ABU DHABI:The recent inauguration of the BAPS temple in Abu Dhabi by Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlights an interesting irony. This grand temple stands in the Muslim-majority UAE, where secularization is on the rise. This event comes shortly after the inauguration of the Ayodhya Ram Mandir in India. While Modi’s government in India blurs the lines between the state and Hindu faith and undermines minority rights, the UAE moves in the opposite direction. The UAE’s secularization, influencing Saudi Arabia as well, is a significant development in the Islamic world. This shift challenges India’s secular values. The UAE has attracted people of various religions and backgrounds to live and work there. Despite Islam being the official religion, the government allows diverse religious practices. Non-Muslims, forming a quarter of the population, have space to worship freely, with many churches, a synagogue, and a gurdwara present. Hindu gatherings and celebrations are also welcomed. The UAE’s tolerance extends beyond religion. Alcohol and pork are available, and Ramadan fasting rules are relaxed. Women have freedom in dress, and discrimination based on religion is rare. These progressive attitudes influence neighboring Saudi Arabia, where Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) is spearheading modernization efforts by reducing Islamic influence and cutting support for radical groups worldwide. This trend towards secularization in the UAE and potentially Saudi Arabia marks a significant shift in the Islamic world. For India, reduced Saudi funding for conservative mosques could lead to a return to moderate religious guidance for Indian Muslims. The UAE’s example challenges the Hindu nationalist dream of a Hindu majoritarian state, often compared to Saudi Arabia’s treatment of non-Muslims. Modi, at the temple inauguration, praised the UAE’s diversity, contrasting India’s fading secularism. As Hindu residents in UAE face this contrast, it prompts reflection on India’s trajectory. The writer, a private equity investor, emphasizes the importance of embracing diversity and secular values in both countries.

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ABU DHABI:The recent inauguration of the BAPS temple in Abu Dhabi by Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlights an interesting irony. This grand temple stands in the Muslim-majority UAE, where secularization is on the rise. This event comes shortly after the inauguration of the Ayodhya Ram Mandir in India. While Modi’s government in India blurs the lines between the state and Hindu faith and undermines minority rights, the UAE moves in the opposite direction. The UAE’s secularization, influencing Saudi Arabia as well, is a significant development in the Islamic world. This shift challenges India’s secular values. The UAE has attracted people of various religions and backgrounds to live and work there. Despite Islam being the official religion, the government allows diverse religious practices. Non-Muslims, forming a quarter of the population, have space to worship freely, with many churches, a synagogue, and a gurdwara present. Hindu gatherings and celebrations are also welcomed. The UAE’s tolerance extends beyond religion. Alcohol and pork are available, and Ramadan fasting rules are relaxed. Women have freedom in dress, and discrimination based on religion is rare. These progressive attitudes influence neighboring Saudi Arabia, where Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) is spearheading modernization efforts by reducing Islamic influence and cutting support for radical groups worldwide. This trend towards secularization in the UAE and potentially Saudi Arabia marks a significant shift in the Islamic world. For India, reduced Saudi funding for conservative mosques could lead to a return to moderate religious guidance for Indian Muslims. The UAE’s example challenges the Hindu nationalist dream of a Hindu majoritarian state, often compared to Saudi Arabia’s treatment of non-Muslims. Modi, at the temple inauguration, praised the UAE’s diversity, contrasting India’s fading secularism. As Hindu residents in UAE face this contrast, it prompts reflection on India’s trajectory. The writer, a private equity investor, emphasizes the importance of embracing diversity and secular values in both countries.

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BENGALURU: On february 16, karnataka chief minister siddaramaiahpresented the state budget for the fiscal year 2024-25, highlighting initiatives aimed at minority development and promoting the use of the Kannada language in commercial establishments. With a total outlay of ₹3,71,383 crore, the budget includes significant allocations for various sectors, including minority empowerment and educational initiatives.

In a bid to support minority communities, the budget earmarks funds for educational opportunities, including the establishment of Morarji Desai residential schools, post-matric hostels, Maulana Azad schools, and pre-university education institutions. Additionally, the fee reimbursement program for minority students pursuing higher education will be reinstated.

Economic assistance measures include providing loans of up to Rs. 10 crore to minority entrepreneurs for establishing or upgrading micro and small industries, along with an interest subsidy of 6%. The Karnataka Minorities Development Corporation will offer loans and training to silk reelers from minority communities.

The budget emphasizes the development of Wakf properties, allocating Rs. 100 crore for their preservation and enhancement. Furthermore, programs for self-employment among women’s self-help groups within minority populations will be promoted, with a budget allocation of Rs. 10 crore.

Other provisions include funding for the State Minorities Commission, workshops for registered Moulavis and Muttawallis, honorariums for Imams and Muvazzins, and improvements to pilgrimage sites across the state. Additionally, Rs. 10 crore has been allocated for the construction of the Mangaluru Haj Bhavan.

Moreover, the budget mandates that 60% of all offices, stores, and commercial establishments use the Kannada language, highlighting the government’s commitment to preserving and promoting the state’s cultural heritage.

Overall, the Karnataka state budget for 2024-25 underscores the government’s efforts to foster minority development, promote linguistic diversity, and support various sectors crucial for the state’s progress and prosperity.

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