Updated: Aug 2, 2019
As someone who has lived in India all her life, if someone told me that I was born and brought up in an intolerant country a few years ago, perhaps I would have laughed and in some cases even felt deeply offended at such a claim. Not Today. Today, Twitter is abuzz with a man who claims to be a Hindu and gloats over the fact that he refused to take the order because the delivery boy is a Muslim. While the virtual world has gone berserk, commenting on the height of insensitivity, defenders of this disgraceful deed have also come out branding it as the Act of a true Hindu. Religious freedom is being sacrificed on a daily basis through mob lynchings and persecution activities making it a depressing part of the otherwise celebrated Indian narrative.
As a part of the Indian Minority, what has me disturbed is the fact that, both Muslims and Christians who have been co-existing with their Hindu brethren, in a nation that has always been 80% Hindu, are now being wantonly targeted for their religious beliefs. As someone who has had the privilege of reading and understanding both the Mahabharata and the Gita when I was but in high school and junior college, thanks to a Christian father who believed that I must be introduced to the idea of being Secular in all aspects of the term, I find myself at a loss, trying to comprehend the magnitude of this colossal communal disaster that is firmly placing its roots in My country. What could have inspired this belligerent Indian to behave the way he has? Surely, his faith does not propagate any of his thoughts and what’s more- While Christians and Muslims stake claim to know that which is true and right sticking to an individual path- Hindus are recognized as the harbingers and protectors of inclusivity in thought and belief.
While the Prime Minister gave a clarion call to the Indians reminding them that the Minorities must be protected and made to feel secure, his plea has been reduced to another piece of rhetoric by his own. The handle which talked about cancelling the order goes by the name - @Namo_ Sarkaar.
My question today to the Prime Minister is simple and straight, "Sir where is that promise which says, we are all equal and deserve equal rights as safeguarded by the Basic Structure of the Constitution?
A few days ago when I contacted the local nursing bureau for a nurse and an attendant for my mum, they asked if I had a preference. I was a little perplexed and requested that the gentleman elaborate what he meant by "preference." He clarified that there were families who had reservations on hiring Muslim women. I had no idea this happened. A friend on hearing this said, "Should we on our part stop hiring Hindu maids, cleaners and staff in our homes and offices making them exclusively, Christian, Muslim or Parsi? Should all Convent/ Christian schools give admissions to children of their own tribe and allow the KVs to have an influx of Hindus in it?" You will agree that the tit for tat formula can’t be used as the premise itself is incorrect, and that is exactly why we need to stop this unnecessary negative propaganda in the name of faith and religion. The consummate disregard of the 42nd Amendment makes it clear that it is an Us versus Them scenario that is being played overtly and covertly.
No religion (especially Hinduism in this case) promotes or propagates discrimination, bias or prejudice. If multiplicity of belief is the hallmark of this ancient religion, why then do some of its followers blithely ignore its truth?
The true face of Hinduism is perhaps best reflected through the words of Swami Vivekananda, who said, “Condemn None: If you can stretch out a helping hand, do so, if you cannot- Fold your hands, bless your brothers and let them go their own way.”
There is no exclusive right of worship and that has been the underlying principle of the nature of the Indian Constitution. Harmonious co- existence, pluralism, secularism and liberalism are not just political principles but very much a part of Hindu practice. One cannot forget that barring a few like Dr. Ambedkar, almost 80% of the founding fathers who drafted and prepared the Constitution to make it what it is today, were all Hindu!
The religious cracks widening in the Indian mise en scène, is now dividing people, creating rifts and it won’t be long before this plague envelops various sectors of society including the Corporate world only to bleed through workplace regimes with people picking candidates from their own religious ilk to represent their interests.
For 7 decades, India has been telling the world that Pakistan is a religiously driven theocratic state while India is a non- religious, secular state. Secularism in black and white, while people are beaten black and blue, reduces all our claims to be a country without a strong religious inclination.
The Prime Minister famously said, “Religion and Faith are very personal matters. So far as the government is concerned, there is only one holy book, and that is the Constitution of India.”
Prime Minister- Sir, I am using your own words to implore you to infuse this same thought and belief system in those who claim to be your followers and followers of your religion.
I am a Christian and an Indian too. If one reads the Bible, Jesus says, “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s and to God, the things that are God’s,” clearly indicating a distinct regard for one’s country. So if my religion does not circumscribe my devotion to my country, my country should not determine the extent of my religious devotion or undermine its value in what’s meant to be a secular framework.
- Katherine. A
Editor, The Relevant Indian
@katie_abraham on Twitter