Priyanka Vishwakarma –  Perusing MBA at Thakur Institute of Management Studies & Research , Mumbai

Before I begin my chapters on the given subject, here’s a famous quote –

I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit. – Khalil Gibran

India has been a mammoth of religion with 216 languages spoken in the country. Within its boundaries are people with different culturally background. It is the only country in the world with such diverse mix of values and ethics. The credit of this cocktail of diverse culture goes to its historical backgrounds where it was ruled by Maurya empires to Gupta rule to Islamic Sultanates. These great rulers brought along with them their invaluable culture. Let us briefly understand the multiplicity of rulers India had.

We would begin by Late Middle Kingdom also known as The Late Classical Age which consisted of Islamic Sultanates i.e. Delhi Sultanate. Further with Early Modern period we had the great Mughal Empire. And post Mughal Empire we had Maratha Empire, Sikh Empire in north-west (consequently). This era was also known as ‘Golden Era of India’. We can see mentioned above the diversity, still a harmony existed among them. THE HINDU dated October 11, 2012 in its article titled ‘Rid our body politic of communal poison’ stated that ‘Though many Hindus and Muslims in India are today infected by the virus of communalism, the fact is that before 1857 there was no communal feeling at all in most Indians. There were, no doubt, some differences between Hindus and Muslims, but there was no animosity. Hindus used to join Muslims in celebrating Eid, Muslims used to join Hindus in celebrating Holi and Diwali, and they lived together like brothers and sisters’. 1857 is the watershed year in the history of communal relations in India. Before 1857, there was no communal problem, no communal riot. It is true there were differences between Hindus and Muslims, but then there are differences even between two sons or daughters of the same father. Hindus and Muslims lived peacefully, and invariably helped each other in times of difficulty. How is it that around 150 years later, suspicion, if not animosity, has developed between the two major religious communities on our subcontinent?

After the golden era, India faced Colonial Era with Company rule in India followed by British Raj. India struggled for independence and at the stroke of midnight on 14–15 August 1947, it achieved the same. But at the same time two self-governing countries of India and Pakistan legally came into existence. This somehow stole the religion independence of the country. It resulted in a struggle between the newly constituted states of India and Pakistan and displaced up to 12.5 million people with estimates of loss of life varying from several hundred thousand to a million (most estimates of the numbers of people who crossed the boundaries between India and Pakistan in 1947 range between 10 and 12 million). The violent nature of the partition created an atmosphere of mutual hostility and suspicion between India and Pakistan that plagues their relationship to this day.

Although we have many religion existing at the same time, but talk about religion discord it largely narrows down to Hindu and Muslim. Today, Muslims in India find it difficult to get a house on rent from Hindus. When a bomb blast takes place in India the police, incapable of catching the real culprits (because they have no training in scientific investigation), ‘solve’ the crime by arresting half-a-dozen Muslims. Most of them are ultimately found innocent in a court of law, but after spending many years in jail.

This has resulted in tremendous alienation among Muslims in India. In Pakistan, things are even worse for the minorities who often live in a state of terror, scared of extremists and religious bigots. One minority religion believes that the other religion in majority tries to persecute them. However there have not been any major riots since 2002. This controlled situation can majorly contributed to the mindset of population from 21st century.

In this era of 21st century, religious harmony should not be talked only on papers but actually proactively instituted. And it is not solely the job of the government but of its people that forms the government. We have leaders who try to play with religious sentiments of a particular group for their own benefit. It is we people who need to distinguish rational from irrational and work collectively to achieve a synchronized religious country.

With more than 70% of the population below the age group of 35, India is soon becoming a nation of young and vigorous population. This coterie of population has a mind of their own which cannot be influenced easily. Hence it should be used as an advantage for the escalation of the nation. With its available resources, India has the potential of becoming the most powerful nation in Asia beating its competitor China only if it can also manage its internal religious atrocities. Globalization has put India on world map with developed countries looking forward to do business with the nation. The religious unrest leads to uncertain state of affairs in the country. Only if we can work on this factor, we stand like a strong pillar. As it is rightly said ‘United We Stand, Divided We Fall’.

Importantly religious harmony should not be limited to a particular nation only. It has to be achieved worldwide. As Bob Marley rightly quoted ‘One love, one heart, one destiny’. We have to survive as one world with boundaries dissolving among the countries and the sentiments of people echoing ‘We are one’!

Even if a particular country is able to achieve commercial success, it would be pointless if there is no love and accord among its people. The success won’t be a sustainable. Religious harmony should be the basic need of today’s world and then followed by talks of economic and nuclear development, only if we want our world to survive for long! As Mahatma Gandhi rightly said, ‘An eye for an eye would make the whole world blind’.