Muslim Boy in Hindu Family? True Picture of India!

Asghar Ahmed, 8, could never quite understand what happened on the fateful night of February 28, 2002.

In the bustling town of Kalol in North Gujarat, armed men with black bandanas on their forehead hacked his parents to death, right in front of him.

Asghar escaped though and found refuge in the house of a neighbouring Hindu family who provided him with shelter. Despite repeated banging by the rioters at the door, the humane yet fearless family did not let them in.

Muslim boy in Hindu family

Now three and a half years later, that Muslim boy is now a part of a Hindu household. He is treated as family and cared for so lovingly that the deep wounds that were inflicted during the Gujarat riots have slowly started to heal.

This is the real spirit of National Integration which is being witnessed more increasingly now-a-days.

However the birth of this intermingling was painful and belated.

Massacre of Partition

During 1947 when the British relinquished their claims to paramountcy, the country’s unity was very fragile. The 562 independent princely states that existed at that time fought among themselves and refused to take apart their provincial and sub-national ambitions.

Although they reluctantly accepted the recommendation of ‘States Reorganization Commission’, mainly due to Sardar Patel’s efforts, their abrupt loss of power remained a constant source of friction. To add to that, a simple demarcation of boundaries between India and Pakistan turned ugly when people from both sides were massacred while mass-migrating.

The final blow came with the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi on January 30, 1948 in New Delhi which ended the already feeble celebration of Independence and deepened the hatred and mutual suspicion in Hindu-Muslim relations.

What ensued afterwards shook the entire nation. Gory scenes of bloodshed were seen, with one brother killing another. The very men who had stood shoulder to shoulder against the British were gunning for each other’s throat. Religious Communalism was proving to be a great threat to India’s very existence.

Common Man emerges as 'Pillar of Strength'

But ours is an ancient civilisation, even though we’re a young nation. The people of India, in spite of distinct ethnic backgrounds, races and religions, had lived together for ages and there was no reason why it couldn’t be done again.

The successive years saw the common man emerge as the pillar of emotional as well as logical integration. People realized that the only way to move forward was to shed the old animosity and embrace economic development. They become conscious of the fact that their real enemy was in fact abject poverty and deprivation.

From then on (for three successive five-year terms under Nehru's leadership), India produced increasing amounts of food. Although its production did not reach self-sufficiency until ‘84, India had emerged as a ‘fulfilled nation’ in the eyes of the world.

Economy booms

The surplus food grains from Punjab, found its way to Bihar, while Bihar provided coal to the former. This kind of interdependence established a feeling of respect and admiration among the general public for each other’s religion and ethnicity and a reason to culturally adapt and assimilate.

Linguistic Regionalism, which was once seen as constituent of disintegration, became the very foundation of nation building. The use of regional lingua franca in education and administration facilitated the governance of the country. The states became the focus for democratization of political processes at the national level, which lead to a harmonious expression of regional culture and popular demands.

Earlier the Green Revolution and now a boom in Information Technology and BPO industry are giving the people a fresh impetus to persistently move forward regardless of the old wounds.

We all enjoy Cricket

People from different corners of India, having distinct race, creed and colour now sit, eat and talk with each other without any discrimination or intolerance. A Mizo nowadays, lives and works in Bangalore, listens to Hindi music and never misses to watch the Indian cricket team play. A Tamil can visit any part of Northeast India and not feel as an outsider.

The people have learnt to ‘live and let live’!

True, there have been some vicious incidents in the past and there probably will be more in the future. Godhra massacre and the subsequent Gujarat Riots were a major deviation from the path of peace and brotherhood. However, the frequency and ferocity of such incidents has weakened.

Future is bright!

Presently, the country has two individuals from the minority community at the helm of its affairs, APJ Abdul Kalam and Dr. Manmohan Singh – arguably the two greatest achievers of all time.

Modern India presents a picture of unity in diversity where people of different faiths and beliefs live together in amity.

As Indira Gandhi once remarked ‘Enduring national integration can take place only when we are able to create respect for of all communities, all sections of our society and all religions.’

And that is precisely what is happening now. The future couldn’t have been any brighter!

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