Anyone else think of “Amar Akbar Anthony” an iconic Bollywood movie of the late 1970s, when the Indian mens’ 4x400m team performed so brilliantly in the World Athletics Championships this weekend?
For my non-Indian readers, let me hit the pause button and back up for a moment, to put things in context and perspective for you.
India, a country I have known & loved for over 40 years (and lived in more than anywhere else in my life) is currently going through disturbing times.
Religious polarisation is a revolting, ever-increasing feature of life here, with attacks against Muslims especially rampant – though in the light of the horrors emerging from the Christian/Hindu riots in north eastern Manipur, it’s scary that all religions seem to be fair game.
Just 2 days ago, for example, a video went viral, of a Hindu “teacher” telling pupils to slap a wee little Muslim pupil in her class, ostensibly because he didn’t know his multiplication tables.
I deliberately put the word teacher in inverted commas, by the way, because such a woman shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near children. It beggars belief that her excuse for making the other children slap him, is because she is handicapped and therefore, presumably, couldn’t hit him herself. Perhaps if she had hit him, she would have been too busy with whacking the child, to mention his religion.
Now, of course, there is all kinds of whataboutery regarding this incident.
There was a request not to share it on social media, so as to protect the child.
The father has reached a compromise with the “teacher”, we are told, so…he is a Muslim, he has to live in the community, so who can blame his for trying to take the line of least resistance.
The video has been tampered with. Yes, well she would say that, wouldn’t she?
And let’s not forget, the unrepentant “teacher” still told children to smack a fellow pupil.
I won’t go off on too great a tangent, but this is just one of many awful stories that we read about here every week.
Last Sunday, a church in Delhi was targeted by a Hindu mob, and when the priest and some of the congregation went to complain to the cops, the braying mob followed them there.
And where does the 4x400m team come into this, do I hear you say?
In the midst of all this polarisation to have a successful team made up of 2 Muslims, a Hindu & a Christian is just wonderful.
Presenting (quick drumroll) Muhammed Anas Yahiya, Amoj Jacob, Muhammed Ajmal Variyathodi and Rajesh Ramesh.
That they are all South Indians doesn’t come as a surprise, to be honest.
It should not matter one iota what religion these young men are.
Not. One. Iota.
But sadly, in today’s times, it does, and I am immensely happy for these young men and for India.
Oh yes, the Bollywood film.
3 brothers, separated as youngsters, adopted by 3 different families, grow up in 3 different religions, and are united as adults.
That kind of tolerance was the India I met and fell in love with.
Please God – ALL OUR GODS – that we get that India back.