28 July, 2021

God Finds Place In Own Country

In a land associated with ‘godless’ politics, every socio-religious ­animosity is being harnessed like never before in a war for votes

God Finds Place In Own Country

Two years back, if you had asked a voter in Pala about ‘love jehad’, you would have been greeted with a blank expression. It was not very much part of the political vocabulary in this neck of the woods. Pala is canonical Kottayam, a small town in this south-central district, with a slow, lilting dialect and an honest, hard-working ethic—you could also say it’s at the heart of Syrian Christian Kerala. It’s not as if communities in Kerala had only unbounded love for each other. Like elsewhere, there can be less than complimentary views on each other, mutual suspicions—and tinges of animosity. But politics here had only articulated communitarian loyalties; it never much based itself around actual antipathies. There’s a general balance of social forces here that gives Kerala its stability and even refinement—also a large social commons, so to speak, in which everyone participates. Therefore, the pathological fear of each other that defines politics in the north does not have currency here. And metaphors like love jehad, which flow such...

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