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One nation, one culture
The Indian Express, Chandigarh city edition, dated 24th March, 16 published an article by MG Vaidya, an RSS ideologue, which in my opinion is a 'must read'. I write this review for those who missed it, or those who do not subscribe to this particular newspaper.

Shri Vaidya says that the JNU incident, though unfortunate, has brought into focus a debate on what nationalism is and what constitutes a nation! The confusion is due to the present day formation of the 'one state - one nation reality', though the two concepts may not be congruent. One state (a political association governed by law) may include many nations, such as the former USSR, whereas one nation may comprise more than one state, such as the two Germany's.

Those who live within the confines of this legal framework are its citizens. On the other hand, people constitute a nation, which is governed by three principles... one, their sentiments for the land in which they live; those who believe that the land in which they live is their mother land, comprise a nation... two, the people who take pride in slogans like Vande Mataram and Bharat Mataki jai, Jai Hind, and 'jana gana mana adhinayak jaiya hey' and share a common history, of Ram, Krishna, Vikramaditya, Maharana Pratap, Shivaji and the Mughals, are one nation ...the third and, perhaps, the most important; is a shared value system the underlying principle of which is, quote," the appreciation of the plurality of faiths and religions." End quote.

These peoples are known the world over as Hindus, which term has nothing to do with whether one is an atheist or otherwise, an idol-worshipper or against idol worship, whether one believes in the vedas, or some other sacred book. This aspect is understood by our Constitution, Article 25 of which says that "reference to Hindus shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Buddhist and Jain religion".

Shri Vaidya, the author, goes on to question that if this Article (25 of the Constitution) is applicable to these three sects/religions, why not to Christians and Muslims as well, considering that the forefathers of more or less the entire present day Muslim (and Christian) population in India were Hindus prior to converting to Islam, (or Christianity), except those Muslims who migrated to India from Persia, or Afghanistan?

Shri Vaidya goes on to tell why... he had been a lecturer at a Christian missionary college for 17 years but had never concealed his association with the RSS. One day in 1957, a very senior Christian professor asked him if he could join the RSS and if yes, what would he have to do? Shri Vaidya replied that he could join, but need not give up his church, or abandon his faith in Jesus Christ and the Bible.

However, Shri Vaidya went on to say that the professor would have to accept the validity of other religions and faiths, as a pre-condition. The professor immediately remarked that it was impossible for him to do so because if he did, he would not be able to propagate Christianity! So it is with Islam.

Shri Vaidya goes on to say that the confusion in understanding the term 'Hindu' lies in the misnomer of Hinduism being classified as a religion, which it is not. Hinduism is a 'dharma' ( there is no equivalent in the English language) which means, amongst other things, moral laws, such as truthfulness, generosity and non-injury, and other virtues including one 's rights and corresponding duties, governing conduct and behaviour. Simply put, dharma, the right way to live, is the underlying and the guiding principle of Hinduism!

This dissertation begs the question that whereas we, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Muslims and Christians share the same past and history, we also share the same sentiments for the land of our ancestors and that of our birth and in many ways, the same cultural heritage. What we do not share are values based in the belief and acceptance of the plurality of faiths and religions. Islam and Christianity, both prozyliting religions, believe that they, in themselves, are the only true religions, the others being kafirs, or the unfaithful, non- believers! India, it's people and government, often refer to its self with pride as a land with 'unity in diversity'!

The debate on ' one country, one civil code' is unending and indecisive. On the night of 25 March, 2016, a spokesman of the All India Personal Law Board, on News Hour, was vociferous in stating that Muslims (in India) would never accept a uniform civil code, as they were governed by the teachings of the Koran and Hadith and to follow Sharia was their birthright, and further, that no human being had the authority to change or alter this status.

This as it may be, but all those Muslims living in North America, Great Britain, France, Germany and other EU countries accept the law of the land and are one with all other citizens of the countries that they have chosen to live in… do these Muslims follow another Koran, or Hadith, and therefore, Sharia as practiced in India, is not applicable to them?

I wish to ask my Muslim brethren that within the geographical and juridical realm that is India, or Bharat, or Hindustan; are we, therefore, because of these diversities two nations that co-exist because of compulsion? Would we not be more resilient and stronger people if we were one nation, without the differences that divide us except off course, the fact that we follow different faiths!

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