Inspired by Chetan Bhagat’s Letter from an Indian Muslim youth
Letter from an Indian Hindu youth
Dear caretakers of Indian Hindus (includes swayamsevaks, once-and-forever-ethnic chauvinist parties, confused allies, Babas, Sadhvis, and generally anybody in New Jersey these days).
You are probably wondering who I am. After all, I don’t have a name like Narendra or Thakre or Subramanian, anything that will clearly establish me as a Hindu. You have the good fortune to never have read some awful fiction this writer once wrote. So perhaps I, or what I say here, is nothing but a fabrication.
Everyone seems to care for Hindus, but no one actually wants to listen to us, particularly the youth. I keep hearing political leaders promising to give us our due. I don’t know how they plan to do this for us and only us, without giving the nation its due. But then, I am a nobody, what do I know?
I see them wear saffron headscarves and wield homespun trishuls, perhaps to show us that they really do mean to improve our lives by lopping off some bystander’s limbs. However, a tilak on your head doesn’t change anybody’s life. Using what’s inside your head might. You haven’t. For why else do we continue to be one of the most inclusive and diverse communities in the world? I mean have you seen the Gujjus, Bongs and Tam Brahms coexist in Edison?
It is not like India has a shortage of Hindu achievers. There are Hindu stars in almost every field (even Bollywood). These people achieved what they did without any mob-inciting politician helping them. They had a modern outlook and a desire to come up in life. We need a leader who understands this, and inspires us to do better. In fact we voted twice for an Italian. We need jobs. We need good schools and colleges. We need a good, clean home with power and water (yes, all of us in one home). We need a decent standard of living. We don’t need it as a handout (with some understandable exceptions such as the Ambanis, Jindals and Adanis). We are willing to work hard for it. Just, if you can, create the opportunities to do so.
What makes you think all a leader has to do is wave a rusty sword, threaten to chop some minority limbs, indulge the therapeutic effects of cow urine and expect us all to vote in a pack? What are we, a herd of slow-moving bovines? Do the Gods we pray to make us all part of one flock when it comes to politics? Is that India? Last I heard we are not a religious republic. So treat us like democratic citizens.
You know what hurts? We do not have a strong modern Kanyakubj Brahmin. If I am an Indian Hindu, who believes in ambition, scientific way of thinking, entrepreneurship, empowerment, progress and personal freedoms, where do I go? Which party is backing that? Can someone give me a Brahmin leader who represents my aspirations? And I don’t mean those Maoists, even though this guy I know from Bastar who works at IBM said he could swing me a sweet limestone quarry if I paid them off.
I cannot tell you the frustration we feel. It is bad enough we find it difficult to rent an apartment to a Muslim (so many – everywhere!), the police ignores us even when we burn the Samjhauta Express and we have to bear the frequent jibes from SC/STs (are they Hindu anyway?). But what is truly sick is this: you guys claim to care for us but are only reinforcing communal divisions. I mean I may not want to rent to a Muslim but it’s not like I want to start beating the crap out of one for the heck of it. Not good for GDP growth. People have repeatedly rejected your brand of identity politics (note previous point about voting for an Italian. Twice.) Don’t hide your sins behind your fake caring for us. We know you neither care for India, nor for Hindus, nor for the United States of America.
Maybe I am being too harsh, and some of you are indeed well intentioned (except for Subramanian Swamy who is clearly batshit). But realize the consequences every time you slot us by our religion. There is more to us than that.
If you truly want to help, there is one area where you could. We have a wonderful religion. However, like any religion, the interpretation of it can be orthodox or liberal. In many parts of the country, there’s an exclusionist interpretation of Hinduism in daily life. We discriminate against women, Chinkis, scheds, pretty much everyone who isn’t gora. India is more liberal, and many Hindus would prefer to keep it this way. Can you support us in that? Don’t let our religious heads, extreme voices and fundamentalists control our lives, for that isn’t the essence of India. If you can do that, we will back you. You will truly be our representatives if you promote real progress – through empowerment and modernization of our community. The Indian Hindu has evolved. It is time you do too.