New Delhi: Former Vice President Hamid Ansari emphasised that even before Covid-19, society became a victim of two other pandemics – religiosity and strident nationalism. Overt and covert ideologies are seeking to segment India on imagined criteria of “us and them,” he said on Friday. ALSO READ | PM Narendra Modi Holds Virtual Meeting With Top Officials On India’s Strategy For Developing Covid-19 Vaccine
Ansari was speaking at the virtual event of senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor’s book launch ‘The Battle of Belonging’, when he said that in a short space of four years, India made the long journey from the vision of civic nationalism to new political imagery of cultural nationalism which has been embedded firmly.
The former vice president said that “there is a passionate plea for an ideal of India (in the book), an India that was taken for granted by our generation” and now is seemingly endangered by “overt and covert ideas and ideologies that seek to segment it on imagined criteria of us and them”.
“Hitherto, our core values were summed up as an existential reality of a plural society, a democratic polity and a secular state structure. These were accepted in the freedom movement, they were incorporated in the Constitution and encapsulated in the preamble of the Constitution,” said Ansari.
The plurality of Indian society is evident from the sociological evidence of 4,635 communities, he said, adding that every fifth Indian belongs to a recognised religious minority.
“The Covid-19 as a pandemic is bad enough, but before it, our society became a victim of two other pandemics – religiosity and strident nationalism. Religiosity is defined as extreme religious ardour, denoting exaggerated embodiment, involvement or zeal for certain aspects of religious activity enforced through social and even governmental pressure,” he said.
“Records world over show that it at times takes the form of hatred as a tonic that inspires vengeance as a mass ideology. Some of it can be witnessed in our own land,” he added further emphasizing that Hindutva is a political doctrine and not a religious one.
‘We chose (Mahatma) Gandhi’s India,’ Farooq Abdullah
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah was also a part of the discussion and he said, “We had the opportunity of joining Pakistan in 1947, it was my father and the others who felt that the two-nation theory is not for us”.
Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, or Christians are not different as they are all human beings and thus “we chose (Mahatma) Gandhi’s India, (Jawaharlal) Nehru’s India, an India that belong to everyone”, Abdullah said. “That’s how I felt till this government came in. They think that only a Hindu can be an Indian and all the others who are there cannot be Indians, they are second class citizens. This I am never going to accept till my dying day,” he said.
Today we are being divided, divided on religion, on caste on creed on language. Tyrants come and tyrants go, nations continue to survive and I am confident that his nation will survive, these dividers will go,” the National Conference leader said.
(With Agency Inputs)