Rise In Religious Intolerance In India

The foundation of two countries, India and Pakistan was laid down in 1947.owning partly to the continued hostilities between the two countries on the basis of religion; the Indian secularism has always been challenged. India is said to be one of the most diverse countries in the world. Even with the population of more than one billion, Hindus were 80%, followed by Muslims 13%, Christians 2.3% and Sikh 1.9% and others 2%. Despite such a mix of religions, there has always been harmony in the country. Though lately there have been some cracks in the society with religion being one of the root causes.

India has a secular constitution and does not promote any state religion. Religious in tolerance basically is when people do not allow other people to think or practice other religions and beliefs. In our country due importance is given to every religion. Lately there have been shocking incidents that were of shame to our country. The government imposed a ban on sale and consumption of beef in Maharashtra for jain practitioners who had a holy festival during the same period. This was widely criticized by the Muslim community and this put a big question mark on India’s religious harmony. The real reason for the ban was the sensitive issue of religion that was not tolerable. The people are very sensitive towards their religion and cannot handle criticism by any other individual or religious group. This also puts a ban on India’s secularism which is one of the main basis or principle of our country’s foundation.

Another incident relates to the fatwa issued by Raza Academy, musician AR Rahman for making music for an Iranian film Muhammad: Messenger of God. The film was criticized for being anti-Islamic. It was found out that the person who issued the fatwa was not eligible to issue a fatwa. There is a likelihood that the Indian Government may ban the film in deference to these fringe religious groups. In his defense, AR Rahman reacted on facebook by saying “My decision to compose the music for this film was made in good faith and with no intention of causing offense.”

He further added that, “What, and if, I had the good fortune of facing Allah and He was to ask me on Judgment Day: I gave you faith, talent, money, fame and health. why did you not do music for my beloved Muhammad film? A film whose intention is to unite humanity, clear misconceptions and spread my message that life is about kindness, about uplifting the poor, and living in the service of humanity and not mercilessly killing innocents in my name. Let us set a precedent in clearing conflict with grace and dignity and not trigger violence in words or actions.” He also mentioned that he is blessed to live in a country like India, where religious freedom is practiced.

Thirty three writers have returned their Sahitya Akademi award to protest against rising intolerance in the country. Around 135 academicians have started a web petition addressed to the president to highlight the unstable atmosphere in our country. A person’s religious beliefs are mostly influenced by the writing or scriptures of the holy books or the interpretation of the same given by their religious leaders. These mostly make up a person’s personal beliefs.

The media plays the most important role by giving undue attention to such fringe groups who are mostly ignored but come in the limelight on such issues. With the authorities mostly silent on these groups, people have started to question the establishment of these groups. A few months back when Mahatma Gandhi visited our country, he made a remark that there has been a lot of religious intolerance in our country and it would even shock Mahatma Gandhi, the founder of our nation, who helped to liberate our country. However rather than reacting, the people should calmly find the root causes for this rising problem and analyze them. Our silence is often perceived as acceptance. The rigorous censorship today invokes a lot of religious and communal riots.

Supreme court of India first recognized secularism of our country in the case of sardar taheruddin seydna sahib v. state of Bombay were it explained articles 25 and 26 of the Indian constitution and also specified that the secular nature of the India is the strong base of the constitution. Also in keshavnanda bharti v state of Kerala the 13 judge bench decided that secularism was the basic structure of the constitution and cannot be amended. Another land mark judgment based on secularism was in the case of S.R Bommai v Union Of India. It had important implications on the center-state relations. The nine judge bench decided that secularism in India is based on religious tolerance. It also stated that any state government which adopted any nonsecular means would be subjected to dismissal.

Every individual considers his religion to be superior to other religions. This misconception in their minds leads to discrimination, rejection and hatred. People need to understand that being a secular and a multi religious state, our country would have petty issues regarding religion, but the secular spirit of our nation needs to stand out.

It is now time that people voice their opinions and bring about a change as every individual’s interpretation of religion is different and a group is always based on a person’s ideas that are strong and have the power to influence other. Abandonment of secularism would lead to rising conflicts in our nation and create problems. There needs to be binding among the people and cooperation towards the other person’s religion for survival of our country. As Mahatma Gandhi said,”Personally, I think the world as a whole will never have and need not have a single religion.”


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