Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The BJP and Religious Pluralism


While one may have many differences with the ideological and policy approaches of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, including on the issue of handling the question of communalism (and I do, especially given that I found rather distasteful, among other things, his remark snubbing taweez during the Bihar elections, something he would never do for say, rudraksh, and his long period of silence in the wake of very problematic statements concerning the Dadri episode not only from MPs but even ministers like Mahesh Sharma, which is not to say that I support appeasing communal and regressive Muslims or handing out religion-specific doles, that parties like the Congress, SP, RJD and Trinamool Congress have indeed engaged in), I believe that everyone ought to appreciate efforts made to integrate the minorities by encouraging them to adopt ancient Indic cultural facets without compromising on their religious beliefs, such as outreach attempts to practising Muslims to participate in the International Yoga Day celebrations in 2015, telling them that chanting what they may see as religious words or verses was not compulsory and that yogic exercises are very similar to namaz, being beneficial for physical fitness.  Prime Minister Narendra Modi has, time and again, stressed the need for religious tolerance, most emphatically at a church congregation in Kerala, and has condemned illegal vigilantism, while asserting that Indian Muslims ought to be neither appeased nor be subjected to hatred, but the need of the hour ought to be to reform them to enable them to be a part of the national mainstream, while having acknowledged that there are Indian Muslims who live and die for India, and that there is no need for any Indian citizen to prove his/her loyalty to the country day in and day out. He has praised in public the positive dimensions and contributions of Islam and good, public-spirited Indian citizens like Noor Jahan from Kanpur who formed a group of women engaged in making and renting solar lanterns and Imran Khan, a school teacher in Rajasthan’s Alwar district who created 40 Android apps and distributed them to students free of cost, other than the government awarding a Padma Shri to Jalpaiguri’s Karimul Haque transporting the poor to hospital on his motorbike as also a Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award to tennis player Sania Mirza, and there having been substantial budgetary allocations for modernisisng madrasas in tune with the present times. Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh made efforts to allay fears of Kashmiri Muslim students in different parts of India, as you can see here and here.


Also, while many people (including me) were deeply disturbed by the appointment of Yogi Adityanath as the chief minister of India’s most populous state, given his history of rabble-rousing (that had drawn criticism even from BJP-supporters like Anupam Kher) with no administrative experience and absolutely no other proven unique track record until then, and many have even been critical of some of his subsequent policies, as you can see here and here, it is noteworthy that the police, under him, has taken action against Hindu extremists on several occasions, as you can see here, here, here and here.

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