News and information coming from different parts of the country are such as to give cause for concern, fear and despair. Events being reported day after day do create doubts about the gradual erosion of humanity, brotherhood and religious amity and tolerance from social living.
Even as we call out slogans like 'We are one, one people, one nation', present-day India has come to be perceived by the world as a nation where people confront each other and indulge in sabre-rattling in the name of religion, caste, language, clothes and politics. The Citizenship Amendment Act and the tempest of consequent protests blowing all over the country have made the atmosphere more explosive. It is as if those in power are victim to a notion that instead of striving to restore peace, fearless atmosphere and friendly mutual relations, it would be more expedient to achieve its cause by moving in the opposite direction. When media that revels more in negative news and criminal acts, things take a more vicious complexion.
However, there is a whiff of relief coming at least from Kerala with different and gladdening experiences. During the big floods in 2018 and 2019, in the rescue efforts to take to safety the thousands of people trapped in heavy downpour and landslides, to give them succour, rehabilitate them and minimise the impact of damage to the minimum, the people's collectives that were formed and functioned above all differences, etched a new chapter in the history of the state. The subsequent role played by youth in converting Kerala, which had become a mountain of waste due to the floods, into a habitable land with cleanliness, was unforgettable. These experiences, over which tears of joy were shed, however was later seen gradually giving way to customary quarrels and bickering, hate and enmity, divisiveness and communalism stripping people's life of tranquillity.
But then again came rays of light even as darkness was engulfing the air, which creates hopes and expectations. The wedding that was solemnised on Sunday in the premises of Cheravally Masjid, Alappuzha district, is perhaps capable of rewriting recent history of the state. Although the wedding was fixed between Anju, the daughter of late Ashokan and Bindu, both living in a rented house and Sharat, the son of Shashidharan and Mini, the family found it hard to raise the required funds. When it came to know of the matter, the Cheravally Juma Masjid not only took up the matter, but also arranged the ceremony to take place in line with pure Hindu rituals, within the compound of the mosque. When the function attended by thousands including the notables from various walks of life went off, that wrote a novel chapter of religious amity and humanitarian love. It became a model to prove that peaceful co-existence is possible without relinquishing identity or belief of any section.
A second instance of this kind came from Nedumbrassery. An electirician-cum-plumber, TM Jacob, hailing from Thettayil family, gifted a plot of 12.5 cents, which he inherited from his family, to four deserving families from Hindu, Muslim and Christian faiths – a rare example of altruism. Jacob's wife and children became part of this noble deed. When the documents of this gift of the property, worth a no meagre Rs 60 lakh, were handed by Anwar Sadat MLA, to Manshida, Juguna, Hashna and Thankamani, in the presence of people's representatives and members of family, that became a celebration of magnanimity and compassion. What the country needs now on, are collective endeavours to take this message to the people with the sacred injunction to 'join hands for good, and refuse to co-operate for evil'. The very opposition to the new citizenship law by the civil society comprising all religious followers, takes its genesis from the awareness that the motive behind the legislation is to divide the people vertically through polarisation and to reinforce selfishness and authority. But if this struggle is to win, it also requires the noble mind and broadmindedness to weld together people's psyche and to be inclusive of human souls at the practical level. And that can be achieved only through internalisation of lofty religious-moral values.