Tolerance in India is a hot topic. We all have witnessed several debates within last few months over the topic whether India is a tolerant country or not? There are some questions that must be answered before we discuss tolerance in India.

– What does the word tolerance mean?

-What is the benefit to the politician by raising this question?

-What is the significance of diversity of culture, tradition, values and religion in India?

-Do we really know and understand the history of India?

-Are we so ignorant that these leaders can misguide us in the name of religion?

Let us try to find out answers of above questions and know whether the topic tolerance in India is really worth discussing here or not.

Do we really know and understand the history of India?

We all know that India is a land of diversities. We have numerous languages, cultures, religions, traditions and ethnic groups which are way different from one another. We also know that these groups have lived together from the period unknown. These groups have lived together peacefully for several hundred years and are still living here.

One must remember the fact that India is not a country that was established by some people. It was a region that was known as Indian sub-continent and numerous different societies developed in this area. All these societies had their own culture, tradition and values. They learned to co-exist. If you turn the pages of history, you will learn that there were numerous kings from different cultures who tried to rule this entire region. For example Mauryan empire was the largest to have ever existed in the Indian subcontinent spanning over 5 million square kilometres at its zenith under Emperor Ashoka. Ashoka reigned over a region that stretched from the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan to the modern state of Bangladesh in the east. It covered the entire Indian subcontinent except parts of present-day Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Emperor Alexander created one of the largest empires of the ancient world that stretched up to northwestern India. Then we have name of Muhammad Bin Qasim who conquered Sindh, Balochistan and southern Punjab. Thereafter, we know that Mughal empire included nearly all of Indian subcontinent.

There have been numerous other such empires that ruled most of the Indian sub continent founding a ground for the development diversified and multi-traditional culture. Different religions, philosophies and traditions took birth and grew in this environment which were not at all hostile to each other.

People of diverse cultures and traditions came closer under these emperors. They got to know each other and learn from each other. There was great exchange of cultural and traditional beliefs among these different ethnic groups under these rulers and thus a new kind of culture and civilization developed in Indian sub continent. The people who followed this culture did not tolerate other traditions and values but they respected these values.

Now what does tolerance mean?

we tolerate those things that we do not like or the actions or activities which are despicable or inferior in our views. But these traditions and cultural activities are part of our daily life. Indians respect faith of each other. We must respect others belief that is what we have been told by Indian scholars.

India is proud of having numerous scholars like- Buddhists, Hindu scholars, Muslim scholars, Jain scholars, Sufi saints, divine souls like- Adi Shankracharya, Guru Nanak Dev, Mouinuddin Chisti, Kabir Das, Rahim Das, Gautam Buddha, Mahaveer Jain, Swami Vivekanand and numerous others. All these spiritual leaders taught us about respecting every religion and peaceful co-existence but we forgot their teachings and now talking about tolerance as if our neighbor or a friend who is follower of other religion is doing something that is hateful.

No, we should not talk about tolerance but we should talk about respecting thoughts and beliefs of other people. We must understand our history and realize the fact that no religion suddenly entered India rather all these religions and people have been co-existing with each other for thousand of years.

What is the benefit to the politician by raising this question?

British tried to divide us in the name of religion, caste and groups by creating books that were full of false history telling us that all these great rulers and religions were invaders. That is not the fact. They did so for their personal interest.

I agree that there were battles among numerous emperors of different beliefs. But like two kings in order to take control of others’ region, they fought battles. These wars were never a war between two religions but wars between kings. We must try to accept the fact that kings like Akbar, Jahangir and Tipu Sultan had numerous Hindu soldiers in their armies. There were also a lot of bloodshed in the name of religion still we overcame such situation and got united to start afresh several times.

We must take lessons from history. How those people learned to live together. What happened when our ancestors fought with one another in the name of caste and religion. Whenever we fought with each other, a foreign community got a chance to exploit us.WE bathed in the blood of our own brothers and sisters. Kins were lost on both sides.

However, we must not debate over history but must remember that we all have been living here for several thousand years and every one has equal right on this land.

There is no place for words like intolerance, tolerance or hatred in India. Indians have always respected every thought, philosophy and tradition. It has welcomed different communities with open arms. It has given shelter to numerous communities and minor religions. We must talk about peaceful co-existence, love and development of each and every Indian.

India has been a secular country since the time when no body had heard about this word. When people did not know what does religion mean. When several religions had not even taken birth, there were already several religions in India. King Ashoka had already talked about peaceful co-existence.

Are we so ignorant that these leaders can misguide us in the name of religion?

Now, since Indians are emotional and quite religious, it becomes easy for leaders to divide us in the name of religion, caste and creed. This is the same policy that was adopted by British. However, gradually Indians are becoming more aware of such tricks adopted by politicians who can go to any extent to win elections. It is always politicians who for their personal benefits let genocides take place.

Indians must focus on development, employment and welfare of poor and farmers. We must vote for the leaders who talk about development, growth and welfare of every Indian. In place of leaders who talk about the welfare of particular caste, creed, ethnic group or religion because when you talk about particular caste or religion you become divisive. In place of talking about particular caste or religion we must talk about all oppressed. Leaders must try to become champion of every Indian’ cause instead of becoming a champion of a particular community’s cause. Boycott such leaders who add religion to any crime or criminal. Boycott the leaders who try to play divisive politics in the name of caste and religion.

Though it is also true that there are communities which have been particularly oppressed for hundreds of years but they all must be recognized as oppressed Indians and not by their religion or caste.

There must be committees established including representation from every ethnic group, religion and caste for the welfare of minority and suppressed. So that without dividing people in the name of caste and religion, government will be able to knowing the issues and complaints of every group and find solution to those issues.

Such a committee must be an autonomous body that will suggest government to do whatever is required to be done for a particular group. There must not be particular parties established in the name of any particular religion or caste. Though every party must have representation from every ethnic group.

Like central government officials are posted in various areas, the elected leaders after election must get posting in different locations whether they belong to that area or not. There work must be evaluated every year and if they are unsuccessful in resolving the issues of that area, they must punished someway either by transfer, salary cut or losing their power and post.

People also must have right to request to election commission to change the leader of their area through an application process, a secured online voting and evaluation of the work done by that leader by an honest committee made up of judges, investigation team, scholars and government officials.

Thus, I think true secularism and democracy can be established in India and we shall never have to discuss tolerance in India.