Skip to main content

We are thinking of a law 'against love, for hate': What kind of nation are we creating?

By Shreshth Virmani*

Each year, India observes communal harmony week from November 19 to 25. This was started in 1992 by the National Foundation for Communal Harmony (NFCH), an autonomous body under the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. The aim of the week is to promote fraternity, maintain peace and communal harmony, and to run a fundraising campaign for children affected by violence.
However, majority do not know anything about the communal harmony week. Let alone celebrating the week in its true spirit, currently some states are even thinking of making laws against inter-religion relationships. We are thinking of a law against love and for hate. What kind of nation are we creating?
Article 25(1) of the Indian Constitution states that all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice, and propagate religion. Article 19 gives the right to freedom of speech and expression. The preamble of the Constitution guarantees the fundamental right of liberty of belief, faith and worship and of fraternity about assuring the dignity of an individual.
All the religious texts talk about the existence of one God, the sacred path of truth, and living in harmony and dignity with fellow humans. One gets excellent inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi on communal harmony. To Gandhi, Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam from Upanishads was the same as the idea from Quranic belief that Allah, the beneficent and merciful, was the creator. He would dispense justice based on deeds and not based on the professed faith of each person. The same goes for the idea from Christian faith that the God’s benediction was for all. Gandhi said, “The essence of true religious teaching is that one should serve and befriend all. I learnt this in my mother’s lap.”
All religious beliefs chant of one God. Then, what difference it makes if God is worshiped differently? Some people may worship by going to Temples, other may go to Mosque, or Church, or Gurudwara. All these places of worship are multiple homes of the one God. Those who listen to the voice of reason will not object.
However, India has regularly struggled with communalism, resulting in violent attacks and destruction of places of worship. Time and again, we come across multiple instances of discrimination against people based on religious faith. Recently our country has seen some incidents that seek to disturb communal harmony.
The arrest of 48-years-old Faisal Khan after a few days of reading namaz at a temple was one such incident. He invested his life to strengthen communal harmony. He took 84 kos braj parikrama for the preservation of peace and communal harmony. Faisal has also established ‘Sabka Ghar’ dedicated to those who sacrificed their lives as victims of some discrimination. It is a living example of communal harmony where people of different religious faiths come and live together.
To Gandhi, Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam from Upanishads was same as Quranic belief that Allah, beneficent and merciful, was the creator
In September, Christian minority groups from villages in the Kondagaon district of Chhattisgarh were attacked by a Hindu nationalist mob after they refused to apostatize their faith in Christianity. Around 100 Christians were displaced, and 16 houses were destroyed in the presence of police. However, minority Christian groups have recently returned to the village with legal protection, but the feeling of fear remains when people are not allowed to freely practice their religion.
Another incident is about a plea at the Mathura district court that seeks to remove 17th century Shahi Idgah mosque adjacent to the Krishna Janmabhoomi. The subject of plea is unconstitutional within the Places of Worship Act, 1991. 
For centuries, Shahi Idgah Mosque and Krishna Janmabhoomi temples have stood adjacent to each other, bearing witness to Hindu-Muslim harmony. Any proceedings in such respect could set a dangerous precedent before the judiciary, overwhelming the courts with numerous disputes between temples, mosques, churches, and other places of worship.
The above instances not only indicate a lack of understanding among a few social groups about the aspects of peace written in all religious texts but also indicate a lack of understanding about being human.
At the basic level, the difference between a Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, or person belonging to any other religion is the different household in which a person is born. The family of birth generally leads to the imposition of religious values of the family. Nature doesn’t create any differences, but nurture does. John Rawls' idea of the veil of ignorance is a powerful tool to understand the unreasonableness of social hierarchies. This idea considers individuals as rational, free, and morally equal beings who have a lack of knowledge about their social status.
It may be questioned if some people acting as oppressors in religion and caste-based violence are doing that out of their volition or are being forced? Even if they are doing so out of their own discretion, what has led to such thinking that they can oppress someone or force another person to change his/her religion?
Prof Navdeep Mathur of the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) says that most often the thinking of oppressors has been shaped by the prevailing social norms that maintain the status quo benefiting a certain social order. People do oppressive things to others because of how they have been disciplined by social norms. This is often part of the hidden curriculum of the home, family and school, the earliest social institutions in which an individual is nurtured.
Father Anand Mathew, who has led multiple campaigns on communal harmony and is the convener of Jan Vikas Samiti, Varanasi, says, in the name of nationalism, xenophobia or strangers, fear seems to be dominating India. We need xenophilia, or the love of strangers, or Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam for the revival of the nation’s values.
Indeed, it would be better to propagate love among communities and not hatred to get free from class or religion level hierarchies. This can create an equal world for everyone to live a life of prosperity and dignity. Let’s free ourselves from consent manufacturing propaganda and power of social norms benefiting the current social order. This will make India a peaceful country free from communal violence.
---
*Student of IIM-A, believes in equality of all communities and dreams for a better India based on Gandhian principles. Views expressed are personal, are part reflections of the 2nd year elective on Transformational Social Movements taken by Prof Sandeep Pandey

Comments

janu raja said…
Allah is the real name of God.
Allah is the same Brahaman ; That shakti.
Unknown said…
So you want to say that Hindus don't have right to revive their places of worship but Muslims can do. Love Jihad means that you force a girl after marriage to convert to husband's religion. Is it against Love stupid

TRENDING

RSS wanted Constitution 'replaced' by Manusmriti which abused Dalits, women

By Shamsul Islam* The Constituent Assembly of India finalized the Constitution of India on November 26, 1949 which is celebrated as the Constitution Day This Constitution promised new born Indian Republic a polity based on democracy, justice, egalitarianism and rule of law. However, RSS was greatly annoyed. Four days after the historic event of approval of it, the RSS English “Organiser” in an editorial on November 30, 1949, complained:

Pending GoI wage payments to rural labour reach Rs 5,100 crore: NREGA Morcha

By Our Representative  MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act), which is said to have provided a cushion to millions of rural households amidst great economic distress during the Covid-19 pandemic, continues to be bogged with poor implementation, NREGA Sangharsh Morcha has alleged.

Once centres of civilisation, Indian cities turning into 'major cause of concern'

By Soumyadip Chattopadhyay*  Each year, October 31 is celebrated as the World Cities Day. The theme this year was Adapting Cities for Climate Resilience. The Center for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies, Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi, organized a special lecture on city as environment as part of the discussion under the #WebPolicyTalk series on the State of Cities -- #CityConversations.

Nuclear energy 'can't solve' global warming, will 'strain' financial, natural resource

Counterview Desk  Taking strong exception to Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who has favoured nuclear energy as a solution to global warning, well-known power and policy analyst Shankar Sharma has said that the IAEA chief's “unsubstantiated advocacy” of nuclear power is associated with “diversion of considerable amounts of scarce resources, both financial as well as natural, of many developing countries, such as India.”

Forget 'bheek', by this logic, Gujarat was free of British rule in 1995, 19 yrs before India

The real freedom fighting brigade By Rajiv Shah  Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut may have her own reasons to say that India acquired real freedom in May 2014, when Narendra Modi came to occupy India’s seat of power.  There was little to be amused by what she said, for, as many commentators have variously pointed out, her viewpoint was surely based on her little or no knowledge of the history of the Indian freedom movement.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Learning to bridge 'huge chasm' between highly educated, illiterate, badly literate

By Shrey Ostwal, Sandeep Pandey*  The pivotal point of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s journey to become Mahatma Gandhi began when his “political guru” – Gopal Krishna Gokhale – advised young Mohandas to travel around India. This rigorous journey was essential for Mohandas to understand his country and countrypersons better if he were to fight the inhumane and unempathetic British regime which had been looting India of its glory for about two centuries then.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Farm laws: Modi has been taking decisions without consulting experts, stakeholders

By Ajit Singh* In a surprise move, the Prime Minister of India in a video message that went live on the occasion of Guru Nanak Jayanti announced to scrap three contentious farm laws in the upcoming winter session of Parliament. These laws were notified in September last year but put on hold due to widespread opposition, especially by farmers from Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana.

Modi withdrew farm laws, but has no word on 'pro-corporate, oppressive' policies

Farmers celebrate withdrawal of three laws By Harsh Thakor  Punjab farmers have no doubt won a historic battle in overpowering the farm laws with the support of the working class, students, youth and intellectuals. Noticeably, the non-sectarian approach of the participating organisations, which confronted Hindutva neo-fascism, Sikh separatist politics and Indian and foreign corporate monopoly, helped in enhancing their striking capacity.