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

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

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".

Labelling a Jesuit a Marxist? It's like saying if you use a plane, you become American

Jesuits: Cedric Prakash, Stan Swamy By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* A thirteen- fourteen-year-old has many dreams! That's an impressionable age; at the cusp of finishing school. It is also a time when one tastes a different kind of freedom: to go for camps with boys of your own age (not with ones family). Such camps and outings were always enjoyed to the hilt. The ones, however, which still remain etched in my memory are the mission camps to the Jesuit missions in Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Lost to commercialisation, vanity? Ashram awaits 'second assassination' of Gandhiji

Counterview Desk  Around 130 “concerned” citizens, in a statement, have protested against the Government of India and Gujarat government decision to turn Gandhi Ashram into a ‘world-class’ tourist destination spread over 54 acres at the cost of Rs 1,200 crore, which would include a Gandhi Ashram Memorial, an amphitheater, a VIP lounge, shops and a food court, stating it would compromise and trivialize the “sanctity and importance of the present-day Ashram, mainly Hriday Kunj, surrounding buildings, and the museum.”

Tussle between Modi-led BJP govt, Young India 'key to political battle': NAPM

Counterview Desk  In its month-long campaign, civil rights network National Alliance for People’s Movements (NAPM) carried out what it called Young People's Political Persecution and Resistance in “solidarity with all comrades facing political persecution and remembering human rights defender Stan Swamy…”

Govt of India has 'no moral right' to declare national day for Muslim women, Naqvi told

Counterview Desk  In what has been described as a nationwide outpouring of condemnation, following the announcement by Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Minister of Minority Affairs, declaring August 1 as ‘Muslim Women’s Rights Day’ to mark the anniversary of the Triple Talaq law, over 650 citizens have said it is nothing but "cynical optics" of using Muslim women’s rights in the face of an "unprecedented" onslaught against the rights of the Muslims in recent years.

Debt bondage, forced labour, sexual abuse in Gujarat's Bt cottonseed farms: Dutch study

By Rajiv Shah  A just-released study, sponsored by a Netherlands-based non-profit, Arisa , “Seeds of Oppression Wage sharecropping in Bt cottonseed production in Gujarat, India”, has said that a new form of bondage, or forced labour, exists in North India’s Bt cottonseed farms, in which bhagiyas, or wage sharecroppers, are employed against advances and are then often required to work for years together “without regular payment of wages.”

Covid: We failed to stop religious, political events, admits Modi-dharmacharya meet

Counterview Desk An email alert sent by one the 11 participants, Prof Salim Engineer, on behalf of the Dharmik Jan Morcha regarding their "religious leaders' online meet" with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, even as offering "support to meet challenges of Corona pandemic", blames religious congregations, though without naming the Maha Kumbh and other religious events, which apparently were instrumental in the spread of the second wave.

Madhya Pradesh Adivasis protest externment notice to Barwani tribal rights leader

By Harsing Jamre, Nasri Bai Ningwal, Prakash Bandod*  Over 2,500 Adivasis mobilized in response to Barwani district administration’s recent move to issue a show cause notice to Valsingh Saste, a prominent Adivasi activist of Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS), Madhya Pradesh. For two decades, Valsingh Saste as an activist of JADS has been continuously leading struggles for the constitutional and fundamental rights of Adivasis.

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.

How Madhya Pradesh cops, ABVP 'pressured' varsity to cancel scientific temper webinar

Apoorvanand, Gauhar Raza Counterview Desk  An online petition, signed* by over a thousand citizens -- mainly activists and academics -- titled “Attack on scientific temper”, floated by the civil rights group Anhad, has strongly protested against  to use of administration to cancel an International Webinar on Cultural and Linguistic Hurdles in the Achievement of Scientific Temper under the pressure of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the BJP's student wing.