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Secular India – an oxymoron : Mayank Gandhi

I am not advocating a theological state, just advocating removal of this artificial separation between religion and political discourse. Gandhi, “Those who think religion has nothing to do with politics understand neither religion nor politics”. As per Gandhi, ” Indeed religion should pervade every one of our actions. Here, the religion does not mean sectarianism. It means a belief in ordered moral Govt. of the universe. This religion transcends Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity etc. It does not supersede them. It harmonizes them and gives them reality.”

We are unlike any western or Islamic country, we are different and unique. Someone had said that in US for any social or religious reforms, one needs to use political route; in Europe, for political or religious changes, we need to use social route; but, in India, for any social or political transformation, we need to use the religious channels. The music running through our spine is religion. Swami Vivekanand says “Here in India, it is religion that forms the very core of the national heart. It is the backbone, the bed-rock, the foundation upon which the national edifice has been built. Politics, power, and even intellect form a secondary consideration here. Religion, therefore, is the one consideration in India”. His definition of religion was that any sect that may help you to realise God is religion”

The Indian world view emphasises the basic unity of all existence and its interrelation and connectivity, whether it be an individual, family, society, nation or universe in all its dimension – religion, politics, science, social, psychological, physiological or legal framework in all its dynamic and fluid format. Look at the constitution of an average Indian – we see a very different species from the western piece. A religious, god-fearing, spiritual based mind set – praying every day, having a temple or more in the house, using god and religion in every second sentence and in general using religion or its symbolism in his entire life. Serials like Ramayana, Mahabharat and Mahadeva are watched avidly. Millions do roza and pray five times a day. Religion is all pervading except in the most important thing – politics.

It is unfortunate and short-sighted that we have adopted the European governance structure for a population that is different from any other nation. We, Indians are deeply questioning, profoundly chaotic and introspective. And without understanding the soul and ethos of the nation, we have been saddled with a European governance model that might be more suitable for a small, western country. When I go to Haridwar or the Kumbh and see the millions of people – am sure that neither do the people understand the administration structure, nor does governing institutions understand the common people. This is the main reason that there is so much social unrest and disconnect between people and government.

That has been a historic blunder created seven decades ago, but one that we may have to live with.

More than ever, there is a vitiated atmosphere and mutual distrusts between different religions and caste. Is it time to rediscover the principles of unity of all aspects of thought in private and public life.
o Isn’t it time to abandon this artificial and foreign infection ailing the nation?
o Isn’t it time to abandon the separation of private and public life and embrace the holistic and completeness of mind and action like Gandhiji?
o Is India diseased?

Disease – a harmful deviation from the normal structural or functional state of an organism. A diseased organism commonly exhibits signs or symptoms indicative of its abnormal state. Thus, the normal condition of an organism must be understood in order to recognize the hallmarks of disease

Anyone understanding the ethos and the soul of India should realise that the division of public life and religion is an unnatural and artificial boundary. Gandhiji who travelled through the nation to comprehend its heart, used symbolisms and processes from all religions starting from the Bhajans, the Ashrams, the quotes from all religions, sects and bringing moral and religious values into the nation. He created potent and unique weapons based on the Indian ethos like Non-violence, truth, renunciation, dharma etc., which found such outstanding response from the millions of his countrymen.

Secularism is a Western graft unsuitable and unnecessary here as diverse communities here have been living together peacefully in the same geographical area.

A few years back, I had gone to a Congress party felicitation meeting, where they gave a Bhagwada Gita and Koran to each of the audience and every speech was laced with God, religion and culture.

Once in a citizen movement meeting, the priest of the local church made a very pertinent point saying that ” While we start every good event by invoking God, why should we not invoke God for every political meeting / event / issue for a cause which is meant to serve society?”

Since Independence, the leftists have tried to take to set the educational curriculum setting for the school, colleges and overall public debates in the nation and their viewpoint of anti-religion, anti-God has been pervading in the body polity. The anti-religion based sociologists and philosophers have been occupying the public mind space with their western based ideology of separating religion and politics. Anyone who speaks of religion, God and values is branded as communal and rabid. The space for sensible, middle-of-the-road Indian leadership is reduced leaving in its place – extremists on all sides, using the politics of hatred and vote bank driven religious platforms to vitiate the peace and growth..

Today, we have a nation torn apart from its roots, its moral and cultural heritage, its tremendous science and knowledge – we have a nation that is in a stage of disease, of imbalance and one of the thing that we need to do is to throw away this aspect of secularism which seeks to create this unnatural division, to bring back balance and health to this great unique nation.

So, what is my premise?
1. Democracy is the best political system – as it allows freedom and air.
2. Non -religious governance system is the only process appropriate.
3. Allow religious symbolism in public life.
4. Remove the artificial barriers created within public discourse
5. Create middle ground side-lining parties using religious and casteist platforms

Courtesy to Mayank Gandhi’s personal blog.

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