5:52 am - Wednesday September 20, 2017

Religious intolerance, Obama and Indian media

Soon after the White House clarification on President Barack Obama’s ‘Parting shot’ at Siri Fort Auditorium on ‘splintering India on the religious lines’, the US President reiterated his views once again, this time invoking Mahatma Gandhi.

Speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast in presence of Tibetan leader Dalai Lama, the US President reiterated that “acts of intolerance that had occurred in the past years in India would have shocked Gandhiji”.

Before he wounded his India visit Obama on January 27 had voiced similar concerns in his Siri Fort address. Invoking Article 25 of the Indian constitution he had said “India will succeed so long as it is not splintered on religious lines.”

The US President in Washington prayer breakfast described India from where “Michelle and I returned” as an “incredible, beautiful country, full of magnificent diversity but a place where, in the past years, religious faiths of all types have, on occasion, been targeted by other people of faith, simply due to teor heritage and their beliefs—acts of intolerance that would have shocked Gandhiji, the person who helped to liberate that nation”.

This statement from the US President in so short a duration of his India visit gave the much needed fodder to the secularist, pseudo-progressives intellectuals and media men to launch a fresh attack on the Modi government and the BJP besides targeting the other Hindu organizations. And the attack was also on expected lines.

Though the US President did not name any particular religion saying that violence is not unique to one group or one religion, the pseudo progressives in India did not miss the chance to launch their tirade against the BJP government and particularly against the Hindu organizations including the RSS.
As expected the Congress took it as an indictment of the Modi government on religious freedom in the context of the recent incidents of ‘Ghar Vapasi’. Maywati of BSP saw a ‘parting shot’ in Obama’s observation. The media as usual saw it as warning to Modi government coming directly from the head of the superpower.

“Religious intelorence in India would have shocked Gandhi: Obama” ran the Indian Express headline, the Economic Times and Times of India carried similar headings, while NDTV went with “Mixed reactions in India” to Obama’s Comments on ‘Religious Intolerance’ But they ignored to what Obama had said about Christians and Muslims. The President did not name any particular religion but clearly stated in his address: “Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country (USA), slavery and Jim Crow (racial segregation state and local laws) all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”

He further said: “There is a tendency in us, a sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith. In today’s world, when hate groups have their own Twitter accounts and bigotry can fester in hidden places in cyberspace, it can be even harder to counteract such intolerance. But God comples us to try. And in this mission, I believe there are a few principles that can guide us, particularly those of us who profess to believe”.

In this entire discourse President Obama did not mention any particular religion or group but definitely made a reference to Christianity and the acts of violence its zealots perpetrated on humanity in the name of Inquisition and Crusades in the early days. He has also indirectly indicated to the happenings in the Middle East Islamic countries and Pakistan.

On the other hand there are views that see no necessity of such an observation was uncalled for and unwarranted. Noted religious scholar and Guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has voiced similar views saying: “Isolated incidents doesn’t mean India is intolerant. Obama should have met religious leaders while in India for better understanding.”

BJP President Amit Shah expressed agreement with Obama on the issue of communal harmony and Home Minister Rajnath Singh endorsed the comments, they felt that these comments were ‘unfortunate’. The White House just a day before clarified on Obama’s Delhi remarks. “I wouldn’t insinuate that there’s any baggage there at all,” putting the debate at rest.

But this new remark from the President just a day after this White House clarification has stirred the new debate notwithstanding the mention of Islamic countries and the “terrible deeds Christians perpetrated in the name of Christ”.

The American President has mentioned at “principles that can guide us” in this mission. What are those principles? As the RSS Chief Dr Mohan Bhagwat had said in his address at the inauguration of the 5th International Conference of Elders of Ancient Traditions and Cultures at Mysuru on Feb 1 accepting the presence of diversity and celebrating it can lead the humanity towards universal well being.

Accepting diversity and honouring its presence is the key principle. This is, unfortunately, not acceptable to the people of other faiths. The Christians claim that Christianity is the only way to human salvation; and Muslims believe in the supremacy of Islam. These Semitic faiths have no room to accept diversity and plurality. They want uniformity. But forget that uniformity is not possible in the scheme of God but there is inherent unity in this diversity. We should try to understand and realise this unity underlying the diversity around us and make this world a conflict-free zone. This is the only solution.

Do you get this, Mr President?

Source : News Bharathi

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