Let’s be true to the culture of diversity

It is good our Prime Minister Narendra Modi has of late been stressing India’s tradition of diversity and talking about the need to delink terror and religion . In his address (http://www.telegraphindia.com/1151114/jsp/frontpage/story_53150.jsp#.Vk9M29IrKUk ) to a Grand Community reception at Wembley Stadium in London ( November 13) ,   Modi said : "India is full of diversity. This diversity is our pride and it is our strength. Diversity is the speciality of India." He added that despite the country being home to diverse religions, over 100 languages and 1,500 dialects, Indians have demonstrated how to live together. The whole world is amazed, how 125 crore people with so much diversity live peacefully with love and affection.

The Prime Minister referred to Kabir and Rahim as India’s " inspirations."  He described the Sufi tradition as “the best antidote to terrorism." He said,  " Aaj vishwa mein jo aatankwad ke naam pe jo cheezen chal rahi hain, kabhi mujhe lagta hai agar Sufi parampara balwaan hui hoti, Islam mein hi is Sufi parampara ka agar prabhav badha hota aur jisne Sufi parampara ko samjha hota woh kabhi haath mein bandook lene ka vichar nahi karta (The things happening in the name of terrorism in the world today, sometimes I feel that had the Sufi tradition gained strength, had its influence in Islam grown, whoever understood the tradition would never have thought of picking up the gun)."

Later , in his address ( http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/delink-terror-and-religion-modi-tells-g20-leaders/article7883647.ece) to the G20 leaders at Antalya, the Prime Minister said, “We need to involve religious leaders, thinkers and opinion-makers for a social movement against extremism, particularly addressed to the youth.” We must isolate those who support and sponsor terrorism and stand with those who share our values of humanism.”  He regretted,  “We don’t have a comprehensive global strategy to combat terrorism. And, we tend to be selective in using the instruments that we have… We should strengthen efforts to prevent supply of arms to terrorists, disrupt terrorist movements and curb and criminalise terror financing.”

All fine words indeed ! But will they alone do ? Charity begins at home. In the recent decades the culture of diversity has been in peril in India too .  We have witnessed an increasing deviation from this humanistic path . The ruling political command, irrespective of the parties it has represented , has hardly been of the kind that could ensure the culture of diversity on the ground . Generally, our politicians have been too obsessed with their calculus of vote banks to care for the virtue of diversity. Some politicians have allegedly been aligned with anti-national /social elements in different segments to capture power . In the process  countless communal/ caste riots have taken place in the country posing a grave threat to our  composite culture .

I would suggest Prime Minister Modi must take effective steps to reverse this pattern of politics at home ? His government needs to ensure no religious fanaticism or casteism emerging from any social or political group is able to raise its ugly head  . Our Constitution has little space for any radicalism . The successive governments in India have by and large glossed over this lapse on their part  . Enough is enough .  

India’s progressive and secular elements, too , must join the government today in maintaining the tradition of diversity . The civil society needs to be truly vigilant . It must expose all those reactionary elements who distort religions or invoke caste sentiments to spread an environment of hatred and violence among our different communities.

Regrettably, the state of our civil society in general has lacked the standard of an enlightened democracy.  It has been dominated by the think tanks and non-governmental organizations aligned with one or the other political/ corporate house. It says or does what suits its masters .   Who cares for the voice of independent thinkers and scholars standing out of the masters’ privileged clubs !