India: A Religion Neutral Country

The Supreme Court is not alone in raising the question
Supreme Court of India [Representational Image]
Supreme Court of India [Representational Image] File: ANI

Hearing a journalist’s  petition  filed  for taking action against a Delhi politician for, allegedly,  having   made  a hate speech, whereby he  called  upon people to boycott a particular community,  Supreme Court  made many telling observations.

One was, “where  have we reached in the name of a religion, what we have reduced religion to is tragic ….”. Then referring to the alleged hate speech the court remarked,  “statements are really very shocking  for a country that is to be religion neutral .” 

Over the period of time, signals were loud  and clear  that  something   has  terribly   gone wrong  with   India’s   social   ecosystem.  The  Court  has   confirmed  it : “climate of hate prevails in the country .”                   

There are reasons for the Apex Court to say s .   In summer we had to face protest of  West Asian countries over a remark made by a spokesperson of a political party which they found derogatory to the  Prophet.

There were violent  protests within the country as well which  resulted in loss to the property and    death of  an  innocent  tailor in  Rajasthan.   We  are  reminded of   last year’s   defeat that  Indian Cricket  team faced at the hands of Pakistan Cricket team, in the   ICC T20 Championship played in UAE. 

Many  Indian fans singled out a  player of  a particular faith as a fall guy and trolled him with most derogatory comments. When his captain stood by the trolled player the so called ‘nationalists’  didn’t  even  spare him, and choicest abuses, as also threats to molest his two year old  daughter, were hurled on him.

It will do lot of good to the nation if we  hear   what UN Secretary General, Antonio  Gutterres       recently told  the gathering at Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai. He  said: “Diversity is a richness that makes your country great.

That understanding must be nurtured, strengthened  and  renewed  every day by practicing the values of Gandhi: by securing and upholding the rights and dignity of all people, especially the vulnerable: by taking concrete action for inclusion, recognising the enormous value and contributions of multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-ethnic societies; by condemning hate speech unequivocally.”

India claims to be a Vishvaw Guru - a global leader - whom people around the world  look up to for ‘guidance’. For that to  happen it has to be shown,   as  Secretary –General   says,   whether   India has   “increased  investment  in an inclusive,  pluralistic,  diverse community  and society.” 

India, according to  him,  is in a position  to  highlight  “values and vision of a developing world. It  has  to renew the  commitment   to  pluralism, sensitivity, empathy  towards  different religions, languages  and cultures:   celebrate diversity  and not be afraid of  it.

RSS Chief, Mohan Baghwat  has opened  up to the Muslims  and expressed  faith in  the  values  which  are  foundational to the   India’s  constitution.  

RSS ideologue Ram Madhav,  in a piece written in  the Ideas Page of a national daily of  22 Oct, has appreciated the efforts of  Nahdlatul  Ulama  (NU) - the  Muslim Organization of Indonesia, and Muslim World League  (MWL)  of Saudi Arabia who are fighting the extremist elements in Islam by emphasising that Islam “understands the existence of religions as a universal design that must be celebrated, since difference, diversity and multiplicity are characteristics    of human nature .”  It is in the  interests of the nation that the Sangh  Parivar members get the right  message.

Supreme court is not alone in raising the question: thousands of the concerned countrymen have the same question. 

These remarks are bound to resonate in the  hearts  and  minds of  a vast majority of the country, men and women, who have unwavering faith in sound human values the nation is founded on.

Who  genuinely feel concerned on how the surrounding atmosphere is getting  communally polluted. Nonetheless, one has hope  in the Court when it  asked police to take action  on its own,  without waiting for a n FIR to be lodged - when  hate  is spewed; or else be ready  to face charge  of contempt of  the Court.  

It  is  more   essential  that  our  conversation is  purged of the  communally toxic vocabulary  if things are to be set right .

Having  seen   what  the   fundamentalists brought  her country to the, Pakistani  writer Fahmida  Riyaz’s   pain drenched  lines addressed to us may have a relevance :

Tum  bilkul hum jaisey  nikley

Aab  tak khan chupay  thay

Woh  murkhta  who gamand

Jismein   hum ne  sadian  gwandhi

Akar pohanchey  dwaar  tuhari

Are badhia  bhut   badhia

 (You have become exactly  like us: where  were you so far: the  foolishness and hubris which consumed centuries of  our  lives  have  finally  reached your door : stay felicitated )

In Rishi Sunak’s elevation to the post of  PM, the British have expressed faith in  multiculturalism  and   appreciated    talent ,  unmindful of parochial   considerations . 

We may  detest  Britain  for promoting   colonialism  but  it  has shown  the world  its  capacity to  carry a  Colony  borne  person -  of  different faith - to a lead  position. It is sometimes  good to follow a colonial power rather than  condemn it  in  a zeal to  parade “ hyper nationalism .”

B  L SARAF, former Principal District &Sessions Judge

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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