Braj Ranjan Mani
(First published in 2009)
The image of India is that of a democratic, multicultural, inclusive society. But more often than not, appearances are not reality. India is a republic—a secular, socialist, democratic republic—where millions of children, women and men remain demoralised, enslaved to the powerful, crying out for fundamentals of life. Fragmented along fault-lines of caste, class, gender, ethnicity, region and religion, each marginalised group is characterised as a "minority", but together they form an overwhelming majority.
The notion of 'majority' and 'minority' in India is deeply misleading. It is an elitist, hegemonic construct which enables the vocal minority, the ruling class, to pigeon-hole or ghettoise the oppressed majority into different categories of minorities or weaker sections. Children, women, dalits, adivasis, other backward classes (OBCs), Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, and other ethnic-regional communities who account for 90 per cent of the total population are presented as minorities.
Every other religion other than Hindu is projected as minority, alien, foreign originated, and hence un-Indian or less national than the authentic Indian-national Hindu religious culture. The Hindu hardliners even portray them as anti-national if they have not been Hinduised enough, because everyone living in India, according to their perverse logic, is or has to be a Hindu. The militant Hinduism has a history of targeting other religions—Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism—but its worst bite has always been reserved for its own supposed co-religionists such as dalits, adivasis, OBCs. The devious concoction of "Hindu majority" has been a very effective ideological tool in the hands of the caste elites which they use to drive a wedge between each of the minorities/ weaker sections, and pit them one by one as per the exigencies of changed situations against the imaginary majority, thus keeping the marginalised majority divided and demoralised.