Re­li­gion as our Strength ........................................

Libertatem Magazine - - Content - By Shreyan Acharya

RE­LI­GIOUS SEN­SI­TIV­I­TIES

The un­di­vided In­dia had un­der­gone a long en­dur­ing bat­tle against the tyran­ni­cal rule of the Bri­tish to at­tain com­plete free­dom. Dif­fer­ent peo­ple from dif­fer­ent be­liefs marched un­der the same flag of free­dom. The Bri­tish im­pe­ri­al­ist made ev­ery pos­si­bil­ity of draw­ing the line and ex­ploit the re­li­gious di­ver­sity, but the free­dom move­ment did not trem­ble against the evil do­ers. Un­for­tu­nately, the free­dom from the shack­les of the cen­tury old rule gained on the lines of Par­ti­tion. The Bri­tish man­aged to de­mar­cate the coun­try on re­li­gious ide­olo­gies re­sult­ing into a blood­bath and mas­sive mi­gra­tion.

Even af­ter the grue­some blood­shed, In­dia re­tained its di­ver­sity. The Framers of the Con­sti­tu­tion cher­ished the prin­ci­ples of sec­u­lar­ity by en­act­ing the pro­vi­sions en­sur­ing free­dom and pro­tec­tion of ev­ery re­li­gious be­lief. The vi­sion­ary text, called the Con­sti­tu­tion of In­dia, freed the peo­ple from op­pres­sion and ex­ploita­tion on re­li­gious lines. But, the dawn of a re­formed and pro­gres­sive democ­racy, bear the brunt of re­li­gious op­pres­sion. The Casteism amongst the Hin­dus, Un­equal rights of the Mus­lim Women, the rift be­tween Hin­dus, Mus­lims, Sikhs and Chris­tians, Vi­o­lent forms of dis­crim­i­na­tion against the Mi­nor­ity, etc had acted as a stigma to this pro­gres­sive so­ci­ety. There are prac­tices abol­ished and con­demned, but there preva­lence is still rampant. Tak­ing the note of the cur­rent sce­nario, re­li­gious sen­si­tiv­i­ties in the form of at­tacks on Churches, forced con­ver­sion, hon­our killings, etc. The Framers of the Con­sti­tu­tion en­vi­sioned that the right to pro­fess, prop­a­gate and prac­tice any re­li­gious be­lief to be a Fun­da­men­tal Right, but they also limited its reach un­der “rea­son­able restric­tions”. The Hon’ Supreme Court of In­dia, acted as a true Guardian of the Con­sti­tu­tion, by safe­guard­ing the Fun­da­men­tal Rights of the cit­i­zens. But, we in a pro­gres­sive so­ci­ety, must have a broader think­ing to value, safe­guard and cher­ish ev­ery re­li­gious iden­tity of our own peers.

PO­LIT­I­CAL IM­PED­I­MENT AGAINST RE­LI­GIOUS RE­FORMS

The demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tion formed in 1950 with the pro­mul­ga­tion of the In­dian Con­sti­tu­tion led to the rise of a vi­brant plu­ral­is­tic so­ci­ety. But, un­for­tu­nately, the dreams of the free­dom fight­ers were not en­tirely ful­filled. Ide­ally, the in­de­pen­dence strug­gle was led to es­tab­lish a free so­ci­ety with dif­fer­ent sects of peo­ple liv­ing har­mo­niously. This vi­sion ham­pered due to fre­quent po­lit­i­cal dis­tur­bances. The Bri­tish­ers can­not be blamed in en­tirety, it was the fight of the power-hun­gry politi­cians that led to the big­gest night­mare of Par­ti­tion. The Par­ti­tion not only led to the loss of large scale lives, but also led to heavy eco­nomic losses. It jeop­ar­dised our growth as a pro­gres­sive nation, as the scars of par­ti­tion are still alive in many hearts pulling us back to those times. Not only, the

episode of 1947, there are many other in­stances where the lack­adaisi­cal at­ti­tude of the leg­is­la­tors marred re­li­gious re­forms. Such was the in­ci­dent af­ter the Hon’ Supreme Court of In­dia, al­lowed main­te­nance to a Mus­lim woman un­der the purview of the Code of Crim­i­nal Pro­ce­dure. The fol­low­ing ob­ser­va­tion was made in the Shah Bano judg­ment, which many pub­lic-spir­ited in­di­vid­u­als viewed as a re­for­ma­tive judg­ment free­ing the Mus­lim women from the ex­ploita­tion. But, in the con­tem­po­rary In­dia, where re­li­gious prac­tices, even if or­tho­dox and ex­ploita­tive are cher­ished over in­di­vid­ual free­dom and lib­erty. The coun­try wit­nessed mass ag­i­ta­tion from the Mus­lim or­tho­dox sects, claim­ing it to be an im­peach­ment in their re­li­gious af­fairs. The, then Gov­ern­ment, de­spite of up­hold­ing the vi­sion­ary judg­ment, fol­lowed the ap­pease­ment pol­icy that com­pletely de­stroyed the ob­ser­va­tion, and the fol­low­ing judg­ment of Daniel Lat­ifi over­ruled the Shah Bano Judg­ment. This po­lit­i­cal move to re­tain the vote did not only pulled back the women back into the shack­les and state of op­pres­sion, but also caused re­li­gious en­mity. The de­mo­li­tion of Babri Masjid not only fu­elled the fire, but also led to the na­tion­wide ri­ots lead­ing to many deaths. The is­sue of Ram­jan­mab­hoomi is pend­ing be­fore the Hon’ Court, but it is upon us as fu­ture lead­ers by com­pre­hend­ing upon the is­sue and eval­u­ate the ne­ces­sity of a Mandir or Masjid or rather some­thing more valu­able to the needy peo­ple with the com­mon am­i­ca­ble ef­forts of both the com­mu­ni­ties. Whether the is­sue of main­te­nance or Ram­n­jan­mab­hoomi or many other cur­rent is­sues, the col­lec­tive ef­fort is re­quired to am­i­ca­bly re­solve th­ese ob­sta­cles which will only ful­fil the vi­sion of our fore­fa­thers, but will also lead us to a more fairer, free and re­formed so­ci­ety.

A NEW DAWN OF THE 21ST CEN­TURY

In­dia and Pak­istan started the race to es­tab­lish their own iden­ti­ties from the same start­ing point. Na­tions are made of its peo­ple. Both the nation be­fore in­de­pen­dence to­gether fought the ar­bi­trary and tyran­ni­cal regime. The goals were com­mon i.e. to at­tain com­plete free­dom from slav­ery be their own masters. But, Pak­istan lost its tracks due to or­tho­doxy and out­moded cus­toms. The blas­phemy laws rigidly fol­lowed has made the state intolerant to free speech and of­ten re­li­gious ex­trem­ism has taken a vi­o­lent turn. Mi­nori­ties com­mu­ni­ties of Pak­istan such as Hin­dus, Sikhs, Chris­tians, Ah­madis have suf­fered ir­repara­ble losses both of life and prop­erty. In­dia too is no in­dif­fer­ent from its neigh­bour. Re­li­gious in­tol­er­ance have of­ten re­ported in the coun­try, but for­tu­nately with the true guid­ance of elo­quent pol­icy mak­ers and pub­lic spir­ited in­di­vid­u­als, In­dia has some­how man­aged to abol­ish the cus­toms con­sid­ered to be ar­bi­trary in prac­tice.

This above com­par­i­son can be fur­ther high­lighted with the help of two case stud­ies. Firstly, the is­sue of co­parce­nary was duly ad­dressed. Be­fore the year 2005, the women were not con­sid­ered to be co­parce­nar­ies which en­ti­tle them of in­tes­tate prop­erty. But, this pro­vi­sion of the re­spec­tive statute was duly re­vised, and af­ter care­ful de­lib­er­a­tions an Amend­ment was brought into ef­fect en­ti­tling them over in­tes­tate prop­erty as co­parceners. The Amend­ment not only em­pow­ered the Hindu women of self-de­pen­dency, but equally en­ti­tled them the right to say in the fam­ily, more­over the right to ex­is­tence of­ten taken away un­der pa­tri­archy mind­set of the so­ci­ety. Se­condly, by the Hon’ Court tak­ing a bold step as taken in the Shah Bano Case to grant en­try to the women in the Haji Ali Dar­gah. This de­ci­sion ex­tended equal rights to preach to the women. The judg­ment was widely ap­plauded, but also at­tracted con­dem­na­tion from the or­tho­dox sec­tions of the so­ci­ety. The Hon’ Supreme Court of In­dia has laid the test for “Es­sen­tial Re­li­gious Prac­tice” to de­ter­mine whether the prac­tice of the re­li­gious sect is pro­tected un­der Ar­ti­cle 26 of the Con­sti­tu­tion of In­dia. The ERP is al­though not de­fined un­der the Con­sti­tu­tion, but have been in­ter­preted on sev­eral oc­ca­sions by the Apex Court. The de­ci­sion in the Haji Ali case or the re­for­ma­tive amend­ments, both in­di­cates that In­dia still em­bolden upon the prin­ci­ples of equal­ity and sec­u­lar­ity.

CON­CLU­SION

Swami Vivekananda called the world as one big fam­ily, so we as In­di­ans must also con­sider our­selves as one fam­ily. The fam­ily that lives to­gether col­lec­tively cher­ish the ideals, and re­solves the dis­putes. There­fore, we as In­di­ans not only aim to pro­tect our in­ter­est, but also self­lessly pro­tect the in­ter­est of the cit­i­zens be­long­ing to dif­fer­ent sects. A col­lec­tive voice must be raised against any dis­crim­i­na­tory prac­tice or pol­icy. We must en­deav­our to bring a change to the so­ci­ety. Ev­ery in­di­vid­ual must strive de­velop a far-sighted goal of lead­ing In­dia to a greater path. Our re­li­gious di­ver­sity must be in­di­cated not as our weak­nesses which can be ex­ploited by any­one, but as our strength that brings us to­gether against all odds. And to up­hold this, any lapses must be avoided to cor­rect the ills preva­lent in any be­lief.

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