Saturday, June 14, 2003
M A I L  B O X

Summer schools for learning?

ONE can read between the lines in Gitanjali Sharma’s "Are summer camps fun?" (May 17). Rashi, mother of 4-year-old Naiza, is critical of a summer school. She says: such schools lay stress on etiquette, improving the spoken language, pronunciation and vocabulary.

Why go to summer schools merely for learning the English language. One should, instead, listen to a TV news bulletin or read the newspaper. An army of vocabulary is not needed. One must use the words he/she knows with precision and clarity.

S.S.Jain, Chandigarh

Conversion is not a matter of faith alone

L.H. Naqvi’s write-up, "Conversion is not a matter of faith alone" (May 10) is illustrative of the author’s secular credentials for which he deserves full marks. In a similar manner, I would like to suggest to the proponents of Hindutva to eschew their sectarian assertiveness. The neutrality of the state towards various religions, as advocated by Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, in the constituent Assembly, is not ‘pseudo secularism’, as the Hindutva protagonists put it. The inheritance of Ashoka’s principles implies a tolerance of the multitude of faiths in our country. The Indian Constitution of 1947, with its emphasis on human rights, confers on the individual the liberty to profess any faith of his choice, placing religion in the realm of the individual’s private life is possible with an Ashokan reverence for all faiths.


The assumption of Hindutva nationalists proclaims the supremacy of the faith of the majority. Asking Muslims, Sikhs and Christians to consider themselves Hindus, because they are mostly converts from Hinduism smacks of an authoritarian arrogance.

If Hindutva theocracy comes to prevail, it will spell doom for the fate of minorities as in Pakistan. There people professing Hinduism have almost ceased to exist, and Christians and even Qadiani Muslims (who believe there might be prophets other than Mohammad) have almost been eliminated.

The choice before our countrymen then, is between the acceptance of our inherited historical humanism and the VHP-propagated majority religion. Accepting the second could mean torture of dissenters, cruel inquisitions and killings in internecine wars, as happened in Europe.

Let us devise our law so that in future frictions from slogan-mongering in the name of temples or mosques or gurdwaras is not allowed. Neither should votes be gathered through propaganda for a theocratic state in place of democracy built on human rights.

K. M. Vashisht, Mansa