading list.

Prejudice has become a way of co-opting dissent in the public space. Of creating a populace that fulfills the agenda of un-enlightenment, of unquestioning obedience in a democracy. No wonder Indian democracy is a success!

I am reminded of a dialogue from the Fountainhead. Toohey says to Dominique(paraphrasing): If you fight a man on the basis of his capability and achievement alone, he can fight back. But prove that he is against religion or god and you've got a case that cannot be fought. Not with logic. Not with the mind.

That seems to be, to me, the main problem here. We've all been made to believe in the non-issues, leaving the issues that really matter to each and everyone of us unscrutinized. Power has used prejudice, not just in India but across the world, to create a self-sustaining cycle where the dominated live under the illusion that the power is actually in their hands. In the mire of prejudice, we forget fact, causality and the things that actually affect us. Potent potent tool to divide and rule.

PS: Reading list (Thanks to Rehab for the suggestion): 

Disclaimer: Am sticking to books I've found useful and enlightening on Indian history else the list is endless. A lot of this also concentrates on the Partition and subsequent Kashmir conflict (on which I did my dissertation in college) but I think Kashmir, like no other issue in modern India, illustrates the point of prejudice and warped sense of history that "Indians" have.

Also, the idea behind this list is to put together books that differ in perspective and none or all together lead to any one definite conclusion. So it includes both non-fiction and fiction that has been spun around India's recent past.

Okay, too many disclaimers. I will get on with the list.

  1. Revenge & Reconciliation by Rajmohan Gandhi
  2. Freedom at Midnight by Larry Collins and Dominique Lappierre
  3. The future of freedom: Illiberal democracy at home and abroad by Fareed Zakaria
  4. Kashmir: behind the vale by M.J Akbar
  5. Kashmir: a tragedy of errors by Tavleen Singh
  6. The Ice Candyman by Bapsi Sidhwa
  7. Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
Okay, that's all I can think of now. Will add to this list if I think of any more books.


rehab said...

Why dont you link a reading list or book recommendations in this post?

p.s.--did someone ever tell you that it seems like you have memorised Fountainhead :P!

Unknown said...

oh yeah i pretty much have memorised that book since the time I participated in an essay contest on it. It seems apt for describing almost any situation. I'll publish that essay on my blog sometime I think. That however, is an aside.

And yes, the reading list is a good idea... will put one up as a PS to the post. Thanks!

rehab said...

I wonder how a child suited for mainstream reporting, got stolen by advertising...:D!

Unknown said...

Child didn't enjoy mainstream reporting as much as she thought she would :P

They unfortunately don't give you editorial columns to write on day one :P