If you have read my previous posts you would know that I have zero tolerance for the “my religion is the best” buffoons. When Mr. Modi, as charming and charismatic as he is, was elected to the post of the prime minister of the country, I prayed for India to not turn into the Gujarat of 2002. Relief came to me a couple of days back when Mr. Modi promised religious freedom in the country.
Wonderful- except, where was this responsible man when a very horrid massacre went down at the Shah-Alam refugee camp in Ahmedabad under the careful watch of his then state government. There was no mercy, relief, or even a word of sympathy for the victims. When the words of sympathy did leave his mouth, it only compared the gruesome slaughter to a chance death, a dog under a wheel scenario.
As a 10-year old when I watched a couple of bombs go off just outside the Ahmedabad railway station, I didn’t know what was going on. I recall that fateful night today on account of the recent media buzz on Narendra Modi’s much delayed views on religious differences in the country. The explosion that night looked like fireworks, but I didn’t hear a cheer, only agonizing cries. The concept of violence over religion hadn’t quite dawned on me then. I was only taught that there’s this person called God who looks after all of us and expects us to treat each other equally. When I grew up and found out that the fight was a misconstrued war between people of two very celebrated religions, I was utterly disappointed in humanity. When I grew up a little more, I understood the role politics and certain politicians played in that unnecessary local war. I didn’t know who started it, but I would have liked to see someone responsible end it. I have always strongly believed that nothing works in India like the will of a determined politician. But, no determined politician and no man intervened to stop the riots. Before we knew it, for political advantages, a small incident became a dreaded scar in the history of our country.
But, like they say “Der aaye durust aye” (Better late than never). While the innocent scars of that night in Ahmedabad will forever stay embedded in my memory, I’m glad that finally the once RSS pracharak Modi, showed humility to people of other faith in India. He said, “Mine will be the government that gives equal respect to all religions.”
Call it my paranoia or genuine concern, I can’t help but wonder if Mr. Modi is just talking the talk, especially when certain actions of his ministers and the man himself makes him a major suspect of my skepticism.
I can’ help but ponder over the reflection of a very strong RSS pracharak in every one of Mr. Modi’s speeches. He always aims to woo his audience by talking deeply about how great the ancient Indian culture (Hindu only, of course) is and how the great epics (Hindu epics, of course) provide great tales of knowledge, courage, and love. He also always manages to throw one or two inspirational quotes (related to Hindu texts, of course). Why is there no reference, whatsoever, to great stories, heroes, and words that spill out of texts and epics of the Holy Quran, the Torah, the Bible, or the Dhammapada? True, as an individual, he doesn’t have to root for other religions, but when he talks so highly about spiritualism and how it drives our entire nation, is it fair to drive on a one-sided Hindutva street as the leader of the country?
The likes of Sakshi Maharaj, Sadhvi Jyoti, and uncountable other educationally challenged and religiously backward pundits who continue to glue to the “national non-biased BJP”, only takes me one step further away from believing in Mr. Modi’s non-Hindutva agenda.
When it comes down to this debate, you can very conveniently waiver these arguments as naïve and unimportant, but the glimpse of the current government’s strong preference of representing India, primarily, as a Hindu country, scares me.
It is not so much to do with praising all religions equally, but celebrating their freedom and movement among people, that will make India truly a secular country. Right now, India is just a country with citizens of many faiths, led by a leader who proclaims no harm against another religion, but strongly believes that the country butted out of only a Hindu root.
That said, I do not think Narendra Modi is a bad leader. I think he has potential for greatness. Modi, as an image is just what the country needs. I admire his charisma and his stronghold on politics and foreign relations. But, to run a country filled with people from a wide range of religion, Mr. Modi and his government need to be secular, not just in words, but also in action.
Disclaimer: This article only reflects my thoughts and is subjective of my personal opinion. Mention of any event, is not meant to offend any religion/person/country in any manner.