The bestial brutality in Gujarat 2002, following the equally bestial brutality of Godhra 2002—and the silent but savage applause for what happened—has always had a few obvious questions staring those human enough to face them.
What does this kind of bloodlust say about Hinduism? What does such thigh-slapping cannibalism say about vegetarianism? And what does it say about the maturity of our democracy to see the killers being voted into power and being hailed as “prime minister material”? About voters in the land Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born?
In the latest issue of Tehelka, editor-in-chief Tarun J. Tejpal writes a bone-chilling preface on the bone collectors:
“Like Germany and Italy once, Gujarat begs many questions.
“How do a non-militant people suddenly acquire a bloodthirsty instinct? Does affluence not diminish the impulse to savagery? Does education not diminish the impulse to bigotry? Do the much-vaunted tenets of classical Hinduism not diminish the impulse to cruelty? If tolerance and wisdom will not flourish in a garden of well-being and learning, in the very land of Mahatma Gandhi, then is there any hope for these things at all?
“Is it possible that contrary to all the hoopla we may have already lived out the high tide of our democracy? Many Indians may get richer and richer but as a people—a deep civilisation—we will now only get poorer and poorer? Is it possible that a country sprung from the vision of giants can now only sustain small men with small concerns? Once a few good men shaped a modern egalitarian nation out of a devastated colony; are there none now to staunch the rot?”