No room for hate speeches

3 Min
No room for hate speeches

Hari Jaisingh

The Supreme Court of India has made a pertinent observation that hate speeches against minorities are sullying the country’s atmosphere and underlined the need to curb such tendencies. These remarks came from the 49th Chief Justice of India [CJI] Uday Umesh Lalit while hearing the plea alleging that hate speeches were being made against minority communities “to win the majority Hindu votes, to grab power at all posts, to commit genocide and to make “India a Hindu Rashtra before  elections”.

The two-judge bench headed by CJI Lalit, however, said that the plea lacked specifics or detailed information and asked the petitioner, Harpreet Sehgal Mansukhani, “to give details of particular instances, including about the steps undertaken during the course of the investigation.” Mansukhani told the Bench:

“Hate speech has been turned into a profitable business”.

She further claims that she had proof that a political party had funded the Hindi movie The Kashmir Files, depicting the forced exodus of Kashmiri Pandits that has been accused of fanning the anti-Muslim hatred.

In a separate case, social activist Tushar Gandhi sought initiation of contempt proceedings against the Uttarakhand Director General of Police Ashok Kumar and Delhi Police Chief Rakesh Asthana. Gandhi alleged that the police chiefs of the two states were in contempt of the apex court’s earlier  judgment  laying down detailed guidelines for preventing hate speech. The Supreme Court has asked the Uttarakhand and Delhi Police to specify the steps taken to curb hate speech.

Secularism is not alien to the Hindu tradition. It has been part of Hindu dharma and ethos; but for the Hindu tolerance and secular beliefs, other religious beliefs would not have flourished in this land from time immemorial. India never attempted to suppress the longings of the communities that settled here and contributed to the richness of Indian culture.

Hinduism, for that matter, is more than a mere ritualistic outfit. It is a way of life – a way of values-based thinking and spiritual quest. One can decry Hindu rituals and practices publicly and yet remain a Hindu. This is the beauty of all-embracing Hinduism, of which secularism is an integral part and hence it comes naturally to the Hindu way of thinking and living.

However, several aberrations have crept in, both in the basic philosophy of secularism and secular practices. These have resulted from political and intellectual dishonesty of leadership at different levels – the weakening chain of leadership from Jawaharlal Nehru to Narendra Modi, crude vote bank calculations, increasing state of involvement in religious affairs, growing tentacles of fundamentalism, ever-present undercurrents of suspicion about Muslim loyalty against the backdrop of sub-continental religious minorities, and mounting militancy among both Hindus and Muslims.

India’s basic soundness in the secular tradition should help the healing process much faster than feared. Whether this helps to restore the Muslim confidence in the secular polity and corrects the community’s perspective on Hindu India and real reason for their own plight remains to be seen.

Be that as it may, damage has been done and the Hindu-Muslim divide sometimes looks disturbing. True, it may not be easy to apply correctives on the hurt Muslim psyche at different levels and at different times. Therefore, what is needed is adjustment and reconciliation among the Hindu-Muslim communities to the new realities. In fact, post-Ayodhya developments have provided the nation with yet another opportunity to create a new social, economic and political order based on equity, mutual respect and accommodation, tolerance and a forward-looking economic thrust.

The real challenge before the national leadership is to shift the national focus away from self-destructive religious fanaticism to economic rejuvenation. We have to look beyond and evolve new thinking on key national issues of secularism and communism and increasing fissiparous tendencies and extremism in parts of the country. Our prime goal should be the removal of all shades of poverty and backwardness. The national leadership needs to evolve strategies and tackle problems for inclusive growth and development of social capital. (SAT)