Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Communalism be eliminated for true Secularism

In 1947 Hindustan was divided on two nations for two religions theory by the outgoing Britishers into two parts. India and Pakistan emerged – the former adopted Secularism whereas the latter adopted Islam as its official religion.

What do we mean when we use the term “Religion” and  “Secularism”?

After the advent of civilization, the human beings started to live in some groups. To facilitate smooth living, some code of conduct based on some beliefs and experiences came into form and that code of conduct became religion in due course of time. We can thus say that a religion is an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence. As the number of the groups increased, the number of religions also grew up as per the geographical circumstances in which  the individual groups lived.
Many religions have narratives, symbols, and sacred histories that aim to explain the meaning of life, the origin of life, or the Universe. From their beliefs about the cosmos and human nature, people may derive morality, ethics, religious laws, or a preferred lifestyle. The development of various religions has taken different forms in different cultures. Some religions place an emphasis on belief, while others emphasize practice. Some religions focus on the subjective experience of the religious individual, while others consider the activities of the religious community to be most important. Some religions claim to be universal, believing their laws  to be binding for everyone, while others are intended to be practiced only by a closely defined or localized group. In many places religion has been associated with public institutions such as education, hospitals, the family, government, and political hierarchies.
Curiosity, acceptance, family, honour, idealism, independence, order, physical activity, power, romance, saving, social contact, status, tranquility, eating and vengeance  etc. are some factors which appeal to the man towards approaching to some religion. Professor Reiss said: 'It doesn't matter whether God exists or not as religious belief is aimed at fulfilling our basic human desires. New theory claims religions are an attempt to satisfy basic human desires. Psychologists say that it helps to explain the many contradictions in religion. Atheists also tend to be people seeking to fulfil a desire for independence
The five largest religious groups by world population, were estimated in the  year 2010 to account for 5.8 billion people and 84% of the population, are Christianity sharing 32%, Islam 23%, Hinduism 15%  Buddhism 7% and folk religion to the extent of 6%.
In India, the most dominant religion today is Hinduism. About 79% of Indians are Hindus. Around 500 BC two other religions developed in India, namely, Buddhism and Jainism. Today only about 0.5% of Indians are Jains and about 0.7% are Buddhist. One comparatively new religion in India is Sikhism and it was established in the 15th century. About 2% of Indians are Sikhs. Along with the religions that developed in India, there are followers of non- Indian religions. The largest non-Indian religion is Islam. They are about 17% of India's population. Christians are more then 2% of India's population. There are also Zoroastrians who even though make less then 0.01% of India's population, are known around India. There are also a few thousand Jews in India. Judaism and Christianity might have arrived in India before they arrived in Europe.
Secularism what we understand generally is the principle of the separation of the state and government institutions from the religions being practised by the citizens, religious institutions and religious dignitaries. Secularism is asserting the right to be free from religious rule and teachings, or, in a state declared to be neutral on matters of religion, from the imposition by government of religion or religious practices upon its people. Another manifestation of secularism is the view that public activities and decisions, especially political ones, should remain uninfluenced by religious beliefs and/or practices being followed by one or more groups.
The purposes and arguments in support of secularism vary widely. It is a movement toward modernization, and away from traditional religious values. This type of secularism, on a social or philosophical level, has often occurred while giving subsidy to the persons going on Haj, granting financial assistance to the Madarsa or controlling the shrines/temples through government machinery. Some argue that state secularism has served to a greater extent to protect religion and the religious from governmental interference, while secularism on a social level is less prevalent. 
Maharaja Ranjeet Singh of the Sikh empire of the first half 19th century successfully established a secular rule in the Punjab. This secular rule allowed members of all races and religions to be respected and to participate without discrimination in Ranjeet Singh darbar and he had Sikh, a Muslim and a Hindu representatives heading the darbar. Ranjit Singh also extensively funded education, religion, and arts of various different religions and languages.
Now,  we understand that a secular State prefers a society which
  1. Is not homogeneous, but is pluralistic.
  2. Is tolerant. It widens the sphere of private decision-making.
  3. ensures deep respect for individuals and the small groups of which they are a part, equality of all people breaking down of the barriers of class and caste.
  4. While every society must have some common aims, which implies there must be agreed on methods of problem-solving, and a common framework of law; in a secular society these are as limited as possible.
  5. Each person should be helped to realize their particular excellence.
Secularism is a code of duty pertaining to our life, founded on considerations purely human and intended mainly for those who find theology indefinite or inadequate, unreliable or unbelievable. Its essential principles are three: (1) The improvement of this life by material means. (2) That science is the available Providence of man. (3) That it is good to do good. Whether there be other good or not, the good of the present life is good, and it is good to seek that good.
Secularism is so important to the social life of today that a Republican lawmaker in Tennessee has proposed a bill that would ban public schools from teaching "religious doctrine" earlier than 10th grade after parents complained that middle school world history lessons on Islam were inappropriate.
The bill by state Rep. Sheila Butt (R-Columbia) would delay teaching of "religious doctrine," as determined by the state board of education, until grades 10, 11 and 12. “I think that probably the teaching that is going on right now in seventh, eighth grade is not age-appropriate,” Butt told the Tennessean. Tennessee middle school students currently read from religious texts and learn about world religions, including the Five Pillars of Islam. Butt's legislation doesn't specifically mention Islam, but said students aren't ready to learn about religion before a certain age. “They are not able to discern a lot of times whether it's indoctrination or whether they’re learning about what a religion teaches,” Butt said. Parents had made similar complaints, saying the curriculum focused more on Islam than on other religions and bordered on "indoctrination."Other Tennessee lawmakers also have weighed in with concerns about supposed religious indoctrination in schools -- at least when the curriculum involves Islam.
Immediate after partition, India adopted secularism as the basic of its governance and later on it was adopted in the Constitution too. But unfortunately, the political leaders did not honour the spirits of secularism strictly and gradually, opposition of Hinduism and appeasement of the minorities started to take place. Even in the democratic set-up, some communities were preferred on the ground of reservation for scheduled caste, scheduled tribes, backward classes, other backward classes and minorities. In the process of appeasement, the merits had been ignored and corruption took place at the large scale with the nepotism. The other organs of democracy have been jeopardised and at one time, state emergency was declared in name of protecting democracy. In this process, development for better environment in education, infrastructure for better life, employment opportunities and medical facilities was largely overlooked. The principle of Divide and Rule adopted by the Britishers was taken up by the political leaders of modern India by provoking the various communities on linguistic/religious grounds. Many provinces have been split as such. Secularism has been misconstrued to appease some communities while ignoring the basic needs of the majority.  The successive governments in the State and Centre followed the same policy obliging their friends in different walks of life by providing good positions in the government organizations and/or honours, exceeding the tolerance limit of the majority.
In 2014, there was a change in the formation of the government at Centre and the voters supported BJP who was so far considered as the party of the major constituent of  Indian Society, ie, Hindus although Mr.Narendra Modi had started the campaign with the slogan of “Sabka Vikas Sabkey Sath (Development of All with All at par)”.
The tremendous success and support given to him could not meet good taste of those who lost the chairs, resulting into the fact that the opposition is trying its tooth and nail to disrupt his working  through all the means they could adopt. Puzzled with his growing popularity, the opposition leaders have raised a spate of many controversial issues so that the nation be put to public unrest. On the ground of increasing public unrest, some writers declared to return the honours which they were given by the previous governments as if they were in support of the nefarious activities of the opposition leaders/politics. 
While we can sympathize with them for feeling suffocated in the prevailing intellectual atmosphere generated. But it is also true that these writers have not so far been able to create literature which was required for ensuring a secular India. These writers have no match with  Sarat Chandra, Premchand, Subramania Bharati and Faiz of India or  Dickens, Bernard Shaw,  Victor Hugo, Maxim Gorki, Balzac, Maupassant, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, John Steinbeck, Upton Sinclair, Erich Maria Remarque, and Pablo Neruda. They do write mainly to make money, and have no genuine social commitment. They have become largely commercialized, like the rest of society.
As we understand that the literature is the back-bone for any country to reflect its conscience,  there are broadly two theories of art and literature. The first is called art for art's sake, and the second is called art for social purpose. Those who belong to the first school believe that the purpose of art and literature is only to create a work of beauty for pleasure, or for entertainment. If art is created for a social purpose, it ceases to be art and becomes propaganda. Followers of this school are Keats in English literature, Alexander Dumas in French, Edgar Allan Poe in American, Agyeya and the chayavadi poets in Hindi, and Tagore in Bengali literature. On the other hand those who belong to the school of art for social purpose believe that art should help society, by attacking oppressive institutions, customs and ideas, and by inspiring people to fight against them and secure a better life. In a poor country like India only the second school is acceptable. Art and literature in India should attack inhuman and outdated feudal and backward practises like the caste system, and inspire people to fight for better lives as Sarat Chandra, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Subramania Bharati, Faiz etc did. 
Unfortunately our writers have not done so. All they care for is making money. History shows that for centuries Hindu has been suffering atrocities inflicted upon by the aggressors of other communities. Tolerance has a limit. How far can it be endured? Why not other communities behave like Hindus?
That difference then does it make whether our writers retain their awards or return them?
Now, what we need to be done about for eliminating communalism in the society can be enumerated as below:
1.      We may inspire inter-caste/religion marriages with incentives. Those who undertake inter-caste/religion marriages must be preferred in Government Services.
2.      We may introduce family planning for all the citizens at par.. We may allow each couple to have only two children with a gap of 3 years without any gender preference. In case any child expires in infancy stage, the couple may adopt one child from the recognized orphanage. Those who abide by this condition must be given incentives.
3.      In case any couple procreates more than two children, that couple must be deprived of all the incentives.
4.      Uniform marriage and succession laws be adopted for all the citizens at par without consideration under any particular religion or traditions of the communities.
5.      There be one national language to be adopted by all the States and the Centre including Judiciary and other organs. If anyone needs the translation of a document in his/her native language, that must be provided on nominal cost.
6.      Every candidate aspiring to be elected to any law making body like Gram Panchayat, Nagar Palika, Town Area, Nagar Nigam/Municipal Board, State Assembly, Legislative Council and Parliament  etc. must have minimum education qualification with minimum and maximum age. These candidates must  have no previous conviction by any court of law, no special privileges, no secret foreign bank accounts with the highest integrity, not to indulge in empty talk about helping the poor but instead amass fortunes for themselves or their families.
7.      Similarly, every voter must have minimum education qualification with minimum and maximum age. We must have political leaders who are genuinely patriotic and who work for the welfare of the people.
8.      We must set up a 4 year or 5 year national scientific plan for reconstructing the economy, raising the standard of living of the masses and reducing the imports of those articles which can be produced within the country. This must of course be done with the help of top level scientists, engineers and managers. The plan will include setting up thousands of industries, high standard educational institutions, technical institutes and healthcare centres free of cost for the masses all over India.
9.      We must reform our education system to make it employment oriented. Once we are able to employ our citizens appropriately, they would not be able to think over their communal interests.
10.  We must have a re-look upon the working of our judiciary and the laws to provide smooth and speedy adjudication upon the disputes and crimes.
11.   We should fix the prices of most commodities, and then steadily reduce their prices, say by 5-10% every 2 years or so. In this way a common man will be able to steadily buy more goods with the same wage because prices are falling, and so his real wage is going up ( wages are relative to the price index ). In this way the market will keep steadily expanding, and simultaneously industrial and agricultural production can be stepped up, and the increased goods produced will be absorbed in the indigenous market, instead of there being overproduction and a glut.
12.  All religious temples, mosques, churches, shrines and other set-ups be managed with the government interference so that no communal hatred be permitted to flow out and no funds be misappropriated in other than communities’ development.
13.  We must launch a powerful cultural drive to combat present feudal and backward ideas and practices such as casteism, communalism and superstitions, to spread scientific and rational ideas to every nook and corner of the country as at present most of our people are steeped in casteism, communalism and superstitions which they have inherited over the centuries. To change their minds and habits of thinking is an enormous task.
14.  33% seats must be reserved for females in all the statutory bodies and for their grooming up to enable them to work independently in functioning, special drive be carried  out.
15.  We must withdraw all the public offs granted on the religious grounds. Only national days like Independence Day and Republic Day be declared as public off days.
16.  No political leader/official/officer who holds some office in administration must take part in any religious activity organized by any community for any reason/ground.
17.  There must be no official function involving any religious act for inauguration or laying any stone etc.
The above suggestions can be broad general ideas and can not be said to be perfect.  They be considered if someone likes to attempt upon.

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