What stands out is the glaring fact that today the politicians in India for their own selfish ends give non-genuine twist -to the point of vulgarization- to a solemn intra-religious part-ritual. It’s amply clear that there is no space or sanctity for non fasting, well fed, non-Muslims in this fast breaking ritual.
It’s up to them if people in position, particularly the non-Muslims without being aware of its true significance indulge in Iftar bonhomie privately. But in secular India why should the highest office of President and other state functionaries give in to such a mockery, that too at public expense? Now for example, for President Pranab Mukherjee it’s not a matter of his personal faith. If it were, perhaps he could have held Iftar in his private capacity. Else should President’s office be bound to a religious practice?
Aren’t We Secular?
The nature of treatment of Iftar at Rashtrapati Bhawan is extra-ordinary, in that no other religious event is known to be enjoying such exclusive privilege – there is no parallel. Further, is the act of holding a religious ritual, that too exclusively, by a state functionary, desirable under the secular precepts of the Constitution? Shouldn’t state act neutral or be impartial in matters religious, under the Constitution?
Doesn’t flouting this golden rule amount to showing disrespect to the Constitution? Shouldn’t the President’s office be the role model of secularism? If argued that its a matter of convention, then undesirable and unfair conventions can certainly be broken.
And that’s what a sane President did during his tenure in the Rashtrapati Bhawan. Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, himself a devout Muslim, discontinued the practice of hosting official Iftar party on the Raisina Hills. He did break the so called tradition using his fair judgement. His successor however, imprudently reverted this; and sadly and disapointingly the present incumbent chose to ignore the good example set by Dr Kalam. Many an insensible politician spring up to criticize PM Modi’s action of ‘non-indulgence’ in Iftar mockery. But he is forthrightly right. Others compromise and crumble under political correctness.