Today, the first brick was laid for Ram temple at Ayodhya the Prime Minister himself. And yet again, we find ourselves in the midst of this long-drawn debate – whether building this temple is truly secular in its spirit? Is not the Prime Minister gracing the occasion a depiction of the intolerant stance of the ruling government?
When our country attained independence in 1947, it was surely a happy moment. But the independence had come at the bitter cost of partitioning our homeland. While Pakistan opted to become an Islamic State, India still chose the path of ‘unity in diversity’ and decided to welcome people of all religions, ethnic groups, and languages into its fold.
Our leaders left no stone unturned to ensure that the minorities felt at home and the majority voluntarily lent their helping hand in accepting everyone as part of their regular lives. However, soon these genuine efforts began manifesting themselves into a giant monster of ‘minority appeasement’ by the regional parties, and later by national parties too.
Come the ’90s, the situation worsened amd the majority (read Hindus) were being thrown out of their homeland in Kashmir, were not being allowed to build a temple at the birthplace of their beloved Lord Rama, and to top it all off, it was these same people who were being called intolerant and non-secular.
As it began going out of hand, people did what they do in a democracy. They elected a government who they hoped would understand their woes and take affirmative steps around them. Soon, it began to change for the better once again.
Article 370 and 35A were revoked to fully integrate Kashmir into India. Witj regard to land dispute in Ayodhya, the Apex Court ruled in favor of facts (making the hard choice to ignore ongoing communal politics) – and Ram Mandir construction is now underway at Ayodhya. However, the voices claiming such moves as intolerant have grown only louder, with the opposition eyeing every opportunity to appease the minorities and widen the trust deficit among different communities.
It is now time the citizens asked themselves certain uncomfortable questions – Is secularism about the minorities, or is it about the peaceful co-existence of all religious and atheist groups? Is the concept of tolerance and peaceful co-existence applicable only on the majority, or is everyone supposed to contribute? Was the dream of secularism of our founding forefathers limited to minority appeasement or was it about ‘We, the People’ which includes each and every one of us? Can we devoid people of their right to worship in accordance with their choice only because they are an elected leader now?
It is time we all stood together to celebrate the happiness of all our fellow citizens irrespective of the community we belong to, in true spirit to the cherished dreams of the makers of our Constitution. While here at home, we people are busy debating the genuineness of this construction, there’s a digital billboard put up at New York’s Times Square in celebration!