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For Whom Do The Bells Toll?


Anamika

BEECH BAHAS MEIN SECULARWAD
Edited by Abhay Kumar Dubey
Lok-Chintan Granthmala, CSDS and Vani Publications, Delhi, 2005, pp. 502, Rs. 495.00

VOLUME XXX NUMBER 9 September 2006

Religion stands on tiptoe in our land Ready to pass to the American stand. - Herbert, the Church Militant L.235   The lines quoted above were written at the beginning of the seventeenth century, but when we read them here in India today, the meaning spreads beyond the haze of the Protestant struggle in England. With hands in pocket it walks off to the lanes of Ayodhya and Godhra, still pock-marked with militant religiosity. The fear of Americanization, of being bulldozed into a cultural non-entity could have been one factor responsible for the onrush of fanatic assertions of ‘Main Hoon Na’. But this unipolar globalization is not the only factor responsible for the communal tension here in India. India claims to be secular, but is accused of either the feminization of minorities or of the appeasement of Muslims (with the vote bank in mind). When I say ‘feminization’, I actually want to say, and as a woman it is my perception, that minorities are treated in India as yet another baby-woman, but gone are the days when baby-women quietly surrendered to your stick and carrot policies!   Modernity had tried its level best to wipe off the irrational highs and lows of religiosity from the face of the earth but all in vain. “If the rape becomes inevitable, just lie down and relax” — under the shadow of Confucian wisdom the critics of modernity seem to be saying here in the book: if you can’t wash off religions, draw the paradigm of ethics from the existing religious models and build up a tolerant society, be a peace-activist and relax. Peaceful coexistence is still the mantra. But the advocates of secularism have their deep-seated fears: under the banner of secularism if the government can be so partisan, under the aegis of religiosity it’ll definitely send the nation state to the dogs.   Religion has nothing more to fear than not being sufficiently understood. I don’t know who wrote this but one of the prayers at school was; So many gods, no many creeds— So many paths that wind and wind While just the art of being kind Is all the sad world needs.   But who understands this, Professor Nandy? We have enough religions to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another: ”For virtue’s self may too much zeal be had. / The worst of madman is a ...


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