Saturday, December 20, 2014

Of Terrorism, Religion and Forced Conversions

The world around us is buzzing off late. And not all are for the right reasons. 

Sydney Café attack started it all. Customers of the café went in for their breakfast ended up running out of the café to save their lives. What we saw was absolute irony of the life we live. On one side, there was an armed man, who was out on bail for assault on his ex-wife, terrorizing the customers of the café. On the other side, police and paramedics alike were trying their best to save as much lives as possible with least amount of damage. And then, bizarrely, there were some who were more interested in taking selfies in front of the terror site! Like it or not, this is the kind of world we live in.
We thought we had seen the worst. And then we immediately changed our perception the very next day.

Peshawar attack will go down in history as one of the most brutal and dastardly terror attack. Terrorism is bad and there’s no sane justification for the actions, but targeting kids and that too in a school? More than 130 kids have died and those who remain will carry the psychological scar throughout their life! We know there is no religion in terror and this attack proves just that. Killing innocents is not promoted in any religious scripture. Misinterpreting the scripture and brain washing young folks will not lead them to salvation / a peaceful after-life. And worst of all, the terrorists are fine with the incident with absolutely no remorse. The kind of world we live in.

Terrorism has united the world. But I wonder why did we wait for such a disaster to happen?

Nearer to home, a different but significantly less important fight is going on – conversions. No wait, forced conversions. The present government is rooting for development, which is good and beneficial to the overall growth of the country. There’s another section of the ruling government who are forcing non-Hindus to convert to Hinduism. They call it “ghar-wapasi” or homecoming. It’s like a tug-of-war between the forward moving forces (development) and the backward moving ones (forced conversions and communal statements). Considering the background of the people involved in the conversion initiative and the current political scenario (elections due next year and polarization), all this makes a lot of sense. Personally, I admire what our PM is doing at the national and international level. There’s serious optimism in the country faith-wise and money-wise. We can also anticipate inflow of funds from international entities. But what’s happening o the other side of the rope is taking more precedence in the media – and for rightful reasons. Development should be inclusive, should involve all religions and states. Development should include smaller sections of the society as well with no discrimination. Unfortunately, that’s not what’s happening. The kind of world we live in.

Tug of war image cartoon India development forced conversions
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Personally, I have a different take on conversions. Whether we like it or not, conversions have been happening since the dawn of time. A new religion is formed when a leader rises and shows his followers a way of life and truth. People who were initially of a different religion, “convert” to the newer one. Jews converted to Christianity. Many religions converted to Buddhism post Buddha-era. These are conversions and this will continue. What some sections from the ruling party are doing is “forced conversions” which is totally against the constitution of India. No one can “force” anyone to join their religion. What is this – a race to be the biggest religion? The beauty of India lies in her diversity, let’s not destroy it. There are statements that convey all people will be converted to Hinduism by 2021 or so. Please don’t believe such statements and spread hatred. This will simply not happen and even our own friends whose religion is Hinduism won’t allow it.

None of the above mentioned problems are linked / can be compared. Some are very serious (terrorism) and some are naive (conversions). Big and small, but problem nevertheless.

These internal problems will eventually pass. Sanity will prevail. And India will remain as a country where diversity is applauded. That’s our USP and no one will “forcefully convert” it.

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