[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he most common term being thrown about in the last few weeks is ‘intolerance’. As expected the media and every other person who has a bone to pick with Prime Minister Narendra Modi has used this term, with or without context. We, however, aren’t getting into the politics of it all. What we are instead going to look at is how Indian culture has been the most tolerant one.
Hindu rulers of India have no history of violently invading other nations nor has there been persecution of people belonging to other religions. Waves of immigrants from the Iranians and Persians to the Tibetans have been given refuge here. What’s more? They have been given total rights to continue with their way of life. Tolerance is not about just living together in harmony, it is about assimilating the best of everything into your culture. There can hardly be a better example than the Indian culture that has opened its arms and welcomed the best of everything from around the world.
Let us look at a few instances from history and some facts that’ll make it amply clear how tolerant and accommodative Indian culture actually is.
- No other country has opened its arms to invaders and provided them a significant place in its recorded history as India has. The Muslim invaders including the Mughals have found a prominent place in Indian history.
- Jews started arriving in India as traders as early as 562 BCE. The first batch of Jewish refugees began settling in India from 70 CE. Despite being a religious minority here they have been accorded all the rights to practise their religion freely. Jews have peacefully co-existed for centuries and there is no anti-Semitism here unlike several other nations.
- Zoroastrians have been assimilated into the Indian culture ever since their migration into India. They have been a part of Indian society since the time of Islamic conquest of Persia. What can be a bigger credit to Indian culture of tolerance than the fact that the largest population of Zoroastrians resides in India? (Source: Wikipedia) They are an integral part of our society and have achieved success as army personnel, scientists, industrialists, actors etc. They even participated in the Indian freedom struggle; such was their absorption into the Indian cultural landscape.
- Another set of refugees who have been integrated into the Indian society are the Tibetans. More than a lakh of Tibetans have been given asylum in India ever since the 14th Dalai Lama sought shelter here following the failure of 1959 Tibetan uprising.
- Following the partition in 1947 waves of immigrants trooped into India from Pakistan. People of other nationalities who have been accepted into the Indian society are Sri Lankans, Afghans and Bangladeshis among others.
- Each of the religious groups who have sought asylum here has been given the rights to continue with their way of life, religion and worship. There has been neither persecution nor forcible conversion of such people to Hindu religion.
- India is home to around 3 lakh mosques, the largest number in comparison to any other country in the world including Islamic countries. Washington, London and Milan have 24, 71 and 68 churches respectively. On the other hand, Delhi alone has 271 churches. This comparative statistics amply proves that minority religions are not only surviving but actually thriving without fear of any persecution.
- Hindu religion has been more than accommodative of other faiths. The plight of Hindus is Pakistan and Bangladesh is despicable to say the least. There has been destruction of Ahmaddiya mosques as well as persecution of Shias and other Muslim sects in Pakistan. At a time when the dominant Muslim communities of Islamic nations refuse to give equal rights to their fellow Muslim countrymen, Indian culture has accepted people from all over the world into its fold.
Every Indian is given equal rights and complete freedom to practise the religion of his/her choice. It is only the media which blows up every incident to create an ‘emergency’ like situation. As the popular saying goes ‘a lie travels half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes’ and the Indian media that always looks for sensationalism takes advantage of it to foment insecurity. The plurality of this country has been resting on the tolerant nature of indigenous religions. In fact it would not be an exaggeration if we say that Indian culture is the most diverse, plural and tolerant one.