“Under-developed minds normally create differences. Developed minds create visions and differences disappear” – Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.
I have been following this huge debate on Shantanu’s blog - Satyameva Jayate for the last week or so - this post is kind of response to the debate on Religion and Politics. The debate initially started off well, discussing FTI (Freedom Team of India) policies in general but then digressed to the highly emotive Mandir-Masjid / Hindu-Muslim issue, leading to nowhere.
Mr. Amar Akbar Anthony (am using a hypothetical name here just to keep the religious affiliation out of the discussion), is a typical common-man in India, God-fearing & self-respecting, always trying to be on the right side, struggling with life to make two ends meet, mostly interested in mundane issues directly affecting his daily life, is genuinely worried and concerned about things like:
- The rampant corruption around him - from CWG (common wealth games - that does not affect him directly in anyway) to the local Panchayat Office for getting his small little apartment assessed for property-tax (that affects him badly and directly).
- The ration shop in his area is always out of stocks.
- The roads are in a terrible mess due to which he has to leave his vehicle for service and maintenance almost every month.
- Farmers in his home-village are committing suicide every week as they are unable to feed their families while hundreds of thousand tons of grains are left as unattended stocks in the open, rotting in rains in other parts of the country.
- He is struggling to get his voter ID card for years, even after filing repeated applications. Last he was asked to locate and search his Voter ID card among millions of cards floating around in the flooded premises.
- He is fighting a legal battle for his ancestral property in his home town for almost a decade. Local goons have encroached upon his father’s property and are now claiming ownership.
- Electricity & potable water supply is in an absolute mess.
- His son did very well in school but was still not able to get a medical seat as he could not pay the huge amount of 30 lakhs in the name of capitation fee that was demanded to be paid in Cash up front.
The suffer-list is endless and could go on and on, but lets get back to the point. Almost all of the above problems and issues are fundamentally arising out of State Functions & Policies – while some may be classified as first order, some are second order functions. But they all would find a solution in Political Leadership and Policy. May be I am missing a point somewhere and if so, would like to be seek clarity on these questions -
How relevant is the Religion in the above picture?
How would Religion help solve any of the problems of Mr. Amar Akbar Anthony’s life and reduce his suffer-list? Would any of the Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian or any other religious faith leaders or followers be able to help solve any of these issues for Mr. AAA (Mr. Amar Akbar Anthony)?
If the answer to these basic questions is indeed a clear No, then why do we mix religion with politics at the first place? Mr. AAA following a particular faith or a religion is a matter of his very personal choice and preference. In case Mr. AAA has any problems with respect to his religion or religious feelings and sentiments, he is free to approach his respective religious leader and seek a solution or a clarification. State Function or Policy should actually have no role to play in this domain, except to protect his right as an individual to practice the faith of his choice.
I wonder if this is something so very difficult to crack or those who oppose this have some other hidden agenda.
FTI (Freedom Team of India) has published a draft policy on the issue of Religious Freedom and Tolerance. All FTI policies will remain as drafts until they are formally agreed to by at least 1500 FTI leaders. Comments are most welcome as they will help the development of these policies. Please visit here and provide comment.