The Threat of Radicalization

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Discrimination, stereotyping, prejudice – these are just a few radicalizing issues that plague our diverse nation. Pooja Salvi delves deeper into the growing threat of radicalization in India

India is a country of a plethora of social and religious groups. We are and have been consumed by our social and religious status for centuries now. You are born into a certain religion and social status and the same dictates a lot about how you are going to live your life — what type of education you will receive, how people will react to you; it even determines how you will grow throughout your life. We dig into how religion and the social status in India leads to the much talked about radicalization and what can be done about it.

WHAT IS RADICALIZATION?

Simply put, radicalization is something that forces one to completely alter the way they think and perceive social, political and civil situations, because these are hampered by political and social thinkers. The radical change is actually a product of several things. One of the most prominent factor of what determines (and causes) radicalization is religion, ethnicity and caste groups. Let’s make it a little simpler. There is a lot of hubbub on why terrorists are hell bent on bringing the entire world under one supreme “God”. If you are not too well-versed with social sciences, you will completely neglect the foundation of this problem. These terrorists are born and bought up in conflict regions – regions that are torn apart by war. It is a vicious circle, agreed, but there is barely anything us commoners can do about it.
Let’s not go this far to conflict regions. Let’s take our country for instance. Social classes and religion determine a lot of things. Your upbringing, your education, your future social life — everything. Often, a lot is stereotyped when it comes to grouping people based on their caste and religion. However, this is one thing that tells a lot about us as a society, unfortunately.

HOW IS ALL THIS RELATED, YOU ASK?

Well, for starters, caste and religion affects you in ways one cannot fathom. And the only way you will be unaware of situations like these is if you live under a rock. Community thinkers have a lot of say in situations like these. They play the card of religion and caste to bid communities against each other. And in many cases they are even successful in this. How do you think they build their vote bank? See, bidding communities against each other has a lot to do with politics and very little to do with the welfare of the people — they do us no good. Now for a socially aware citizen in the right state of mind who is educated and well aware of how politics and social status affects a person’s living in the city, all this shouldn’t matter — it shouldn’t even determine anything. But, it does.
Our country has been in a volatile state for decades now. Can we pin point one moment when it all started? We can’t be so sure. Centuries ago when the kings sat on thrones, the caste system was prevalent. You had the Brahmins, the Kshatriyas (warriors), the Vaishyas (traders) and the Shudras. As you would have guessed, the Shudras were the lowest caste and were subject to a lot of atrocities — firstly, they weren’t allowed to draw water from the well that the rest of the people used and sometimes, people even went to the extent of throwing feces in their wells! Sounds harsh? It gets worse. However, this is a story for another day.
If you assume that this situation was only a part of the Hindu culture, you are wrong. Caste systems are prevalent in more or less every religion in our country and, as we have already discussed, this affects several things.

HOW DOES THIS LEAD TO RADICALIZATION?

For starters, community thinkers in the society tell people that the reason they are suppressed for all these years is because they haven’t been doing anything to counter this. If they retaliate, they will be able to bring about change. And what is the best way to bring about change than violence? This is what social experts are saying about radicalization, about being intolerant. People aren’t ready to sit down and try and make sense of social situations — they want change and they don’t want to wait for it; they want it instantly.
Of late, a number of youth were trained and recruited by the ISIS — they even went to the extent of travelling abroad for the training. The reason? According to them, the country is already in shambles, the situation is worsening with every passing moment because religion and social status is a fragile thread.

WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?

It is difficult to state what we can do to ameliorate this. We have to be a bit more sensitive to the needs of other religions and a lot less intolerant.

People aren’t ready to sit down and try and make sense of social situations — they want change and they don’t want to wait for it; they want it instantly.

 

Volume 5 Issue 12