Indian Nationalism and Cry for Hindu only India

Indian Nationalism and Cry for Hindu only India


India is the second largest country in the world with its population behind China with 1.28 billion people.  Religions co-existed in India and India was called the land of religions. There are at least four religions originated in India (Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism) and India was a perfect example of religious harmony and secularized religious ideologies, co-existing for thousands of years and sharing the common existence of major religions like Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Animism, Zoroastrianism and Judaism.  Even Judaism had 2500 years of harmonious existence in India, which will be a surprise to many in the western world.

The traditional account of Jewish presence for trade in India trace back to 562 BCE and there was a friendly welcome of a large number of Jewish community migrated to Kerala around the first century AD (70CE) as well as 15th Century arrival of the third waves.  Cochin (Kerala) Jewish community is known as the oldest continuously living Jewish community in the world.

Since Narendra Modi with the support of the communal political groups (RSS, VHP, Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal etc) came to power in 2014, there are intentional restrictions, tension and communal threats created by Communal groups. This threatens the mere existence of the minorities like Muslims, Christians, Dalits and Tribal etc. Recently the disharmony is elevated raising the issues based on eating beef, conversion and Dalits (low caste and people outside of the caste system) worshiping at the temple etc.  These issues are connected with the purity restrictions, untouchablity, color consciousness and holy animals placed by the religious structures for control and domination. This is also same in the case of menstruating women who were not allowed to have sex with their husbands and believed that the polluted blood will create disabled children.  Menstruating women are not supposed to enter the Hindu temple because they are ‘unclean’, and they need to keep themselves away from sacred objects in their homes. These are examples of unscientific approaches of the religion for control and domination.

India has 175 million Muslims and keeping in mind the fact that this is more than the population of Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia combined. The discrimination against the Dalit community is very significant because the number of people affected (167 Million) and since the enlightenment the nation is trying to elevate this community by giving them special rights and privileges. We can’t reverse what we have done and attempted to do since our independence because the developed India as a nation can’t keep this population in the margins of the society. The value of India stand globally on the other side with its Indian nationalism which stands for nonviolent ideologies. Dalits are still broken, still suppressed, still being tied to trees and beaten by upper caste and the police do nothing in many cases because they don’t represent the Dalit community in India.

Here the question comes to our mind how will we see the progressive India? Will the human rights be equal for every citizen no matter what religion, ethnic background, color of their skin, the state or geographical location they represents. Martin Luther King Jr. said injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.  World is not an isolated village any more and human right involves the right to choose the food, worship the God whom he or she believes and freedom of speech. We can’t work hard to create monism and diversity and pluralism is the foundation stone for growth and success. I would vehemently argue for Indian ideal of Pluralism because it is not a luxury but a necessity for a healthy India. Which consists of a healthy society, system of a healthy government, or an organization that has different groups that keep their identities while existing with other groups or a more dominant group. A nation of cultural homogeneity is impossible and will be an unfulfilled dream of the fundamentalists. I am sure the new freedom movement is required because there is confusion between Hindu nationalism and Indian nationalism. Passing anti-conversion bill, persecution, re-conversion by force and marriage and Ghar Wapasi (Re-conversion) campaigns are not the solution and will only create a dangerous situation in India.

Freedom and Indian nationalism is the oxygen of the Indian soul and life without freedom is not life at all.   Nelson Mandela once said: No one is born hating another person because of the color of his or her skin or his or her background or his or her religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.

Dr. Binu Peniel

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