Tuesday, March 05, 2013

“WE ARE ALL NOT IDIOTS!”-by Fr Cedric Prakash

Dear Friend,
The following piece' in toto' appears in today's DNA newspaper (Ahhmedabad edition, Pg 4) in the 'Letters to the Editor' Column(link below)
You would have perhaps received another version of this "response" earlier...
I would still still appreciate your comments
warm wishes,
Fr Cedric Prakash

Read and share DNA E-Paper - Daily News & Analysis -Mumbai,India services 
Thanks and Regards,
DNA E-Paper - Daily News & Analysis -Mumbai,India Team

-Fr. Cedric Prakash sj*

A few days ago, a national English daily carried on their op-ed page an article written by a well-known Indian author. The article was about the Gujarat Carnage of 2002 and what all of us should be doing to put that reality behind.

The article was indeed very interesting; the author with his brilliant simplicity communicated a message rather effectively. It also contained several good points which an average reader would surely welcome.  But on careful analysis of the piece, a discerning person will undoubtedly be taken aback at the level, the author has compromised his own credibility. 

The article is seriously flawed on at least three counts:

  • the very selective use of words
In the opening para itself, the author writes about ‘the Godhra train carnage’ and ‘the subsequent riots’. This statement is in fact totally misleading. Even if one has to accept that the burning of the train was a ‘carnage’, what followed were definitely not riots but at least a carnage, if not a genocide.

By the use of the word “subsequent” he legitimizes the “action, reaction” theory, which somewhat justifies the killing of several innocent citizens.

Further down the article, the author writes “if Hindu groups target a few innocent Muslims in a few stray attacks”; it is very surprising indeed that one has to refer to the attacks in Malegaon, on the Samjautha Express or Ajmeri Sherief as “stray” attacks.

One can always quibble on words; but authors of eminence, we all know, choose their words very carefully and selectively.

  • the theory that ‘one should not point fingers at some’
The author makes a very strong case that “all of us” are responsible for what happens.  We should not try “to attach villains to the incidents”.  He makes a defense for the “politician - whom we love to assign as the root of all Indian problems”.

The incontrovertible fact is that behind every incident there are villains or masterminds. There is no doubt about that.  Someone is responsible for the killing, the loot, the rapes; someone who presides over it or gives the order that it should happen or perhaps someone who can stop it, but does nothing. 

We know that all over and particularly in India, mobs are manipulated. Someone calls the shots, be it in the carnage of the Sikhs in 1984 or in the Gujarat carnage of 2002.  In the latter we know, nothing happened anywhere else in the country or in Gujarat for full twenty four hours after the burning of the train; besides, when the violence took place, it happened only in Gujarat.  We certainly need to ask why and who was responsible?

Going by the skewed logic of the author, one wonders how many would react to the theory that Ajmal Kasab or Afzal Guru should not be referred to as “villains of the incidents” - since after all “we are all responsible?!”

The author categorically states that “wounds need to be healed”.  There is no doubt about that; but wounds can be healed when the person who is hurt begins forgiving the one who has caused the hurt.  The Sacrament of Reconciliation, is an important dimension of the Catholic Church.  Catholics believe that God always forgives and his love transcends narrow confines; however, forgiveness is always when one realises that one has sinned and demonstrates a deep remorse for that sin.  Jesus spoke to the people about the ‘Prodigal Son’: a parable, wherein the wayward son realises that what he has done was totally wrong and unacceptable and in true contrition, he says to himself, ‘I will arise and go to my father and tell him that, I have sinned against Heaven and against thee’.

Forgiveness does result in healing, but then one does not forgive in a vacuum. Only when those responsible for a wrong have realised the enormity of their acts and are willing to show remorse, can one actually forgive them!

Some years ago, Australia set the world a classic example when it instituted a ‘National Sorry Day’ (May 26th) to remember and commemorate the crimes that the white Australians had committed on the aborigine population over several years. In 2008, the then Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd moved a motion of apology to Australia’s indigenous peoples in Parliament and apologized for the past laws, policies and practices that literally devastated the aboriginal people.

The hard and plain truth of the Gujarat carnage of 2002 is that the wounds that have to be healed, will take place only when the wounded truly experience caring, acceptance, a sense of justice and are able to live without fear.

Terror knows no religion. We all agree on that.  There are however, certainly some who take their diktats in the name of their religion. And civil society needs to act on this and put a stop to it. Every act of terror (including the recent Hyderabad blasts), is totally unacceptable. None of us should hold a brief for anyone (however powerful the person may seemingly be) who commits or encourages such acts.

We surely need to transcend the narrow confines of the religious, ethnic and caste divide. As a people, we do have a long way to go. To “put the nation first”, would mean guaranteeing to every single citizen the non-negotiables of TruthJustice and Inclusiveness.  Only if we put our hearts and minds to ensure this for all, will we have arrived at the time to squarely face our demons.

Some authors are really good at writing fiction; however, when it comes to the hard and grim reality, they should in no way presume that all of us are idiots!

4th March, 2013

(* Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ is the Director of PRASHANT, the Ahmedabad based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace)

Address: PRASHANT, Hill Nagar, Near Kamdhenu Hall, Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad - 380052
Phone: 79 27455913, 66522333 Fax:  79 27489018
Email: sjprashant@gmail.com     www.humanrightsindia.in


Anonymous said...

People are outraged with the rape issues. i wonder why these rapes in Gujarat or even those that happened to nuns are being mentioned. Every issue has only become our convenience. WAKE UP INDIA

Anonymous said...

i wonder why these rapes in Gujarat or even those that happened to nuns are being mentioned - correcting a typo.

**i wonder why these rapes in Gujarat or even those that happened to nuns are not being mentioned**