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Updated: October 12, 2012 01:34 IST

Rid our body politic of communal poison

Markandey Katju
Comment (51)   ·   print   ·   T  T  

Indians must defeat all those elements that promote and thrive on religious hatred

Though many Hindus and Muslims in India are today infected by the virus of communalism, the fact is that before 1857 there was no communal feeling at all in most Indians. There were, no doubt, some differences between Hindus and Muslims, but there was no animosity. Hindus used to join Muslims in celebrating Eid, Muslims used to join Hindus in celebrating Holi and Diwali, and they lived together like brothers and sisters.

How is it that around 150 years later, suspicion, if not animosity, has developed between the two major religious communities on our subcontinent? Today, Muslims in India find it difficult to get a house on rent from Hindus. When a bomb blast takes place in India the police, incapable of catching the real culprits (because they have no training in scientific investigation), ‘solve’ the crime by arresting half-a-dozen Muslims. Most of them are ultimately found innocent in a court of law, but after spending many years in jail.

This has resulted in tremendous alienation among Muslims in India. In Pakistan, things are even worse for the minorities who often live in a state of terror, scared of extremists and religious bigots.

Watershed

1857 is the watershed year in the history of communal relations in India. Before 1857, there was no communal problem, no communal riot. It is true there were differences between Hindus and Muslims, but then there are differences even between two sons or daughters of the same father. Hindus and Muslims lived peacefully, and invariably helped each other in times of difficulty.

No doubt, Muslims who invaded India broke a lot of temples. But their descendants, who became local Muslim rulers, almost all fostered communal harmony. This they did in their own interest, because the vast majority of their subjects were Hindus. They knew that if they broke Hindu temples, there would be turbulence and riots, which no ruler wants. Hence almost all the Muslim rulers in India promoted communal harmony — the Mughals, the Nawabs of Awadh, Murshidabad or Arcot, Tipu Sultan or the Nizam of Hyderabad.

In 1857, the First Indian War of Independence broke out, in which Hindus and Muslims jointly fought against the British. After suppressing the revolt, the British decided that the only way to control India was to divide and rule. Thus, the Secretary of State for India, Sir Charles Wood, in a letter to the Viceroy, Lord Elgin, in 1862 wrote, “We have maintained our power in India by playing off one community against the other and we must continue to do so. Do all you can, therefore, to prevent all having a common feeling.”

Divide and rule

In a letter dated January 14, 1887, Secretary of State Viscount Cross wrote to Governor General Dufferin: “This division of religious feeling is greatly to our advantage and I look forward for some good as a result of your Committee of Inquiry on Indian Education and on teaching material.”

George Hamilton, Secretary of State for India wrote to Curzon, the Governor General: “I think the real danger to our rule in India … is the gradual adoption and extension of Western ideas … and if we could break educated Indians into two sections [Hindus and Muslims] … we should, by such a division, strengthen our position against the subtle and continuous attack which the spread of education must make upon our system of government. We should so plan education textbooks that the differences between the two communities are further enhanced.”

Thus, after 1857, a deliberate policy was started of generating hatred between Hindus and Muslims. This was done in a number of ways.

Religious leaders bribed to speak against the other community: The English Collector would secretly call the Panditji, and give him money to speak against Muslims, and similarly he would secretly call the Maulvi and pay him money to speak against Hindus.

History books distorted to generate communal hatred: As already mentioned, it is true that the initial Muslim invaders broke a lot of Hindu temples. However, their descendants (like Akbar, who was the descendant of the invader Babur) who were local Muslims rulers, far from breaking temples, regularly gave grants to Hindu temples, organised Ram Lilas and participated in Holi and Diwali (like the Nawabs of Awadh, Murshidabad and Arcot). This second part of our history, namely, that the descendants of the Muslim invaders, almost all, promoted communal harmony, has been totally suppressed from our history books. Our children are only taught that Mahmud of Ghazni broke the Somnath Temple, but they are not taught that the Mughal emperors, Tipu Sultan, etc., used to give grants to Hindu temples and celebrate Hindu festivals (see online ‘History in the Service of Imperialism’ by B.N. Pande).

Communal riots deliberately instigated: All communal riots began after 1857; there was none before that year. Agent provocateurs deliberately instigated religious hatred in a variety of ways e.g., by playing music before a mosque at prayer time, or breaking Hindu idols.

This poison was systematically injected by the British rulers into our body politic year after year, decade after decade, until it resulted in the Partition of 1947. We still have nefarious elements that promote and thrive on religious hatred.

Whenever a bomb blast takes place, many television news channels start saying that an email or SMS has been received claiming that the Indian Mujahideen, the Jaish-e-Muhammad, or the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al- Islamia has owned responsibility. Now an email or an SMS message can be sent by any mischievous person, but by showing this on TV and the next day in print a subtle impression is created in Hindu minds that all Muslims are terrorists who throw bombs (when the truth is that 99 per cent of all communities are peace loving and good).

During the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi agitation, a section of the media (particularly the Hindi print media) became kar sevaks.

Panic in Bangalore

Recently, SMS messages were sent to northeast Indians living in Bangalore and other cities stating that they had killed Muslims in Assam and so they had better get out of Bangalore otherwise they would be massacred. This created panic. When the Muslims of Bangalore came to know of this mischief, they organised a feast for the northeast Indians and told them that someone had played mischief, and that Muslims are not against the people from the northeast.

It is time Indians saw through this nefarious game of certain vested interests. India is a country of great diversity, and so the only path to unity and prosperity is equal respect for all communities and sections of society. This was the path shown by our great Emperor Akbar (who, along with Ashoka, was in my opinion the greatest ruler the world has ever seen), who gave equal respect to all communities (see online my judgment Hinsa Virodhak Sangh Vs. Mirzapur Moti Kuresh Jamat).

When India became independent in 1947, religious passions were inflamed. There must have been tremendous pressure on Pandit Nehru and his colleagues to declare India a Hindu state, since Pakistan had declared itself an Islamic state. It was the greatness of our leaders that they kept a cool head and said India would not be a Hindu state but would be a secular state. That is why, relatively speaking, India is much better off in every way as compared to our neighbour.

Secularism does not mean that one cannot practise one’s religion. Secularism means that religion is a private affair unconnected with the state, which will have no religion. In my opinion, secularism is the only policy which can hold our country together and take it to the path of prosperity.

(Markandey Katju is a retired judge of the Supreme Court and Chairperson of the Press Council of India)

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We Indians are still very much amateur and instead of fighting against factors which are paralyzing our nation, we raise slogans against each other communities. This is very tragic and some crooked persons have taken full advantage of that and this saga will march on in coming days as well (unfortunately). Even though we are developing (in caterpillar mode) in education sector but still educated people like us are very much inclined towards communalism. British took full advantage of that and now it’s the turn of corrupt politicians. We have to grow up or else we will walk on the words said by the English men i.e. Indians are born to be ruled.

from:  Abhinav Prakash
Posted on: Oct 12, 2012 at 11:22 IST

You portrayed Tipu Sultan as role model to emulate.But your research on the subject seems to be limited.Come to Kerala,you will see a chain of temples along Tipu's way of march whose deity idols were desecrated/beheaded.Anyway the good intent behind the article is appreciated.

from:  Bala
Posted on: Oct 12, 2012 at 11:18 IST

Thanks to Mr. Katju for sharing the information. Let us stop and think
for a while that why we should argue and debate for what has happened
in the past. Let us think about the present. Everyone needs peace in
this world. So, let us shed all our differences and get united. To do
this let us come to a common understanding and this can be possible
only if we talk about the commonalities in all our HOLY BOOKS. Read
them, understand and practice. WE should live in this world that no
other person, irrespective of Muslim or non-Muslim should get hurt by
our words or by our actions.

from:  Abdul Musavvir B.H.
Posted on: Oct 12, 2012 at 10:21 IST

A wonderful article which traces the history of communal discord in the
country in simple and most readable language. This article clearly
exposes how the British divided the Indian society to meet their own
interests. How I wish we could have national discourse in India where
politics and society are not mired in communalism!!

from:  Aloke Lal
Posted on: Oct 12, 2012 at 10:17 IST

I think our leaders have totally failed in their responsibility to
achieve a sense of secularism in the people of India. Whose
responsibility is to write textbooks? Whose responsibility is to
prevent hatred speeches? Whose responsibility is to abolish inequality
between the two communities in terms of social benefits(like
reservation, unregulated population explosion, barbaric practices
etc).At the end of the day every conversation at all the events boils
down to hatred among religions. Who is responsible for all these?????

from:  Harish G
Posted on: Oct 12, 2012 at 09:57 IST

@Ramachandran. Let's shed some light on Hindu rulers and their religion; The Manuwadi Hindus destroyed Buddhism in its own land of birth. While Buddhism is widely spread across Asia, it had lost all traces in the land of its birth. Buddha was the greatest emancipator of Dalits and downtrodden in India. He was the biggest challenger to manuwadis till Babasaheb came into picture. But the Aryans/Brahmins infiltrated Buddhism and destroyed it in India. kings like Pushyamitra Sunga destroyed Buddhism on the advise of Hindu scholars and priests. The Aryans destroyed the Buddha Viharas and converted the Buddhist Idols into Hindu gods. Annihilation of Dravidians by Aryans was complete by destroying their livelihood and traditional lands. Hindu rulers were no saints either. Better not to throw stones while living at glass houses.

from:  Syed Kabeer Ahmed
Posted on: Oct 12, 2012 at 08:16 IST

Mr. Katju is looking at history through a black and white lens. Many Muslim rulers maintained cordial terms with their Hindu citizens. But many others (born in the Indian region) did not. Tipu Sultan himself is somewhat ambiguous on this count. Others who worsened relations between Hindus and Muslims were Alauddin Khilji,Firuz Shah Tuqlaq, Shah Jahan (yes his policies were a forerunner to Aurangzeb) and later Aurangzeb. There are extensive written records of Hindu-Muslim riots during the time of Aurangzeb.
It is not intelligent to selectively use history to justify our present situation. Our current constitution should be our only guide and it should be continually maintained in a form good enough to be our guide.

from:  Ashok
Posted on: Oct 12, 2012 at 03:28 IST

Mr.Katju has always been proactive and straight speaker.From the point
of me as a muslim, it is emotionally pleasant to read such an
article.This instills a lot of hope to minorities that all is not lost
but wellfare minded people are still around.I even read quite a few
varied feedbacks and happy to note majority replyers agree with the
writing.I can tell with whatever little understanding of mine, we
donot need financial support/aid packages, but only good healthy
secular atmosphere, I also know there are black sheep in all people.I
feel educating all with quality education and giving a factual history
without bias/prejudice is the core for good common.

from:  Mohammed Saleem
Posted on: Oct 12, 2012 at 01:25 IST

A very thoughtful and fresh article. We need this kind of approach and
mindset for communal harmony in order to prosper. No doubt, History is
marred with all shades of black and white, but our take away should be
the necessity for communal harmony and peace. We need this kind of
mind set to be spread, and taught to out future generation as well, So
that in times to come we can utilize out energy in nation building
rather than spreading hatred among each other.
And a very apt definition of Secularism in the end of passage - a fit
conclusion !

from:  Abhijeet Srivastava
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 23:01 IST

Our body politic is infected with all varieties of poison. Casteism and communalism are the deadliest. While politicians across the political spectrum have ruthlessly encouraged such hatred to stay in power, our judiciary has also done little to prevent the creation of privileged castes and communities at the behest of political masters. Granting special religious status or reserved categories in perpetuity is the surest way to divide and destroy the nation. Katju would be better served by doing some introspection rather than blaming the British rulers who left our shores six decades ago.

from:  Viswanath
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 22:28 IST

India is an inherent communal country, if not political parties would not have given tickets to persons in locations based on majority of people belonging to particular castes in the region. Communalism doesn't mean fight between just two communities. It also includes fights between different sects for business, political and religious supremacy. The government of India itself is communal in appointments - reservations in opportunities and jobs in the name of social justice that is going on for more than half a century.

from:  Prasbad
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 22:26 IST

A very nice & secular article on secularism. Wonderful approach !

from:  Sarim Khan
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 22:19 IST

Mr Katju's intention is noble, but his argument is the old Indian excuse to blame the British for our downfall. I think there is an expiry date for that excuse and it is long overdue. It would be nice if we could address this problem of narrow minded Indian communities in a more matured way. That said, this is a real problem that hampers India's route to peace and harmony. secularism in policy and social life is the only way ahead. Any reference to the British for India's plight or as Ramachandran above has commented about Tippu Sultan and Heyder Ali as plunderers and Allies to the Angraz, it counter productive and is anachronistic. The British, the Muslim rulers and the Hindu ones have played their politics to stay in power among a gullible populace. So it is always the gullible people of India, who are the trouble. I sincerely hope the reasonable among us will understand this irony and be secular in thought and action.

from:  Guruprasad K
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 22:01 IST

Good historical account which shows how far can states go to hold on to power. These very nations today are at the fore front of liberation of the other sovereign countries. It is joke!! We Indians should learn and wake up not to give this advantage to the politicians.

from:  George Highclass
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 21:04 IST

Justice Katju has good intentions and is correct to a large extent. However it is inappropriate to gloss over the facts. The rule of a majority by a minority through violence over a millennium cannot constitute freedom. We should be strong enough to face this head on and yet emerge as ONE India with a common and equal stake in the future of our Union. @Mr Khalid Khan, history, certainly Indian history, will remember and judge Jinnah only for his actions at the end.

from:  Samir Mody
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 20:51 IST

Brilliant and a timely article by Mr.Katju. This should instill some more confidence to the minorities of our society. The term minorities imply that they are only less in number and not in any other sense. The British are indeed responsible for the birth and growth of communalism. How I wish they took away the mess they created along with themselves. It has sufficiently played its part in eroding and corroding the diversity of this country. Secularism both in letter and spirit is the only firepower against communalism.

from:  Vijay Seshagiri
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 20:01 IST

The most amazing comment on the op-ed is the following:"Never in any period of history Hindu's have prosecuted people belonging to another faith and if we properly go by the meaning of secular it's only Hindu." What about inter-caste violence? Is persecuting people of one's own faith somehow morally superior to persecuting people of another faith? What was Dr. Ambedkar's struggle all about? It does not help to make such simple statements instead of realizing that our politics is based on violence that has little to do with religion. Religion is exploited to justify and rationalize violence and we need to see through that. That is the point Justice Katju is trying to get across.

from:  Anjum Altaf
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 19:27 IST

Justice Katju has referred more than once that once to Muslim invaders who broke Hindu temples. But he has missed the point that this was not a war of religions. Temples were where wealth was located and invaders were after wealth. The destruction of temples was collateral damage. Those who read history know that in those times, Hindus of different sects also broke each others temples just as subsequent Muslim invaders clashed with entrenched Muslim rulers. Justice Katju has overlooked this point but there are some really simplistic comments about Aurangzeb, Tipu Sultan, etc. Hindu rulers did equally horrible things to other Hindus. The point is that there were good rulers and bad rulers; their religions had little to do with their conduct. In that sense, Justice Katju is right; the type of communalism we see today is a very late development and it has a lot to do with the emergence of electoral politics.

from:  Anjum Altaf
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 19:21 IST

@ Vinay and Narendhra Apte. I agree with you. I wonder whether the British actually did India a favour by once and for all ridding it of all Islamic Mughal leaders. All had their eye on forcefully converting India into an Islamic empire. Destroying the indigenous culture of Hinduism. Even now Pakistan has designs on our destruction, along with various Islamic groups both abroad and internal.

from:  Vipul Dave
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 18:21 IST

I applaud on the Mr Katju's objectives but can't agree on his half baked truths.His article assumes that the reader is ignorant and doesn't have critical thinking.

from:  Rakesh Bhatt
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 17:51 IST

Justice view's are judicious !Wise words from the wise man,who have discovered the truth wisely!! My kudos to him.

from:  Syed Mohamed Gani
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 16:44 IST

It is true that many temples are demolished by some Muslim rulers/invaders. We should teach history to children without offending such historical truths. These historical truths will become evident when travelers or yatris visit these historical monuments or temples, so there is no point in hiding historical truths.

from:  Raghunarayan.M
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 15:29 IST

Worth reading and need to propagate this message across the length and breadth of our nation, repeatedly as we sometimes see that this message is not properly heard and contained. There is nothing common in India to put it as one entity, apart from the feeling of Secularism. More than anything we are all Indians and then follows the various subdivisions of caste, creed and colour.

from:  Sunny Varughese
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 15:13 IST

Atlast an article asking us to have communal harmony in our country at
the time when there is hatred among communities and guess who is
writer? the candid retired supreme court judge-a commendable job sir.
we(hindu & muslim) should respect each other's religion .mutual
respect is the most crucial thing in any relation .while there will be
some people who will find fault even with this article(it's in our
blood to find fault, even with lord RAM).they will say that not only
muslims demolished temples but hindu also demolished mosques or any
other petty issue which is not the idea of article but one should not
underestimate the idea of being ONE described in article.the idea of
article is to respect each other's rituals and religious beliefs.i am
sure that people will change with time if not invoked by some cheap
politicians for their own advantage.

from:  Deepak Madan
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 14:46 IST

Mr.Katju has conveniently omitted reference to Jaziya imposed on Hindus as well as the fact that all text books only refer to "Akbar the Great" and the likes of Hyder Ali and TipuSultan as freedom fighters. While both Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan were not only allies of the British for a long time, they were responsible for the plunder and destruction of Seringapatna temple. The purpose of stating this is not to foster hatered. But if you deliberatley start painting some these rulers as symbols of communal harmony the execise will only be viewed as appeasement and only further polarize the communities

from:  Ramachandran
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 13:24 IST

Cheers! Mr. Katju. In addition, Indian history do not speak about the
contribution of Jinnah for the struggle of Independence.(refer Jaswant
singh's book on india-partition-independence).

from:  Khalid Khan
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 13:19 IST

Very good article. But in my opinion no reservation at any stage should be made on communal basis but on the basis of poverty line so that every body gets equal opportunity.In case there are more number of poor in a particular community they shall get benefit proportionately. I do not think we can undo partition but Britishers played their game unto the last moment of their rule and put us in trouble as long we do not start thinking in right direction.

from:  Madhusudan Namjoshi
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 13:02 IST

Mr. Katju has made his point without ambiguity. I still fail to understand the policy of our present political parties vis-a-vis the policy of the then Britishers who ruled our country. I have asked may people who say they were happier during the pre independence days.

from:  S.Narayan
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 12:56 IST

How did Markandey Katju conclude 1857 as the year when rift between Muslim and Hindu started. As I know it all started under mughal rule in north and Tippu Sultan rule in south, the atrocities done by these rulers to people believing in Hindu and Sikhs are well known. Role of British is like pouring petrol over fire.

from:  Sakeesh
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 12:26 IST

One version of history can bring in another version of it to conflict.
But it is important to base our thoughts on what is good now and for
future. Modern social systems are based in equality and individual's
freedom . Scientific thought has made life more profound and elevating.
Peace is realised as a way of life. Delving in the past should be merely
academic. The author has been clumsy and unmindfully discovering a
common enemy to the two communities. As poor a tactic as of the British
secretary.

from:  S.Sistla
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 12:11 IST

Complete harmony and unity among all communities, is a prerequisite of peace and progress. But unfortunately it is fast becoming a mirage. It would be quite pertinent to find out why today’s distrust has arisen. In case of a large section of Muslims who believe that their Prophet is the only supreme authority and they cannot do anything which is against their faith in Him, we find that there is chance of a conflict with our constitutional provisions. Secondly, we are not ready to do any introspection. For example, a right or wrong perception persists that Muslims do not wish to limit size of their families. There is fear among a section of Hindus about declining growth of population of Hindus and the perceived uncontrolled growth of population of Muslims. Influence of the fundamentalists is growing among sections of both Hindus and Muslims, which is not desirable. But without a self examination nothing much will be achieved. We must be ready for this.

from:  Narendra M Apte
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 12:08 IST

Communal harmony is the only way a state can prosper. The poison
injected in the generations will not fade so soon. Even after
demolishing hindu temples, muslim emperors worked for communal harmony
because that was necessary for their empire. Now a days, communal hatred
is necessary for the survival of demagogue leaders and that is why we
are still not able to forget the pain of partition. These netas will not
allow us to forget.

from:  Rajesh J
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 11:47 IST

Forget all the past and start with only one thought "The only path to unity and prosperity is equal respect for all communities and sections of society".

from:  Alok Kumar Jha
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 11:40 IST

Justice Markandey Katju ‘s article is commendable but to modify truth to satify some section of people is not welcomed. Vivekananda said,“Truth does not pay homage to the society. Society has to pay homage to the truth or perish."Hindu India would have brought peace and prosperity in India on the other hand secularist policy of our leaders is what we are paying now in the form of communal wars. Never in any period of history Hindu's have prosecuted people belonging to another faith and if we properly go by the meaning of secular it's only Hindu.

from:  Kalyan
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 11:32 IST

As it is aptly said in the article that only secularism can bind India
into one nation and take it towards prosperity,unfortunately secularism
in India is defined in a different way.Secularism in Indian context has
remained not less than opposing or disregarding one's own religion and
this is more evident specially in the political class.If we can really
understand and implement the real definition of secularism in our heart,
our country will surely head towards prosperity and would set an example
for the world.

from:  Shobhit Srivastava
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 11:31 IST

Very nice article at right time. The literature shows good insight of the writer towards India's problem. This type of thinking and education is required for India to move forward rejecting all religious fanaticism views. Every word is showing a message of peace and harmony..

from:  Suraj
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 09:28 IST

Well said. Excellent thinking. Very good writing. In today india, the mentioned facts are sadly true. Today communal harmony is absent from social life. In my opinion both community is responsible for this. Also the bad practice of politics by some national party is ruining the remaining harmony.

from:  Md Marghoob Inam Naghmi
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 09:26 IST

Surely, this must start with the Constitution declaring India as one Nation under one set of laws.

from:  S. Suchindranath Aiyer
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 09:15 IST

Justice Markandey Katju ‘s article is well intended for safeguarding
our Independence, without Indians falling prey to communal passion.
However he misses some of the points happening in modern India.
Three civilization powers are now competing and nurturing the divisive
forces of India. These are Maoists aligned with China, Christian
evangelists with the West and Jihadis aligned with Islam.
Justice Katju is known for some plain speaking…but conveniently
forgets brutal exploits of Tipu Sultan in Kerala. He forcefully
converted Hindus to Islam. Those who opposed his tyranny were cruelly
persecuted. In Malabar, over four lakh Hindus were converted to
Islam. It is well known that he forcefully converted 200 Brahmins in
Calicut and made them to eat beef in 1788. Wasn’t this before 1857?
Tipu Sultan wanted to establish an Islamic empire in the entire
country, along the lines of the Mughal Empire

from:  Vinay
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 08:43 IST

Communalism has been a scourge of India for hundreds of years.The seeds of communalism,as per the learned author,have been sown by the British rulers.The scourge is deeply rooted in the minds of Agent Provocateurs who are still active in dividing the communities for self serving reasons.It devolves primarily on the religious leaders of various religions to constantly strive for communal harmony by inculcating the spirit of harmony in the followers of the faith by repeated sermons. No religion ever preaches religious violence or hatred but preaches only brotherhood and compassion among human beings.We might have obtained political freedom from the Britishers but it should be complemented by getting the freedom from the Britishers' mischief of " divide and rule " made possible by the invention and introduction of communalism in Indian social fabric.Communal harmony should be stressed by celebrities of all kind as often as possible so that it is ever uppermost in the minds of Indians.

from:  G.Rajaram
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 08:41 IST

Great article by Justice Katju. Even till the 1980, as I grew up in Madurai, I have been part of religious festivities when Hindus and Muslims would join hands. Only later, we have seen extremists trying and once in a while succeeding in creating communal tension. It is important for the vast majority of the Indians see through this plan and stay united.

from:  E. Arunan
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 08:38 IST

An interesting article this; there are several Charles Woods in the
polity today especially the Congress who would wish to put one
community against the other merely to encash the vote bank. Coming
from a region which is now a truncated district which has a famous
Muslim religious centre, a Christian pilgrimage centre amidst hundreds
of ancient and famous Hindu temples and where the people of various
denominations live in peace and prosperity. The most famous shops are
run by Muslims which the Hindus patronise liberally and where a
medical college and hosptial is being started by Muslims. We are
indeed proud of this. These are done quietly and unostentatiously.
All said and done, inter-religious amity is one that grows
automatically and is not that is spurred by columns in newspapers.

from:  S. Subramanyan
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 08:36 IST

Unfortunately we live in era where the Government interferes in every day religious matters. Government nominates Chairpersons to religious entities. Case in point Tirupathi TTD. Wakf boards etc. Religious heads have been effectively marginalized and they have absolutely no say in any matter that is remotely related to religion. Governments succumb to the pressure of religious bodies and amend Criminal procedure code to exempt a religion. So long we have government interference in the religious matters we will have sections of the societies manipulated and provide fertile grounds to breed the hatred. Religion and politics should never mix. To this effect Government should stay away from administration of any religious institution. Let the followers take control of their institutions. Let the government watch if any state laws are broken. Nothing more is needed from them.

from:  Krishna Dammanna
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 08:15 IST

Communal sentiments are certainly not restricted to religious communities alone but runs equally among linguistic, ethnic, sectarian, tribal and sub-religious groups. And the fact that the author ignored them completely doesn't mean that hatred and animosity is not found among such groups. Infact division, separatism and violence borne out of conflicts of cultural or linguistic identity is not only common but also abundant across both time and space in India. Unity in diversity is nothing but a rosy myth perpetuated through school books. I also find the author's claim that pre-1857 India was bereft of communal hatred too hard and too rosy a claim to believe. I would like the author to cite peer-reviewed publication for the same and not some propaganda literature.

from:  Rajkamal Goswami
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 07:54 IST

Before 30 years elders in the society like our parents, grand parents never use to talk about good and bad people by religion. The communication aids for hearing and seeing bias media and radical religious people who are high up in our feudal society not worried about the people in the lowest level. Also in last 20 year i see educated youths becoming more and more religious and following old superstitions. Hence i feel our education system should change.

from:  Rajesh Kumar N
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 07:35 IST

Hope to see more of this kind of posts.right education can change anything, just change the textbooks. Make a committee who should change childrens' books every 2-3 years. Not because there are new things coming up daily, but because new and scientific ideas to enhance childrens' education are coming up daily. Why teach our children the ancient way. When will we become intelligent enough to know modernizing children education is more important than modernizing warfare (although which is no less important, but my point is the comparison of importance).

from:  Aman Sinha
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 05:39 IST

The learned judge conveniently omits atrocities committed under the
Mughals even at the end of the dynasty, under Aurangazeb. He beheaded
Guru Tej Bahadur for protecting Kashmiri pundits fleeing from the
Mughal conversion threats.He seems to forget that the Mughals were as
much invaders as the British. Why is it that to be "secular", one
needs to be blatantly pro-Muslim invaders and anti-Hindu. The true
first war of independence was fought by Chatrapathi Shivaji against
Aurangazeb. The judge may consider Akbar to be the greatest emperor --
each of us are entitled to individual standards of greatness.

from:  Jay Ravi
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 04:08 IST

In 1857 a few British decided to divide about 400 million Hindus and Muslims. One hundred and fifty years after that these so-called educated Hindus and Muslims still haven't had the sense to come together. 150 years is too short a time for Indians to undo what the British did in a few months. That speaks a lot for the intelligence of these so-called educated Hindus and muslims. In maybe another 150 years Indians will learn more sense and stop blaming the British?

from:  K. Raghunathan
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 04:06 IST

The current situation is not so different from the past - UPA plays the muslims against the Hindus and the BJP plays the Hindus against Muslims. CPI plays the poor against the corporates while the other parties plays the rich against the poor. This cycle would continue until, the people realizes who the real bosses are and that force themselves not be gullible.!!!

from:  Bharat
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 03:20 IST

Wonderful article. I completely agree with the author that people with vested interests are
putting the intrinsic tolerance of our people to test. Should we not be re-educating our
children to undo the learnings of the past. Our children today are the best hope for a united
India in the future.

from:  Sheila
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 02:32 IST

I applaud Mr. Katju's offering a counterpoint to the unfortunately much too popular view of India's history as an epoch of Muslim tyranny on the Hindu people. However, I must say that using historical justification to promote communal harmony is a double-edged sword. People of all regligions ought to live harmoniously not because they have done so in the past, but because communal haromny is in itself a commendable goal. The argument for secularism and communal harmony must not present history for justification. That history happens to be supportive of these ideals in this case is a welcome side-effect but not an a priori necessity. People ought to be supportive of secularism and communal harmony even if there were to be a periods of tyranny and intolerence in their history.

from:  Dan Beniyaz
Posted on: Oct 11, 2012 at 01:51 IST
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