US President Barack Obama on Thursday, in his 25-minute address to the National Prayer Breakfast, reiterated what he had said earlier in his parting speech in India when he visited India with First Lady Michelle.
In Delhi he had advised the Indians that nowhere is it going to be more necessary to uphold religious faith than in India. You’re not just going to define this nation, you’re going to shape the world. Far too often, violence is propagated by those using religion to tap into these dark impulses. Everyone has right to practice their faith without fear of persecution, discrimination. India will succeed so long it is not splintered on religious lines.
In the Nation Prayer Breakfast speech, he had called India “an incredible, beautiful country, full of magnificent diversity, a place where, in past years, religious faiths of all types have, on occasion, been targeted by other peoples of faith, simply due to their heritage and their beliefs; acts of intolerance that would have shocked Gandhiji, the person who helped to liberate that nation.
So this is not unique to one group or one religion. There is a tendency in us, a sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith. We see faith driving us to do right. But we also see faith being twisted and distorted, used as a wedge – or, worse, sometimes used as a weapon.” The meeting was attended by several international leaders including the Dalai Lama.
He has raised a very pertinent topic as lovers of Godse – the brute who killed the father of nation are eager to install his busts in temples, daring to name the bridge in Godse name and brazenly calling him great nationalist.
Here are few of the reasons, the tip of the iceberg, why Gandhi would have been shocked if he were to come back today.
India is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-linguistic and multi-cultural society. Diversity of all types is the very soul of India. When India attained independence after its division on religious lines, religious minorities became very apprehensive of their identity. According to the 2001 census, 80.5% of the practice Hinduism,. Islam (13.4%), Christianity (2.3%), Sikhism (1.9%), Buddhism (0.8%) and Jainism (0.4%) are the other major religions followed by the people of India. When it comes to the representation of the largest demographic minority of India, the Muslim, make up only 4.24% of the Lok Sabha.
The Rajinder Sachar Committee, was appointed in 2005 by PM Manmohan Singh. They prepared a report on the latest social, economic and economic plight of the Indian Muslims. According to the report, the status of Indian Muslims is below the conditions of Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribes. The overall percentage of Muslims in bureaucracy in India is just 2.5% whereas Muslims constitute above 14% of Indian population. BJP had raised a stormupon the issue of negligible Muslim representation in armed forces.
The story of demolition of Babri Masjid is wound upon Muslim psyche that won’t heal without a Court’s Verdict if it ever comes. Violence against Muslims has been occurring quite frequently. The recent clashes between the Hindu and Muslim communities in Muzaffarnagar, UP in August–September 2013, and Trilokpuri, Delhi are now part of a history. And there is no point in repeating the tales of Gujarat Carnage where the bail is now available for most of accused.
Incidents of violence against Christians had been occurring in nearly all parts of India though it has largely been confined to north, central, and western India, in the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, UP, MP and the capital area of New Delhi.
Acknowledging the concerns of Christians over the recent attacks on churches, Union home minister Rajnath Singh has directed the Delhi Police to ensure adequate security of Christian institutions in the capital. The six-member delegation of Christian community leaders, including former All India Catholic Union president John Dayal and advocate Jenis Francis, put three main demands before the home minister.
This include adding Section 153 A (promoting enmity on grounds of religion), Section 295 and Section 295A (defiling a place of worship) to the FIR relating to the recent vandalization of a church in Vasant Kunj. The second demand is a court-monitored probe by a special investigation team (SIT) into the attacks on Christian institutions. Thirdly, the delegation sought security cover for churches, as part of which at least a couple of policemen would be deployed on the premises.
The 1984 violence against Sikhs is gone into folk lore. Yes, Gandhi would have been a sorry intellectual in this present scenario of the country he had dreamt different. It is important to give ear to what has been said and not who had said !
By: Naim Naqvi