As I continue to read the book of Amartya Sen on identity and Violence, exploitation of identities is a serious issue raised by him. As we know, humans are constituted by multiple identities. Some are more significant than the other. Which of the multiple identities become the significant one depends on the context of the person.
There are two ways of creation of the significant identities.
- By natural means/ circumstances (Significant identity of a Catholic in a catholic country, secular country and in an Islamic country could be different)
- By manipulated means (British by divide and rule made extremely significant the identity of muslim and Hindu bypassing the identity as an Indian for their political benefits.)
- First way of creation of significant identities is unavoidable. It also creates problems occasionally. Being cautious about it can be a great help to avoid conflicts.
But the second way of creating by manipulation is extremely dangerous. Many a times it is imposed on people.
- It is used extensively by nationalists around the world (India, US and many right wing governments) to make people believe that the identity as the national of that country should be the most significant identity and to prove that identity, people should follow certain practices.
- It is used by religious fundamentalists to create conflicts among religions. Although I am a catholic, I also have many other identities. But occasionally religious identity is over stressed.
- The manipulation also happens in advertisements (fairness creams would say identity as as white person is better than that of a black person)
- Trolls in social media is extensively used against a person rebelling against this manipulation of identities.
It is extremely significant to see how the dialogue could continue, how manipulation could be reduced. It is an invitation to people of good will from different steams (intellectuals, activists, writers, thinkers, workers) to put up a united front so that manipulation of identities to create violence can be reduced.