A group of speakers said that a "change in regime" will not necessarily mean change in "atmosphere" or "dark age". They were speaking at a round table conference organised on unity. The speakers added that though the atmosphere may not change, a change was important else India would be a "historical relic".
They were talking at a round table conference on "Concerned citizens Seeking solutions fostering unity and solidarity for peaceful co-existence; partnerships for inter-religious dialogue; celebrating unity in diversity; halting crimes against women". The conference was held at the Islam Gymkhana and was organised by the Wisdom Foundation.
Key Speakers and Their Insights
Among the prominent speakers were Kumar Ketkar, Raya Sabha MP, Bhalchandra Mungekar, former Rajya Sabha MP, Justice Abhay Thipsay (Retd.), Tushar Gandhi, writer and activist, Dr. P. A. Inamdar, educationist, Nirmala Prabhavalkar, former Mayor, Ram Puniyani, religious leaders from Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist communities and Dr. Zeenat Shaukat Ali, director general of Wisdom Foundation. Both Ketkar and Mungekar belong to the Congress Party.
"Even if there is a regime change in 2024, the dark age will not disappear," said Ketkar. Ketkar said that post Babri and Godhra, families got divided like never before and communal discourse entered into the conversation. "In Gujarat if someone had to go to a particular area, the driver would say that but the road to that place goes through Pakistan. That was the kind of divide," said Ketkar.
Communal divide and hate, he added, were always there and had over a period of time deeply penetrated all segments from political, neighbourhood, family, to schools and college and it needed to be fought at all levels. "I know many Congressmen who were happy after Article 370 was abolished and Babri demolished," said Ketkar. He accused the regime of following "Disunity in Diversity" that was visible in Manipur.
Mungekar's Call for Change
Mungekar who echoed his views said that though the atmosphere will not change with the regime, it was important for the change to come. "Else India will be a historical relic," said Mungekar. Mungekar said that the present regime was different from Atal Behari Vajpayee's who believed in working within the Constitutional framework. "Nehru had rightly said that fascism in India would be of a different kind. It will be neo-fascism through majority communalism," said Mungekar. He said that communists did not get Marx right who said that "Even an idea when accepted by people, it is a material force. Similarly Hindutva is a material force," said Mungekar.
Bias and Personal Experiences
Thipsay said that bias crops in the minds of people. He recounted his case when he was apprehensive of a Muslim guard provided to him. "My house help would bring medicine from a far away shop just because the neighbouring one was run by a Muslim. My wife asked him not to do that and to get medicines from the Muslim man's shop," said Thipsay. Other speakers emphasise on imparting quality education among the poor to keep them away from religion, language and regional divides. Gandhi said that people need to look within and also see faults. "Merely sitting in the room and saying everyone else outside this close room is wrong is also not right," said Gandhi.
Puniyani said whenever there is politics over religion, injustice on women rises, which is being seen increasingly. Speakers called out the media for not calling out spade a spade.