Being a Secular Nation: Peculiar Case of SECULARISM In Today’s India

Secularism – Constitution of India


According to Wikipedia – Indian constitution defines ‘Secularism’  – “With the 42nd Amendment of the Constitution of India enacted in 1976,the Preamble to the Constitution asserted that India is a secular nation. However, neither India’s constitution nor its laws define the relationship between religion and state. The laws implicitly require the state and its institutions to recognise and accept all religions, enforce parliamentary laws instead of religious laws, and respect pluralism”

“Intolerance” or “being tolerant”

No, don’t want to teach you about secularism, not even an article about the so called “intolerance” or “being tolerant”. It is an article about my city – City of Joy – center of culture – Kolkata.

Born in a catholic family, raised in a muslim locality, acquired tutelage from a convent school, developed “friendship for life” with awesome people hailing from diverse backgrounds and married a Hindu – I am a Bona Fide Secular – I am an Indian – a Bengali. The fact that I have to proclaim and loosen each aspect of my ‘being’ in 2017 India – is similar to peeling an onion – draws a paradox with the entire concept of SECULARISM in India TODAY!

Ism – Factor

Well, I’m not going to divulge or debate about any ‘ism’ that is currently driving our nation. Also, a noted disclaimer – I don’t represent (or wish to) any political party (but I’m open to a ‘open house party). I’m simply going to share my two cents as a Bengali about a recent incident that took place – and as usual – peppered by social media because in the game of Chinese whispers played by social media – my ‘being’, ‘existence’, ‘stance’ and ‘cultural eloquence’ is getting distorted.

Durga Puja Nostalgia

Growing up – and till date continue to – I celebrated every festival – from Onam, Eid, Christmas, Navratri, Shivratri to Durga Puja. In fact, I would even leave all my books at the pedestal or podium or pandal during Sorosoti (Saraswati) puja – seeking the goddess’ blessing as a student. Also, the longest line to any eatery or food stall during Durga Puja is at the Biryani Stalls… Biryani with aloo (potato) – a Mughlai cuisine that we bengalis swear by!

Prosecution of the creative soul

Yesterday I came across a video snippet of a renowned hair connoisseur Jawed Habib – apologising for one of his advertisements from his brand’s Durga Puja Campaign. Like one of the rats from the story of Pied Piper – I too was driven to the “Ad” for which Mr. Habib had to extend his apology. And there was nothing offensive about it – I mean NOTHING. The ad cleverly illustrated the fundamentals of advertising – persuasion to engage customers!

It was a fun caricature of the Deity and her family, including her arch-nemesis – getting salon treatment – and the caption read: “Even Gods visit us”. As a bengali or bangali – I found it to be funny without being too gimmicky. I didn’t get offended but – wait for it – the pseudo dharma gurus – gatekeepers of our nation’s society-religion-culture – were left red-faced – more than the time (or never) when a ‘Asaram Bapu’ – a ‘Ram Rahim Insaan’ or any frivolous ‘babas’ who within the facade of ‘vulnerable’ (more like stupid) people of India – looted and raped our country!

I was listening to a conversation between Radio Mirchi RJ Mir and Jawed Habib today – in his “Hi Kolkata” show – where Mir (a muslim Bengali) expressed his pain towards ‘social media persecution’ of Mr Habib and said exclaimed that Mr Habib should not have apologised in the first place. I equally agree with Mir but also could not applaud and gain inspiration from Jawed Habib – who said exactly this, “If people who do mistakes don’t apologise, I am apologising for not doing anything wrong. And if saying sorry to people who got offended, will make them happy or satisfy their souls, then I don’t mind apologising” And that my friend is what an honest Indian or a Humane soul is all about!

If the pseudo nationalists-socialists-gatekeepers-of-Indian-culture got offended and trolled Jawed Habib for a dextrously created advertisement – then they should equally oppose and bring down hoardings, ads and campaigns that are developed in the name of Gods.

Why make money out of religious commercialisation then?

Why have banners, hoardings et al during festivities?

Why such a double standard?

Why the so-called ‘politically aligned’ bengalis do not get upset or aggrieved when pandal committees visit homes to collect chanda and spend crores during Puja festivals?

Why these thekedars aren’t vexed at the thoughts of ‘Bollywood Khans’ doing viserjans during Ganapati puja or making movies – like Bajrangi Bhaijaan?

What’s with the misuse of power – coaxed by any political agenda?

Why should we allow such pathetic low-lifes – trolls – who spew venom in the facade of social media – take control of our opinions, expression, and destroy our ‘social structure’ – which we bengalis have been applauding for years and allow them to douse the very Spirit of Bengalis down the drain?

#relax #enjoy be #free!

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