Saturday 22 May 2021

CM Adityanath, protect India from charges of hate ( Sunday Guardian)


CM should order immediate release of list of religious structures of multiple faiths that have been demolished on account of non-compliance with regulations.

Teachings going back millennia point out that the concept of sacrifice (tyag) in the teachings of the seers of ancient India was relevant only for those few who chose the lifestyle of a renunciate. Sacrifice formed part of their “dharma”, as it involved the exchange of a better life for an existence filled with privation. The renunciate (sanyasi) accepted this cheerfully, as he saw such a sacrifice as leading to the greater good through a purification of his own self of desire. There are Jain millionaires who become monks, as do some sons and daughters of the wealthy of other faiths, notably Buddhism. What needs to be kept in mind is that such a sacrifice is part of dharma not for people in general, but only for sanyasis. For the rest, dharma meant involvement in the activities of life in a manner that benefitted the families and also society. To get material success was not evil or undesirable but an essential and desirable objective to strive for. Thousands of years later, Adam Smith talked about the same set of verities in “The Wealth of Nations”. In India, the texts and the teachings of ancient times are almost as forgotten now in our curricula as they were during the colonial period. This when such teachings have nothing to do with religion, and everything to do with knowledge. An example is the Hitopadesa, which again no Board of Education has seen fit to include in school textbooks, useful though the many lessons taught in its verses are. Take the concept of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”, which is used frequently by many to mean that all those we come across should be treated warmly. The two words they quote came from a fable in the Hitopadesa. This talked of a jackal seeking to trick a deer into inviting it to a place where it would be easy to kill and eat Chitranga, the deer. A nearby crow, Subudhi, warned the deer not to trust the jackal, but to run away. The jackal, Sudrabhudi, responded enticingly by saying “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”. Had that been taken literally by Chitranga, and had the warnings of Subuddhi been ignored, the deer would have ended up as the dinner of the jackal. The lesson taught is that friends are those with good intentions, while others with evil intentions should be kept at a safe distance and treated with caution. Concepts outside the context of “tyag” and “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” have gone so deep into our psyche that on a national scale, we very often ignore the advice of our friends and lower our guard with our enemies. The Vedic, Mughal and Western periods come together in the cultural ethos of India rather than form separate strands. This fusion is why the absence of a truly composite education that reflects the entire scholarship and history of India and not just the past few hundred years, is incomprehensible 74 years after the Union Jack was unfurled from Rashtrapati Bhavan and replaced with the Tricolour.
It is ironic that Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan is so vociferously against the Jewish state of Israel, seeing that his was the first country to get formed in the 20th century on an explicitly religious basis. Israel came into being as a Jewish state only after Pakistan was founded on the division of India. Many countries across the world have names with a religious tag, as though those of other faiths do not have the same right to be citizens. In Pakistan, the percentage of minorities has fallen below 2%, in Israel it is higher than 20%. In a world where the frontiers of both geography and the mind have become more open, discrimination on the basis of religion even in countries formed explicitly on a religious basis is wrong. In Israel, there does exist a fringe within the majority community that has an exclusivist viewpoint, but thus far, they have not succeeded in ensuring that the rights and freedoms of any genuine democracy are denied to other citizens. Hopefully, they never will. The trajectory of Pakistan and the few other exclusivist states shows what takes place in such a fragmentation of society. Once the “other” has been driven out or rendered helpless, groups within the majority community develop into another “other”, and the fighting goes on until the state approaches societal meltdown. Some countries have sought to erect and perpetuate a wall between “majority” and the “minority”. Such broad categorisations make no sense in a human society, where there are many divergences even within families. Segregation is wrong because it prevents people from mingling with others and thereby finding out that we are all children of the same divine force, no matter the rituals and beliefs we adopt. There is good and bad in every segment of society. India is the exemplification of Indutva, the confluence of the Vedic, Mughal and Western. Which is why it is odd that so many who claim to be opposed to sectarianism continue to divide the population on the basis of religion.

Care needs to be taken to ensure that the administration is not just fair but seen to be fair, and this is particularly applicable to Uttar Pradesh, which is the most populated state in India. A mosque that was a hundred years old was demolished in Barabanki. Other sites as well must have been, irrespective of faith. The UP administration must have a list of multiple religious structures the location of which is in non-compliance with rules that were often designed in such a complex manner that compliance was next to impossible. Presumably, houses of worship (including those of other faiths) were demolished on the same ground by authorities in UP as the building in Barabanki was. Now is the time to make public that list. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made considerable effort to prove wrong the many across the world who have been fed by the propaganda of GHQ Rawalpindi (boosted by steroids supplied by the PLA) that India is a country where supremacy of one religion over another is being practiced, a conclusion that is false and should be shown to be false. Which is why it is important that Chief Minister Adityanath order the immediate release of the complete list of religious structures of multiple faiths that have been demolished by the state administration on account of non-compliance with regulations. By so doing, he would be preventing enemies of India from using what took place in Barabanki to boost the false claim that India is a country that is not equally safe for all its citizens.

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