RIGHT ANGLE – Secularism to stay and Sickularism to go

by May 13, 2024Blogs0 comments

Countries interfering in the electoral processes of other countries are not exactly a new phenomenon. Many Americans believe that Russia stole the election of Ms Hillary Clinton and helped Donald Trump in becoming the US President in the 2016 election. On its part the American CIA has an egregious history of making and unmaking governments in many countries during the Cold War, particularly in Latin America.

In India, late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was very vocal during the elections in 1971 and 1977 how the CIA was active in unseating her from power. She had termed most of the opposition then opposition leaders, including the great Jayaprakash Narayan, as CIA agents.

Is any foreign power interfering in the on-going elections in 2024? There are growing apprehensions that such interference may not be all that direct, but it is being done very sophisticatedly, with the bulk of the western intelligentsia, media and the so-called Left/liberal politicians influencing the Indian voters that they should not renew their mandate in favour of the incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They say that Modi is pursuing a communal agenda and there is no secularism in India any more, with Hindus making the religious minorities, particularly the Muslims, second class citizens.

And here, unlike the situation in 1971 and 1977 when the Congress was treating America as a villain, this time, the Congress party, particularly its supremo Rahul Gandhi, is literally relishing the Western intervention. It is becoming increasingly apparent that as it cannot fight Modi alone, it is better to take the Western help.

Russia, India’s time-tested friend, is certain that that the United States is trying to interfere in India’s parliamentary elections and “unbalance” the internal political situation in the country in the name of religious freedom and externally by blaming Indian government of killing foreign nationals ( indeed hardened criminals and Khalistani terrorists) , who happen to be their citizens.

In a media briefing the other day, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said the US was yet to provide “reliable evidence” of the involvement of Indian citizens in the foiled murder plot against Khalistani separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. “According to the information we have, Washington has not yet provided any reliable evidence of the involvement of Indian citizens in the preparation of the murder of a certain Pannun. Speculation on this topic in the absence of evidence is unacceptable,” Zakharova said.

Referring to the US’s report on religious freedom in India, Zakharova said the US lacked understanding of India’s national mentality and history. “America continues to make ‘unfounded accusations’ about religious freedoms,” RT News quoted Zakharova as saying. Zakharova called it “disrespectful” to India. “The reason (behind the US accusations) is to unbalance the internal political situation in India and complicate the general elections,” she further said.

I find indeed a lot of merits in what the Russian official spokesperson has said. After all, it is nothing but utter rubbish that in its latest report, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has criticised India for alleged violations of religious freedom and several other issues. It called for designating India and 16 other nations as “countries of particular concern” for “engaging in or tolerating particularly severe violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief”.

India is proud of its diversities and Hindus, the majority community, consider other religions as “equal”. The narrative that India is becoming a Hindu-India is nothing but a huge myth.

Significantly, the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister has just published a study this year – with an analysis of global datasets and scenarios – that states that minorities are not “just protected but thriving in India”. On the other hand, it says that the Hindu, Jain and Parsi population in India has shrunk.

According to the paper, titled Share of religious minority – A cross country analysis (1950-2015), “Contrary to the noise in several quarters, a careful analysis of the data shows that minorities are not just protected but indeed thriving in India. This is particularly remarkable given the wider context within the South Asian neighbourhood where the share of the majority religious denomination has increased and minority populations have shrunk alarmingly across countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Afghanistan. India’s performance suggests that there is a conducive environment to foster diversity in the society.”

The study also explains that the Muslim population in India has increased while the percentage of Hindus has dropped over the decades. “In India, the share of the majority Hindu population decreased by 7.82 per cent between 1950 and 2015 (from 84.68 per cent to 78.06 per cent),” it said.

The Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM) is an independent body, which advises the prime minister and the government on economic and related issues. Council member Dr Shamika Ravi and two others – Abraham Jose, a young professional, and Apurv Kumar Mishra, a consultant – have done the analysis and written the paper. They analysed global and country-specific data.

The paper rightly says that “It is not possible to promote better life outcomes for the disadvantaged sections of society without providing a nurturing environment and societal support through a bottom-up approach. By way of illustration, India is one of the few countries that has a legal definition of minorities and provides constitutionally protected rights for them. The outcomes of these progressive policies and inclusive institutions are reflected in the growing number of minority populations within India.”

“The share of Muslim population in 1950 was 9.84 per cent and increased to 14.09 per cent in 2015 – a 43.15 per cent increase in their share,” the paper said.

“The share of Christian population rose from 2.24 percent to 2.36 percent – an increase of 5.38 percent between 1950 and 2015. The share of Sikh population increased from 1.24 per cent in 1950 to 1.85 per cent in 2015 – a 6.58 percent rise in their share. Even the share of the Buddhist population witnessed a noticeable increase from 0.05 per cent in 1950 to 0.81 per cent,” it added.

The paper further showed how Muslims in India have flourished or done well for themselves. Minority populations from across neighbouring nations have also come to India when in trouble, it said.

“It is not surprising, therefore, that minority populations from across the neighborhood come to India during times of duress. India has been a nourishing environment for the Tibetan Buddhists who had to escape from China and have found a comfortable home in India in the last six decades,” the paper said.

“Similarly, Matuas who took refuge in India due to religious persecution in Bangladesh have been assimilated into Indian society. India also hosts a significant population of refugees from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Myanmar and Afghanistan. Given its plural, liberal and democratic nature, India has continued its civilisational tradition of harbouring persecuted populations from several countries over the last six decades,” it added.

Significantly, the paper has found that “All the Muslim majority countries witnessed an increase in the share of the majority religious denomination except the Maldives, where the share of the majority group (Shafi’i Sunnis) declined by 1.47 per cent.

What this means is that unlike the Islamic States, where the majority Muslims/ number is increasing, in countries like India, the number of majority, that is the Hindus, is declining. How is it possible if Indian government is anti-Muslim?

And yet India’s so called Left/Liberals are more vocal about the interests of Islam and Christianity than about the protection of Hinduism. In fact, sharpest attacks on Hinduism come invariably from Indians themselves.

In fact, one notices many a time these Left-Liberals who call themselves secular, writing that Hinduism is the most absurd, unscientific and cruel religion of the world that perpetuated casteism, inequality and exploitation. They deliberately overlook the fact that every great religion or civilization has its pluses and minuses and as times pass by, the minuses get corrected. After all, it is under Hinduism that people worship women as goddesses whereas the women are not equal to men under Islam; even till recently the women did not have voting rights in many developed Christian countries.

Notably, casteism, as a concept, was highly scientific – since it espoused the principle of division of labour, a principle that ensured that every section of society is “wanted”. True, the concept got corrupted when one’s place in life depended not on one’s ability but on ones’ birth. There is thus a need to de-corrupt the principle; but it does not mean that one should throw Hinduism in the Indian Ocean for good.

In fact, unlike any other religion in the world, Hinduism promoted pluralism in the forms of pluralities of Gods and Goddesses. There is no compulsion on Hindus to worship a particular God or Goddess, nor does it compel one to worship his or her God on a particular way or method; in fact, Hinduism even respects those who do not want to worship at all. As a faith, Hinduism is inclusive, and inner-directed. It does not impose itself on its own adherents. So any question of imposing itself on others does not arise.

This principle of life has been observed and unfailingly put into practice by the inhabitants of this land since time immemorial. That was why they could receive invading Sakas and Huns and assimilate them and integrate them into their society. That was why they could receive the Jews, Parsis, Shia Muslims and the early Christians – all of whom came as refugees, with their thoughts and beliefs orphaned in their own lands – and treat them as equal members of this ancient society. There was no modern constitution that guaranteed rights to minorities then; there were no secularists to protect them from the majority. It was the majority inhabitants, seeped in their Hindu Dharma, who protected them. The non-conflicting nature of Hindu Dharma is not just a matter of theory, but an observed practice that has been followed and adhered to for ages.

Incidentally, all the “secularists” are great admirers of Jawaharlal Nehru, independent India’s first Prime Minister. It is instructive here to note that in 1949, Nehru had said that ‘to talk of Hindu culture would injure India’s interests’. He had admitted more than once that by Education he was an Englishman, by views an internationalist, by culture a Muslim, and a Hindu only by accidental birth. In 1953, Nehru had written to Kailash Nath Katju in 1953: “In practice the individual Hindu is more intolerant and more narrow-minded than almost any person in any other country.” In fact, it is not wrong to say that Nehru had total contempt for Hindu religion, for Hindu culture, for Hindu society and for the average Hindu.

The point that I want to make is that the main reason behind the continuing Hindu-bashing in India is the dominance of Nehurivan thoughts in India’s politics, bureaucracy, intelligentsia and media since 1947. This anti-Hindu trait of Nehruvianism has been dependent on the following strategy – Make the Hindu community as weak as you can, by creating internal divisions in it, by denigrating its culture, by inflicting insults upon it, and by whatever other means you can afford.

This is something that India under Modi is trying to correct. Modi is talking of” Justice to All and Appeasement to None”. Modi wants genuine secularism that makes all equal. Obviously, those who are habituated to deferential treatments are disturbed. They are not seculars but SICKULARS. They must be reined in.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x