Monday, July 27, 2009

Secularism Vs Religious Fanatism

by Col LK Anand Retd

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)


  1. Secularism Vs Religious Fanatism (Continued)

    I am sure it would also be a majority view of the Indians to follow the tradition of tolerance which we have followed for ages. However to be secular we must now look at the entire aspect in a totally different perspective. Isn't time ripe now to do away with the organisations which have caused and have been causing immense damage to the nation through provocative speeches and sermons and hurting religious sentiments of the masses and inciting them to spread public violence.

    It would be in our larger interest of the society that no sacred/religious places be ever allowed to get desecrated by vested interests. Let these be VHP or RSS or Bajrang Dal or Shiv Sena, Ram Sena or Muslim league or any other. To prevent or to crush ruthlessly any unilateral actions and hostilities perpetrated by these groups is the responsibility of the State Governments, and their shutting their eyes and ears to such activities can be considered as their gross weakness or their tacit approval for continuing such unlawful activities. Can such inefficiency be accepted by the population?

    Hasn’t time come now to ban public gatherings which manifest and arouse feelings and sentiments for or against any particular religion. Would it not be ideal, if all the citizens follow up their religious teachings and rituals only in the religious places like temples, masjids, gurdwaras, churches and so on or at home and not on the streets. There should be no permission for advocating or propagating any religious sermons and lectures in congregations at public places to arouse hatred amongst other religions. Any such incidents must be treated as anti national and the violators must be strictly dealt with in the strictest manner under the law of the land. There is obviously no place in the society for religious fanatics and their wings must be clipped at every possible opportunity.

    Each and every child must be given basic knowledge on the teachings of every religion in the school during formative years and should be brought up under an environment of love and tolerance towards each and every religion. It would be better to avoid institutions which deliberately insist on spreading teachings of a particular religion, which could bias the young minds and unnecessarily create hatred towards other religions.

    The political parties which do not subscribe to secularism in their manifestoes should not be recognised by the election commission and certainly the parties whose names include words like Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jain, Sikh and so on must be banned instantly. Any political party not following the principal of secularism at any stage after it has been recognised or elected to any assembly or parliament should be instantly disqualified by the Election Commission.

    A time has now come in this country to act and act ruthlessly against religious fanaticism at each and every level. It is not left for the Prime Minister or his any other colleagues to shed crocodile tears on such happenings or to give clean chits to the defaulters. There is also a strong case for some of the defaulting political parties to keep away from the trends of vote bank politics in the name of religions or the minorities.


  2. Great observations. It is great to realize that British divided Hindus and Muslims.The imperial forces did it not only in Bharath but even in Africa. We see Africans as one people. The British and French rulers were competing to divide the African people in to various ethnic groups. Thus Tutsi Vs Kuttu feeling etc injected . We have the lessons from Ziarre Lion etc ... WShat else is required. They divided almost every society on earth. Now their land is burning!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!