Sunday, April 6, 2014

Politicians wearing skull caps: flawed symbolism

The Economist, in a widely quoted article says, "Unlike other BJP leaders, Mr Modi has refused to wear a Muslim skullcap and failed to condemn riots in Uttar Pradesh in 2013 when most of the victims were Muslim."

I am surprised that The Economist finds fault with Modi refusing to wear a skull cap. I have always found the practice of politicians indulging in symbolic acts such as wearing a skull cap or visiting places of worship other than their own to be terrible attempts at endearing themselves to followers of those religions. Just what are they trying to convey?

During the holy month of Ramzan,  it is nauseating to see politicians of all hues donning the skull cap, flashing an 'aadaab' while wishing Muslims a Happy Ramzan. Wishing is absolutely all right. But why dress like a Muslim? And you have that even more nauseating fever of hosting Iftar parties during this month. Do they really think Muslims like this kind of show? The real Muslim believes that the Indian politician is merely playing with their sentiments. Syed Shah Ali Hussaini, an average Indian Muslim asks "Should we not tell these crooks that a cap is used for “ibadat” (prayer) and not for “siyasat” (politics)?"



Similarly, you see people visiting Gurudwaras on Sikh festivals. All these are, in my opinion, unnecessary and do not have any impact on the people.

It is time Indian politicians move away from acts that are merely symbolic. It is time to do something that is more substantive and impactful.

What does the average Muslim want from the politicians?

He wants almost the same things any average Indian wants - food shelter, clothing and a decent shot at a better life. He couldn't care less about politicians wearing symbols of their religion.

I liked the fact that Modi refused the skull cap, offered by an over-enthusiastic Muslim leader. Of course, that does not absolve him of any of the wrong-doings in 2002. But I support him not accepting the skull cap.

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