India has been seeing innumerable communal clashes and large scale violence amongst certain communities which instead of decreasing are on the increase involving more and more different religions. What has happened in Godhra and in Orissa and as a sequel in some other parts of the country is absolutely shameful. What shortcomings in the Indian system of governance are responsible for this malady need a very serious analysis and a public debate or discussion.
The Prime Minister should personally assess the happenings on the ground and keep his eyes open to the reality. India as per its constitution is a secular country. True meaning of secularism in India, that is the freedom granted by the constitution to every Indian citizen, to worship and follow any religion of his choice, does not appear to have been clearly understood, at least by a handful of religious fanatics in the country who are bent upon ruining the traditional comradeship and brotherhood amongst people of various Indian religions especially Hindu and Muslim.
The countrymen at the time of independence were given a choice to select either India or Pakistan as their homelands. Accordingly, all the Muslims who had confidence in the policy of secularism of India, opted to stay on in India and made India their homeland. However, the things never got on the way they had been foreseen by the secularists and little skirmishes continued to occur from time to time preventing the situation to ever become normal. Perhaps this is the fate with which Indians have to live on. Thanks to the vote bank policies of certain political parties.
Seeing the past history, it is far from reality that for centuries the Hindus and Muslims in the pre-partitioned and Integrated India lived without any anti-communal feelings. Perhaps the religious ideologies of both these religions never matched for them to coexist in a long and lasting manner. So British with the suggestion of the separatist groups took advantage and partitioned India to form East & West Pakistan.
No point, making any mention of the later formation of Bangla Desh from East Pakistan. India so far has not had any serious threat or problem from that direction, but the chances of something happening now or little later cannot be ruled out due to large scale migration of Bangladeshi citizens into India over the years and lack of any preventive action or making any worthwhile policy on the subject by the Central or the State Governments.
The point at issue is that the Muslims who decided to make India their home country are as much citizens of India as people of any other religions. Whether, they are Hindus, Christians, Jains or any other. Under these circumstances no person or organisation has any right to treat them as non Indians or outsiders or foreigners irrespective of what the past has been.
It was very interesting to read some time back an article by Mr G Parthasarthy a past High Commissioner to Pakistan. In his article he has suggested that it is India and the Indians who have to define their nationhood in tolerant, pluralistic, democratic and secular terms.
(to be continued)