It was a proud moment for Indians when Defence Minister Rajnath Singh received the long-awaited French-made Rafale fighter jet. Every Indian was overjoyed with his country’s defense power. This special moment would be etched in the annals of India’s glorious history.
What was more in focus on that occasion is that Defence Minister of India performed a shastra puja on Rafale delivery as he emblazoned it with an ‘Om’. The step of defence minister to perform Puja, triggered a new controversy in the country as the opposition slammed the BJP-led government for giving a religious spin to the handover ceremony.
Though the BJP did not take criticism in this regard seriously and paid no attention to it but it is indeed a matter of serious concern particularly when a central minister performs puja or worship of a particular religion at the time when he receives state’s property. It’s good to do puja of new vehicles and it’s completely understandable and acceptable; no one has right to object it but Rafale is a state property and not personal. I as an Indian citizen, not only me but every Indian citizen believes that as long as the country is secular, it has no religion at all.
India always has been a country of different faiths like Muslims, Buddhists, Parsis, Christian, etc. which have a large or minor population spread across different parts of the country. So primarily, religion is just a matter of individual choice and it is a person’s faith and belief in our country not a state’s religion.
At one hand, we take pride over such diversity and multicultural integrity, but on the other hand, a particular group of people thinks of making India a “Hindu Rashtra” (Nation of Hindus) that certainly will lead the country to the distraction in every aspect of progress and development.
What a governmental official or minister believes or worships in his personal life does not matter but on official ground he cannot represent or propagate his particular religion because it is harmful for the secularism of the country.
If the defence minister would have been a Christian or a Muslim, what would have happened had they taken the Bible or Quran as per their religion like Rajnath Singh? It is observed in the present government that officials including prime minister of India give a religious turn to everything that belongs to the state whether it is an inauguration ceremony or any other occasion.
Such mind-set of the government gives rise to the question “Is Indian approaching towards Hindu Rashtra?” Will India lose its diversity and secularism as soon? Why are the people who object such mind-set being ignored in media?
Are people forgetting that India is a country where people celebrate Eid, Christmas, Diwali and other festivals together shoulder to shoulder and hand to hand? People should never forget that India is the largest democracy in the world where even the smallest number of religion following people live in peace and freedom. We celebrate our diversity every day in every span of life but do not realize it. We love the people who are excellent in their job and we celebrate their success irrespective of their religion.
By Faheem Usmani Qasmi
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)