India’s problem is not Pakistan; India’s problem is India

Published: April 28, 2017

Raj Thackeray’s MNS members went to a Zara outlet in Mumbai and stomped on clothes that were made in Pakistan.

A self-confessed Indian spy was caught in Pakistan to be sentenced to death, so some people in Mumbai went to an apparel outlet and stomped on clothes that were made in Pakistan. Sometimes, facts can be more absurd than fiction.

The store, the ever popular Zara, that carries clothes made in multiple countries, was accosted by Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS). Hindu hardliners and Indian nationalists all in one, the party is known to take extreme stances on multiple issues concerning Muslims, cows, Pakistan, etcetera.

The violence that the party usually propagates is interestingly in direct contrast with the glossy image India reflects to the world; the land of breakthrough IT, epic cinematography and an evolved and progressive society.

While Pakistan may have earned its negative public relations (PR) globally, ours has been a young nation rife with instability, riddled with terrorism, and lacking the advantages of a long-established democracy. Though burdened with all these issues, corruption to boot, there is a decisively, kindling feeling of society finally awakening from its slumber, and stepping forward towards progress.

India, on the other hand, seems to be going backwards quite rapidly. Recently, a Muslim man transporting cattle in Rajasthan was killed by a Hindu mob. Since 2015, 10 Muslim men have been killed for selling beef, eating it, or slaughtering cows. The negative press surrounding India’s gang rape epidemic have coined it as being a ‘rapist’ nation in the international community.

Many attribute this growing savagery to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, of the hardline Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). His culture of intolerance and overzealous Hindu nationalism has made the nation regress dramatically. While making the appropriate anti-violence noises every politician must, he appoints anti-minority Hindu zealots in important positions.

While this is admittedly India’s problem, in the spirit of good Samaritanism and largely because our shared borders will always affect us, their growing extremism is worrisome.

Extremism in any form is rejected by all major religions of the world. As a state, extremism and terrorism is being fought vehemently in Pakistan today to favourable results. This is a war we know too well, and our tolerance for it is finally saturated. There are lessons India can and must learn from us.

The weapons they choose to use today to establish an anti-Pakistan rhetoric for political gains will become an infectious disease within, uncontrollable and lethal.

While seemingly unrelated, in my opinion, the people of the subcontinent’s obvious susceptibility towards extremist indoctrination, and the savage frenzy that ensues, is symptomatic of its poverty.

In a society where stomachs are always rumbling, illnesses are rampant and sanitation non-existent, resentment and frustration are natural by-products. Whether they are channelled towards productivity or used to raze and destroy, are responsibilities of the state and its policies. Unfortunately for both India and Pakistan, it is the common man who has been the loser, and the powerful who have been left victorious.

While Indo-Pak relations have always been complicated and ever-fluctuating, as people go, we have many similar problems and common strengths. Despite Hindu fanaticism having penetrated the echelons of industries like Bollywood, our shared music and film industries are testament to that.

Bollywood, which in many ways has paved the way in breaking many glass ceilings, de-stigmatising cultural taboos and opening mind-sets, has become populated by Hindu bigots and bullies who disregard and disrespect fellow Indian veteran actors who happen to be Muslim.

Is this the downfall of India’s progress? Its film industry which generates about INR138 billion seems to be imploding. The losses suffered by recent movies that had Pakistani actors were considerable and unnecessary; also, they were losses footed by Indians themselves.

Vandalising foreign clothing stores, killing people for eating beef, gang raping local and foreign nationals, penalising Indian films with Pakistani actors, bullying Indian-Muslim actors into fearful silence, marginalising minorities – it is time India came out of self-denial and looked in the mirror. Until a nation’s literati and learned bring themselves to acknowledge their collective flaws, they will keep regressing and distrusting even one another. India must focus on its own weaknesses before blaming the neighbours and address the bestiality growing within its previously dynamic and tolerant ranks.

India’s problem is not Pakistan. India’s problem is India.

Suroor Siddiqi

Suroor Siddiqi

Dedicated humanist, mother and wife. Graduate in design, compulsive reader and interested in anything for the well-being of Pakistan. She tweets @SuroorSiddiqi (twitter.com/SuroorSiddiqi)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Bangalorean

    Madam please write articles on how to make Pakistan better place to live.This space and time could have been used for something which is productive.Mob lynching youth for blasphemy, minorities prosecuted for blasphemy,rape compensated with wheat sacks in jirga, malnutrition in Balochistan,child marriage,Safe drinking water in Karachi and Gwadar,fake diploma racket, unemployment,raising vigilantism etcc needs your attention than other country.Would appreciate articles on above mentioned.Pakistani writers always follow route to fame by writing anti India articles like this.I feel it’s shameful when important time and space in not utilised for writing on the above topics.Recommend

  • akhil g

    Actually Indians don’t wants to hate you,just wants to be remain away from you.Just wants to vanish from the mind a country called Pakistan exists.Recommend

  • Mohammad Ali

    Yet they still can’tRecommend

  • RHR

    If you see the author’s archive, she has written on ALL those topics which you are pointing to. On several of such articles the Indians like you have appreciated her also. The moment she has penned something critical on India, all you hypocritical trolls get riled up.Recommend

  • Striver

    This article is written with sharp pen-nib called the truth and likely to hurt the sentiments of those who deny human rights abuses being perpetrated on minorities even as I write this.
    There is not going to be peace in the region until India is at peace with itself.
    Recommend

  • akhil g

    Can you vanish noise?Recommend

  • akhil g

    Some time you react towards noise.From where this noise is coming whats going on?Recommend

  • Vishnu

    Please write articles to make Pakistan a better place. I am sure the writer has had moments in life where she might have felt sorry for the state of affairs in Pakistan. I am sure the people who attacked Zara are in prison. No one writes about that. They do get punished. But there are protests being held in Pakistan to release Mishal Khan’s murderers. I don’t think India has stooped to those levels.Recommend

  • isaisajoke

    Meanwhile India is busy handcuffing pigeons Recommend

  • Rajiv

    Living in dream, another dream to just feel good about yourself.Recommend

  • Rajiv

    We will keep coming here. it’s fun to irritate you .Recommend

  • abhi

    I am wondering why Zara was even keeping made in Pakistan cloths. This is really a shame.Recommend

  • rational agnostic

    All religions are against extremism REALLY how about the so called ‘Religion of Peace’.And it is funny how u r keeping count of 10muslims killed in India. More Muslims have died in Pakistan than in India and we don’t need a lecture from ur banana Islamic republic on tolerance.I will spare u the humiliation by not pointing minority extermination in ur country.
    P.S: 3000+ Islamic attacks since 9/11/2001 and counting. I recommend one easy step for u to make ur country better again Remove Islam make ur country secular otherwise u r DOOMED

    Recommend