The BJP government has a constitutional responsibility and duty to maintain constitutionally guaranteed freedoms and rights, especially those of the minorities ( >Editorial, Feb.9 ). Episodes of violence and attacks on places of worship of the minorities — Delhi was an example — and ghar vapsi ceremonies with the ruling party’s support clearly demonstrate that the Modi government is lending a helping hand to them. The print advertisements that appeared on Republic Day are another pointer.
If Prime Minister Modi still chooses to close his eyes and pretends that nothing is happening, on the pretext that he does not want to be detracted from his main economic agenda, one can predict problems looming on the horizon.
The government should not only be fair but also seen to be so, apart from being outspoken in its defence of constitutional values. As a proud citizen of this nation, I hang my head in shame at the way we have fallen from the pedestal we once stood on and preached to the rest of the world. We not only spoke of high morals but also demonstrated our ability to live in harmony across a vast nation of a billion people. What heritage are we going to leave behind for future generations of Indians? I would still like to think that the shrinking religious tolerance exemplified by recent happenings such as the ghar vapsi ceremonies and conversions are temporary aberrations committed by misguided individuals who have no basic understanding of the culture of our country.
It would be no exaggeration to say that the minorities are worried after the desecration of places of worship. The BJP cannot take credit for our “huge cultural history of tolerance”. It is time Mr. Modi and his government took steps to reassure the people that religious divergence will be respected. The media must also stand by this and call a spade a spade when atrocities are committed against any group.
It is unfortunate that we have to learn a lesson or two from the sermons of Barack Obama, who has been quite forthcoming in his advice to India. It shows his lack of knowledge of the history and the heritage of a country which has withstood ordeals in maintaining communal harmony over the centuries. Hinduism is perhaps the only religion that gives space to contradictory views. While one has to thank Mr. Obama for reminding us of the need for tolerance among religions, it would have been better had he directed some of his advice to countries that need them the most. In this case, the Prime Minister needs to clear the air.