A modern non-dogmatic Culture is like an updated vaccine for the humanity. Culture can alone mould a Nation and guide it towards greater progress, but for that the culture of a nation has to be free from clerical dogmatism and political manipulations. It is high time we learn from Pakistan’s example, where Development suffered due to the nexus between the army and the Islamic extremists.
A perfect example will be the Taliban’s campaign against Polio vaccination. In Pakistan the Taliban and other extremist Islamic organisation opposed the Anti Polio drive on the basis of an irrational argument that the polio vaccination is ‘un-Islamic’. The hawkish clerics and extremists promulgated the idea that polio vaccination is anti-Islamic and a conspiracy of the West. It was claimed that Polio vaccination was a part of a sinister U.S plan to decrease the Muslim population in the world. The myth promoted was that Polio vaccination leads to impotency.
Strong Islamic influences on Pakistani culture made this myth turn into a ‘fact’ in remote regions, where Taliban has a strong presence, and it hindered the anti polio drive.
Let us see India-Pakistan`s Polio Score Card. Indian Muslims, like Muslims in Pakistan, follow the same Islam but do not follow Taliban Polio dictates. As a result today India is Polio free while Pakistan ranked as the worst country in terms of polio deaths in 2014. Sad part is polio vaccine and funds in spite of corruption are freely available but the will and motive to save children is still missing in parts of Pakistan, in Afghanistan and in Nigeria.
The root cause behind the Taliban fatwas against Polio vaccination and the resultant aversion to vaccination was the hatred for the west, which when sharpened with religious dogmas and illogicality took the shape of the anti-Polio vaccination propaganda and dictates.
The Anti-Polio hype was so widespread and deeply ingrained in the minds of these people that Polio workers of `Do Boond Jeevan Ki`-Polio were killed.60 polio workers in Pakistan were killed in past two years. Most of the Victims were the women volunteers and security personnels that protecting them. In one particular obnoxious case a female vaccinator, Salma Farooqi, was kidnapped and tortured to death for being a part of Polio vaccination drive.
There was time when the Pakistani Taliban was ready to stop their resistance to polio vaccination but only if U.S stops their drone attacks. So Taliban was holding the health of Pakistani children as a hostage for achieving their own war goals.The Pakistani example of Anti vaccination drive highlights how a modern society can be rendered useless and the health of millions of young kids put at risk by adherence to illogical religious bigotry and dogmatism.
The entire culture was overtaken by religious rigidity and intolerance. Under such a situation no development can be take place. It is such a situation that we in India have to keep in mind and be ever vigilant so that religious chauvinism and dogmatism cannot hold our progress to ransom.
By: Rakesh Manchanda