Opinion: Kerala History – Not Just Kerala History
Mahatma Gandhi was a strong advocate of communal harmony and Hindu-Muslim unity. However, keenly aware of the significant difference between the approaches of Muslims and Hindus, he had been clear and called on Hindus to avoid cowardice. In one of his very few blunt posts, he said: “There is no doubt in my mind that in the majority of disputes Hindus come second. But my own experience confirms the view that the Muslim as a rule is one and the Hindu as a rule is a coward. I’ve noticed this on trains, on public roads, and in disputes I’ve had the privilege of settling. Should the Hindu blame the Muslim for his cowardice? Where there are cowards, there will always be bullies. They say that in Harapur Muslims looted houses, broke safes and in one case the modesty of a Hindu woman was outraged. Whose fault is it ? Muslims can offer no defense for abhorrent conduct, it is true. But I, as a Hindu, am more ashamed of Hindu cowardice than I am angry with Muslim bullying. Why didn’t the owners of the looted houses die trying to defend their property? Where were the parents of the outraged sister? at the time of the outrage, do they have no accountability for themselves? My non-violence does not allow running away from danger and leaving loved ones unprotected. Between violence and cowardly flight, I can only prefer violence to cowardice.” (“Hindu-Muslim Tension: Its Cause and Cure”, Young India, 29/5/1924; reproduced in MK Gandhi: The Hindu-Muslim Unity, p.35-36).
It is worth recalling these observations of Mahatma Gandhi today as the nation witnesses a heated debate over “The History of Kerala”. Those who have watched the film will agree that director Sudipto Sen handled this sensitive subject with great sensitivity. At no time does he attempt to paint all Muslims with the same brush. Furthermore, the narrative remained consistently centered on the ISIS terrorist network. Certainly, this shows how gullible young women fall prey to peer pressure and propaganda. The mind games played by ISIS campus operatives and entrapment remind us not only of the nefarious design of terrorist attire, but also of the inherent coolness of their violence.
Deeply disturbed by the cheating, injustice and torture faced by the nursing student duo from Kerala, a moviegoer leaves the theater much more awake, alert and educated.
No matter what the critics say The history of Kerala, the educational value of the film cannot be underestimated. The most important lesson to be learned is that globalized terror has many faces. Terrorism is not limited to bombs, hijackings or murderous attacks on innocent people. Terrorists always have a plan B and the methods they employ involve deceptive love and compromising affection. But the girls fall right into the trap because of crass ignorance of their own spiritual traditions and the deep philosophical meaning behind them. The two girls from Kerala are ignorant and unfortunately, ignorant of their ignorance. Some callous and careless Hindu families, lured by the badge of progressiveness and political correctness, engender a sense of uprooting in the next generation. The history of Kerala grabs us by the shoulders and makes all law-abiding, God-fearing moviegoers keenly aware of the serious shortcomings.
The alleged brainwashing of the two girls in the film raises key questions about the controversial issue of conversion. Many Islamic countries completely prohibit conversion. Moreover, there are countries that repeatedly give sermons on secularism to India but at the same time constitutionally provide for church appointments to their parliament. All of this negates the very basis of democracy in spirituality.
In a country like India where we respect the notion of Ekam Sat Vipra Bahuda Vadanti (the truth is one and the wise describe it differently). Moreover, our constitution rejects any form of monopolistic approach to spirituality. As a logical corollary to this, proselytizing religions must reconsider both their philosophy and their methodology of conversion in a country like India. Conversion, when presented to those who belong to different faiths as something intrinsically superior to their own faith, involves the denigration and wanton misinterpretation of certain faiths. This amounts to very serious emotional abuse and requires new thinking.
Those who advocate feminism may be hesitant to acknowledge it, but the film is also about empowering women by changing the traditional male mindset. It’s yet another movie that tells us about the commodification of women apparently because of a terror-promoted belief system. Sadly, Indian progressives have always preferred to turn a blind eye when cases of forced conversion of Hindu women in Pakistan crop up intermittently. Neither the torture of Yazidi women nor the atrocities inflicted on nuns by some church officials have compelled our progressives to break their silence. “History of Kerala” will help sensitize girls to men who perceive them as commodities, with the intention of exploiting and abusing them.
“History of Kerala” is not just about Kerala. This is the story of all the women victims of IS terrorist tactics. It is also the story of girls from Afghanistan, Sind and Balochistan in Pakistan and also of Yezdi girls in some Islamic countries. The progressives in the media may not accept it, but the trap of girls with the promise of marriage is real. There are instances of what many call ‘Love Jihad’, whether or not one chooses to use that term. An organized racket of handsome young men, indoctrinated into the idea of the supremacy of Islam, is certainly at work. There is evidence to suggest this is a meticulously planned exercise in entrapping innocent and unsuspecting girls to serve the cause of ISIS. Not only the RSS and other Hindutva organisations, but also the Catholic Council of Bishops of Kerala had alleged in October 2009 that thousands of girls in Kerala had been targeted and pressured into converting to Islam. Leaders of the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana sector had also expressed concerns about girls belonging to their followers. Let us also understand that not only in India, but also in neighboring Myanmar, the 969 leaders of the Buddhist movement have in the past openly alleged a planned attempt by extremist young Muslims who claim to be Buddhists and attract Buddhist girls.
Turning a blind eye to these facts will not change the situation.
Vinay Sahasrabuddhe is a former MP, Rajya Sabha and columnist, in addition to being Chairman of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR)
Disclaimer: These are the personal opinions of the author.