Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Islam in India: The Secular Democratic Project of Lived Pluralism

Comment #108.
February 18, 2009 11:45 am
a version of my post below appeared on:
Islam in India: The Secular Democratic Project of Lived Pluralism
New York Times copyright
February 18th, 2009 8:37 am

Friedman's piece is both courageous and timely. These are words that must be pondered upon as much by the US State Department as by every South Asian.

People like the 17th century scholar-soldier Dara Shukoh, murdered son of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, the freedom fighter Maulana Azad (Gandhi called him "my conscience keeper") and contemporary outspoken writer Salman Rushdie, who stood up to fatwa, all come out of this proud tradition of thousands of years of LIVED secular pluralism. We people of diverse faiths as well as agnostics and atheists, have lived together, grown tolerant of each other in our lush (rather than harsh) natural environment and in the process, discovered treasures in each others' culture.
In India Democracy is not some borrowed western concept. It has emerged out of a lived experience of discursive mingling of Greek, Hindu,Buddhist and absolutely YES, Islamic ideas, not to speak of Sikh, Christian, Judaic, Zoroastrian, Dalit and indigenous tribal ideas.

The Ayodhya mosque demolition and the post-Godhra pogroms are blots on India's secular plural national conscience and character. Still, a billion plus Indians have maintained restraint in the face of such provocations incited by criminal politicians who have yet to be brought to justice. We cannot rest until they are.

However religious tolerance and secular pluralism are not the same thing as developing uncompromisingly intolerant attitudes and policy about hunger, homelessness and inequality of opportunity. Indians badly need to develop that sort of intolerance.

The Indian secular democratic project of lived pluralism which translates as SOCIAL JUSTICE, has miles to go.

Chithra KarunaKaran

No Way no How not Here by Thomas Friedman
New York Times copyright

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