Two years ago at an American MNC, my last organisation, I was working with a diverse global team which also included a Colonel from the Pakistani Army. We met at various conferences and meetings.
He was very inquisitive about Muslims in India and often wondered whether we had equal rights, had freedom to do whatever like others, education/ job opportunities etc.
He was particularly curious about Muslims in the Indian Army. His question was during my time in the forces whether I was involved in any war plans, discussions of strategic importance etc. Basically he was trying to say that since I was a Muslim fighting against Muslims (Pakis), whether it made my bosses suspicious of my patriotism.
Hmmm…I made two simple points: 1. ‘Despite being a Muslim officer’ I won the sword of honour 2. I was counselled by Director General of Corps in AHQ for an hour so that I stayed back in the Army when I put in my papers. He was amazed at everything I said. It shut him up parmanently. I mentioned that Muslims in India did face challenges, discrimination but they were much better off than all the Muslim countries put together.
Having said the above- personally- I am very positive that I will be saying the same things to him or anyone who asks me such questions again. I still have faith in the entire friend circle I have and huge sections of society.
YET, there has been a dent in the confidence and conviction that things will remain so for long.
And YES, this is owing to the people in power who seem to have failed to instill that super confidence that I had.
It appears that there is an army of social media propagandists who are being staffed and funded to photoshop, concoct, circulate, distort and promulgate unprecedented quantity of information.
I would say it is very difficult to fight such forces and going by incidents everyday, things are not really at their best. This is the time which will test people’s underlying beliefs and their biases. Whether people succumb to rhetoric and fallacy or they see through the designs is something to be seen.
Whatever happens, I only hope that humanity wins.