Ram Puniyani (born 25 August 1945) is a former professor of biomedical engineering and former senior medical officer affiliated with the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay.
Combating Hate: Building Bridges of Love, 2020Edit
- Combating Hate: Building Bridges of Love, 14 May 2020, NewsClick
- After the outbreak of Covid-19, one was hoping that the global calamity will be combated on top priority without any consideration of race, ethnicity and religion. But matters took such a turn in India that even the United Nations had to state that race, ethnicity and religion should be no consideration in dealing with the crisis. Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister, said late in the day that the Novel Coronavirus does not see the barriers of religions or caste. Even the RSS Chief, though very late in the chronology of events, also said that whole communities should not be targeted for the mistakes of a few. By this time the damage was already done.
- Overall, during the last couple of months, the hate-filled atmosphere has taken a sharp upturn and the popular talk is veering towards shun Muslims and boycotting their trades. This does remind some of the boycott of Jew traders before the "final solution" was put into action in Germany. Already the myths, stereotypes and biases against Muslims in particular and partly against Christians abound in the society. A hate-creation mechanism is already in place. This mechanism has become robust during last few years. The roots of this mechanism are fairly deep and it has been actively nurtured by communal elements. That a human tragedy like Covid-19 could have boosted divisive processes was unthinkable a few years ago. To create a negative image, to manufacture stereotypes and biases against the minorities, a large network of trained people, owing allegiance to Hindu nationalism have spread far and wide, deep into the vitals of society.
- The provocation and justification for the aggression at level of ideas was provided by Shah Bano blunder by a section of Muslim leadership. After this there was no looking back and all the medieval history was used to demonise the Muslims of today. The additions to the list of stereotypes were fast and furious. Love "jihad", ghar wapasi and cow protection mobs came in, and each served to undermine the Muslim identity and marginalise the community, while the graph of violence saw a parallel rise. The outcome was ghettoisation or seclusion of the minorities, among whom insecurity grew and threw its members further into the arms of maulanas with their rigid pronouncements about Islam. These maulanas and their teachings is what a section of the media uses to characterise the whole community. The moderate Muslims, the ones trying to articulate humane values, have been pushed to the margin.
- To add to this, social media was brought into operation with thousands of trolls, fake news and what have you. Today’s speed of hate-creation has only become possible because of the ground "work" done over decades. It is in this light that many Muslim intellectuals have come together as a think-tank, which they call Indian Muslims for Progress and Reforms. One hopes that they will be able to push for reform and open the pathways for jobs for the Muslim youth while countering the media that demonises them. Apart from these contemporary steps, one wishes to urge upon them to study and reflect upon the foundations on which the present hate-ethic is being spread.
- Without promoting fraternity, our democracy cannot survive. And the dangerous demonisation of minorities has to be countered, as it is this hate which gets transformed into intense violence.