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Why Hindutva's Dark Fantasy About India's Muslims Could Become Real

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02.06.2019

In 1948, American sociologist Robert K. Merton propounded the theory of self-fulfilling prophecy, which is the lens through which the Muslim community’s apprehension of having to negotiate the rule of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for another five years needs to be seen. “The self-fulfilling prophecy is, in the beginning,” Merton wrote, “a false definition of the situation evoking a new behaviour which makes the original false conception come true.”

India’s Muslims were tagged as anti-Hindu and religiously radical during Modi’s first term as prime minister, with barely any evidence to justify the labels. They now fear that some among them might make choices that will bring to reality the “false definition” of their community.

This will, in turn, take India to the next stage in Merton’s paradigm. “This specious validity of the self-fulfilling prophecy,” he wrote, “perpetuates a reign of error. For the prophet will cite the actual course of events as proof that he was right from the very beginning—such are the perversities of social logic.”

Yet the thought of the “reign of error” emerging in India has had Muslim commentators beseech Muslims to not abandon hope. In doing so, they recognise, even though subliminally, that the Muslim community’s hope is hanging by a thread.

Also Read: Is It Still Possible To Strive For Yet Another India?

This is quite understandable. In the last five years, 44 Muslims were lynched in the name of the cow, inter-faith couples were harassed, threats were issued to convert the religious minorities to Hinduism, history books were rewritten to demonise Muslim rulers, and cities were renamed to efface all past Muslim association. Not only that, an attempt was made to redefine the secular basis of Indian citizenship, evident from the framing of the Citizenship Amendment Bill. The othering of Muslims became an everyday phenomenon.

It is a testament to the forbearance of ordinary........

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