119 years of Trust M A I L B A G THE TRIBUNE
Saturday, February 13, 1999
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Vested interests have divided society

  BY allowing the Indian society to be divided on the basis of caste, sex and religion, even in the name of Constitutional “positive discrimination”, we have jeopardised and imperilled the very existence and growth of true secularism. Stray instances of domineering violence and communal outbursts point to the deep-rooted discontent on both sides, which can be removed only by mutual harmony, understanding and tolerance supported by a rational scientific temper.

Cleansing the society of the fundamentalist traits, which disturb social equilibrium, requires not only a positive and non-partisan support from the government, but also a fresh interpretation of social reforms in terms of reorienting the society to the changing needs of the time. The caste and religion-based reservations in government jobs and professional courses may have been good in the past, but in the days of global competition merit and talent cannot be ignored. Politicians’ vested interests only add to the discontent among the masses, which again is exploited by some unscrupulous casteist and religious fundamentalist elements resulting in communal disharmony and violence.

Secondly, we have neither encouraged awakening of the masses through education nor has our education developed a scientific and rational temperament. Our reading of history has been negative and biased, instilling only hatred against our rulers in the past. Instead of inspiring a love of the country and a desire to work for her welfare, the distorted facts of history, presented with communal overtures, have spread communal animosity.

More important in the direction of building a tolerant society, is not checking the criminalisation of politics, as much as it is to give our educational system a secular and rational priority. The accumulated treasure of spiritual truths can be preserved and developed if our education could inculcate in the masses the human virtues of tolerance, understanding, mutual respect, brotherhood and inclination of self sacrifice for others’ welfare.


True Hinduism

Swami Vivekananda had said: “This word (Hindu) was the name that the ancient Persians used to apply to the river Sindhu. Whenever in Sanskrit there is an “S”, in ancient Persian it changes to “H” so that “Sindhu” became “Hindu”. Now this word Hindu as applied to the inhabitants of the other side of the Indus, has lost its meaning. There are the Hindus proper, the Mohammedans, the Parsis, the Christians, the Buddhists and Jains. The word “Hindu” in its literal sense ought to include all these but as signifying the religion, it would not be proper to call all of them Hindus.

The true Hinduism signifies the mutual respect for all religions. We must appreciate and respect all religions. All religions tell us to do noble deeds. Let us detect worthiness in other religions. Religious tolerance will bring social tolerance in our society.

Once we acquire tolerance for other religions there will be a society with tolerance and mutual respect. Let us wipe out evil and create an atmosphere of mutual trust, love and tolerance.


Result of neglect

This tragedy of burning alive the missionaries damaging churches, raping nuns and ill-treating the Christians is a direct result of the nation’s neglect. The legacy goes back to 1984 when the Sikhs were butchered and burnt alive in thousands and the nation as a whole remained a mute spectator. The then Prime Minister had even brushed aside such a ghastly act under his government and under his very nose by simply saying that “when a big tree falls the ground around is bound to be shaken”.

The nation (Parliament) remained unaffected, the named criminals have not been punished even till today. Rather the then party in power has given them honourable positions in the party and in the government. Naturally, the same act is being repeated with the Christians. But since they are a very large and powerful community all over the world, at least lip sympathies are being shown by the leaders and the government to keep them quiet and satisfied.

Let us awaken ourselves to our responsibility as a great Indian nation to which every one of us belongs. Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and Budhists as we are Indians first and anything else afterwards. Unless we adopt this course and the majority community stops thinking that it is their country alone, we are bound to suffer and will never develop as a nation.

We must congratulate Mr ML Khurana who had shown the real Indian consciousness and resigned from all posts. He was the one who had pledged to bring the criminals, responsible for killing the Sikhs in 1984 to book when he was CM of Delhi and the process had been started in a big way. And now again he has shown his grit to be the banner holder as a real secular Indian.


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Double standard

No sane person would prove of attacks on a Christian, or for that matter on any peaceful person or persons. But why so much hue and cry when there is attack on Christians, and why no reaction, when Hindus in thousands were killed and in lakhs forced to leave their homes permanently in various parts of the country, where they happen to be in minority? Why this double standard, and selective show of concern?

More important point is that there was nothing against the Hindus. Their only fault was that they are not separatist, and differed in their thinking, and it is a constitutional right to differ. It is not so in the case of Christians. They are indulging in conversion of Hindus, and that too by fraudulent methods. This has resulted in violence between Hindu tribals on one side and Christian tribals and missionaries on the other side. In Gujarat it were the Christians who attacked first. There is absolutely no proof of direct involvement of VHP or Bajrang Dal organisations.

The very wording of the topic for discussion is biased and objectionable, as it presumes that the VHP and the Bajrang Dal are creating disturbances and the entire Hindu community has become intolerant. The fact is that it is a local reaction to the proselytising activities of the Christian missionaries by adopting unethical means.

Even the adversaries of the Hindus have been accepting that Hinduism is the most tolerant religion, which accepts vast variations in the mode of worship, different concepts about the God and different type of socio-religious practices. Christianity and Islam do not have that liberal approach to religion. Then why to destroy that liberal Hindu religion? It must be realised that India is secular only because of Hindu majority, and the moment Hindu majority is destroyed, it would cease to be secular.


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Do not blame all

Although the barbaric acts of a few mad fanatics shock us beyond measure, yet we must not blame the entire Indian society, which can never forsake its tolerant and non-violent character, as is revealed in the widespread condemnation of the incidents in Orissa. In his address to the nation, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee vowed to bring to book the criminals involved in such heinous crimes against humanity, and to uphold the spirit of “Sarva panth sambhav” which is the corner-stone of the Republic of India.

I think that the enlightened people of all the faiths must unite to keep a vigilant eye on the forces of evil. They must not allow any political party to make capital out of the situation. They must recognise the need of using even weapons of war against the enemy — the graceless zealots. Lord Rama, Lord Krishna, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, even as divine beings, had advocated the use of arms against the uprighteous elements to defend the innocent saintly people.


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Not just one section

If we really want to create a tolerant society, we must address all the segments of society. At present the sermons are directed towards only one section of society - the Hindus. But where they are being targeted by other sections, say in Punjab and Kashmir, such sermons are conspicuous by their absence. Moreover, when there are precedents of criminals made religious heroes, who can prevent the Hindus from lionising Dara Singh - the main accused in the recent killings in Orissa?

If all the sections of the society are not tolerant, the tolerance of one section is bound to be construed as tameness and timidity.

It is a sad fact that not all the sections of the Indian society are ready to accept that the “donkey is carrying a sack of gold”. It is only one section for whom there is a sack of gold. For others it is not so. If only they agree on that one count, the problem can be solved to a great extent.



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