My dear students and young friends,
Do you remember Life Is Beautiful? The film on the Holocaust where a German woman falls in love with a Jewish man. He is full of fun and laughter, empathy and compassion. A few years later, along with their little son, they end up in concentration camps. The father manages to keep his son emotionally sheltered from an extremely cruel scenario for weeks, by convincing him that it is all part of a game.
The film tells us that children have a beautiful mind. It is worth protecting. At any cost. At the end of the film, even when the father knows that he will be shot dead, he continues the façade. Only shows fun to his son—no fear, no pain. The son believes that he has won the game, when the allied army enters the camp, and frees him and his mother.
The adult world is cruel and the adult mind like a dustbin- it keeps anger, hatred and jealousy rotting in it. How easily children fight and come back together. Their minds are treasure boxes- they keep love, happiness, sweet memories.
Intolerance Has Taken Over Attraction
The Holocaust set itself up against everything different and everything beautiful. Jews, communist, gays, disabled on the one hand, and friendship, compassion, loyalty and love on the other.
You are living in a similar time now. In our own country and world over, intolerance has taken over curiosity and attraction. Minds are set. Dreams are sealed. Hearts are hardened. But you are the new generation. Your time is yet to come. You are yet to dream, yet to fly, yet to love.
What will you choose?
Consider this, UP is the first among the states to have brought in a law to curb what is commonly known as “love jihad”, with several others promising to follow suit.
The law was introduced to ostensibly solve the problem of “love jihad”, a conspiracy theory popular among the leaders of the BJP and other right-wingers.
According to this theory, Muslim clergy, in an organised manner, sponsor, motivate and train some Muslim men to lure women of other religions into marriage so that their offspring will be Muslim. This way, the world will come to be populated by Muslims.
So far there has been no evidence to support this theory in demography, politics or law.
Bogey of Love Jihad is Offensive to Women
Further, the concept is offensive to women, who are considered unable to make their own rational choices, and relegated to being mere producers of babies that will propagate a religion.
The love jihad theory comes from the fear of loss of the patriarch’s power over his daughters. According to patriarchal traditions, the father is the supreme decision maker who decides whom to ‘give’ his daughter to.
However, with changing times, an increasing number of women are gaining education, financial independence and exposure to the outside world. They are, therefore, asserting their choices, including the choice about whom to marry. No wonder there is moral panic in the caste patriarchy, especially if the women choose their partners from other castes or religious groups.
A year has passed since UP passed the first of the ‘love jihad’ laws. Other states followed during the past year. These people have put love and jihad together. In one phrase. Will you be able to separate them?
(Sameena Dalwai is a Professor at the Jindal Global Law School, Sonipat. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)