Will there be a genocide?

Prof. Gregory Stanton hit the news a few days ago when he raised concerns that India could very likely see a genocide against Muslims. He is said to have predicted the Rwandan genocide in 1994, and heads an organisation called Genocide Watch, so he should be taken seriously on this matter.

I have kind of given up at a personal level.

I have come to accept that I cannot change the minds of people. I have tried methods of logic and appeals to emotion, neither work.

And here, according to Trout, was the reason human beings could not reject ideas because they were bad: “Ideas on Earth were badges of friendship or enmity. Their content did not matter. Friends agreed with friends, in order to express friendliness. Enemies disagreed with enemies, in order to express enmity.

Earthlings went on being friendly, when they should have been thinking instead. And even when they built computers to do some thinking for them, they designed them not so much for wisdom as for friendliness.”
— Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

Yes, I am not actively trying to fight violent ideas. But I am not plotting with or supporting those who call for violence either.

Then as a member of the privileged community of this country, what am I really doing? Isn’t silence against oppression enabling it?

I don’t have definitive answers. But here’s what I know –

  1. Activism is not for me. I lack the community building skills and the grit for it.
  2. Education works. Freire said it, Mandela said it, Tagore said it. And it’s something that I am kind of good at.

How am I contributing to education? I work in public education for my day job but that’s largely programme management stuff – my contribution builds literacy, not understanding. That’s just an unavoidable limitation of large systems.1

No government is ever going to teach you how to overthrow it. My experience corroborates this. If the objective is to build rational, empathetic, questioning minds, the work needs to be personal. Humans only follow someone’s advice if they trust and respect them. Because as Plato put it - “Nothing taught by force stays in the soul."

So what am I doing to influence education at a personal level? Three strands of work –

  1. Writing. I don’t know how, what, where or for whom. Yet. But I am on it.
  2. Enabling. Access to higher education is a major hurdle for marginalised groups in India. I plan on creating a corpus fund to support students from Dalit and other oppressed communities. This is a WIP and I invite your suggestions!
  3. Scaling. Personal to a few people is nice, but personal to a few hundred people is nicer. I am considering social media and broadcast media (podcast, YouTube) for it. Hopefully the work I have done on Chachi could prove helpful here.2

Why do I want to do this? Because I can’t stop myself from thinking about doing it. This is difficult but it is the most achievable kind of difficult for me. Also, any psychologist worth their salt would tell me I have a latent desire for fame. Why else would I spend all my adult life recording my opinions in a blog? Why am I running this newsletter?

Even 2013 Gurjot knew this –

Why did I start this post by referring to genocide? Because the way things are going, I won’t be surprised if my community is labelled ’enemy of state’. It’s been done to us before. As someone with visible markers of religious identity, I am naturally at risk.

I don’t mean to be a doomsayer. I just want to record my thoughts.

What do you reckon? Send me an email or text!

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Cheers! See you soon.

  1. And why a strong democracy requires smaller centres of power, like city states. ↩︎

  2. I am not disillusioned by the startup notion of users and app installs. ↩︎

Last modified: Jan 22, 2022