The grand debate in the Indian Sub-Continent and beyond
India is seeing a rigorous debate as many historians put it between the Gandhi-Tagore ideology and a ‘presumed’ hardline ideology of a few other leaders. Individuals and ideologies evolve over time and shifting perspectives. No dividends can be earned by retrospectively analyzing the circumstances of the Indian Freedom Struggle, which brought together personalities and laid the foundations of modern India except to kindle divide in an ethnically diverse nation.
The liberals or academia and artists who dedicate their lives to research and culture, shaping our world through thoughts, innovation and science sincerely believe in the freedom of expression and tolerance towards different opinions and healthy debate. Needless to say in the pre-coldwar and post coldwar era, many if not all premier institutions and intelligentsia throughout the world still remain oriented towards the left of center on the spectrum.
Today’s muddled rhetoric in India conveys an abandoning of the key essence of Swami Vivekananda. “The saffron robed monk” whom the world celebrates and one who opened the eyes of the world towards the “sanatan dharm”, is being projected with a great zeal by some Indian groups but his very core principles which are of key relevance today are being buried, some of it due to ignorance and more perhaps owing to arrogance. Disowning the envious and privileged image of Indian society being very cordial and peaceful in nature, alongside privilege Indians and its leaders today enjoy in the globe, relative to many other cultures.
Recalling the global image of India and the world congress of religions, we cannot forget the words of Swami Vivekananda
“I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal tolerance but we accept all religions to be true. I am proud to tell you that I belong to a religion in whose sacred language, the Sanskrit, the word exclusion is untranslatable. (Applause) I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth.” Thus he laid the foundations and aspirations of a modern India, ‘sanatan dharm’, being a tolerant, peaceful, progressive, hardworking society and fortified India’s unique global position.
This quote of Swami Vivekananda from the world religion of congress is more than sufficient to show those projecting the so-called hindutva ideology today that disservice is being done in the name of religion for pure rhetoric and harming the transformation and scientific temperament of the country so necessary for sustained progress.
While the long-standing global power India (known for peace and stability), is going through this unnecessary debate there is another major challenge facing the world in the form of terror, greater than ever before. This is the time India can show its strength and unity on the global stage, than inflict internal damage and attract external extremist elements due to narrow-minded discourses.
Karl Marx, one of the most debated economists, put it aptly when he opined that the ‘world will remain in conflict not for any major cause but narrow sectarian interests’. The extent of this statement although arguable unfortunately seems prophetic.. The electoral dialogue in recent times in countries like the USA and France seem to reflect on the same theory. The day does not seem too far where an institution similar to that of the UN might need to take form to act as a “World Congress of Religions” to try and maintain peace, order and human sanctity.
It is time to ponder whether in the digital age the world is becoming a smaller one and harnessing new highs in advancement of mankind or taking us back in time towards narrower minds and redundant thoughts. One of the simple yet efficient means would be engaging technology through positive forces to educate society and steer it in the right direction with greater force and urgency.