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The start has to be made with India with the question "Is Hindutva as practiced today by its adherents making Indian society more humane? It can be posed in another way. Would the great humanists of the past like Mahavira, Buddha, Ashoka and closer to our time Mahatma Gandhi have recognized it as the religion practiced in their day? How far has it moved away from the compassion of the great sages that have enriched Hinduism and mankind?

Hinduism often referred to as Sanatan Dharma, has no founder. The tradition was enriched by the contribution of a long line of divine incarnations, saints and sages. None of them claimed or have been given credit for founding Sanatan Dharma. It is eternal in its origin, it is called Apaurusheya means that which is not made by men. The same is the status of the Vedas that are eternal scriptures and are not authored by anyone. The sages only gathered these divine vibrations through meditation and revealed them to human society. Sanatan Dharma views the entire cosmos as the manifestation of the supreme reality. In this way, everything created including the living and non-living are viewed as the segment of the same cosmic equation. The term was popularized by the Mahatma in 1921. It is a code of ethics, human value system, principles of life and a way to enlightenment and liberation. It is one of the most ancient and vibrant living traditions of the world.

Presently Hindutva does not give the impression of being inclusive. Less compassionate than it could be. Lack of humane treatment of those not following its tenets is on the rise. Several of the manifestations include lynching, Romeo squads, the minorities feeling that they might not have the same freedom to practice their religion. There are exceptions everywhere. The tragedy is that several of the crimes that have come to light - and which have increased in recent years - are being committed by politicians in power, many self-attested criminals with heinous crimes; no matter that similar affidavits were submitted in the previous election(s) as well. The fact that the practice of giving tickets to criminals is universal on account of winability being the prime consideration cannot be an excuse for not cleansing the system. These people also end up controlling the police set up in their fiefdoms. Had it not been for the higher judiciary in the country many cases would have remained unpunished.

Notwithstanding the infirmities listed above India remains a vibrant democracy. The vast majority of Indians are proud of its plurality and diversity. On several occasions in the past the people of India have made the most powerful leaders bite the dust, several never recovered from the defeat. All said and done India continues to be one of the most open societies. The judiciary jealously guards its independence. The Indian Army is easily one of the most apolitical armies of the world. The Indian diaspora, wherever they have dispersed, have proved to be law-abiding, and hard working. They have enriched themselves and the countries where they settled down; even where they were sent as indentured labour by the British rulers of the time.

What about the rest of the world. Hatred, war-mongering and self-inflicted wounds are becoming the order of the day. Emerging threats that threaten the planet and the human race have almost exclusively been birthed in the countries that have been the foremost powers over the last hundred and fifty years. Should the world be engulfed in a nuclear holocaust or from the use of newer weapons of mass destruction that are being experimented with it will have to be India with its ancient philosophy that will have to take the lead to show the path for reversing the planetary decline. For this India will first have to get its act together, it not yet being the case.

Political leaders of all hues should follow the example of Gandhi one of whose favourite hymns was "Vaaishnav Jan to Tene Kahiye jo peed parayi jane re" (Vaishnav person is one who feels the pain of others). Lynching of the minority denomination with the entire village becoming passive onlookers is taking place routinely. As the nation prepares to celebrate the Mahatma's 150th birth anniversary the time has come for the leadership to ask the question "Is the country becoming a compassionate and humane society that feels the 'peed' of others?"

The world is increasingly witnessing the breakdown of the social cohesion of societies, largely due to shrinking resources; more so in plural societies. Mr. Modi has emerged as one of the strongest prime ministers of India. By the end of his second term should he be able to ensure that members of the minority communities feel as secure as their Hindu brethren he would have gone on to become the tallest leader of his time. Peace on the subcontinent will follow.




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