The pictures of Islamic green flags being waved at Wayanad in Kerala by supporters of IUML during the nomination of the Congress President Rahul Gandhi are disturbing. Srinagar also witnesses open display of ISIS flags after the Friday prayers on a frequent basis. Is multi-culturalism/pluralism under threat in India? Is our liberal secular democracy on the verge of collapse? Attacks on the institutions of democracy like the judiciary, the Election Commission and RBI, attacks on minorities and the individual freedoms, the unrest among the Dalits and the spread of hatred among different communities do not augur well for the future.
Rise of rabid identity politics, globalization, terrorism, technology and mass migrations/ demography change have caused panic not only in India but also in USA & several countries of Europe which are witnessing a drift towards xenophobia & jingoism, majoritarianism and white nationalism. Immigrants are being looked at with suspicion and are being accused of causing cultural pollution and multiplying like rabbits to outnumber the local population. Terrorist attacks have increased in Europe and the social fabric has ruptured because the immigrants want to be governed by Sharia and are not bothered by the niceties of liberal democracy.
The rise of the Modi phenomenon has struck the last nail in the coffin of secularism; one of the pious works of every right thinking Indian should be to contribute in the peaceful demise of secularism. Had it not been for the rise of BJP in the nineties, by now, a good portion of the country would have been Islamized and under Sharia. Even today, Hindus are not allowed to celebrate their festivals in parts of West Bengal that are Muslim dominated. Hindus in Kerala, West Bengal, Assam and Kashmir are demographically losing out against the rapidly multiplying Muslims.
Since the dawn of the civilization, India has been very receptive towards immigrants as can be seen in the arrival of Greeks, Parthians, Huns, Mughal, Arabs, Turks, Afghans, Jews and Parsis etc at various stages of her history. Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam has been the long cherished value of Sanatan Dharma. The migrants have not only been welcomed but also embraced and assimilated in local customs and traditions. Take the case of Kushans. The names of its earliest rulers were Khadphises 1 and 2 but as time passed, the Kushans started adopting Indian names. Vasudeva was one of its rulers in the later phase. How can pluralism be a problem for us now? Pluralism becomes deadly when identity politics seeps into it and all the communities/political parties commence playing their own tunes.
Historically speaking multicultural societies/nations have seen a lot of infighting and situation can only improve if the focus is towards integration and assimilation of all communities by finding common grounds. Most of the multi cultural democracies of the world do not have mixed neighborhoods but ghettos of different communities who feel comfortable in their own zones; these democracies are perceived to be liberal and secular.
Liberal secular democracy is not ideal for India as it divorces us from our moorings, culture and civilization; it is just a European thought embedded in the concept of nation –states. It is a recipe for anarchy and wiping out of Hinduism. It is the duty of the Indian state to protect the Hindu culture and civilization as India comprises 80 percent Hindus. Whenever Hinduism has come in contact with an alien idea and has been challenged by it, its influence zone has diminished. Afghanistan was once a flourishing centre of Buddhism but look what happened to it! Pakistan has been the cradle of Indic civilization but now, it persecutes Hindus. Indonesia, Burma, Tibet & Bangladesh were all under the matrix of Indic civilizations but have been gradually freed from Hindus.
The solution to India’s woes lies in the establishment of Hindu democracy. When I say Hindu democracy, it does not mean Hindu articles of faith but one that allows the simultaneous prospering of different belief systems tied to a common philosophical core that accepts that truth is one but there may be different paths to reach it. Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and Hinduism are basically Indic religions with no conflict with the core Hindu philosophy. It is this underlying philosophy that allowed Hindu India to accept the idol worshipers and the non worshipers, the believers and the non believers without any discrimination.
For the apex judiciary, Hinduism is not a religion because it has no universally accepted holy book and prophet but a way of life. Diversity is the hallmark of Hinduism. India has welcomed immigrants from time immemorial and even encouraged them to assimilate considering them their own. Today’s multiculturalism in liberal democracies is more about accentuating the identity divides and differences whipping up communal passions and leading to intense contestations with other fellow communities.
It has become a fashion to talk about composite culture & heritage. But the moot point is how you can forge a common composite culture with a religion like Islam which says that its path is the only path to reach the truth. How can there be pluralism in a country which has a significant presence of a community for whom non believers are Kafirs? How can there be multiculturalism in a country where there is no respect for national symbols like anthem & flag in the minds of 16-17 percent of the population? How can there be any acceptance of diversity in the country if religion becomes greater than the nation and the constitution for the minorities?
The entire world understands how a monochromatic Islam & Christianity is threatening diversity and how they eliminated different Pagan cultures from the world in their expansion drives. The beauty with Hinduism is that it accepted all and assimilated them within its umbrella like fold. It didn’t advocate for public lynchings and public burnings. Hinduism has been too diverse to bunch its thoughts in a single book.
Various so called liberal democracies that pride themselves on their track records in dealing with minorities have no inhibition in accepting their Christian faith and singing paeans about the Christian way of life and the list includes UK, USA, and France etc. Why are we apologetic about being a Hindu? If Christian democratic countries can vouchsafe for the safety of minorities, why not a Hindu democracy like India? As far as I can see, Hindu society has a better record in celebration of diversity than say, an Islamic or Christian society. Minorities are safe in India, diversity is accepted as a way of life and politicians are able to do appeasement politics unabashedly not because of the constitution but because of the fact that 80 percent of the Indian population comprises of Hindus.
If the nation has to survive, it has to discard secular liberal democracy and opt for Hindu democracy which will be no less liberal due to its inherent philosophy and spiritualism. Hindu democracy will facilitate nationalism. Nationalism may be a dirty word for the left-Congress eco system but for the Indian masses, it is sacrosanct & non negotiable. Hindu democracy will add a soul to our polity.