Diversity in Unity
As Eid will be celebrated and followed by a spate of festivals-Raksha Bandhan, Ganesh Puja, Durga Puja, Diwali, Christmas by the year end one can feel that people of each religious community have something to rejoice about.
Alas, our country continues to be divided on religious lines. The author attempts to record some typical examples of this division and reasons for some of them.
Go to any city in our country and we find specific areas where certain religion specific residents are concentrated. Examples of Muslims are-Juhapura in Ahmedabad, Chandni Chowk and Daryaganj in New Delhi, Sabzibagh in Patna and Mango in Jamshedpur . Such concentration in a specified area is definitely not by law but it should make us think-why is it so ? Is it because they are not welcome everywhere ? Is it because they feel safe being huddled together ?
Within Hindu community there is a trend of micro management on caste lines. In villages one will find certain castes concentrated in a area (usually edge of the village).
Recently, Begaluru- the hi-tech capital of our country saw a housing complex come up- SHANKARA AGRAHARAM priding itself as an exclusive Brahmin community township. To ensure purity of residents it asks for details of gotra of the applicant as well as gotra of the applicant’s father-in-law !
Our own version of Apartheid is being created (not by law- as was the case in South Africa). We find that many communities are actively supporting such moves in housing, education, employment. We as a nation have to get over this approach of religion / community based policies.
Apartheid ended in South Africa twenty years ago, after fourty six years (1948 to 1994). Apartheid- means "the state of being apart". Apartheid was a system of racial segregation in South Africa enforced through legislation by the National Party governments, the ruling party from 1948 to 1994. Under Apartheid, the rights, associations and movements of the majority black inhabitants were curtailed and Afrikaner minority rule ensured.
We should avoid creation of such a situation by law or otherwise.
Religious Discriminations in Education
St. Stephen's College, an elite Christian missionary-controlled higher education institution located in New Delhi shocked many by declaring that it was setting up a quota system that allots 50 percent of its student enrolment for the Christians.
It is estimated that about 95 percent of the college's expenses are paid by the taxpayers and not of any particular religion. Interestingly, according to the Census of India 2011 census figures, Christian population in New Delhi constitutes just one percent. Indian taxpayers are thereby subsidising the selective empowerment of Christians in St. Stephen's College at the expense of deserving non-Christians. Several such examples can be found in other places of our country.
Such elite institutions contribute towards deliberate creation of imbalance in society.
Here it may not be very pertinent, but the practise of creation of elite institutions of learning needs a relook. Physical facilities and availability of qualified teachers for education leading to a specific degree should be uniform. There are instances of students earning say Masters Degree in Chemistry without having done a single practical class in their course. Of course, their certificate shows that they have passed in practicals. It happens not because the student wanted it that way. Resources should not be made available only to elite institutions. If it has to happen at all, it should be self sufficient without any subsidies.
The religion based educational institutions often breed intolerance for other religions. This aspect is highly sensitive and needs to be assessed with care.
All this will ultimately lead to diversity in unity.