Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Vitiated Working Spaces in Modi's India


I have been working on Old Delhi for almost ten years now. I have observed how Muslims lived in Old Delhi but went out for work/ education, etc. especially lately in the past ten years. A lot of kids from Old Delhi go to good private schools, and then go on to complete their education from Delhi University. The links with the outside world increased when these graduates took up jobs in MNCs and often worked in call centers, etc. The myth of self-employed Muslims spending their entire lives in Old Delhi was breaking, as the new generation went out, worked, partied, made friends, got married outside the walls of Old Delhi.

Recently, with concern I heard the story of how with the rise of BJP's Modi, the office atmospheres are getting vitiated. The development agenda which led the party to power, but now the Parivar is all over the place with conversions/re-conversion debates, etc.  What this means for an average Muslim office-goer is listening to pro-Hindutva/RSS debates, anti-Muslims comments, etc. in office spaces. The friendly common ground of Junior/Senior executive MBAs where people laughed and joked has suddenly become Hindu/Muslim again! It is like the 1980s-90s when Ram Janambhoomi Movement was at its peak!I remember my father who worked in a government office and got into improptu debates/discussions with his non-Muslim colleagues feeling isolated because of his religious identity. Now, I heard it again from a close relative about the feeling of isolation when the rest of the colleagues discuss Hindutva agendas, or how Hindus should convert India back! The fear is the loss of common grounds of interactions. The hardening of religious identities mean different things to a Majority person as opposed to what it signifies for a Minority person. He will again go back to his living segregated space around the familiar walls with his religious group. The living spaces will again be homogenized with followers of the same group, and before anything major happens (God forbid!) the battles of - them versus us- are often psychologically fought. This may just be the beginning of the fault lines again in the new century!!   

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