Of course, apart from working on my thesis papers - recent discussions with a few friends and a few blog posts that I had read in the past have come back to haunt me. As the consequences of the recent terrorist acts in Hyderabad, unfolded, I couldn't help wonder if Islamic fundamentalism was at the core of these blasts. Honestly, I am not sure. However, many I have talked with expressed the view that right wing islamist militants were at work behind the blasts. The truth, I hope will probably see the light of the day.
It might probably be insightful to examine some beliefs of what is happening in India with respect to terrorism and how the public has changed its perceptions of militant Islam over the years.
First, I have met many educated folks who have a disrespected Mahatma Gandhi - saying that he he done a great deal of harm to independent India by following the route of Secularism and by not throwing out all muslims to Pakistan, just like the Pakistanis had done Hindus living in their country, during partition. I have one thing to say to this mob - you have no right to questions the means with which freedom was obtained, when you yourself are protected by the very freedom that is allowing you to express such opinions.
Second, when Pakistan chose to become an Islamic state, it was their right to do so. Just like India, a secular country expresses its right to choose not to sponsor a particular religion, Pakistan had the right to choose Islam. However, that does not justify the reason that we should have done to them what they did to us. The concept of being an Indian - is much larger than the "Hindutva" concept that is so widely prevalent in the masses today. before, we run around saying that muslims are responsible for the current situation of th country and that they should never have been a part of Independent India, we need to remember that muslims are as much Indian as hindus are. Some of the great Indian kings were muslims and in fact that largest land mass ever governed in the sub-continent (which would probably define modern day India and Pakistan), was ruled by a muslim king - Aurangazeb, and not any hindu king. Harsha was probably the last known Hindu king who ruled a large territory. My argument is that, we are doing ourselves great disservice by culturing a notion that "Indian" does not involve being "Islamic" - based on false conceptions of history. Second, if muslims are still a socially underprivileged group, it is because, the majority has not done enough to integrate them into modern India - not because, they are inherently prone to violence and anarchy as we would imagine them to. For all the misplaced views that many right wing hindu extemist groups have furthered in our country, India is still largely peaceful with communal tensions quite low on average. There are a few hotspots that flare up now and then, causing unwarranted deaths, but largely, the hindu and muslim communities in India have made their peace. It is more often the political establishment which flares up riots than the people themselves.
Further, it is a fact that India has suffered the maximum number of civilian deaths due to acts of terrorism - setting aside 9/11 in the last five years. I am not counting the deaths due to occupation in Iraq - as I see them as a result of the occupation itself rather than terrorism. India is silently bearing the brunt of terrorism - probably not doing enough to counter it, while people living in Kansas City feel threatened everyday about the potential of terrorist acts. The US likes to search for a nail where there is light, rather than look for it in the shade where it actually dropped it.
Is militant Islam a reason for the terrorist deaths in India - to a great extent yes. But do we need to be suspicious of muslims - definitely no! We just need to call upon history, to remind ourselves that hindus and muslims have lived peacefully for quite long that we can now stand together to curb terrorism in India. I don't know how I can contribute to stopping terrorism directly, however, I do know how to keep my faith in the system - trust the ideals of the Mahatma and do the best we can in our small worlds. We can probably start by not losing faith in being righteous, not developing biases based on unproven facts and ignorance and keeping an open mind. And all those intellectuals, who run around calling the Mahatma, undeserving of his name - no one is going to remember them or pay them any attention.
India's legacy as a peaceloving nation will continue and we shall remain a tolerant, understanding culture for a long time.