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The religious landscape in South Asia reflects dramatic irony of Hindus

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Abhishek Mishra
Abhishek Mishra
Strategic analyst and political commentator with two decades of experience in Security & Investigations industry currently leading a multinational at S Asia

South Asia is similar yet different in many ways. The people of the region speak many languages but Hindi and her forms is widely accepted language in the region. All countries of South Asia have costal boundaries. In terms of food habits, from Myanmar in East to Pakistan in West, from Afghanistan in North to Sri Lanka in South have similarity in food preparation and dishes. Once the people of the region are out of South Asia, many willingly identify themselves as Indians. Beside the demographical similarity, people of the region have brownish skin with facial features different from the West or Africans or S East/ North Asians. In recent case of Russia-Ukraine war, most students of South Asia carried the Indian National Flag. However, the South Asian region is widely divided by the faith and acceptance of religious practices.

The first instance of South Asia moving away from Hinduism happened when home grown new religious practices became popular. It made way for spread of Buddhism and Jainism. However, in essence they remained similar to the Hinduism. In the long run, Hinduism prevailed as the main religion while these comparatively new religions spread to other parts of Asia. In modern times, Sri Lanka remains as the only country with large Buddhist population.

The second wave of change happened when central Asia invaders came to convert and rule South Asia. This led to expansion of Islam with S Asia being a region with one of the largest number of people following this faith today. Bangladesh, Pakistan, Maldives is predominated by people of Islamist faith. British too left footprints of Christianity in South as well as East of South Asia.

Now if we look closely at the religioous tolerance towards other religions in different countries of South Asia, interesting statistics emerge.

Hindus while being the most dominant religion in South Asia has no country recognised as a Hindu country. Nepal, the only Hindu country, declared itself a secular country under pressure from North Asian countries. Pakistan has a declining minority population. At the time of independence, minorities constituted 25% of the population while today account for less than 3%.

Sri Lanka adopts Buddhism as its official religion and there has been a civil war in the nation based on religious and language discrimination.

Bangladesh which owes her independence to Bharat- a Secular State, declared herself as Secular at the time of independence. However, within five years of independence, Bangladesh became a Muslim nation adopting Islam as the official religion.  

Myanmar has 90% of the population as Buddhist and Hinduism is the fourth religion in the country. After British rule, Christianity is the second largest religion while Buddha’s statue is present in many Hindu temples in the country.

India i.e. Bharat a declared secular state after 27 years of independence wherein minority enjoy more rights and privileges than the majority. Sad but true unlike all her neighbours, she is a country wherein “minority” Maulanas are paid employees of most state governments while Hindus priests are chided away. Hindu practices are neither taught in temples nor allowed to be followed in name of modernisation of the country while minorities continue to enjoy access to their age-old custom of triple talaq and multiple marriages.

In short, the irony of Hindus in South Asia is highlighted in the fact that once the bed of Vedic science and knowledge, not one of the 8-10 nations follow Hinduism as the main religion. Barring Hindu dominated Nepal & India; all other nations of S Asia officially follow and promote single religion practice carrying deep routed hatred for Hinduism.

Anyone who says that Hinduism is not in danger is oblivious to historical fact that not very long ago, entire South Asia followed Hinduism. Today no country does. In fact barring two, others have declared themselves to be Buddhist or Islamic nation. The irony of irony is that those two are Hindu dominated where they don’t enjoy the privileges’ of being the majority.

The epitome of this irony is that when M F Hussain made highly objectionable pictures of Hindu Goddess, he was awarded honorary citizenship by Qatar. A secular India did not protest with Qatar! However, when a spokesperson of right-wing party in the heat of moment makes objectionable comment during a debate as her God is laughed upon, she is sacked in Secular India because the same Qatar raises objections.

The plight of Hindus in S Asia which has partially been because of Congress party policies and partially because Hindus never realized their strength and awakened. However, the way Hinduism is rising, it a matter of couple of decades that S Asia will fall back on her original faith and practice. The noise by Muslim nations on a trivial TV debate is the testimony of the rise. Sooner or later, BJP will regret the decision. Jai Hind!  

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Abhishek Mishra
Abhishek Mishra
Strategic analyst and political commentator with two decades of experience in Security & Investigations industry currently leading a multinational at S Asia
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