Ban religion from secular space? Identity politics: Right or wrong?

Varghese Pamplanil Our friend and regular columnist Pamplanil is now in Kerala after his sojourn with his Son and family in Texas and he reacts to the article “Ban Religions from Public Space” by Nafis Haider in CCV and our comments. It is a down to earth reaction countering facts with facts, not directed to any individual. So worth reflecting, to come to one’s  own conclusions.

Outpoken all-rounder!

He is a man in the 80-ies, still with very active green matter in the top storey; has one son, a UK citizen, another a US citizen. He is widely read, still reads and writes; he has been in many professions including a bank official taking care of diocesan accounts; has relations as priests and one a Bishop – in short an all-rounder, but outspoken with wested interest to no one nor antipathy   to any.

Humane Humanism

The THRUST of his argument is Humane Humanism of the SON OF MAN and Sri Narayana Guru and Vivekanda.That doesn’t mean either he or CCV are the RIGHT ones to follow. All of us have to learn from every one else, even from a grave digger, as every other person is superior to each of us in each one’s profession to be treated and learn from. Each one has the right to follow his beliefs and conviction in private, not to parade in public space.

Follow Voltaire!

The worst offenders in this are apparently are the die hard followers of Prophet Muhammad and the equally viruland Judeo-christian community as a learned professor has pointed out earlier. For the rest you readers agree or disagree with the facts he adduces, following the prophet of free speech of Voltaire: “I disagree wholly with what you say, but will go to death to defend your right to say it!” If you do disagree, please do it in an agreeable, civilized manner for the sake of Order, yes order and camaraderie! james kottoor, editor ccv 

Please read below Pamplanil


I am a bit intrigued by the article in CCV with the above caption. The sum and substance of Nafis Haider’s views seems to be that one can practice one’s religion unfettered without any oversight. Many diehard religious  people claim that theirs is the only true god; their religion is the only true religion; other gods and faiths are false and in the wrong to  be despised. 

They seem to think that they can condemn and deride the other man’s faith and beliefs with impunity; can propagate their religion by means fair and foul. In short certain religious outfits arrogate themselves to have the right to  do whatever they please, come what may. They claim Indian Constitution allows this and more. 

In this scenario, Christians can disrupt the traffic in narrow lanes by their long winding processions parading statues of gods and goddesses with foreign countenances; carry toy arrows bleating loud meaningless prayers in remembrance  of some saint of suspected pedigree purported to be killed by the Romans, conducting funeral processions of deceased Christians through overcrowded streets accompanied by loud wailing through amplifiers and beating of chests creating unbearable ruckus often leading to traffic snarls. 

Some others resort to high decibel  calling of the faithful for prayers in the wee hours of the morning disturbing the sleep ofbabies, sick and old with impunity. They move about wearing outlandish attire totally at variance with those worn by the local people to stand apart and maintain demeanour out of tune with the neighbourhood . Symbols and practices of foreign origin, out of alignment with local ethos, are followed, may be to indicate exclusiveness.  

Some are hell bent on practicing the way of life of Timbuktu. Hackles are raised and mayhem unleashed to protest against alleged injustices to their co-religionists in some far away corner of the world. When India looses a crick match against Pakistan there are celebrations  in Muslim localities in Mumbai and elsewhere. During the 1971 war Muslims are listening to Pakistan radio and relishing its utter lies.

Political parties and communal organisations, as a matter of right, destroy public properties, disrupt traffic. In many cases they stop by force vehicles carrying critically ill patients to hospitals. Paints are sprayed on unwilling persons during Holi. Eardrum shattering crackers are burst in confined spaces to the distress of all especially old people on the occasion of the Festival of Lights, Deepavali. 

During my visits to the predominantly Christian United States, European countries, United Kingdom, no public exhibition of religion was seen. Elections rallies are absent. Prayers are conducted in places of worship with restraint, no disturbing noise comes out of the premises. The architecture of the religious structures blend seamlessly with other buildings  in the locality. Everything is done, by and large, in low keyand in an atmosphere of harmonyand tranquility. Curfew hours from 10 p.m.and 6 a.m are strictly enforced. Disturbing sounds from one’s dwelling to the discomfort of neighbours are prohibited. The culprits are hauled up and punished. In today’s worldindividual autonomy is paramount; tribal identity has  lost its importance .

Secularism is based on humanism, it tolerates every one and every idea. Their moral behaviour is not based the diktats in a holy book claimed to be divinely dictated. This way of life is anathema to the organised religions and their agents.

Cacophony of discordant notes is  no good to any one. I have a  question go Haider, are other religions allowed to be freely  practiced in public space in Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia? What about the blasphemy laws  in Pakistan and other Muslim countries. “What is good for the goose should be good for the gander too. There cannot be a situation of “heads I win; tails you loose.”  

The identity of an Indian ought to be Indian.Indian food served by Emirates and Qatar airways is called “Hindu meal”.Integration with the local way of life is good forpeace and tranquility. “When in Rome do as Romans do”. But some people refuse to do this to their peril.

YES RELIGION IS STRICTLY A PRIVATE AFFAIR, NEBULOUS CONSTITUTIONAL GUARANTEES NOT WITHSTANDING! It  is not a matter to be paraded blatantly. Less of religion in the public domain should be the norm.

It is wiser not to stand out as sore thumb for everyone’s sake.Why the Catholics owe  allegiance to a foreign sovereign? Why they worship saints with European faces? Kashmir is an integral part of India. The region cannot be left to the mercy of Taliban and other dangerous out fits. 

Our country requires a common Civil Code applicable to all Indian citizens? No separate code for all and sundry as they please. There  cannot be a State  within a State? What is of paramount importance  is the orderly conduct in the Indian society based on common parameters. 

The religion shown in the SSLC book may not be followed in later life. Segregating and type  casting people on religious basis is dangerous. Census according on religious lines seems unnecessary and unwanted. One need not  be a devotee of Hindutua or Chaturvarna or feel comfortable in Bhanya-Brahmin dispensation. Crony Capitalism is advantageous  to a few vested interests only.

The first volume of Will Durrant’s 11 volume “Story of Civilisation” is titled “ Our Oriental Heritage.” Book Two deals with India and its neighbours in glowing terms. Historically, the Hindu society has been the most tolerant on in the whole world. One should be proud to be an Indian and Indian heritage which is Hindu heritage.

One happen to be an Indian,  not out of choice but by the sheer biological  accident of birth to parents of a particular religious persuasion. Persons with grey matter under their skull may not follow the religion of of their peers. Patriotism and nationalism are totally different things. Jingoism do not mean  love for the country.

All Indians are  the children of Mother India. All Indians should be proud to sing “Vande Matheram”. Into this land we are born, this earth nourishes us, this  air we all breath. The sunlight of our sky makes crops to grow, the water of this land we all drink to quench our thirst. To this earth return our  mortal remains.

I lived in this land for over 80 years and that too in different  parts of India. I dread the situation where I have to prove my identity and allegiance and move around bearing by pieces of paper issued by some morons.The horoscope of my long dead parents are hard to come by. I sympathise  with those whose fate will be decided by the whims of some ever greedy clerk in a remote village. Hope the powers to be  will not ask for my DNA profile, which in all probability would show that  my ancestors, like everyone in this world, came out of Africa more than 80,000 years ago.

The charade in the offing does not seem to do any  good to any one except to those withhidden agenda of ulterior intentions. 

The country is facing innumerable social and economic problems. Unemployment level is very high. Infrastructure is poor compared to China and even some of the poor undeveloped countries. The farm sector is in distress, suicides of farmers are rampant. Stagflation is raising its ugly head. The priority ought to beto put food into hungry bellies and provide some shelter from the harsh elements. Modern day Nero is bent upon playing his discordant tune while the country is burning. The political  leadership seem to hell bound to categorise and segregate people on religious basis and creation of ghettos as happened under the Nazi regime. Implementation of CAA and religious based NPR we seem to may lead tochauvinism, regionalism and eventual balkanisation of the country.

Varghese Pamplanil.

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