Anjali Ashok writes for SACHINITI.
I read an article by Mr. Riaz on one of the blogs I happened to visit recently. http://www.riazhaq.com/2008/07/pakistani-myths-about-indias-resurgence.html
It was a great read and a very insightful analysis about the progress and evolution made by India in recent years. The author mentioned various reasons like the establishment of IITs, democracy, education system, the strengths of the Indian entrepreneur etc. Nevertheless, I felt one major point which Mr Riaz failed to point out was that besides the democratic model and a strong political system it is the secular fabric and the religious “irrelevance” which has been responsible for the progress of the country.
No doubt political parties try every now and then to use the card of faith to enrich their vote banks. Yes, I do feel the Gujarat riots are a blot on our fair name, yet you will agree that for a Nation so diverse in ethnicity, language and religion these things are exceptions and aberrations rather than the norm. Every Indian adores icons like Salman Khan, Sharukh Khan or even Atif Aslam alike. We have a Prime Minister who is a Sikh, a Past President who is a Muslim and the ruling party leader who is a Christian. Religion is truly irrelevant when it comes to running a country and winning hearts and minds of people.
Some feel religion should just be confined to homes. I think that is a very restrictive view also. True, the more we emphasize on religion and rituals in public life the more problems we create. I also agree that religion is for us and not the other way round. Yet, is it possible to greet each other a Happy Republic Day instead of Happy Diwali or Merry Christmas? The Russians tried it and failed. I feel we should view our religious background in a positive way of realising our deeper inadequacies. For example as a Hindu I am naturally inclined to tolerate filth in a temple of worship. Not being acquainted with the theory of Karma allows a Christian to be naturally more philanthropic. So, rather than oppose religion and its grip on our psyche, let us accept our constraints and yet look deeper and try to fathom our potentials.
The Hindus will be Hindus and the Muslims will be Muslims – may be the twain shall never meet, but that need not come in our way of working towards a more synergistic partnership. I feel the most successful model that works on these principles is the Hindi film industry. Rafi sang some of the best bhajans and Prithviraj Kapoor portrayed the best of Mughals, yet they were quite unabashed followers of their faith and never apologized as most seculars do. Mostly what is practised and taught today in the name of science is a fanatic religion and most pedlars of religion and spirituality are finding ways and means to sell their wares as science! That is not a synergistic partnership I am talking about.
So let us move from secularism towards religious “irrelevance”, where I can “Be” in spite of being a Hindu or a Muslim or a Catholic.