It is quite ironic, the architects of a deeply religious India, were either irreligious or atheists .
Mahatma Gandhi, the non-violent father of the Indian nation, was a devout Hindu, but also a highly unorthodox one who rejected the auhority of the Vedas and caste system towards the end of his life and strongly advocated for the need of Hindu-Muslim unity. Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India was an atheist as was Jinnah the first Prime Minister of Islamic Pakistan.Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the father of Hindu nationalism, was an atheist as was Thanthai Periyaar, the founder of the Dravidian movement.In fact the Dravidian movement represents the first major atheistic movement in India which actually holds considerable power and influence in the government .
However, the secular views of these leaders clashed with that of religious leaders who had better influence over the masses.Instead of adopting a new front against these conservative religious forces, our leaders settled for some weird idea of peace – appeasement .
In Pakistan, atheist Jinnah took on an increasingly Islamic persona in his later years and the Mullahs increasingly took hold of the land to such an extent that it’s now regarded, world over, as a hotbed of Islamic militancy.
In India, Gandhi, to prove his support for Muslims, got himself involved in arguing for an Islamic state to be set up in Turkey while he himself contradactingly demanded India should become a secular state. This Muslim appeasement has continued till today in the form of the weird Muslim marriage laws, Triple talaq, etc sanctioned by the constitution .
Meanwhile atheist Damodar’s RSS increasingly became a hate mongering club . When a former RSS member assassinated Gandhi, the RSS was banned and only granted legal status on the condition that they not engage in political or violent activities; conditions they have blatantly violated since then. This appeasement has eventually resulted in the unconstitutional destruction of the Babri Masjid, genocidal mob riots in Gujarat and Bombay .
Religious appeasement has divided our population into a bunch of caste and religion based vote banks, that allow politicians to indulge in blatant corruption, confident that they will get re-elected if they target the right the vote bank. Our politicians no longer have the credibility and moreover they have a vested monetary interest in maintaining status quo.
The greatest weapon of this appeasement is ‘hurt sentiments’. Practically any form of violence can be justified through ‘hurt sentiments’ – from burning children, to killing of rationalists and journalists.
The main threat from this appeasement is however ‘ Freedom of speech’. The concept of blasphemy and ‘ Hurt sentiments ‘was created to protect ideas that could not survive scrutiny. For example , law of conservation of energy can stand its own ground. It does not need laws to protect it from being questioned.Appeasement and religious conservatism, however, have constitutional backing and protection .
Why would we assume that we can’t have an honest conversation with people with religiously conservative ideas? Ultimately it’s because we just don’t think they’re mature enough to understand that appeasement is a direct insult to human intelligence .
Bizarre ideas and people who believe them can be manipulated into doing all sorts of unconscionable things .Ideas don’t need protection. People do.We need to commit ourselves to speaking the truth – gently, compassionately, and without fear.
Appeasement is remaining silent and being silent is as good as taking the side of the oppressor. We need to move out this uncomfortable zone for the better .