Bhavya Rastogi –  Perusing MBA at Thakur Institute of Management Studies & Research , Mumbai

All over the world, religion holds a primal place. Every man is said to believe in a ‘god’. Ordinarily there should be no feud in matter of religion, because religion is a personal decision. However, in recent times religion has become an issue and many crimes are committed on the basis of faith. In the 21st century, with the promotion of human rights; this ought not to be so. Whether we realize it now or not, religion plays a very crucial role in the affairs of our nation. Unfortunately, religious issues are deliberately avoided even when our collective future is being threatened by unfounded misunderstanding and suspicion of each other. As religious people, instead of being our “brothers’ keepers” we have rather opted to be our “brothers’ killers” and this is widening the gap for atheism and secularism to destroy our nation.

In my view, we are fundamentally losing grip of the core mission and purpose of religious life and what the various religions stand for. We are more focused on rituals than on the righteousness that all religions teach. In the midst of these religious conflicts caused by religious ignorance, we need to be re-educated on religious issues. We need religious education but unfortunately, the presentation of religious education from the perspectives of Hinduism, Christianity and Islam today seem to portray a conflicting teaching than a message from a common Creator. We know very little about the teachings of other religions as each religious group believes in their superiority and regard the other as inferior. Hence, we need a new vision of religious education, to build an interreligious culture which promotes interreligious cooperation.

It is impossible to have one religion for the whole world; just as it is impossible of having just one medicine for all the illnesses. We need several religious traditions in the world to have a cultural diversity; just like we can have several medicines for a single illness. But what is important is we develop a mutual respect, tolerance and cooperation for all the religions. Interreligious cooperation will reduce the present unnecessary struggle and competition. This will enable and help the various religious group not only the differences between them but also universal values taught by all religions and strong ethical values. All religions promote the same practice of love, forgiveness, tolerance, self-discipline, moral principle, truth and justice. We need to promote religious cooperation and not religious competition. We should have a special day as “Interreligious Day” where all religious people come together to appreciate and celebrate the common Creator.

Competition is of two kinds, one positive and the other negative. Positive competition is where an individual is aspired to be the best without creating any obstacles for others. There would not be any progress without competition. While negative kind of competition is one where the individual aspired to be the best, he also created obstacles for others. Religion is often viewed today as having a negative role in world politics, particularly in cases where a religious revival is perceived to be taking place. The wish to restore religion to what is considered its rightful place at the heart of society is the most notable common denominator of today’s religious fundamentalist movements. In order to achieve their aim, members of such movements may employ several tactics, including violent ones. They justify their use of violence by reason, often referring to a perception that we are not living in normal times, and that exceptional circumstances ask for exceptional measures. As a result, an unusual alliance has been forged in many cases between religion and politics. Hence, it is common today to consider religion as a source of conflict rather than a resource for peace contradicting its prime motive of emergence and existence.

Recently, there has been introduction of Islamic Banking. Also, there have been news efforts by the Christian Association to promote Christian Banking. These should not be seen from perspectives of competition between Islam, Christianity or any other religion but rather a battle for non-profit banking against the present capitalist for-profit banking. We should have secular nonprofit banking systems, where the profits made are shared by all stakeholders including customers and shareholders; instead of the present model where faithful customers are exploited for the benefit of shareholders (who are mostly not even regular customers of the bank).

It was still understandable when there was conflict over money or power, but conflict over religion was not understandable because the very purpose of religion was to create inner peace. Most conflicts in the name of religion are actually not based on religious faith but because of power and money. Most of the misunderstandings over religions are on account of the lack of awareness about other religions.

With the advent of globalization, the world is transformed into a global village. People everywhere talk about money and material value. To a certain extent money is important. But material wealth provides only physical comfort; mental comfort is possible only by faith. A disturbed mind is very bad for health, while a healthy mind and healthy body go together. As rightly said, “Health is wealth”, so it is very important for every individual to create inner peace by practicing love and compassion in daily life. Practicing this is not only important from the perspective of individual but also from the perspective of nation and world as whole for its smooth and efficient functioning in the pursuit of growth.

Thus, we should to try and reduce the influence of the religious factor in the political arena. Typically in such a view, religion is deemed to be a private affair, something between individual believes and their god’s), a relation that should not spill over into the public domain. Whereas religion is expected to limit itself exclusively to regulating human relations between the visible and invisible words, it is politics, on the other hand, which is deemed solely responsible for regulating their relations with the state that they live in. We should practice “Live and let Live”, by practicing love, compassion and mutual respect in daily life.