Championing Freedom: Embracing the Call to Defend Democracy

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By Salman Khurshid,  Edited By Adam Rizvi, The India Observer, TIO: The INDIA Alliance soldiers on despite some predictable as well as unpredictable developments that slow us down. But the magic moment will certainly come when all of us will suppress our individual predilections and territorial ambitions to create an invincible reformative force in contemporary politics. There is no choice but to take up cudgels for freedom and democracy, both in deep peril. If we are remiss today there will be no tomorrow for redemption.

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It is an undeniable fact that the Alliance partners have been accustomed to varying political life styles, even sought to grow at each other’s expense. But the collective cost of our failure to unite will be humongous, even unimagined. On the other hand the excitement of marching shoulder to shoulder with partners whose history has been adversarial or at best, aloof, along with the chance of turning a new page in India’s contemporary politics, will stand out as a historical moment. We may still jostle for specific seats but once that is over there will only be winners amongst us all the way to Sansad Bhavan.

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There is speculation that the Pran Prathishta at Ayodhya has already sealed the verdict of 2024. But even as we all join the celebration of the installation of Balak Ram, not all citizens, including the faithful of Sanatan Dharma, necessarily believe that 2024 is about god versus humans. The realm of the spirit and the world of human existence are separate and will remain so no matter how some people choose to describe it. Electoral politics, not spiritual faith will ultimately decide how our public institutions and public life is to be conducted, with perhaps spirituality urging us towards ethics and humanism.

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All societies aspire to a perfect system and Ram Rajya is the ideal of Indian civilisation. But that is not synonymous with uniformity or UCC. India’s plurality offers similar aspirations with different description or conceptions of the concept that forms the basis of Ram Rajya. Islam uses the term Nizam-e-Mustafa. Our effort should be to find equivalence and convergence. Hindu beliefs and Astha were respected by all much before the consecration of Ram Balak and will continue for all times to come. But it is important that it be seen as honest and sincere respect for the majority religion, not surrender to the inevitable working of our system of governance. India must project the persona of Lord Ram as unifier and embraces of entire humanity, not as an object of contention, real or imagined. Whilst persons of different religious faiths of India have their respective beliefs and objects of worship, there is no reason to seek dominance over persons of other faiths.

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There is enough space in India for all Indians and their revered objects of belief. It is of course true that vicissitudes of history have caused very limited, perhaps temporary aberrations in our harmonious collective existence. Time and effort, not to speak of institutional intervention have resolved many such controversies though some have defied satisfactory solutions.

I have no reservation in saying publicly that Bhagwan Ram is paramount in our civilisational perception and all members of Sanatan Dharma deserve to be congratulated for the great event. But equality Islamic civilisation and the Iman of the ummah contributes to the wholesome unified picture of secular India.

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Perhaps all Hindus and Muslims alike will find the moment to demonstrate their solidarity and resonance for Muslim brothers and sisters faith. The real triumph for our society will be in honestly believing in the goodness of all religions. Of course there are people who look for power in religious symbols rather than persuasion; over the centuries this has often led to conflict and confrontation. Democratic India has to abjure such tendencies and underscore Sufi as well as Bhakti spirituality that capture the most humane of religious thought and practices. Mahatma Gandhi’s bhajan Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram…..Ishwar Allah tero naam, conveys that message.

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The political hyperbole marshalled by the BJP to mix politics with religion as indeed the symbolism attached to the Hindutva version of the Hindu way of life, will not overwhelm the constitutional morality of liberal India. The right to autonomous existence without the State taking sides for particular groups, subscribing to equal concern and respect for all will and indeed, must prevail for our sustainable future. The test is not about one region prevailing over others but the respect to varying perceptions within religions. Public mood is fickle and constantly changing. We would not have travelled so far on the road of unity in diversity if uniformity had a lasting impact on Indian society. The principles our founding fathers handed to us need to be preserved and protected against the illusion of numbers. This conviction can be sourced in Ram Rajya if we take the message of Lord Ram to its logical conclusion. That this matters is reflected in the iteration of sab ka saath, sab ka Vikas, sab ka vishvas. It remains for actions to follow the words.

Curated and Compiled by Humra Kidwai

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