It’s a trend seen worldwide – to blame the Indian Prime Minister and the country for its alleged mistreatment of Indian Muslims. I say “alleged” because certain journalists present the scenario as such – that all Muslims are being targeted and attacked. This is absurd for someone like me, who stays in the country. I have had NRIs ask me if there are attacks happening 24/7. I had to explain that, no, you won’t see bodies strewn around like in actual war-torn places.
The journalists should stop portraying the situation as such and misleading our diaspora worldwide into believing we are a nation that is constantly rioting.
Yes, some Hindu extremists are attacking Muslims, but then some Muslim extremists are attacking Hindus as well. There is bound to be some form of extremism and violence where there is religion. This is true for all countries. Not everything is Islamophobia. Not everything is Hinduphobia. We should stop flashing our victim cards and start focusing on finding practical solutions to the actual problem India is facing – our disunity.
In India, we have seen religious polarization increasing over the years. Blaming Modi has not made the situation better for Indian Muslims. In fact, the divide has increased. A major culprit is social media. It is now for everyone to see that pointing fingers is not improving the situation. In fact, it ends up agitating the ones who are big supporters of the Prime Minister and may even lead them to become more hostile toward Indian Muslims. These are the people you need to pacify and not agitate further. Similarly, viewing controversial content like the BBC documentary can upset the ones who are not Modi supporters. They will most likely feel more bitterness towards Modi, even if they have never faced discrimination. This, in turn, would make them feel more polarized, distancing themselves further away from fellow citizens who support him. Totally counterproductive. So why are channels like the BBC working so hard to increase this polarization?
Follow Peace, Not Hatred
Modi has been reaching out to Muslim communities to bridge the divide. This is what the country currently needs. All communities should work towards creating a better India. We should hold talks, discussions, and campaigns and use social media to propagate peace, not hatred. We are one, and we should start behaving as one.
Hatemongers on social media are not looking for resolutions, only drama. They use language that is provocative, unfriendly, angry, and violent. Such people are rarely peaceful or solution-oriented. The first thing citizens need to do is unfollow such accounts on social media. Do not share their accusatory content on your feed, either, even if they support your own community. The more hatred you see on your feed and the more you engage with such posts, the more polarized you will feel over time.
Using Nonviolent Communication (NVC)
In my previous post, I talked about Nonviolent Communication (NVC). Wouldn’t the world be better if countries and communities just sat together, lay down their resources, focused on needs, and came to an amicable resolution? But in real life, we resort to violent and judgmental communication like blaming and pointing fingers. No one has become better with violent, critical language. In fact, people become more defensive and non-receptive to what you are saying when you use an accusatory tone.
Focusing on Needs
So, what “needs” should people focus on during conflict resolution? The main thing to understand here is that people who conflict are operating from a place of fear and not anger. People attached to their religion are afraid their community will face discrimination or violence from “others.” When we think about it this way, things make more sense. Fear evokes empathy as opposed to anger. So why not concentrate on talking about that fear and request ways to make each other feel safe? What does the other party want to hear? Listen and give them that assurance. This assurance should be given by authoritative figures. Someone their community will listen to and follow.
How better would the situation be if each warring nation and community acknowledged each other’s fears, empathized, and comforted each other? “You have nothing to fear from us. We treat you as our own.” This phrase can calm the agitated and anxious, provided all communities sincerely work towards it, finding ways to gain each other’s trust.
Avoiding “Us” Vs. “Others” Mentality
It is always “us” vs. “others” instead of “Indians.” This is where the problem lies. To shift our focus outside of the community and to focus on nationality is proving difficult.
If we continue to have this “us” vs. “others” mentality, we will not be able to address our disparities efficiently. For any kind of conflict to be resolved, that feeling of “one” should be inculcated first. Maybe the communities in India should go through counseling sessions like how couples do when they face marital issues. Therapy is the need of the hour. But here, each individual will need to take on the therapist’s role and advise their near and dear ones.
Am I glad the BBC documentary is banned in India? Absolutely. We do not need more agitations or religion-based violence here. We need our people to unite and make India a peaceful place. This cannot be done with hurtful words and allegations from ourselves or the (actual) “others.” We require our communities to actively connect as one. Only then can we work towards building a better India.