And the easy way to block freedom of speech in India
For me today, then the bombs aren’t the issue so much as the irresponsibility of the SGPC’s campaign against a film that, in the bigger picture, did not constitute a threat to Sikhism or the Sikh community. The SGPC seems increasingly like an organization desperate for direction, now that their established enemies — the Congress Party, the Nehru family, the Indian Army’s counter-terrorist measures in Punjab — have either dwindled or transformed. In an era when the Prime Minister is himself a practicing, if secular, Sikh, Sikh organizations in India can no longer claim exclusion or discrimination. They have as a result chosen to mimic the world-wide rhetoric of religious outrage, exemplified in India by the RSS and by conservative Muslim groups. The rhetoric of outrage is, it seems, the primary way in which religious leaders — around the world, and in every major religious community — attempt to make themselves relevant to modernity.
Sad to say, this turn to the Politics of Censorship will probably work for the SGPC. The fact that the SGPC’s (unsuccessful) campaign against the film was followed by bombings — awfully convenient, isn’t it? — means that the future campaigns they undertake, no matter how frivolous, will have to be taken seriously. What’s more, the bombing will appear to many followers and potential followers as hard evidence of the influence and strength of the SGPC. Terrorism works.
Insofar as no one can publicly challenge the drift towards fundamentalism amongst — seemingly — the leadership of all the major religious groups, we are in for more misdirected outrage, more censorship, and yes, more religious violence. It is the surest way to political power. [Amardeep Singh hyperlinks added]