23 Jul 2015

Why 'Secularism' is making Monkeys Out of Us

Disclaimer: This post is not aimed at any religion or people of specific beliefs. It is aimed at those pseudo-secularists who consider themselves ‘vigilantes’ and ‘protectors of justice’.

In a particularly popular experiment, some scientists put 3 monkeys in a cage. The cage also had a ladder. A bunch of bananas was tied to the celling of the cage. The monkeys could get to it once they climbed the ladder. The catch, however, was that every time a monkey was within touching distance of the bananas, the scientists induced a shock (a controlled shock. Animal activists please don’t wet your pants). Eventually, the monkeys decided that it was wise to not reach for the bananas.

The scientists then added a new monkey to the cage. The first thing it tried was to climb the ladder (duh! Bananas!). But no sooner did the monkey start climbing than it was beaten by the others. Every time the monkey tried to climb the ladder it got whacked. Eventually it stopped trying too. None of the monkeys ever reached for the bananas though the scientists had stopped inducing the shock.

After a few days, the 3 monkeys who were a part of the experiment when it began, were replaced with a new one. This is where things got interesting. Though the monkey which was already in the cage didn't know about the shock, it continued beating the one who tried climbing the ladder. This continued for every monkey who was put in the cage. No monkey was allowed to climb the ladder, but none of them knew why. 

If you guessed that we are the monkeys, the media and politicians are the scientists, and the current ideologies of ‘secularism’ are the bananas, you’ve got it right.

What is your understanding of secularism? I’m guessing it is inclusive living, where every religion has the right to justice, equality and a dignified life. (Leave a comment if I am wrong). Sanskriti magazine puts it well:

“Secularism in India is not an empty slogan or mere cosmetic - it is the very basis of Hindu beliefs and that is why a common Hindu is still ashamed of Babri Masjid demolition (sic) while a Muslim - of Hindu ancestry - has no qualms or shame of the destruction of tens of thousands of Hindu temples by Muslim invaders.”

However, this… this current environment is not inclusive living. It is divisive politics. We have become so immune to divisive politics that if ‘minorities’ don't get additional benefits over the majority, we call it anti-secular. We beat each monkey who thinks about challenging the status quo. Why? Because it’s been like this for 60 years of the Congress rule. And we have survived. So this is the only way.

Think this is over-the-top? Think I’m being irrational? Well, let’s look at some scenarios.

Madrasas in Maharashtra don’t teach English, math or science. It wouldn’t be rocket science to imagine their version of history (please point out if I’m wrong with solid proof). The State government still pumps in ₹100 crore each year into these schools, and talks of modernizing the madrasas are always on-going. But when the State government says that madrasas which don’t teach formal subjects cannot be deemed schools (understandably), it leads to an outrage. Define logic.

Over 50 lakh imams have been paid their salaries from the government of India since 1994. Forget Hindu priests getting the same benefit, it is reported that the Karunanidhi-led DMK government swindled about 200 kg of gold in gold-plating vimanas and golden chariots schemes in various temples. Reports also say that while the annual earning of the Tirupathi temple is over ₹3,500 crore, only about 15 percent is used for the development of the temple. The remaining funds are diverted by the State government (which comprises mostly of Hindus) to non-Hindu purposes, leaving Hindu priests poorly paid and pilgrims poorly taken care of. (source)

Let’s take another news which has been in the public eye for too long: Church vandalism. We repeatedly read about how churches are being vandalized, and how the minority Christians are feeling unprotected under the current government. Six specific incidents of church attacks were reported in the media. But upon investigation, the following facts came out; facts which were barely mentioned in main stream media: In one incident a group of kids playing outside threw stones and one shattered the church's window pane (how communal today’s kids are!). Another incident, where a church was ‘set on fire’, was the result of a short circuit. Yet another reported incident where a small group of men allegedly vandalized a church turned out to be a drunken dare. And the fourth was a case of genuine burglary with no communal angle. Speaking of burglaries, while 3 churches (out of about 200 in Delhi) were robbed in 2014, 206 temples, 14 mosques and 30 gurdwaras were burgled in the same period. Does this really have a communal angle to it? Well, if you are one of those pseudo-secularist left-wingers, everything has a communal angle to it.

Let’s also consider the ever-controversial subject of conversion of religion. We have heard of instances of Love Jihad, or how Hindus convert to Christianity for monetary benefits, but never in the media (if this ever is published in mainstream media, it’s in some remote corner of a boring financial news section). But immediately after the BJP government came into power, news of ghar-wapsi started making the headlines, and the pseudo-secularists, led by the Congress, demanded that this be addressed. Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh and Amit Shah said that they were ready to graft an anti-conversion bill, and requested the opposition’s cooperation on it. Since then, all the opposition parties have been silent. Only we are screaming about it, saying that the current government is trying to make this a pro-Hindutva country, like this Facebook status update. The work of the scientists (read politicians and media) is done. Now they just have to sit back and laugh while we monkeys continue whacking each other.

Compare this with the absence of news on alleged atrocities against Hindus in Mallapuram and other locations in India.

Current governments dole out loads of cash to minorities to make life ‘easier for them’. In many states, minority girls belonging to the lower economic strata get ₹50,000 each for their marriage. In UP, Akhilesh Yadav has allotted ₹30,000 for every 10th pass Muslim girl to study further, and has created reservations for Muslims in government jobs and educational institutes. Good. But what wrong have Hindus done to not deserve this ‘princely’ treatment? Why are there no calls for equality now?

Another question that begs to be asked: Are Muslim girls better off with the money provided for their marriages? Do these cash handouts reach them in the first place? I don’t know. But I know one thing. Regardless of these doles, the poor end up right back in the hellhole which they want to leave. Only political parties and religious governing bodies get richer. We, on the other hand, applaud their generosity and 'secularist mindset' without knowing whether it actually is beneficial. And if someone challenges this notion, we verbally beat the daylights out of the person. Well done monkeys. Are these your ideas of ‘secularism’ and ‘democracy’?

Yes, Hindus have been more tolerant by nature for centuries. This is probably why Gandhi said “Hindu is a coward and Muslim is a bully.” I don’t agree. In fact, I don’t agree with a lot of things Gandhi said or did. Muslims, Christians, and people of all religious faiths are accommodative, and they love this country which they live in. But I am surprised about how restricted our understanding of secularism is. I’m surprised about how we feel that the ‘Hindutva’ government is doing everything in its power to hurt minorities, but turn a blind eye to the plight of the vast majority at the hands of some misguided groups.

The current government is driven by rationale. Yes, by now you have figured that I am a Modi supporter. Yes, the government makes mistakes and some policies may prove counter productive. And it is good to question them and keep them on their toes. But stop looking at every thing from a ‘secularist’ perspective and start looking for development from a country’s perspective. Stop being a monkey and start being a sensible human.

If you genuinely want to promote secularism, look at yourself as an Indian first. Stop thinking of yourself as a Hindi, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Malayali, Tamil, etc. Support governments which aim to empower people of all religions to live with dignity, rather than on handouts. This dignity comes with growth for all sections in the country. This growth occurs through more jobs, a business-friendly environment and better infrastructure. People will earn more, send their children to better schools, and improve their lifestyles. All this will help our country progress. Look for information in the right avenues, not what mainstream media is feeding you. It does what it does to make money. And then it laughs its way to the bank while we foolishly scream and outrage.

I love my country and countrymen. They’re “my brothers and sisters”, (except the one who marries me). I respect every religion and people’s rights to follow it. As citizens of a secularist country, it is our duty to accommodate and empower every religion to live by its philosophies. But that doesn’t mean that I will give you my other cheek if you slap me on one. It doesn't mean that I believe the crap when perpetrators portray themselves as the victims. I have matured. It’s time you do too.

image courtesy: Google Images


  1. Summarizes the socio political scenario of my beloved country amazingly written content piece.

  2. Meaning of the word 'secular':
    Oxford Dictionary : not connected with spiritual or religious matters
    Webster : not spiritual : of or relating to the physical world and not the spiritual world
    : not religious
    : of, relating to, or controlled by the government rather than by the church

    In simple terms, secularism is 'Not having anything to do with religion/s at all'. However our first PM Mr Nehru, one of the most erudite politicians of his time redefined Secularism to mean 'having equal tolerance for all religions'. And therein lies the problem ............ all policies tailored to suit (appease) the minorities ..........
    Nice post, great blog.

    1. Very well put Sanat. Thank you for dropping by...

  3. You present some extremely valid observations. Frankly, I am irked by this duplicity too. Equality to practice religion cannot mean pandering to certain religions. Like you pointed out, even the so-called measures are barely reaching the people they are intended for. Look at how we botched up reservations? Very well written and a balanced article.

    1. True Rachna. The 'welfare schemes' were actually crafted for the welfare of certain already-rich people. And as much as I hate to say it, this 'unity in diversity' that we propagate is actually the Achilles' heel of India...

  4. Well researched and well written. You have hit the nail on its head. Wish more and more so called "educated" people would have the same perspective as you and would see through the hoax of psuedo secularism being thrust upon us.

    1. Wonder why is it so difficult for educated people to get this into their heads Hetal. Maybe as they say, school education can teach you math but it cannot teach you common sense...

      Thanks for dropping by :)

  5. Totally with you. Sections of biased media ( those who have been kicked downstairs by the regime change) help distort the idea of secularism with their articles, tweets and debates. To my mind, media is playing a far more dangerous game for the politicians than the politicians themselves.

    1. Good points Alka. But the media is owned through various ways by politicians themselves. This is why we see only one side of the story always. And the people who believe them are either too gullible or... (I don't even know :P)

      Thank you for visiting :)

  6. Totally agree with you on this. Hope we all learn something from post...

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  8. Hi Vishal,well presented and balanced in construction.

  9. A very beautiful post brought in by you. I smell your patriotism through the words of concern and responsibility expressed across the paragraphs. I watch news swapping channels and then i go through fortnightly magazines like India Today and outlook to see a very matured and unbiased approach to reporting of facts of previous 15 days that i covered on TV. I pity myself and the rest hundred crore who watch TV news for being fooled and manipulated by headlines that were smartly worked upon to report masala and not the real news. I have no offense against you liking Modi. I too like him for few reasons but what he is doing holding the office of power is seriously questionable. He has killed accountability of which he made huge claims. The heads of the Dept like AIIMS, CBI and many office of power are people either favored by him or have serious allegations. No wonder the Malegaon blast and many such cases are seeing the convicts walk out in favourable decisions. Being a supporter you might be having a better idea on this.

    1. You raise some good points Neo. And as I said, no one is perfect. It's obvious that there are some (many?) tainted politicians in BJP. There are such politicians in AAP too. And the less we talk about the Congress the better.

      It's good to question the government on matters that are of concern to people like scams and blasts etc. But it is another thing altogether to ignore the good work it is doing, or become an obstacle because of these issues. I hope you understand where I'm coming from.

  10. As a secular country everybody deserves justice against atrocities done to them. And that is not happening. One wrong cannot justify another wrong.

  11. Nicely written Vishal.. Here's my take on this -

    This situation that you have mentioned is more political than anything else. When a party with Hindu background rules our country, the opposition is bound to make it a secular v/s communal fight (although we don't agree with it, it will continue to remain that way).. Personally, I don't agree with the "minority" logic because it defeats the whole purpose of secularism (which stands for equality for all). On one hand, we can ourselves a secular nation, on the other hand we call certain religions as minorities.. Ironical, in my opinion..

    I agree with Neo's comment.. And to add to it, there are some (handful of them) politicians in the Modi government who have openly criticised and insulted people from other religion. These are people who hold positions of power. Although I know most of my countrymen do not subscribe to the statements made by these politicians, it would have been great if the government had done something about it. I dont want sacking for anything wrong that happens, but a strong statement of intent (not just a statement) by the leaders of the government proving that their is zero tolerance towards making communal statements..

    Anyway, I am not against the present government. Being from a tech background, I am quite pleased with the developments happening (Digital India, for instance).. India will grow by leaps and bounds, am totally sure.. Its just that some rotten apples can rot the entire basket, that's my concern..

    1. It's nice to see you end the comment with optimism Binu.

      I know some comments made by people and parties who are on the fringe (associated to a party which is associated to a party which is associated to the BJP). Can you share examples of derogatory comments made by people in power?

  12. Brilliant piece... the problem with our country is that anyone who writes or says about religion is branded - as a pro hindu, pro muslim or so on... we don't really talk about allowing each religion to prosper in the same way... giving everyone with the same financial status, the same privileges. I strongly believe that reservations should be on the basis of the basis of socio-economic status. The family income and number of dependents in the family should be considered before dishing out any reservations in education and jobs...

    1. So aptly put. Great to see you here Ankita :)

  13. Very nice analogy Vishal. A couple of months ago, Lee Kuan Yew who is regarded as the founding father of modern Singapore passed away. A visionary and the very first Prime minister of the city state who was responsible for the transformation of Singapore from an obscure port city to a developed first world country within one generation. Realms of newsprint space was dedicated to him on the eve of his demise in April 2015. I would like to share some of his thoughts on India with you and the readers of your blog. Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father and first Prime Minister of Singapore, always managed to provoke with his views on India, famously saying once, "India is not a real country. Instead, it is 32 separate nations that happen to be arrayed along the British rail line."
    During the South Asian Diaspora Convention in 2011, he was asked, "If someone were to give you India today, can you do to India what you did to Singapore over the last three decades?" This is what he said in response.
    "First, no single person can change India. You speak 320 different languages. Manmohan Singh [who was the Prime Minister then] can speak Hindi – I am not sure if he speaks Punjabi, I think he can, but at any one time you would only have only about 200 million people out of a total of 1.2 billion people understanding him, so that is a structural problem which cannot be overcome.
    If you compare that with China where over 90 per cent speak one language, and when the President of China or a leader in China speaks, 90 per cent understand it. So, it's a much easier country to lead than India.
    Secondly, as I have explained, India consists of many different dialects and nation-groups. There is no connection between the history and development of the Tamil language or the Telugu language and [say] Punjabi. So, India is a creation of the British Raj and the railway system it built, and therefore it has its limitations."
    He was also asked to share what according to him were the fundamental rules of good governance. That is quite simple, he responded:
    "First, integrity, absence of corruption.
    Second, meritocracy – the best people for the best jobs. And
    Third, a fair level-playing field for everybody.
    We were lucky in Singapore, because we started with a plastic, young society, so we chose English as our working language, which was a neutral platform for everybody. Nobody had an advantage.
    Secondly, it's a small country and you can have your edict run throughout the whole country. India is very different: you can say something in Delhi and somebody in Bangalore decides differently, and that's there. So, I do not think it's possible for anybody to do to India what it takes to develop quickly. It is diverse and therefore it has to work at its own speed, its own tempo, where each marches to its own drumbeat.
    And it took me a longtime to understand this, because I had many issues with British Empire history, and I thought India was more than just a concept. India was India. But as I grew up and I went to India, I realised that there are many different Indias – and it is still true today.
    Yes, you have the English language which binds the English-speaking Indians, but that's only up to a point. I think the English-speaking Madrasi and the English speaking... Bombay is probably the only place in India where the various groups meet and feel at home with each other. So if they can make the whole of India like Bombay, then you've got a different India."
    It is sad that even today people are divided on the lines of religion and caste. Politicians continue to use this to their advantage by making inflammatory rhetoric and wasting time on non issues whereas their real focus should lie on issues like providing a solid secular education, accommodation, potable water and electricity. I am optimistic that we shall definitely see the winds of change in the time to come atleast in our generation.

    1. Thank you for sharing the example Ashutosh. It makes so much sense, doesn't it? This unity in diversity that we brag about is our country's Achilles' Heel.

      I hope we see the India that you envision in the coming years. I would love to see the day when our country moves forward as one instead of 32 separate nations.


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