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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Modi is truly a secular politician


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I am an Indian Christian. I support Prime Minister Narendra Modi and will continue to support him in his effort to lead India to rise as ‘Bharat’ because he is a secular politician. 

The word ‘secular’ in the Constitution of India is an anomaly. For decades people of India have been parroting that secularism is the acceptance of all religions in matters of governance; on the contrary, the clinical definition states that secularism is the acceptance of no religion in matters of governance. In simple words, a religion or caste does define the nationalism of a person but his or her citizenship does and the state must think of and act for them as citizens.

No politician leader from India that I personally met in my life, epitomizes the understanding of secularism through his words and actions better than the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi.

As a political leader, Modi is comfortable following his religious faith and is rather unabashed in flouting his Hindu religious beliefs and traditional practices. He is a Hindu and he is not ashamed to be seen as a ‘Hindu’. I find his public display of religious traditions endearing.

Modi is a secular leader because when he dons the role of the Prime Minister of India and works towards the welfare of citizens across religious communities he is not differentiating between Hindus Muslims Christians or Sikhs even though he is a Hindu and is a politician from a political party propagated as being a Hindu majority party.

In fact, this secular approach Modi has alienated a few core Hindutva proponents and organizations. They allege that Modi as a politician and because of his need for a political balance appears to be diluting his stance on issues that are important to some Hindu leaders. Some of these leaders believe that in his effort to be recognized as a global political leader of repute, he has now taken a softer stand on critical issues that are seen as the bane of some religious communities in India. They also feel that he now prefers to appease more minorities than the Hindu communities.

I, of course, do not agree with these assertions of some of the Hindu leaders. Expecting Narendra Modi to focus only on the concerns plaguing the Hindus and ignoring the issues of people from other religious communities is unwise for a politician who is the Prime Minister of India. He is not the Prime Minister of Hindus in India. He is after all the Prime Minister of India. More importantly, I am of the opinion that Modi has done more for Hindu Dharma as the Prime Minister of India than any other Indian Prime Minister before has ever done.

The recent outreach efforts of Narendra Modi amongst the minority communities especially Muslims and Christians must be appreciated. His strengthening relationships with the Arab nations in particular Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have set in motion a strong geopolitical friendship that will assist India and the Indian subcontinent in dealing with the curse of Islamic radicalism in the region which is the root cause of Islamic terrorism

According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-5 of 2019-20, the Muslim population in India is estimated to be around 20.2 million, which is around 14.2 percent of the total population. The Muslim community has benefitted significantly from various government schemes and initiatives like the PM Jan Dhan Yojana, more than 42 percent of the accounts opened by this scheme are owned by Muslims. About 23 percent of the beneficiaries of the Skill India Scheme were from the Muslim community. In fact, the percentage of Muslim children enrolment in schools in Grades I to XII reached 36.59 million, the highest recorded between 2013-14 and 2021-22, and the lowest was 31.56 million in 2012-13. According to NFHS-5, the literacy rate among Muslim women has increased significantly to 72.6 percent compared to 50.7 percent in the NFHS-4 survey. A sign of the Modi-led government empowering Muslim women. In fact, On 30 July 2019, the Parliament of India declared the practice of Triple Talaq illegal and unconstitutional and made it a punishable act from 1 August 2019 freeing thousands of Muslim women from the cruel patriarchal burden of Triple Talaq.

Modi’s visit to the Vatican and his meeting with the Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church Pope Francis in October 2021 was an effort on his part to cement relationships with the most prominent and influential Christian institution in the world. India is home to over 24 million Christians, accounting for two percent of the population in India by religious demographics; many of whom owe their allegiance of faith to the Catholic Church. Modi invited the vicar of the Catholic faith to visit India. Earlier this year to partake in the Easter Celebrations with the people of the Christian community, Modi visited the Sacred Heart Cathedral. On Modi’s visit to the Cathedral, Fr. Francis Swaminathan said it would demonstrate his support for the minorities. “PM Narendra Modi is coming to our church today and we are excited about it. I think this is the first time that a sitting Prime Minister has come to visit a church. The fact that the Prime Minister is coming is, in itself, a big message. We know he cares about all minorities, including Christians.”

The narrative that Muslim and Christian minorities are in danger in India under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi appears to be a fugazi. Earlier this week, in response to the allegations of an escalating wave of anti-Christian incidents in India, the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) extended an invitation to the United Christians Forum (UCF) for discussions on the concerns faced by the Christian community. The invitation, sent by the NCM, specified a meeting scheduled for September 21, 2023, at the NCW Office in New Delhi. 

Minorities are not living in danger in India because India is being governed by a Prime Minister who is secular in thought and action. He does not differentiate between citizens on the basis of their religion. He is working for the Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Parsi, and all citizens of India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done more for the social welfare of the minorities in India than political leaders beating the drums that ‘minorities are not safe in India’.


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