New Delhi, 25 August 2014: A group of eminent intellectuals gathered here in New Delhi to discuss threats and challenges to pluralism in the changed political scenario of the country after Narendra Modi led Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) grabbed power in the centre in the General Elections 2014. They elaborated at length on ways and measures to save the pluralistic society. The discussion entitled “The challenges before Indian Pluralism” was organised by Forum for Democracy and Communal Amity (FDCA) on Saturday.
In his opening remarks, former Foreign Secretary Muchkund Dubey expressed apprehension about the way educational and cultural institutions are being taken over by people related to Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS).
“They (people from RSS) are taking over cultural and educational institutions. They have already taken over some of them. Indian Council of Historical Research has been given to somebody from RSS. This could the fate of other institutions like ICSR and UGC,” said Prof. Dubey who heads FDCA which was formed in 1993 in the wake of the nationwide communal riots.
He also expressed serious concern at the marginalisation of the minority community from the mainstream of society and politics.
“In all the speeches made by the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi), there was not a single occasion when we heard a word or expression giving an assurance or promise to the minority community for their safety and security,” said Prof. Dubey adding that the future agenda of BJP/RSS is very dangerous. “Their agenda is very dangerous as there is no indication that the government would not take up contentious issues like common civil code or Ayodhya issue,” he said.
Giving a call to all secular forces to get united to safeguard plural culture of the country, Prof. Dubey said that secular forces in India are much stronger than the communal ones. We have to expose faults in the promises of the BJP government and their way of governance.
He cautioned the majority community and government that without taking minority into account, our democracy cannot function.
“No sound democracy can function unless the majority takes conscious view and well planned action to reach out and assure the minority community. Without that democracy cannot function,” he warned.
Criticizing so-called secular leaders he said they use secularism just for political gains.
They use secularism just as slogan only and never do anything for secularism on ground level,” he said and taking the name of Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Prasad Yadav he questioned as to how people who are corrupt in every field can be ideal on secularism.
Taking part in the discussion, Mohammad Salim Engineer, joint secretary of FDCA and secretary of Jamaat-e-Islami Hindi expressed need to reach out to youth of the country to protect constitutional values of secularism and pluralism.
“It is a good sign that people are talking about issues related to secularism and communal harmony. We should interact more and more with younger generation and use social media as well which is an easy way to reach youth masses,” he said.
Professor Prem Singh of Delhi University expressed concern over the trend that educated people are also indulging in ideology of RSS. He said that the so called secular leaders like Mulayam Singh and Lalu Yadav have lowered down image of secularism in the country.
Social activist and Christian leader Father M.D. Thomas said that there are lots of people who have same concern as we have but they don’t find ways to address it.
Emphasising the need of a massive campaign, he said that RSS pracharaks go to village after village to propagate their ideology that’s why they are getting more support. To aware people we should also conduct meetings in various cities and towns of the country, he said.
Professor B K Saxena, social activist Ambarish Rai and Professor Hasan Raza also took part in the discussion.
There is need of proper democracy, not secularism which in essence is a Godless ideology—-Shah Abdul Hannan, political scientist, Dhaka