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FIS HCC Distinguished Lecture Series: Religious Diversity and Social Harmony in India

From left: Dr. Vikas Jhingran, Surender Talwar, Parul Fernandes, Dr. R. Nagaswamy, former Director of Archeology, Tamil Nadu and former Vice-Chancellor of Kanchipuram University, Key Note Speaker Dr. Bharat Gupt, former Professor of Delhi University, Krishna Vavilala ( Founder- Chairman, FIS) , Meera Kapur; Dr. Rajender Aparasu and Vatsa Kumar ( Secretary, FIS)

HOUSTON: FIS in partnership with Houston Community College (HCC) presented a thought provoking lecture in.HCC-Alief campus auditorium on the subject of “Religious Diversity and Social Harmony in India” by a noted Indologist and former Associate Professor of Delhi University, This was the first joint program presented  under the Distinguished Lecture Series after a partnership agreement was signed on November 14.
Dr. Bharat Gupt stated that in ancient India, the religious diversity was ensured by the non-theocratic nature of the state which offered equal protection and rights to all subjects.
The king had his religion but the State did not. The state had its rules of governance called Raj dharma  (rules of governance).India,thus before Islamic rule, was a Raj-dharma centered country.
With Islamic rule, came the State Religion versus People’s Religions.
The British continued the divide. They standardized the moral and personal codes  for major religions,Christianity, Islam and all other Indic Religions and they appointed all-India courts to enforce them. This was a Euro-Christian approach, not the traditional Indian vision and its community based implementation.
Nehru,continued with the British model. Further, an attempt was made by him to marginalize religion in social sphere and make it a personal affair. Anything related to religion like religious-education, upkeep of shrines, maintenance of pilgrimages, sacred sites, funeral grounds was supposed to be shunned as a responsibility of the State under the ideals of making
India a secular state. Nehru and his colleagues also made another disastrous addition to the social polity of India. They divided the Indian population into majority and minority on religious and linguistic grounds.
Prof. Gupt pointed out that, whereas the so called minorities were given rights to preach and teach their religion, the Hindu majority was deprived of religious education and cultural promotion as a hall mark of secular state. This absurd presumption enshrined in the Indian Constitution, that religious and cultural education and the rights ensuing from them, can be given to sections of people who will be defined by their numbers. This has landed up India in an abysmal social disparity and heartburn.
Over the years, further classification of Indians according their erstwhile caste status (in the ancient classification that has been defunct for centuries) and the policy of providing quotas to them in educational institutions, jobs and welfare programs has promoted the ugliest kind of vote bank and caste politics that is taking the nation away from modernity to stark medieval times. It is unfortunate both that erstwhile Marxists, liberal American Democrats and even Christian Republicans, support this division of Indian people made according to colonial anthropology. They are pushing them away from progress.
India must now follow a model based on the tenets of its ancient Vedantic vision of ishaa vasyam idam sarvam, All is Divine and imbued by it. Hence all (humans, living beings and the earth), are equal in worth and value and shall be given equal opportunity free from the baggage of history and diversities of moral laws applicable to earlier eras. India should enforce a common civil code, affirmative action based on concessions to economically poor, irrespective of religion, caste or creed and rights that are earned by social obligations or dharma. It should look to a 21 century reform in religious matters. Basic education of all religions should be given to all from primary school to university level and full cultural diversity be patronized by the State.
Dr. Vikas Jhingran welcomed the guests, Parul Fernandes, FIS Vice-Chair introduced the speaker,  Surender Talwar compered the program. Krishna Vavilala, FIS Chair presented a Plaque of Appreciation to Prof. Dr. Bharat Gupt. The program ended with a Q&A session and Vote of Thanks by FIS Secretary,Vatsa Kumar.

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