Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine
Dhu'l-Qa'dah / Zil-Hijjah 1423 H
February 2003
Volume 16-02 No : 194
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Investigation


Kites of Communal Harmony

Kites of Communal Harmony

The atmosphere during Makar Sankranti in the Muslim-dominated localities, negates the theory of Polarisation of society along the religious lines. Hindus and Muslims depend on each other for their requirements-be it vegetables or even kites, discovers Mohammed Hanif Lakdawala

In the assessment of the BJP, the Gujaratis of Maharashtra have become as polarised as those living in that state. The BJP aimed to consolidate its Gujarati vote-bank in Maharashtra by pampering its latest Hindutva icon Narendra Modi in Mumbai recently.

“Our state unit is trying to encash this factor as well as the popularity of Modi to consolidate our vote bank,” the leaders said, pointing out that the Gujaratis formed a substantial chunk of the BJP’s support base in Maharashtra.

Islamic Voice conducted a random survey in Mumbai, the venue of the Narendra Modi facilitation, to gauge how polarised Mumbai Gujaratis have become. Hindu Gujaratis, the target respondents were asked whether they have any hesitation to have business relationship with Muslims. For the convenience, two sets of Gujaratis were selected. First set consisted of those who thronged the Kite shops located at the pre-dominantly Muslim locality on Imamwada Road in south Mumbai on the occasion of Makar Sankranti (Kite festival).

Out of 24 respondents, none said that they have any hesitation to have any business relationship with Muslims. In fact, all said they prefer coming to buy kites in a pre-dominantly Muslim locality as they get the best quality kites here. Shailesh Dave, 19, a commerce student like every year came to Farhan Kite Center to buy his quota of Kites. “I come here to buy kites as the best quality kites and excellent designs are available here. It does not make any difference to me whether the manufacturer or retailer is a Muslim as long as I get what I want”, he said.

Abay Vora, 32, visited Imamwada Road along with his wife, Sheela and two sons. “In fact, we feel like coming here quite often as we get good products. As far as communal polarisation is concerned, its everything to do with the politics. Common Hindus and Muslims get along well and have no ill feelings towards each other”, he said.

Tushar Kadakia, 29, is a regular visitor to Imamwada road along with his family to purchase kites on the occasion of Makar Sankranti every year. “The real flavour and culture of the festival we get to see here only, though all the kite manufactures and retailers are Muslims. The real synthesis of the culture is visible here. It’s the experience we cherish all through the year”, says Tushar.

The atmosphere and environment during Makar Sankranti at the Muslim dominated Imamwada negates the theory of Polarisation of society along the religious lines. Another visitor at Farhan Kite Center, Hemant Desai, 34, a textile dealer, supports the BJP, but does not agree that society is getting polarised along the religious lines. “Polarisation in India is not possible. India being a plural country, no community can live in isolation nor any community can be isolated on the grounds of religion. Every community is an integral part of the society as we all are dependent in many aspects on each other,” he says. “How is it possible to think in terms of community and religion. Even if a Gujarati businessman decides to boycott a Muslim customer, it is practically impossible to implement it. In every step of life, we are inter-dependent to such an extent that life will come to a halt if polarisation takes place,’’ he said.

The second set of Gujarati Hindus was those who supply medicines to Muslim doctors. Majority of the suppliers to the Muslim doctors are Gujarati Hindus. None of the suppliers said that they faced any discrimination or their business was affected in any way after the Gujarat carnage.

Praful Mehta is in the business of supplying to doctors since 8 years and 90 per cent of his customers are Muslims. “Not even a single Muslim doctor stops giving me business nor even reduced my normal share after the Gujarat carnage. We did discuss politics, but it never affected our relationship”, he said.

Praveen Patel operates in Mumbra, a pre-dominantly Muslim pocket. Polarisation is the last word on his mind. “Though I had the option of choosing Hindu doctors when I started business three years back, but I went according to the business potential rather than the religious factor which is no hindrance”, he said.

Interaction with Muslim doctors revealed that religion is not the basis of their decision to give orders to the medicine suppliers. “It is impossible to discriminate on the basis of religion”, said Dr Zubair Shaikh, General Secretary, Indian Medicine Practitioners Association. (IMPA). “Our lives are so integrated with each other that you never think in terms of religion. Its politicians who want us to believe in the theory of Polarisation”.

Take any field or any other aspect of life, the common man leads an integrated, not an isolated life. From domestic workers to mechanics, from taxi drivers to vegetable vendors, school teachers to hawkers, cannot afford to be polarised and think in terms of religions.

This is not to suggest that there are no communal feelings and misunderstanding and the society is perfect. The issue here is the projection of polarisation of society by the Sangh Parivar, which ultimately leads to isolation. Polarisation through hate campaigns can never succeed. It can affect masses temporarily, which BJP can use to gain votes, but to sustain hate for a prolonged period is not possible.

Thus, inspite of launching a high decibel hate campaign in the past, the BJP lost New Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan ,Madhya Pradesh and Maharastra last time. BJP lost New Delhi, its stronghold on the issue of the increase in the price of Onions.

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