Challenges being posed to the new aspirational Bharat
By Jaibans Singh
The Pran Pratishtha of Ramlalla at the newly constructed Sri Ram Mandir at Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh on 22 January was a defining moment for the Hindu community worldwide that constitutes the third largest religion in the world.
The rebuilding of the Ram Mandir absolved the humiliation and insult heaped upon the Hindu community in their own land by centuries of invaders whose only intention was to control the community by weakening it through demoralisation. The historic event vindicated the centuries old non-violent struggle that the Hindus carried out in the pursuit of justice.
The moment was celebrated along with the Hindus by many other communities and religious sects, including such Muslims who believed that Babar had wronged the Hindus by razing their most sacred temple and building a Mosque in its place.
The Sikh community, in particular, remained involved in the joyous proceedings all through. Many Sikhs took part in the agitation from 1858 onwards and have now made huge financial contributions for construction of the temple. On the day of the Pran Pratishtha, Sikh organisations organised Langar Seva (sacred community kitchen in the Sikh tradition) at Ayodhya.
The major countries of the world were expected to join the Indian nation in celebration of the momentous occasion as we join spontaneously in celebration of their big days and occasions. Sadly, the world reaction fell grossly short of the expectation. Congratulatory messages from world leaders are missing, instead, the western media along with some Arabic entities gave biased and brutal coverage to the historic event.
“Modi opens a giant temple in a triumph for India’s Hindu nationalists”, is the headline of an article in the New York Times. “But for the country’s 200 million Muslims, the Ram Temple has reinforced a sense of despair and dislocation”, forms the conclusion of the article.
Under the heading of extremism, the Times has headlined its article as “India’s Ayodhya Temple is a huge monument to Hindu supremacy”. The article goes on to state, “Its controversial inauguration atop the ruins of a 16th-century mosque marks the culmination of a three-decade promise made by Modi, his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, and other Hindu nationalist groups – and serves as the biggest political testament yet to Hindu supremacy over Indian Muslims”.
“The Ayodhya temple’s inauguration portends dark times ahead not just for India’s Muslims but also many Hindus who remain committed to pluralism and tolerance. Hindu supremacists have long sought to reduce the broad-based Hindu religious tradition to their hateful political ideology. The Ayodhya temple is a sizable step toward that goal. Muslims are second-class citizens in Modi’s India, regularly subjected to human rights violations. Freedom House now classifies India – once heralded as the world’s largest democracy – only “partly free,” concludes the article in the Times.
“The purported “cultural significance” of the Ram Temple appears to be immersed in the murky waters of the polarisation we are currently navigating. Secularism, once a proud virtue every politician embraced, tucking it safely into his political repertoire, appears to be buried so far below the mountains of saffron-tinged communalism, that I fear it may never be recovered,” says Insiyah Vahanvaty in Al Jazeera.
Pakistan, of course, cannot be far behind in this anti-India rhetoric. Its newspapers responded on expected lines. The major newspaper of the country Dawn says, “The Ram Mandir issue illustrates the two-faced nature of the BJP and the Sangh. At the recent Delhi G20 summit, we saw Mr. Modi the globalist, aspiring to be the voice of the Global South. But in Ayodhya, we will see Mr. Modi the communalist, channeling the Pracharak within, and working overtime to build the Bharat of RSS’s dreams. The demolition of the mosque marked the beginning of the end of India’s secular democracy. The consecration of the Mandir will be a grim milestone in the country’s transformation into a (Hindu) Rashtra.
These worthy newspapers who pride themselves for upholding the highest principles of unbiased journalism chose to ignore that fact that even though the majority Hindu community could have built the temple decades back by use of force, it chose to follow the correct and righteous path of referring the matter to the courts of the nation. The permission to build the Temple was given by the Supreme Court after decades of judicial articulation.
These journalists and newspapers also chose to ignore the fact that the Muslim community has been given adequate land in lieu to build a Mosque by what they term as “Hindu governments” in both the centre and the state. The Muslims plan to build an iconic mosque in this allotted land. Once it comes up Ayodhya will become a shining example of the religious and cultural harmony that is the essence of Bharat.
In what can be seen as another reaction to the building of the Ram Mandir, the US Government has permitted the pro-Khalistan secessionist group Sikh for Justice (SFJ) to conduct a Khalistan Freedom Referendum on its soil, despite strong objection by India.
The first stage of the referendum was conducted at Sacramento in California. As was expected, it got positive coverage from the massive anti-India media lobby that operates from foreign shores with maximum coverage by the Pakistani press and some in the US too.
“More than 127,000 American Sikhs voted for the Khalistan Referendum for the first time on American soil – just weeks after the US government announced it had prevented the Indian state from assassinating on the US soil the prominent pro-Khalistan leader and India’s most wanted man, Gurpatwant Singh Pannu,” Geo News. The numbers quoted are grossly exaggerated, no more than 20,000 Sikhs took part in the referendum from the area that has a population of Sikhs exceeding 250,000.
“India builds Hindu temple of ruins of razed Mosque,” is the headline of an article in the Washington Times
These newspapers have quoted Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, the brain behind the SFJ, whom India has declared a terrorist as saying, “We will break India’s back. Kill India politically. Kill Modi’s politics and destroy India economically is our slogan. We will campaign for the shutdown of Bombay Stock Exchange. Millions of Sikhs now live out of India because they have fled Indian genocide of Sikhs. India killed more than 100,000 Sikh men and women in a genocidal operation just a few years back. Its genocidal policies are continuing…”
Yes, there was a Sikh genocide in 1984 but the incumbent BJP government had no role to play in the same, which was perpetrated by the Congress then in power in the centre. The BJP is, in fact, putting in all effort to set right the wrongs done at that time. Nobody in the foreign press has refuted these blatant lies stated by Pannu.
Within India, political parties like the Congress and AAP are working hard to create a divide between various communities, especially the Hindus and Sikhs in Punjab to garner votes in the forthcoming parliamentary elections. This process will gain momentum as the parliamentary elections approach. They will become more and more shrill in the next few months and may end up doing a lot of damage.
Big challenges are being posed upon the new aspirational India. Inimical foreign forces have drastically increased efforts to destabilize the country through media and political interventions as seen during the Pran Pratishtha ceremony at Shri Ram Mandir in Ayodhya and activities like the referendum by the SFJ. Millions of dollars are being pumped to garner media attention and sustain the evil campaign.
The reaction to Indian resurgence and quest of the country to gain its inevitable leadership position in the comity of nations is, very obviously, causing discomfiture to many countries in the west and some radical Muslim nations. The attack on our civilization, our culture and our justified aspirations is now direct and blatant. The situation is getting more and more critical by the day.
The government has mobilised all diplomatic channels to challenge this game of misinformation and deception. There is, however, a limit to the intervention that the government can make. The gap has to be filled by our civil society and those among us who feel that they are being wronged by this vicious misinformation attack. By staying quiet and dormant, the well-intentioned Indian community and Diaspora is giving space to an evil minority to grow and spread its seeds of hate, divisiveness and violence. The need of the hour is an active response by our right-thinking people who are in a huge majority.