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Despotism, threatening diversity

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“For great men, religion is a way of making friends; small people make religion a fighting tool.”- APJ Abdul Kalam.

India is known for her diversity across the globe. India is one of the most religiously and ethnically diverse nations in the world, with some of the most deeply religious societies and cultures. Religion plays a central and definitive role in the life of many of its people.

What is religion and their related practices? To me its something that keeps a common man or woman amalgamated to a particular social structure they feel comfortable with or we can say they belong to. A religion is like a Mexican wave, when a huge group of people performs the wave, they show a beautiful symphony and wave of joy, because they do it by their choice. If someone is forced to stop in between, the entire harmony, the entire sync is broken, thus ruining the collective effort. If a religion is curbed of their religious practices that particular community is deprived of the harmony they have in a diverse society like India.

Any individual who does not want to follow certain religious rules by their own will that is completely fine as it is their fundamental right. Freedom of religion, as mentioned in Article 25-28 of the Constitution of India. But banning their practices in the name of equality creates the estranged relation between their society and others. Being a common man keeping aside all political debates, pro-government or anti-government issues, if we think in a liberal way is this how India supposed to be? What is the image we are creating about ourselves across the globe? Can we maintain harmony among the 1.38billion people living here?

Over the past month, several government-run educational institutions in India’s Karnataka state have banned Muslim female students from wearing the hijab, or headscarf. The state government, led by the Hindu nationalist, has backed the discriminatory ban, passing a directive last week saying, “clothes which disturb equality, integrity, and public law and order should not be worn.” Looking at this point of view, Hindus shouldn’t wear any religious dhagas, Sikhs shouldn’t wear their pugris. This act of despotism violates the international human rights law, which guarantees the rights to freely manifest one’s religious beliefs, to freedom of expression, and to education without discrimination.

On the other hand, forcing someone to follow any religious belief is also the violation of the same. ‘Hijab’ is a veil worn by certain Muslim women in the presence of any male outside of their immediate family or sometimes by men, which covers the head and chest. The Quran (Chapter 24, verse 31) instructs men to observe modesty: “Say to the believing men that they restrain their eyes and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Surely, Allah is well aware of what they do.” The notion is totally different than what some so-called nationalists are making out of it. It is their free will whether they want to practice it or not. If we open our eyes, we will find it is not an act of equality it is a strategical step taken to oppress a particular religion in the name of equality.

In December 2021, Hindu nationalists, held a three days religious convention in Uttarakhand, where speakers openly called for the killing of Muslims. These are the act of infuriating a particular religion. These are to be checked first by the authorities to maintain the harmony in the nation, and stop the uprising of void concepts of religious hatred among the society. India’s dignity is at stake because of these people and their puppet warriors. People gave throne to a leader of their choice who would rule the country abiding by the rules and regulations mentioned in the constitution and without disrupting the rights of the citizens. Is this what the government meant when he said he supports girls’ “education and participation.” He needs to act on those words, ensure that schools are inclusive spaces, and safeguard girls’ free will in the matter of wearing a hijab. That is what true freedom and equality means.

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