Society & Lifestyle
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|by BS Murthy|
Continued from "Ant Grows Wings"
In Our Constituent Assembly this twenty-sixth day of November 1949, do Hereby Adopt, Enact and Give to Ourselves this Constitution.”
None can fault the lofty ideals of this august document but for the politicization of the testament itself, i.e. by the induction of socialism into it. Strange it may seem, won’t the socialistic slant negate the economic justice that it seeks to provide? After all, socialism, as per the COD, is a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the community as a whole should own and control the means of production, distribution and exchange. How could there be an economic justice for an individual enterprising Indian then? However, mercifully in the end, Narasimha Rao could extricate the country from the Nehruvian socialist grip to leave his legacy of a Sovereign Secular Democratic Republic of India. But that was not before socialism wrecked Indian industry and ruined its economy so much so that the country, for servicing its national debt, had to pledge its gold for all those sterling pounds.
Agreed, the right of the citizen for the profession and practice of one’s religion is unexceptionable as it constitutes the birthright. But, why an ordinary Indian citizen should be concerned about the propagation of his faith for the constitution to grant it to him? Besides, where does the right of an Indian citizen for propagation of his faith leave his fellow citizen’s cultural need for preservation of his own faith? After all, the right of propagation is but the right to spread one’s religion, and one cannot do that without coming into conflict with another’s religious faith, can he?
Hence, one citizen’s right to propagate his faith vitiates the right of another to profess and practice his religion. Unwittingly thus, the Constitution of India, in granting the right for propagation of one’s religion per se takes away another’s implied right for the preservation of his own faith. Besides, to what avail is the right to propagate one’s religion for the citizen rather than to fuel the zeal of the religious zealots for converting?
And what about the ‘Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation’ that the constitution provides for! What of the individual dignity of those Hindus who fall prey for the inducements, known to be offered by the Church, for them to embrace the Son of an alien God! Thus, is not the creed of the Church to propagate its faith that causes the poor of the land to lose their dignity is at odds with our constitutional spirit itself?
Besides, as the raison d’etre of religious propagation is conversion, wouldn’t that individual right prove inimical to the unity and integrity of the Nation? However, going by the hell raised by the missionaries and the mullahs and their political cohorts at any move by the State to disfavour fraudulent conversions, the popular belief is that the right for propagation is without any constitutional strings attached to it! Only when the clamour for the future partitions of India on religious lines picks up, would a Western historian be able to spot the constitutional blind spots that gave rise to the development! Yes, it needs Western intellectuals even to see it all in the hindsight even, for India’s left leaning political analysts are notoriously blind to the realities of the Indian life and times.
Be that as it may, what’s the rationale of religious propagation based on which the framers of the constitution granted that to its citizens? Though Hinduism and Judaism, the world’s oldest surviving religions, are content with their constituencies, it is the Christianity and Islam, the new brands in the religious marketplace that hanker for conversions, of course, having come into being through propagation. Indeed, their religious spread worldwide is owing to their creed as enshrined in their Scriptures per se. If not all, many a Christian missionary and the Musalman mullah strive to turn the world all Christian or all Muslim as the case may be. After all, that’s what their scriptures ordain and their religious creed obliges them to do so.
It thus defies logic as to how our constitution makers, who went about the exercise in the immediate wake of the country’s partition on religious lines, deemed it fit to endorse the propagation of one’s faith, read the Christian and the Islamic, in the Hindu midst! Well, it’s the illusionism of Gandhi that became the idealism of the Congress which influenced the Constituent Assembly of the just-partitioned India. And that shows, isn’t it?
How strange that the Constitution exhibits a singular lack of application of mind of its framers to secure India’s integrity as a constituent country for all times to come. Sadly thus, the wise-heads then, not to speak of the foresight, lacked the hindsight even. God forbid, they seemed to have unwittingly laid the seeds of a future partition of the Hindustan whose wings Jinnah had truncated. But, would this religious error ever be erased from our statute before history gets repeated!
Now, over to the “Freedom as to attendance at religious instruction or religious worship in certain educational institutions” that the constitution stipulates.
The sum total of freedom of religious instruction is that the State, in true secular spirit, is expected to keep itself away from it in the physical sense. Thus in a nutshell, religious education is fine so long as the government funding is not involved! And thus the State is allowed to retain the secular pretence by keeping itself overtly out of religion. One would have expected the constitutional makers to address the content of the religious education and the need for the same to serve the needs of the communities concerned without compromising the general public order and good.
Right, but what if in the name of freedom of religious instruction, the dogmas of such faiths, given to deride the religious beliefs of fellow citizens, are sought to be inculcated in members of that community? Won’t such a move hamper the secular charter of the country besides inculcating religious bigotry in the mind-set of any given community?
Obviously, the framers of the constitution didn’t delve deep enough into the vexatious subject of religious intolerance of the practicing faiths in the country. What is worse, this supposed constitutional religious goodness came in handy for the ugly politician to turn it into an exploitative mask for the Muslim Vote. It is one thing to espouse the cause of the Musalman and another to abet the whims of Islam. Sadly, for the minorities, our politicians tend to be on the right side of the wrong issues, i.e. to curry the Muslim favours to the benefit of none, save themselves.
Is it not time for We The People of India, nearly sixty years after our fathers, or be it grandfathers had adopted the constitution, to factor the new realities into a more equitable document? After all, isn’t the level playing field the theme song of the world today? And the Hindu emotional grievance is that they are denied just that in the religious plane in the country that their forbearers made their own before all else’.
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