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The Curse of the Majority

January 2003
The Curse of the Majority

Whether it is election results in Gujarat, or polls on the popularity of President George Bush, both have signaled the victory of herd mentality. Admittedly, many on the majority side may have cast their votes and formed their opinions independently, but the lure of the majority cannot be denied. After all, it's comfortable, it's popular, and it's safe. But is it right? Does it advance humanity or regress it?

That depends on whether we subscribe to ideology that the civilized world has come to adopt through centuries of evolution - ideology such as democracy, self-rule, liberty and equality, and the separation of state and religion. Foundationally, do we believe these to be superior to autocracy, demagoguery, fascism, and anarchy?

If so, events in Gujarat can be described as nothing but a disgrace. Here is a ruling party that has made no qualms about using the bully pulpit of the majority to arm twist and railroad the minority to submission. Worse still than submission is the denial of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that was their birthright in a democratic nation - a birthright that was theirs through generations of lineage in the state. [As an aside, compare this to the rights enjoyed by us, the Indian Americans in this country even though we may be here hardly a generation or two]

The Modi clan has done precisely this - denied the birthright of the minorities - by outright public proclamation to them; it goes like this: 'You are welcome to live here, but if you do, you better live and behave as the minority!' The flushing sound that you hear is that of ideals such as equality, liberty and secularity going down the drain.

While those in the clan may argue that such an admonition alludes to Godhra, one can only hope that as a people we are more mature and civilized than subjecting the highest of our ideals to such elementary scapegoating. Only when our highest ideals are inherent rather than conditional, can a civilization be truly called so.

While it is one thing to take a stand and maintain that criminality such as Godhra - or for that matter, the post Godhra riots - will not be tolerated, it is entirely another to direct such a stance to anyone but the perpetrators involved.

To be true, technically democracy worked in the Gujarat election. After all, the BJP did win by a landslide in fair and square elections closely monitored by the national Election Commission. But that is precisely the curse of the majority - civilization's highest ideals were not only compromised, but the compromise was sanctioned by the electorate.

- Parthiv N. Parekh

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