Mahatma Gandhi Community Forum



                                              ON  INDIA’S RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE

President Obama in a recent speech in Washington has said that religious conflict has produced “acts of intolerance” in India that would have shocked Mahatma Gandhi, if he were alive today. Obama made the remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington.  Obama made nearly similar remarks in his last speech before leaving India after his recent visit, when he was received in India with great warmth and respect by the government of India as well as the people.

Obviously, President Obama is ill informed about the conditions in India. In India with population of around 1.3 billion, some elements from different religions have been making abusive remarks about one another. Such instances have been taking place in several countries in the world including US, UK  and other western countries.

In India,such fringe elements  constitute microscopic minority and a very very very small fraction of country’s population.  Unfortunately, Indian media, which is now increasingly motivated by business interests and sensational news rather than the news value, have been highlighting the observations of these hotheads belonging to different religions. These hotheads who want media attention  are encouraged by the Indian media giving  them unwarranted and undeserving publicity and  make more such comments and  occasionally involve themselves  in fanatic acts .  India being a democratic country, with governments respecting freedom of speech, do not control such tendencies.  However, Government of India and various state governments have been consistently disapproving the behaviour of such fringe elements and condemn them.

Millions of Indians belonging to different religions work together in various institutions and live harmoniously. There are even churches in India which are visited by many Hindus on special occasions. There are also Hindu temples which are frequented by people from other religions.  The political leaders in India invariably greet people belonging to various religions on their festivals such as Deepavali, Christmas, Ramzan etc. Obviously, President Obama does not seem to know all this !

Some people in India belonging to different religions even suspect the motive of Mr. Obama when  he made such unwarranted observations, which are not based on facts and ground realities. Many Indians are disappointed that after receiving such vociferous welcome in India, Obama has thought it fit to make such observations on so called religious intolerance in India, which can really sow the seed of conflict and create unnecessary tension in the country. Why has he done this ? Should he not know better?

It is particularly distressing that Obama has dragged Mahatma Gandhi’s name in support of his view. While Mahatma Gandhi would disapprove the fringe elements of different religions, who behave like religious extremists, certainly he would not have failed to observe and commend the great religious harmony in India amongst cross section of people. Even in his time, some religious conflicts have taken place at the time of partition, which many believe , could have  been avoided if Britishers  at the time of leaving India after governing for centuries , had handled the issues better in a more conducive manner.

President Obama should  not fail to note  that Mahatma Gandhi would have been the first person to disapprove and condemn United States of America for it’s aggressive  acts in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and others , where thousands of innocent people were killed due to US military attacks including aerial bombing on innocent citizens.  No one can forget the US dropping atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the fag end of the second world war, when Japan was already losing the war and the attack could have been well avoided.

Today, amongst various nations in the world, US has the lowest credibility to talk about tolerance. 

In any case, President Obama’s reference to  the so called religious intolerance in India is either motivated by some unknown partisan considerations or he has been careless which is  unbecoming of  US president.


Nandini Voice For The Deprived, Chennai

twitter : @nsvchennai 


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