Religion, Terrorism and caste in South Asia
Why South Asia is such a violent region? Why violence in this region is so vibrant and brutal? In my view the root cause of this violent situation is Tribalism and Casteism which are social systems in themselves. Both these institutions plague the South Asian societies for millennia, including in the modern period
Terrorism has become a major problem of the world. The biggest sufferers of this terrorist human phase of history are the South Asian masses. The next sufferers are the Euro-Americans. Though the 9/11/2001 attack caused a major property and people’s loss for America, if we look at the number of people died in the terrorist attacks, the Indian Sub-continent lost largest number of human lives—apart from huge amount of properties. Of all the nations Pakistan lost the most significant leader of the nation—Benazir Bhutto, who was not only the former first woman Prime Minister of the Muslim world and also the one who would have become the PM of Pakistan again, if she was not killed by the terrorist of the same nation. Of the entire Muslim world’s modern Muslim leaders Mrs Bhutto was the most brilliant woman from South Asia, a student leader and President of the Oxford University Student Union. After her death the Oxford Union described her as “its feisty former president”. Till today no other woman leader, from South Asia, matched her intellectual calibre. Her book ‘’Daughter of The East’’ is the best account of the East that a woman scholar has ever written.
There is a comparison between the brutal killing of Mahatma Gandhi and that of Benazir Bhutto. After Abraham Lincoln’s death, Gandhi’s death and after John F. Kennedy’s killing, Mrs Indira Gandhi’s killing after that the killing of Mrs Bhutto was the most sensational killing. Of all the great person’s killing Mrs Bhutto’s was the ghastliest. It involved killing of several people along with her. And the killing spree is continuing in that country. Besides, Ranasinghe Premadasa , the former president of Sri Lanka, who was assassinated in a suicide bombing, the violent killings of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman , the first President of Bangladesh and also Rajiv Gandhi, former Prime Minister of India by LTTE suicide bomber in 1991 during General Elections in Sriperumbudur, all show that this region is the most violent region of the world.
Apart from the brutal killing of the region’s top leaders, while they were in public meetings like Rajiv Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto, mass murders in the communal riots brutal planned killings of individuals and terrorist organizations are getting formed in a planned way. The LTTE in Srilanka, Lashkar-E-Toiba in Pakistan, Bajrang Dal, Sanathan Sanstha and so on in India and ISIS in Syria are showing a dangerous trend in the world. Apart from these most known organizations there are many other organizations which believe in violence as the only way of dealing with others.
Why South Asia is such a violent region? Why violence in this region is so vibrant and brutal? In my view the root cause of this violent situation is Tribalism and Casteism, which are social systems in themselves. Both these institutions plague the South Asian societies for millennia, including in the modern period. There is huge caste cultural problem—including human untouchability in most of these societies. In these countries the Tribalism also survives with major socioeconomic gaps between the capitalist, feudal forces on the one hand and the tribes and the lower castes on the other hand. Afghanistan, West Pakistan, including Baluchistan, some parts of Bangladesh have huge Tribal populations that have no modern education and employment. In India Nepal and Sri Lanka, caste and untouchability related conflicts engender violence and social brutalization on every day basis.
The upper castes in India, the feudal forces in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Srilanka do not have any cohesive life process. The social differentiation in all these countries is far more complex and they suffer from multilayered inequalities. When the exploited Tribes and the lower castes did not come into the orbit of any form of education, they were spiritually and socially believing in whatever the upper castes and the feudals were preaching both as religious norm and social norm. Tthey were willing to accept and live as slaves and serfs.
Partly this karma centered inequalities were exposed when the masses came in contact with spiritual democratic religions like Islam and Christianity in the same period when capitalism was developing with the intervention of the colonial modernity. Though a religion like Hinduism that the Spiritual Fascist nature it survived in countries like India and Nepal but they also came in conflict with the colonial capitalist modern system. Number of people in these countries also came in contact with these religious egalitarianism. They too began to realize that the right to religion and the right to modern education are their birth rights.
But the casteist and feudal elite of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Srilanka had established a diabolic education system, where the rich study in the private English medium schools and the poor, Tribes and Dalit-Bahujans are forced to study in regional language in the state run schools where inequality is strengthened in many more forms. It is in these regional language schools bigotry is inculcated. At a time when the children of the capitalist, feudal and upper caste rich are educated in English medium for employment in foreign markets, the poor are being educated in backward schools in regional languages. This situation increases the anger and preparedness of the exploited poor, who hardly have any space in the structures of Governance. It is this anger that takes several forms of violence and terrorism.
In these countries there is no level playing field in the educational institutions. From these countries the elite writers write theory, fiction and poetry from foreign lands and for foreign markets. The Neo-literate from the Tribals and the Dalitbahujan, even in the regional languages can use the modern technologies like cell phone, internet, TV channels and they think of only tools of revenge against the upper caste, feudal and exploitative social forces than love them.
In India, for example the Dalits are craving for English education and spiritual equality leading to lot of new modes of conflicts. The conflict between the Brahminic cow worshippers and the classical cow eating Dalit masses has almost created a crisis in the food and leather markets and in the general society. This is also leading to huge social clashes.
Why are the terrorists in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh attacking their own societies, some times by targeting the elite canters of living or elite educational institutions?. Though the Muslim elite preach that God created all human beings equal, at the day today living life processes the masses are treated as natural un-equals. And the nature of capitalist and feudal exploitation in those countries is abdominal. Even the Muslim countries did not establish common school education—both in language and content—for all children whom God created as equals. In the modern times of globalization if in theory you teach that God created all human beings equal, but in real life because of ethnic, or class, or Tribal or caste differences if the rich, the state and civil societies treat them as unequals, violence becomes the weapon of the weak.
You may keep them away from modern egalitarian English medium education that your children are learning in the private schools, colleges and universities but you cannot keep them away from the Weapons of Destruction. They somehow access weapons of destruction more easily within a short time than the high quality education that the rich get over a period of time. Acquiring good education takes time and the institutional effort but acquiring the weapons of destruction could be acquired without such a long term effort.
Though the South Asia, as a region, has experimented with many religious practices like Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Jainism, all these religions did not address the core issue of inequality, illiteracy and the source of militant violence. I think that the real sources of the militant violence in South Asia are Tribalism and Casteism. The solution to these problems lies in massive deployment of Common School English Medium Education and De-Tribalization and De-Casteisation of the civil societies. The West should spend more money on English medium education than militarization of the region.
Though the South Asia, as a region, has experimented with many religious practices like Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Jainism. But all these religions did not address the core issue of inequality, illiteracy and the source of militant violence. I think that the real sources of the militant violence in South Asia are Tribalism and Casteism. The solution to these problems lies in massive deployment of Common School English Medium Education and De-Tribalization and De-Casteisation of the civil societies. The West should spend more money on English medium education than militarization of the region.