This week India saw 97th anniversary of Jallianwala Bagh massacre, success of Jungle Book and visit of second heir to British throne. Though they appear unrelated, a common thread connecting them has a lesson for us all.
Jallianwala massacre stands as a symbol of colonial occupier’s mindset. Though, a product of complex set of events, one of its flash-points was a mob-attack on a British woman in a narrow street. The infamous colonel Dyer responded to it by ordering that every Indian using that street must crawl its entire length on all four, violators of which were flogged in a booth built where the lady had fallen. It was the same sick mindset that led him to subsequently order murder of more than 1000 innocent Indians at Jallianwala, making him and all those who supported him villains that Indians should hate till eternity.
Jallianwala massacre occurred during the reign of George V, the great-great-grandfather of the William who is enjoying Indian hospitality right now. And Rudyard Kipling, the author of Jungle Book actually praised Dyer as a “man who saved India” for his heinous act.
Yet, on the day we should be reminded of the horrible cruelty of British, our glitterati was seen lining up to take selfies with heir of the ruler of a nation that inflicted it, and public thronged at movie halls to enjoy a story penned by Dyer-sympathizer of a prime order.
British occupation of India is full of horrors lot worse than this. Just after failed mutiny of 1857, British had forced rebels to lick the Bibighar compound clean with their tongues before hanging them in incredibly cruel ways devised specifically to hurt religious sentiments, and yet, it is entirely possible that a child waving happily to a passing British tourist on same Kanpur road is a great-grand child of someone who died a horrible death during British retribution.
Frankly, my above narrative was aping many that we encountered every day. Narratives toned specifically to make us angry and make us hate. But I am not very confident about you hating British for long even after becoming aware of these diabolical acts.
This raises a curious question. After all these barbaric crimes British committed against us, why don’t we hate them today?
The simple reason is, we humans forget. We can’t remain angry over generations. Evolution of our relationship with British shows that collective memory is short and traumatic events are not retained for long.
Another glaring reason why we don’t hate British today is that there is no one gaining from keeping the fire going. Left to its own devices, the wound has healed proving that such wounds do heal and heal fast.
Humanity has no natural ability to hate others for the sins of their forefathers. So, it is possible that many cultural conflicts rooted in events of past exist purely because they get stoked by people benefiting from them.
Hate mongering is, probably one of the biggest businesses emerging in modern times, as it is acquiring more and more beneficiaries. With tools of mass communication evolving fast, hate has become an easy tool that anyone can utilize.
It is about time we all wake up to the reality that a lot of paranoia we feel is not natural but induced. We really don’t need to hate other cultures, races or nations. We hate mostly because we are made to hate.
With (mostly fabricated) tales from history aimed specifically to cause hate streaming in from social media every day, we are in dire need to learn from the Indo-British history. Fire of hatred burns only when fueled. Vengeance is not the only way for a culture to find closure.
All wounds heal over time.