Showing the Way Forward
President of India Mr. Ramnath Kovind has demonstrated true statesmanship by recognizing the role of Tipu Sultan in Indian history by fighting against the advancing British empire. He deserves appreciation for stating what appears unpalatable for the party that put him in the highest office of the land. Similarly, the retracing of steps by Yogi Adityanath, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, by describing Taj Mahal ‘a gem’ causes relief for all those who were apprehensive about the safety and the security of the 16th century monument of love in Agra. Better late than never, the words from Yogi are soothing for the Muslim minority which was direly in need of positive signals from the Bharatiya Janata Party government in the most populous state of India which is also home to more than 25% of the country’s Muslim population. The two statements are likely to douse fears and bring down the social heat generated in the wake of flip-flop stances over issues of history, heritage and status of minorities within the country.
The practice of resorting to issues pertaining to history and religion are having heyday ever since the BJP stepped into the saddle of Union Government. It serves no purpose in an India that faces monumental challenges of feeding, clothing and providing shelter to one sixth of the world’s humanity.
Religion has thousands of manifestations in the lives of the people. But one would be totally mistaken if he or she were to take religion as the ultimate source of law and guidance in matters of nation-building. Religion as is seen today is an amalgam of scriptural doctrines, their interpretations in various ages and societies, mythology, archaeology, rulings by kings and courts, and the morphing it underwent at the hands of technology. Words and languages in which the divine scriptures were revealed may remain original, but are prone to varying interpretation as per the context.
This being the reality, it will be appropriate to leave history to itself and eschew motivations emanating from it in today’s decision-making and statecraft. Only such a society and nation will be able to prevent revenge and prejudices from clouding their judgement and will help us build an inclusive society based on equality and justice. Little wonder then that most of the Western societies have taken this path and have been able to deal equitably with all within their borders including multiracial immigrants. Barring some aberrations, they deal with the multitudes on the basis of citizenship rather than on considerations of colour, gender, faith and culture.
It is time we all engaged ourselves in assessing our positions and stances on various issues and align them along the lines of justice and fairness. A modicum of consensus on national issues is essential for progress of all and the building of an inclusive society. This necessitates a continuous dialogue on contentious issues and keeping them on the margins without their interference into statecraft. The President has shown us the way forward.