On March 8th Pakistan’s Former President Asif Ali Zardari issued a statement in a local newspaper saying “Baluch separatists should take an example from Indian Muslims”. The statement was remarkable for its truthfulness that one cannot expect from a politician like Asif Ali Zardari. On the same day news emerged that an Indian Muslim Mohammad Shalik 20, was killed by a Hindu mob for dating a Hindu girl. The incident took place in India’s Jharkand state.
It seems India’s secular principles apply only to the powerful elites. Bollywood bigwigs like Shahrukh Khan and Saif Ali Khan have also married Hindu women. And these are not the only examples in the history of Bollywood. There are countless other examples where the powerful elite manipulated the Indian secular law to marry outside their religion. Most of these cases happened in the spotlight of Bollywood. So why the Hindu sentiment remained silent on those occasions. The bitter truth is that India was and can never be a secular state with the its religious and ethnic diversity. Incident’s like this one will continue to happen in a Hindu majority country.
Both Muslims and Hindus of South Asian subcontinent hold their religious values in high regard. Hinduism and Islam both do not permit noncommunal marriages. So the man Mohammad Shalik invited his own death by dating a Hindu girl. If Hindu mob had not killed him, he would have died at the hands of Muslim fundamentalists.
The incident also invites reflection on secularism as an ideology for founding a nation state. Is secularism truly a practical basis for founding a nation? For countries like India with diverse ethnic and religious demographics the answer is a simple “Yes”. But secularism in India has remained an illusion so far. Secularism has been used as an ideology to mislead people into believing that India is a tolerant and moderate nation. Secularism like democracy in Pakistan was never allowed to flourish in India. The religious differences between Hindus and Muslim lead to violent bloody confrontations like the one that happened to Muslim minority of Ahmedabad in Indian state of Gujarat in 2002. Diversity of beliefs inevitably leads to clashes between people belonging to different groups as is apparent by the discrimination against people of color in USA, another so called secular state.
Another recent development in India unmasks the secular impostor face of India. BJP’s Elections victory in India’s largest state Uttar Pardesh that has a population of 20 million resulted in the appointment of a religious zealot Yogi adityanath as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pardesh. Adityanath has been a vocal supporter of turning India into an overt Hindu country away from its post colonial secular origins. These developments, in hindsight, confirm the once held apprehensions of the founding leaders of Pakistan, that Hindus will ultimately try to hegemonise Muslim minority of India.
on the global stage the policies of the current administration of Donald Trump, President of the most staunch advocate of secularism America also seems to be turning its back on secular and plural ideals the country has always stood for. All of it points to only one thing that Secularism is not a viable ideology.