Stand on the Side of Right

The title is a common saying of my mother's. Never one to shy away from pointing out an injustice or wrongful action, and never one to shirk from an argument or debate, she drilled into my brother and I that is is our duty to ALWAYS stand for what is right. To her, silence and compliance was unforgivable. Even if I were to argue "Ma, everyone is doing this", it would just fuel her to become even more adamant in enforcing her core principle. At this moment, India could use my mom's parenting.

I am sure you have seen social media become swept in posts about the National Register of Citizenship (NRC) and the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB). Without going into the constitutional nuances, let me boil it down to its core point: this is a glaring and intentional strategy of discrimination and disenfranchisement against Indian Muslims, led by a BJP-led government.

This. Is. Wrong. Let me repeat it for the folks in the back: THIS IS WRONG.

Every Saturday morning, for as long as I can remember, my dad started it by singing Jana Gana Mana, and then would recite "India is my country, and all Indians are my brothers and sisters." I always found comfort in that thought, romanticizing this picture of unity my father painted for me in the land of my birth.

Perhaps, being Malayalee, I was further insulated from communal strife, because Malayalees lived peacefully with Christians, Muslims, Hindus and even Jewish people for thousands of years. Kerala, in general, felt very little of Mughal conquering and British ruling, so perhaps it truly is this little bubble of harmony. I never grew up with warnings about Muslims, or my grandparents telling me stories of the Partition. Even they only experienced it via headlines in newspapers. I grew up attending Deepavali with my grandparents at the Chottanikara temple and our Hindu neighbors attending our church festivals. I've seen the same happen on vacations when I'd accompany my cousins to their friends to celebrate Eid, or Vishu.

So it wasn't really till I was an adult and minoring in South Asian Studies, did I truly understand the deep fracture that happened with Partition, one that was beyond just a geographical line. It was a bloody gash, a perpetual scar dividing brothers for generations. And today, you and I are finally witnessing the effects of letting a festering wound go unhealed.

The rise of Anti-Muslim sentiment in the subcontinent became an effective campaign strategy with the BJP, not unlike how Trump used the same strategy to win the Presidency (word is still out on the role of Russia, but more on that later). It is fear-mongering which essentially creating "an other", some figure they can direct poor and marginalized people whose votes they want, but whose lives do not matter to them. It is showing these people who live in absolute despair that their circumstances are due to the presence of this evil other. The target of their hate-filled rhetoric was Muslims.

When a party whose core principle is that India is a Hindu country is in power, one should questions every move they make. As I write this, Kashmir has been without communication or internet for 134 days. I am reading reports of riots near our WESTxEAST factories, protests at my cousins colleges, and I am worried about our Muslim project manager and our Muslim tailors and embroiderers. India is burning and lines are being drawn. The time for silence is over. Compliance is not an option. We must use our collective voices and support our brothers and sisters on the front lines. Let them know their efforts are not in vain.

There are a great many parallels to the government of Modi and the tactics of Trump. Our Muslim Brethren live in a scary time, one that I can never fully comprehend because it is not my faith. What world is this when one's religion is a determining factor for one's safety? A lot of this blog post is just my mind attempting to orient itself to today's current events. I applaud those activists that bring relentless attention to these wrongdoings.

I write all of this to say: use your voice. However small you may think it is, when combined with hundreds, thousands, millions small voices, it's a deafening roar. Let them know you stand on the side of right. If not, you will have my mother to deal with.

© 2018 Ammachic  

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