Hinduism is a quaint religion; one even doubts whether it is a religion. Even if one doesn’t go to a temple or wear the sacred thread or perform Sandhyavandhanam (morning and evening prayers) or have bath everyday or even if one scolds his Gods and observe no fast, one still remains a Hindu and could be branded as communal although he sports no characteristics of even a normal Hindu. In contrast, if a Muslim does not visit the mosque or abuses Allah or a Christian abstains from church on a Sunday, he is branded a heretic. But to appease the minorities, a die-hard Muslim or Christian is labelled ‘secular’ and a liberal Hindu, ‘communal’. These points clearly define secularism in India.
Our Hindu society is unfortunately divided into several castes. So we can consider India to be comprised of the following major groups: the upper castes, the lower castes, the Muslims and the politicians (of course, they don’t belong to any religion or caste).
The thing that amuses me is this: none of the said major groups is happy. The Brahmins feel discriminated against because of the reservation policy applied by successive governments. They do not relish the speeches delivered by leaders of the various Dalit and other caste-based parties, which target them. The Dalits and other backward castes are not happy as they feel they have not been given their due in spite of continued efforts. Hindus resent the government’s pussyfooting on the issue of Islamist terrorism. Muslims feel threatened in spite of being a big chunk of the population because terrorism is linked with Islam and their allegiance to the country is doubted even 60 years after the partition. The only people who seem to benefit are the politicians. But even they have been targeted on numerous occasions (the attack on parliament in 2001 being one of them).
Considering all this, any rational person would mend his ways. But since politicians and religious bigots thrive on irrationality, expecting them to change is a waste of time.
We, as a nation, do not realise that the great issues of the day are not settled by speeches and slogans but by sound and solid action. Ideas are important. But it is constructive work alone that can "inject meaning into the veins of history and civilisation".
"A secular country will not make decisions based on a person’s religion and the citizens of such a country will be free to practise any religion of their choice". This is the actual definition of a secular country. While the second part is more or less true in India, it still has a long way to go as far as the first part goes. It would be nice to see the change happen within my lifetime. But I am not holding my breath.
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