It is imperative to expose the divisive forces to tear apart the fabric of Indian society before it is too late
“Never whisper in the presence of evil” is a quote attributed to Dr Bernard Lown, founding president of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) from 1980 to 1993, who said: “The ticking many ticking time bombs demands a critical re-examination of the existing world order. The new way of thinking must be a definitive awakening to our common origins, our common problems as well as our common destiny. If we are all to prevail, we must never delegate in the presence of challenge and never whisper in the presence of evil”.
Lown said this about nuclear weapons, but it’s also true for many other situations. Any kind of violence is cause for concern because it causes both physical and mental trauma.
Violence is not just a public order issue, but a matter of public health importance. The world saw a catastrophic impact on human health in 1945 when the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Second World War left more than 50 million dead and more than 90 million injured. The USSR alone lost 18 million people.
The conflicts did not cease thereafter. Dr. Barry S Levy, Adjunct Professor of Public Health, Tufts University School of Medicine, during a presentation at an event hosted by IPPNW on February 19, 2022, pointed out that studies have found that since 1990-2017 , there were 50,000 deaths a year as a result of armed conflict, while indirect deaths were over one million.
Often, conflicts are orchestrated by forces determined to use a divisive ideology to spread through society. They incite violence while harping on nostalgia for past glory and hyper-nationalism. In recent years, pushing society to violence has become for some a tool to stay in power.
Ethnic conflicts between the Hutu and Tutsi tribes caused the death of nearly 800,000 people in Rwanda. The extent of the hatred was such that in many cases husbands killed their wives who belonged to the other tribe.
Nearly 2.5 million Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims were killed in communal violence following the partition of India in 1947, causing a severe humanitarian crisis. The religious fundamentalism of the Taliban is a danger to society. We do not know how the Russian-Ukrainian conflict will unfold.
Fearing a catastrophic situation in our country due to the ongoing acts of certain fanatics, supported in many places by the overt or covert support of the state apparatus, more sane elements have expressed their anguish over the events. Numerous videos have circulated on social networks condemning the maneuvers of the “Hindutva” brigade aimed at targeting minorities, in particular Muslims, in many places. They called on the Prime Minister to break his silence on these incidents.
Today, the right wing seems to be faithfully pursuing the agenda presented by the second Sarsanghchalak (leader) of the RSS, MS Golwalkar who, in his book “We, or Our Nationhood Defined”, clearly states that whenever they arrive in power, first all hand over government assets, state lands and forests to 2-3 trusted rich people of the country. Make 95% of people beggars and after that power will not be lost for seven generations, he said.
He also said he was ready to be enslaved by the British all his life but did not want freedom that gave equal rights to Dalits, backward classes and Muslims.
Under these circumstances, it would be naive for Prime Minister Modi to heed calls to take such elements to task.
It’s time to stand up and fight against this kind of ideology that divides the social fabric. Now is not the time to be silent, but to speak out, always keeping in mind the quote: “Never whisper in the presence of evil”.
Views are personal