9 July:Justice A.M. Ahmadi, former Chief Justice of India has called for a need to awaken secular forces to contain the malafide designs of communal forces in order to save our democracy. Justice Ahmadi was addressing the first annual lecture on the topic ‘How to dispel mistrust between majority community and minorities – the need for confidence building measures’ organized by the National Commission for Minorities here yesterday.
The lecture was organized to commemorate the setting up of the National Commission for Minorities under the NCM Act 1992 on July 5th, 1993.Citing the composite culture of our country, Justice Ahmadi said that we need to set in motion a process of mutual understanding, trust and accommodation to foster in harmony and peace. As Alfred Whitehead put it, ‘the divisive moment when man progressed from barbarity to civilization is when man moved from use of force to reliance on the use of persuasion’. The decisive moment came when man moved from force to persuasion to resolve differences, when might of arms was replaced by the arsenal of rational dialogue.
He said, the State needs to act firmly to send a clear message to such elements that enough is enough. Civil society must also raise its voice; in fact is should become the voice of the voiceless. The fact that we who belong to different religious denominations have assembled here kindles a ray of hope and is proof that redemption is alive in human hearts. India, unfortunately, has been a victim of violence based on religious or cultural conflicts ever since the seeds were sown of the divide and rule policy of the colonial rulers. Unless we are able to rid ourselves of hate and overcome the feeling of distrust and mistrust, i.e. remove this disease from the system, the boil will erupt every now and then and no amount of dressing will rid the system of the disease. In order to remain relevant and effective, the civil society should remain in constant touch with issues concerning the local people. This will make it difficult for the vested interests to take charge of the situation and exploit it, he added. We need to be extra vigilant to ensure that our young minds in educational institutions are fed on positive aspects of different faiths and not on distorted history or matters that preach violence. Poverty, very often, is the cause for social unrest and every effort must be made to bridge the gap between the haves and the have nots. Through regular inter-faith dialogues along we can prevent such elements from spreading hatred in society in the name of religion. It needs a three-pronged approach, (i) regular inter-faith dialogue, (ii) civil society initiative and (iii) a strong governmental will to nip such endeavours in the bus. We need to awaken the secular forces from their slumber to contain the malafide designs of communal forces, or else our democracy and freedoms will be jeopardized. To remove mistrust and misunderstanding between people of different faiths, casts and ethnic groups we must adopt the civilized method of dialogue and not hostility. One such way is that the NCM should create peace committee in every state if necessary fund them and ensure that before politician jumps into the fray, the civil society should take charge and ensure that situation does not deteriorate, he added.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Chairperson of National Commission for Minority, Shri Mohammad Shafi Qureshi spoke of the diversed ingredients of Indian pluralism and said the essence of India is in the concept of ‘Sarva Dharma Sambhav’ or ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’. Inter-community and inter-faith understanding has been the hallmark of India’s unity in the past. These coupled with the composite culture exhibited by people and obtaining, over a period of time, gave birth to ‘secularism’ as a concept. Secularism is recognition of India’s religio-cultural pluralism. It emphasizes equality of all religious faiths in the country. All our religious faiths teach mutual love and respect and communal peace & harmony. Intolerance and violence in the name of religion is alien to our culture. Preserving the composite culture and promotion of harmony and spirit of common brotherhood transcending religion and sectoral diversities are essential ingredients for achieving national unity, Shri Qureshi said.