Polarisation on religious lines can threaten India's unity

By Brij Bhardwaj. Dated: 2/11/2019 3:55:00 PM

The framers of the Constitution have ensured that all communities and religions should thrive. It is for this reason that when India was divided on basis of religion in 1947, Muslim majority Jammu and Kashmir chose to be a part of India. It happened because Kashmiri people had more faith in leadership of leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawahar Lal Nehru and Indian secular Constitution.

U.P Chief Minister Swami Adityanath has become a main player of BJP who is being used by the party to polarise voters on communal lines. He has not met with much success so far, but efforts are continuing. For instance in his recent speech in West Bengal he asked audience to shout with pride that they are Hindus. The question that is being asked why not say with pride that they are Indians instead of saying they are Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs or Christians.
Afterall religion is personal while nationality is a common factor which covers all who live in the country. The moment the religious identity becomes a prime factor it divides people. In any country people belonging to majority religion has to go out of way to assure minorities that they have a place of pride in the country. This is exactly what has been done in the Indian Constitution which has given freedom to people of all faiths, religion, regions equal rights.
It is a matter of pride that India chose to be a secular country because the majority community that is Hindus are secular. Hinduism as a religion is secular as it goes out of the way to allow even non-believers like me to continue to be Hindus. More so Hindus have to be liberal as they worship hundresds of Devis and Devtas. It is in Hindu religion that equal place is given to Ram, Krishna and Hanuman and worshipped.
But it does not prevent many from trying to encourage divisive tendencies. The current example of it has been when the right of women of particular age to worship in a temple in Kerala was denied as they felt this was the tradition , but at the same time the right to divorce in a minority community in a obnoxious manner was changed by amending the law. As far as I am concerned I feel tradition and practice should be allowed in all cases or abolished because it is discriminatory.
Equally unjustified was recent attempt to enforce a Citizenship law under which different rules are being framed to grant citizenship right to migrants coming to India and seeking citizenship on basis of their religion. India as a country has been generous in matter of granting citizenship right to persons belonging to all religions to come and settle here. Starting with Aryans, Parsis, Tibetans, Afghans and people belonging to countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan have come and settled here. There has been no discrimination on basis of religion so far.
Any attempt to divide them on religious basis will be against human values and our traditions . It will also violate our Constitution. It should be kept in mind that India is a country where several religions, communities and languages have thrived. Any attempt to enforce any single religion, language will not only be resisted but could also pose threat to our Unity. India at best is a example of unity in diversity.
It is a strange argument which is advanced by some when they suggest that majority in the country or any other community is under threat. The framers of the Constitution have ensured that all communities and religions should thrive. It is for this reason that when India was divided on basis of religion in 1947, Muslim majority Jammu and Kashmir chose to be a part of India. It happened because Kashmiri people had more faith in leadership of leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawahar Lal Nehru and Indian secular Constitution.
This is also the reason for having special provisions like Article 370 in the Constitution as a guarantee for Kashmiri people. There are many who shout that Kashmir is a integral part of India. It should be kept in mind that while claiming that Kashmir is a part of India we should also own people of Kashmir as part of India with equal rights.
Any attempt to encourage divisive tendencies will pose serious threat to unity and integrity of India. We have seen that Pakistan despite having a common bond of religion was divided and became two countries while India despite being so diverse has survived as one country. It has happened because of our secular traditions and giving equal rights. Any attempt to discriminate or to change it will have serious consequences. All political parties in India own Mahatma Gandhi and we need to follow his idea of respect of all religeous and unity of India on secular lines.
(Brij Bhardwaj is a veteran journalist and commentator)
— [IFS]

 

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