All religions are true. They all preach love, benevolence, virtue and make a man civilized. No religion is bad and no religion is superior to another religion. India has unique distinction of having followers of almost all major religions found in the world. People professing to different religions and sects are living peacefully in India since ancient times. The co-interaction among different religions has produced a unique civilization. However, we are also seeing the rise of religion fanatics, who don’t accept other religions as true. They consider only their own religion as the one and only religion deemed fit to exist. Such fanatics have become a threat to peace and security in India.
Religious fundamentalism in India raised its head during the colonial period. The British colonial government followed the policy of divide and rule. To perpetuate its rule in India it highlighted the communal distinction among Hindus and Muslims. It played one religion against another. India got portioned due this very religious fundamentalism. But even now it is posing a serious challenge to unity and integrity of the country. Since independence India has seen thousands of riots when several thousand innocent people lost their life and property. Religious fundamentalism has also result in secessionist demands from several parts of the country. Kashmir, Nagaland, Punjab [demand for Khalistan+ now dormant] and other places are burning in the fire of terrorism .The frequent instances of bombings in different cities are also linked with religious fundamentalism
What is the cause for religious fundamentalism? In my opinion the politics of vote bank is the main cause for the menace of religious fundamentalism. The policy of appeasement of one religion over another by the political parties for getting their votes creates friction in society. Moreover the political parties don’t take care of these people after they are elected. They demand remain unfulfilled. The members of the minority community feel cheated. They say that they are discriminated in recruitments, business places, development schemes etc. They say that their villages, roads, etc are not developed. The rate of unemployment, illiteracy is very high among these people.
The members of the majority community are angry due to continued appeasement of the minorities. Some of them want to expel the minorities and create a Hindu nation. They hold parochial view of nationalism. For them every member of the minority community is a terrorist. There is rise of cyber Hindus who don’t tolerate voice of dissent from minority communities.
The main problem is lack of development and employment. If people are jobless they are an easy target for cunning religious fanatics and foreign enemy states. Also due to lack of education and awareness innocent, gullible young men are get trapped in nefarious designs of some anti-social, anti-national elements. The problem of religious fundamentalism can be solved to great extent by offering or creating employment opportunities for everyone. Unnecessary appeasement should be stopped. Discrimination based on religion should be checked. The government should create a robust mechanism to ensure that innocent people are not framed in terror charges.
Religious fundamentalist should be banned from making public speeches. They should be severely punished if they don’t mend their ways and incite communal violence. Anti-riot forces should be stationed at all the places which have history of communal riots. The proportion of minority community in such forces should be increased.
India is a vast country. The minority communities of India are as large as some of the European countries. India cannot progress if it ignores its minority communities. There are laws, schemes and provisions for them in the constitution. But the need is to implement those laws, rules and schemes on ground. Justice must prevail.
The state has to embrace all the religious communities. It has to take everyone on the path of development. Nobody should be left behind. India is doing remarkably well in protecting the rights of the minorities. It is an example for even the developed countries. But due unemployment and backwardness innocent and gullible people easily get influenced by the fundamentalist. They are brainwashed and incited to do violence and create anarchy.
Religious fundamentalism is a challenge for security and stability of India. Besides using hard power, soft power should also be used to tackle it effectively.