The most serious threat to democracy is religious extremism and its growing roots in a country like India. In fact, India is a country of democratic and secular values. Multicultural diversity and religious harmony are the most important aspects of its cultural identity. Gujarat, the very birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi, Father of the Nation who used to teach the lessons of non-violence and unity to Indians against British imperialism, has now been in the hands of communal parties. The most important points the Indians need to focus their attention on are to evolve well-planned political structure, riot-free atmosphere, constructive role of media, true cultural and traditional values, progressive educational system, boosting economy and to avoid violence in the name of religion.
In a discussion held at India International Centre in the Capital on November 17, Prof. Martha Nussbaum, author of several books on contemporary issues, said that the power of democracy is the only alternative to protect human rights.
Speaking on ‘the clash: within modern democracies and the source of religious violence,’ the Professor of Law and Ethics, Department of Philosophy, Law School, University of Chicago, criticised the role of religious violence in Indian politics. She said the Hindutva communal politics poses a disturbing threat to the democratic and traditional values of India. Communal politics has emerged as a new challenge for secular India. Since Gujarat riots 2002, terrorism and religious fanaticism are growing in India. Communal politics in Gujarat has ruined the real sense of secularism in India. She said today it is very essential to understand the real meaning of democracy.
Appreciating the Tehelka sting and the country’s freedom of press, she said it revealed the real picture of extremism and communalism in politics. It is very important to eliminate religious extremism from the country’s politics. India is a country of cultural and religious diversity. The most important aspect of democracy is communal harmony. “In my observance, communalisation in politics has ruined the real meaning of communal harmony and secular values of India,” she said.
Prof. Martha believes that secular values in India would emerge as more progressive, dynamic, valuable and creative for its bright future.
While focusing the importance of communal harmony, she said that the country has witnessed the freedom movement where Hindus and Muslims offered their sacrifice together for the country’s freedom. She said that media is a very important tool to keep the real spirit of communal harmony alive in India where press freedom is based on liberal values. It plays a very important role to shape the moral and cultural ethics in the civilised human society. To build the healthy and prosperous human society, we need to abide by the real democratic system which is completely free from long standing problems of religious bigotry.
While highlighting the influence of education in the Industrial Revolution, she said today India stands in a better position through its educational standard and revolution. India has emerged as the fastest economic power among the South Asian developing countries.
Her talk aimed to focus the internal clash of civilisations and its four features that are pertinent to a nation’s ability to respond to the threat of religious violence, political structure, and the role of media, education and civil culture.