A couple of weeks ago Mr Fareed Zakaria wrote an article for an Indian daily, Hindustan Times. The article was titled “Reap the faith”. In his article Mr Zakaria puts forth a case for supporting the Mosque near ground zero in New York. Though his own reasons for it (construction of a mausoleum) in the article are not very compelling, however his reference to the speech on the same premise by New York Mayor, Michael Bloomberg is quiet coercing.
Mr Zakaria’s reason for building the Mosque could be generally summarised as: a) it would be a slap in the face of radical Islamists & b) it could be a foundation for the “reformist movement” in Islam. Mr Bloomberg’s speech, on the other hand is a passionate plea, reinforced with a judicial proviso. It’s difficult not to be swayed by Mr Bloomberg’s reasoning; he sheds light on some very significant moments in United States history on freedom of religion and separation of Church and State. Both Mr Zakaria’s and the Mayor Bloomberg’s credentials are remarkable and their integrity cannot be questioned, but that, I am afraid may not be enough for others to see their point, for this is no ordinary scenario.
Taking into account, pure facts, there’s no case here for those protesting against the construction of a mosque. The land for the proposed mosque is held privately, and the owners are free to use it in any way they deem fit, any hindrance would be impeding their fundamental rights. However the Anti- Defamation League (ADL) which is against the construction of the mosque opposes it on the grounds that the families of those killed in the 9/11 attacks are against it. As Mr Zakaria points out that Muslims were among those who died and some families have ‘mixed feelings’ so ADL does not have a definite mandate. Hence, it all boils down to what the owners of the land want and why?
As we already know what they want, the next question is why a mausoleum? Would it not be better to assemble some kind of a cenotaph which is not devoted to any religion, but instead celebrates Humanity? I am sure that most families who lost their loved ones would approve of it. Besides, and perhaps more importantly, it would give the American people the sense of serenity, which would, otherwise, almost certainly be a feeling of having been wronged. And if it were to pan out this way, the anti-Islam sentiment would take even deeper roots. Like I said before, this is a very sensitive issue, and an error of judgement could generate communal prejudice and hatred.
It could also be argued that the wish of the holders to construct a Mausoleum, rather than a non-religious entity, is itself a somewhat radical slant, for, a moderate person belonging to any religion would not be so steadfast in his approach. The onus lies on the owners of theland, if they want to honour the memories of those who lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks, they must ensure that they do not give it a religious or communal colour. Failing which, could result in far reaching and possibly calamitous consequences.
What can one say about Indian politics, you could’ve done anything (or nothing at all) and still find a place of honour in this, all-consuming enterprise. No where else in the world are politicians more unaccountable or enjoy such impunity than in India. It’s sickening to see almost any illicit deed worth a mention, leading to one of these so-called ‘leaders’. And if, by any chance they do manage to not be involved directly, they play their part by becoming of the saviours of the perpetrators of such crimes. Small wonder then, they may be saluted to but are seldom respected and mostly loathed .
India may already be a global player, but if it is to ever become a balance shifter in world affairs, it first has to sort out the mess in its own backyard. The greed of our netas knows no limits; they are corrupt to the point of being evil. Sometimes, to their own detriment, case in point being Mr Madhu Koda (Ex Jharkhand CM who was accused of laundering money worth Rs. 4000 Crore, US$ 870 million). But for one ‘Madhu Koda’ who was ensnared owing to his unimaginable greed. His case a rarity of sorts; there is multitude of such wily statesmen who suck the states/country dry and never bought to justice.
There is an anecdote that does the rounds in the cities and towns of two most prosperous north Indian states, it is alleged that the CM’s (Chief Ministers) of these two states would not go to bed until they made Rs. 1 Crore every day (Approx. US$ 218000). In fact one of them was known to grab anything that caught his eye, watches, cars, pens, houses, factories you name it. And no, it wasn’t by way of a kind request, when threatening can yield better results, why bother. As a matter of fact this holds true for almost all the states in India, as a result anyone who has sat in the seat of power anywhere in India, for any length can be counted amongst richest politicians in the world.
As much as I loathe this kind, i must concede there are a few who don’t fall in this category . But these good men have their own shortcomings, the most noteworthy of which is, that they bear with such immoral bureaucrats. They do this, i suppose because that’s the only way they can be in power and perhaps it’s the only recourse at their disposal (India has had a coalition govt. for las 15 years) to do something about issues that inflict us. But is it a reasonable trade off? Possibly, but likewise a lots more needs to be done to justify the compromise. Not the least of which is, to weed out the sleaze from fundamental public service departments (police, army & administrative).
Where does one begin to make a change? I think education is one area that should be of primary importance. By laying educational parameters, e.g. min. qualification (graduation) competency in languages (Hindi, English & regional) and stringent scrutiny of character of potential legislators would go a long way in curbing this nuisance. Furthermore, I sense a two-party system would suite India quiet well. Though i doubt it’ll ever happen as there’s too much at stake for the policymakers. Be as it may, I think it is time that we (Citizens of India) do more to put an end to this constant disorder.