What Indian Leaders should learn from New Zealand Leaders

5 mins read

by Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Compare this with the leadership back home who find no time to even mention those killed in mob lynching.

Her words and pain are getting reflected and there is a concern in the western world about the growth of white supremacists but back home in India, we do not feel any concern about the rise and growth of the Brahmanical fascism which wants to maintain the hierarchical caste order and target the minorities directly.

“The Great Replacement” stated that “the invaders must be removed from European soil, regardless of where they came from or when they came. Roman, African, Indian, Turkish, Semitic or other. If they are not of our people but live in our lands, they must be removed.”
 
This is the statement by the white supremacist who along with others, killed innocent worshipers at different mosques in New Zealand on Friday. Those killed including older people as well as children who had gone to pray in the mosques.

The terror attack on these mosques in a relatively tiny and peaceful country reflects a major challenge for all people as to how Islamophobia is growing faster in relatively peaceful societies. If it was in the United States, Great Britain or France, it could be understood but when it reaches the peaceful shores of New Zealand it sends a warning signal, a new reality of today’s world; whether Islamophobia is growing silently in the Western world with an active role of media portrayal of the events that happened recently.
 
Several years back we witnessed such a mass shooting in Norway which shocked the peaceful Scandinavian nation but the New Zealand killings have sent shock waves across the world.
 
While there is an unequivocal condemnation of the incident, yet the western media still falls short of a categorical terminology for such a ghastly crime. ‘Suspect’, gunman, shooting are the terms used by the media. Now, this is a terrorist incident and the terrorist happens to be an Australian white man who hates immigrants.

It is tragic that the US President is not alarmed by the growth of white supremacists threatening the immigrants everywhere and how his own policies have contributed to it. After Trump’s elevation to power, the United States witnessed many hate crimes, particularly against African Americans. In India, the crime against minorities particularly Muslims grew with the active encouragement of the ruling party and its leaders who actually need Muslims for their votes through polarisation.
 
Amidst all this, the statement of the Prime Minister of New Zealand Ms Jacinda Ardern was a ray of hope. She not only assured that the nation would remain proud of its religious and ethnic diversity but also not allow their place to harbour any hatred. You can see how the police responded to the entire issue and people irrespective of their nationalities and ethnicities expressed shock and grief.
 
The text of her statement:
 
Our thoughts and our prayers are with those who have been impacted today. Christchurch was the home of these victims. For many, this may not have been the place they were born. In fact, for many, New Zealand was their choice.
 
The place they actively came to and committed themselves to. The place they were raising their families, where they were part of communities who they loved and who loved them. It was a place that many came to for its safety. A place where they were free to practice their culture and religion.
 
For those of you who are watching at home tonight, and questioning how this could have happened here, we — New Zealand — we were not a target because we are a safe harbour for those who hate. We were not chosen for this act of violence because we condone racism, because we are an enclave for extremism. We were chosen for the very fact that we are none of these things. Because we represent diversity, kindness, compassion, a home for those who share our values, refuge for those who need it. And those values, I can assure you, will not, and cannot, be shaken by this attack.
 
We are a proud nation of more than 200 ethnicities, 160 languages. And amongst that diversity, we share common values. And the one that we place the currency on right now — and tonight — is our compassion and support for the community of those directly affected by this tragedy.
 
And secondly, the strongest possible condemnation of the ideology of the people who did this.
 
You may have chosen us — but we utterly reject and condemn you.
 
Compare this with the leadership back home who find no time to even mention those killed in mob lynching. The Muslims and Christians in India have a history of several centuries as they came here around the seventh century. So, they are not immigrants but part and parcel of this soil. Many of those who were humiliated in the caste system embraced Islam and Christianity for their spiritual liberation but India’s right wing has not accepted them and wants to send them to Pakistan.
 
The New Zealand Prime minister addressed the press, assured minorities and immigrants saying that was their home and their country is proud of them. Her words and pain are getting reflected and there is a concern in the western world about the growth of white supremacists but back home in India, we do not feel any concern about the rise and growth of the Brahmanical fascism which wants to maintain the hierarchical caste order and target the minorities directly.
 
Isn’t it ironical that the Hindu Mahasabha celebrated the rise of Trump and his birthday in the hope that he will eliminate the Muslims? A few days back, they celebrated the birthday of Queen Elizabeth while abusing Gandhi and re-enacting his assassination. We did not outrage or hold the government and its machinery accountable. Many see the rise of trump as anti-Islamic but if they see the neo-fascist growth in Europe, they hate everyone, the blacks, the Romas and the immigrants which include Hindus and Muslims both.
 
The Christchurch incident is a reminder of the dangers of majoritarianism which is bound to create further polarisation. Politically it may suit some right-wing groups including India but in long term, it will defeat democratic polity if we are unable to contain such hatred constitutionally and legally.

It is time for stronger international mechanism against such forces which get legitimacy through the democratic process and winning elections. The world needs to unite and find ways and means to defeat such forces ideologically, democratically as well as through well-built international mechanisms so that hatred does not become a tool to win elections.

Meanwhile, we stand in solidarity with all those who are peace builders and believe that this planet is meant for all of us irrespective of our gender, caste, region and nationalities and we all have to protect it.
 
Let us work harder to defeat hatred which is only possible through building bridges and respecting people’s right to choose their faith and life. States need to protect law-abiding citizens and stop mob mentality and kangaroo courts in TV studios. They need to be made accountable in the greater interest of democracy and human rights.

Article first published in SabrangIndia.