Employees walk along a road at the Infosys Ltd. campus in the Electronics City information technology hub in Bengaluru, India Image Credit: Bloomberg

I feel terrible for the city that nurtured more Indian unicorns than others — Bengaluru, located in Karnataka, had the same ineffable buzz of New York, Dubai and London — that gets the cities turning in to financial world capitals, creates jobs and nurtures a full fledged tourism industry.

My former editor at the Indian Express, Shekhar Gupta, wrote a lament for Bengaluru recently but, it’s much more than that.

Weaponising Hijab

By weaponising the Hijab, which some girls wore to school to make it a choice between the head cover and education, by raising needless controversy over halal meat and imposing an illegal boycott on minorities carrying out businesses near temples is akin to mainstreaming hate.

While hate may pay electoral dividends, it destroys the society, which lets it fester and Bengaluru has become a classical example of that.

While on the surface, it is business as usual — international companies which set up huge infrastructure in Bengaluru might now be wary — as the extremists up the ante on ‘othering’.

Young people who flocked to Bengaluru from across India with eyes wide with dreams of being the next Steve Jobs or local hero Nandan Nilekani are uncomfortable with the idea of hate: It always destroys big dreams.

The usual suspects

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, chairperson of billion dollar company, Biocon Limited, flagged her concerns as she cited a tweet, saying “Karnataka has always forged inclusive economic development and we must not allow such communal exclusion — if ITBT became communal it would destroy our global leadership. @BSBommai please resolve this growing religious divide”. The clipping she cited was “Muslim ban: unease grows Karnataka temple committees traders admit pressure.”

Shaw was attacked and roundly abused for her concern for her own state by the usual suspects. But she bravely stood up to be counted. The new norms which let the majority dictate how a minority community eats, prays and dresses, and who they can love is now becoming a sad new normal.

A more tolerant world

What if the world where doctors, editors, artists, engineers of Indian origin are welcomed, earn a living and are feted as a model minorities decided to hit back?

From global citizens thinking big, we would go back to trying to make the impossible happen here. India’s demographic dividend would turn in to a nightmare.

Hate has ugly consequences and we in India are still to learn that lesson. From Bengaluru to Gurugram — where beef has been criminalised, the worry of some transnational companies is legit.

I write this SWAT analysis in Bangkok, Thailand and despite the pandemic can’t quite believe the growth of infrastructure here. The city is abuzz. Tourists are pouring in. The energy is infectious, just like the UAE.

I truly hope that India goes the tolerant way because that is the route of prosperity, huge job creation and human joy with no preconditions.