Reading has become a chore and that includes reading daily newspapers. We read front pages of one newspaper after another and begin to wonder what is happening to us and those around us. Dogs, both pets and strays, are murdered mercilessly and thrown into fire or buried to die in agony. Even though they had not harmed us in any way, they no longer seem to be man’s best friend. The killings are often mindless. The mass butchery of animals in our slaughter houses is equally sickening. Thousands of cats, dogs and pet animals and birds are regularly killed in the name of food, religious sacrifices or just for the pleasure of killing.
Are we in the midst of some kind of blood lust? What has gone wrong with the 21st century civilisation? The malady is everywhere and spreading fast. Two World Wars were fought which killed millions of people. The fragile peace was often disrupted by violence and bloodshed in several parts of the world. These were not mini-wars because the death toll was high and almost threatened to take us to the edge of yet another tension point. These, along with permanent trouble spots like West Asia, Afghanistan and newly sprouting trouble spots, kept the pot boiling even as international terrorism sprouted in new areas. The last in this category was the Islamic state of terror which set up new standards in religious killing and spread of communal hatred. The Indian state has much to fear from these developments in view of its large Muslim population.
It is a pity that India and Pakistan have not been able to come to terms with the kind of geographical, religious and political issues which constantly plague them — two major (three, if we include Kargil war) wars, the 68-year old skirmish over Kashmir and numerous border skirmishes and border incursions. India and Pakistan have two different political systems based on religious intolerance spread over several centuries which appeared insoluble. India and Pakistan were inevitably drawn into the vortex of a long standing Cold War which escalated with unnecessary interference from international groups — one led by the US and the other by the USSR.
No one denied that India was a much bigger nation, physically and economically stronger. With all out support from the US and its satellites as well as the oil rich sheikhdoms of the Gulf, Pakistan was a formidable foe. The US used its anti-Communism bogey including selective economic aid packages to woo these nations into military blocs favouring Pakistan and not paying only lip service to India’s brand new version of non-alignment, branding it as a new version of Communism. On occasions when this mask fell off Pakistan played its true colours in exhibiting anti-Indian sentiments going to the extent of war. To a certain extent India was presented as the big bully which was played up by Sri Lankans in its war against the LTTE. Some of the nations in the region felt that India was pretending to be a world power which it was not.
But the more basic destructive element was religious animosity between the two nations and on this issue history was on the India’s side. Authentic historical evidence by way of books, cultural reference, and diaries would not change the attitude of the majority of Indian Muslims who would not deviate from Pakistan. The mass exodus on both sides only helped to fan further religious hatred. The bloodbath during partition fortunately did not repeat itself but the constant skirmishes and border tension kept the pot boiling. Under the belief that India because of its size and military strength was almost a world power which could crush Pakistan, the West tended to favour Pakistan. Arms flowed into Pakistan which did not know how to use them and floundered into wars in west Pakistan and Bangladesh and was soundly thrashed.
But minor skirmishes and mini wars continued. India was always the victor. The world came to believe that the much stronger India was more active in these riots. Today, even the US has agreed that legislation on banning cow slaughter would only inflame the communal passion. This happened readily and the Centre while paying lip service (to gau sevaks) could only watch helplessly.