DUB Speak

The S-word and the Growing Intolerance Surrounding It

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On his recent visit to London, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was asked a question on the increasing levels of intolerance in India, by a BBC reporter. In response, Modi said that India is the land of Buddha and Gandhi and would never accept anything that went against its basic social values. “India is a vibrant democracy which, under the Constitution, provides protection to all citizens, their lives and thoughts,” he asserted.
Mr. Modi coudn’t have been more accurate. With propagators of peace being such a significant part of our history, non-violence ought to be ingrained in our social fabric. Ironically, the very same people who might have grown up learning about Gandhi’s principle of ahimsa, unleash wrath andviolence upon their fellow countrymen. Differences in opinions and tastes can no longer be tolerated. Those sentences we learnt as children-about India being a land of cultural diversity-will soon become redundant. India is heading towards being a land of the majority, where the culture belonging to the minorities will gradually be annihilated, in favour of a common one imposed by
the majority. How could the culture that Gandhi and Buddha knew have taken such a massive u-turn?
In such a situation, it becomes essential to scrutinize the s-word, that looms large before us in the constitution- ‘secularism.’ According to an RSS representative, Manmohan Vaidya, the concept of secularism is irrelevant in India as, India does not have a history of theocratic states. He says that BR Ambedkar was against the inclusion of the word ‘secular’ in the Indian constitution as he felt that India was a naturally secular society.
To problematize this argument, what kind of country would India be if the term ‘secular’ was not present, safe and sound, within the pages of our constitution? To answer that question simply, any political party that comes to power may, for their own selfish reasons, impose a religion upon the country. Yes, the absence of that word from the all-powerful, sacred laws of the land, can wreck that much havoc, that easily. The fact that the country has not seen theocratic rule in the 60 odd years of its existence as a nation, does not imply that political parties cannot impose the religion of the majority upon the country. Indian society is dynamic and subject to change, owing to the diversity
among its people and cultures. Any attempt at suppressing any one or more of these cultural diversities destroys the very idea of India as a ‘secular’ country, thereby putting to rest the vision of the makers of our constitution.
Abhinaya Harigovind

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