A tragic end… six visiting Israelis were caught in the crossfire between ‘unknown’ terrorists and India’s NSG commandos during the numerous concurrent attacks in Mumbai last week, including the attack on the Jewish outreach center in the Colaba neighborhood, not far from the Taj Mahal hotel.
All the six victims were Jews, but none were from the Jewish population who are Indian citizens. In present day, an estimated 4000 Jews reside in India. They are part of the smaller group of Indians which also include the Zoroastrians i.e. Parsi & Irani, the Bahai’s, and others.
A week has barely gone past since the nerve-shattering events commenced. The echoes of the gunshots have not yet died. Funerals of a few of the victims may still be underway. Numerous Indian citizens died including Hindus, Muslims, and others. Several commandos and anti-terrorist squad leaders died during action. Anyone who lost someone is currently in a state of shock, anger, pain, an overall sense of loss, and is rather numbed. India has been threatened, and has serious security issues to deal with immediately.
In the midst of all this, for a community that has thus far lived in India for hundreds of years in peace, is it premature or poorly-timed for their local Jewish leader to seed thoughts of seeking official minority status for Jews in India? Is it in India’s interest to be further divided, however small the portions may be?
Ironically, Hindus are being condemned or urged to exercise restraint by numerous authors, leaders, spokespersons across the world, through various media, for exhibiting fundamentalist anti-Islam sentiments especially during the recent crisis and aftermath. Despite being the 80%+ majority in their country, these very same Hindus sense an insecurity and their feelings can hardly be considered unfounded. They are expected to kowtow, be patient, until the entire world decides or judges what is right for them, in their own interest, in the world’s interest, and what must be done about the perpetrators. If they cannot turn to their own government and demand justice, who can these ‘fundamentalist’ Hindus turn to for help?
Unfortunately for the Hindus, they do not have a continual free-flow of resources – neither funds, nor the spokesmen/women to fight for their cause, and always risk being labeled as “fundamentalists”. Yes, the Jewish Mumbai-based lawyer may be well-versed with the state of affairs in the country. A minority status does indeed beget better protection and privileges, than does a majority status, e.g. a Hindu must struggle and go through the entire farce of common entrance exams, followed by the rigmarole of searching for decent university and college admission for his kid who scored 90% marks. The same Hindu tends to be condemned, almost by default, because s/he is born “Hindu”. However, with the label of minority status e.g. tribal, scheduled caste, or any other “reservation” category, life may turn relatively simpler for his kid say even if s/he scored 50% marks. It is true that the “untouchables” aka Harijans in the days of Mahatma Gandhi were treated as the underdogs by the so-called upper castes i.e. Brahmins, but more than half a century has gone by since the removal of the label. But ironically, in today’s ‘advanced’ situation, one may actually benefit under the classification of scheduled caste, or as a minority group!