‘India’s future depends on secular, democratic ways’

Interfaith dialogue focuses on the need to stay united

Speakers from different religions came together to discuss the importance of staying united and not giving in to politically motivated discrimination on the basis of religion at a seminar held at Guru Nanak College of Arts, Science and Commerce in Navi Mumbai on Saturday.

The seminar was organised to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism. The speakers included Dr. Jaspal Singh, member of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions; Professor Akhtarul Wasey, vice chancellor of Maulana Azad University; Prashant Talnikar, author and historian; and Dr.Satish Kumar Verma, professor at Punjab University.

Quoting a verse by Bashir Badr, Dr. Singh said, “Koi haath bhi na milayega jo gale miloge tapaak se, yeh naye mizaaj ka shehar hai zara faasle se mila karo [No one will even shake hands with you if you hug them warmly, this city is of a new temperament, meet everyone with a little distance].”

Dr. Singh said, “Our perspectives are changing with darkness growing in this age. Earlier, everyone met everyone else with love and warmth, despite differences in religious beliefs. That, however, was long ago and is not the case now.”

History of cooperation

Mr. Talnikar touched upon the rich history of cooperation that the States of Punjab and Maharashtra has shared over the years. He said, “In 1898, Maharashtra faced a severe drought and help came in the form of truckloads of food from Punjab under the leadership of Sardar Kishan Singh. He also rehabilitated 50 children from Maharashtra in an orphanage in Punjab.” Mr. Talnikar reminded the audience of the famous trio of “Lal Bal Pal”: Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal. He said they were from different States but united for the cause of Independence.

Speaking about how it is pointless to discriminate on the basis of religion, caste, class, colour or gender, Dr. Verma said, “I am a Punjabi and I took birth in a Hindu family. I’m a disciple of Guru Nanak Devji and it is my mission to spread this message.”

Mr. Wasey said India is a country where secularism is successful and religious pluralism is at the heart of the Constitution. “Every time politics has exploited the issue of religion, Ram has been exiled, Jesus crucified, Imam Hussain [grandson of Prophet Mohammed] martyred in Karbala and Gandhi shot dead. We should not forget that India’s strength and future depends on our secular, democratic ways,” Mr. Wasey said.

Dignitaries who attended the seminar included Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao, Mumbai University vice chancellor Suhas Padnekar and president of Chief Khalsa Diwan S. Nirmal Singh.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 4:01:19 PM |

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