Current Affairs


Religious Intolerance in India

Why in News:

  • Karnataka’s probe into the murder of rationalist M.M. Kalburgi in Dharwad on Sunday has expanded to Maharashtra as investigators are examining if there are links with the murders of anti-superstition campaigners Narendra Dhabolkar in Pune in 2013 and Govind Pansare in Kolhapur in February this year.


  • Religion in India is characterized by a diversity of religious beliefs and practices. India is the birthplace of four of the world’s major religions; namely Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.
  • Throughout India’s history, religion has been an important part of the country’s culture. Religious diversity and religious tolerance are both established in the country by the law and custom.
  • The recent resurgence of religiosity has been associated with the growth of intolerance and, in some cases, the outbreak of conflict in the country.
  • Intolerance is the unwillingness to extend political, economic, and social rights to other ethnic groups, regardless of perceived similarities or differences in basic values, norms, or beliefs.
  • From the publication of books, paintings and cartoons to ideas expressed on Facebook, public life for artists in India is tied up with censorship and threats of legal action.
  • There was a time as Indians when we were proud of our values of pluralism and tolerance; now that is under attack along with academic freedom of expression
  • On and on it goes. Two ideas typically foster religious intolerance and disrespect. The first is that one’s own religion is the only true religion and that other religions are false or morally incorrect.
  • Much more dangerous is the second idea, that the state and private citizens should coerce people into adhering to the “correct” religious approach.
  • It’s an idea that is catching on, even in many modern democracies. Hindu right wing’s repeated claims that minorities in India must become part of Hindu culture are disturbing recent examples.

Was Religious India always religiously Intolerant?

  • In India secularism was founded in 5th century B.C, when the Jains, Buddhists and charavakas rejected the power and authority of the Vedas and idols and considered it as a false belief.
  • Religion has always been an important aspect of peoples life because India is not a mono-religious country. India s old hindu scriptures like the Upanishads also emphasise on secular principles.
  • According to the people it was impossible to separate religion from their social life.
  • This mindset began to change when the East India Company established their power and control in India.
  • The British instituted different laws for Hindus, Muslims, Parsis, Christians and Sikhs. This laid foundation for the divide and rule policy.
  • Different religious sects began to establish religious institutions and places of worship giving priority to a particular religion.

Where lie the lacunas?

  • To begin with article 290 A of the Indian constitution clearly states that a sum of forty six lakhs and fifty thousand rupees and a sum of thirteen lakhs and fifty thousand rupees respectively, are paid every year out of the Kerela and Tamil Nadu consolidated fund to the Dewaswom funds for the maintenance of Hindu shrines.
  • This is a clear discrimination of the constitutional provision which states that “state revenue cannot be used to maintain religious institutions”.
  • Religion, nationalism and politics can be positive influences on a country if the separation of religion and state is maintained. Integration of religion, nationalism and politics can have a devastating effect on religious freedom.
  • At its simplest level, religious tolerance is about allowing others to hold beliefs that run contrary to one’s own beliefs. It does not require that opposing beliefs be facilitated, supported, or not contradicted – but it does require that competing beliefs be allowed to exist.
  • But many dissent from this definition, claiming that religious beliefs should not be criticized, yet this position is untenable and an example of empty-headed political correctness. The mere existence of competing belief-systems is in itself criticism. For example, it’s difficult to read the Bible without coming away with the impression that Hindu and Muslim beliefs are utterly wrong, and certainly the basic premise of Islam condemns the heretical Christian claim that Jesus was the son of God.

No other country has people speaking so many languages, belonging to so many religions.  In this diversity we have to find unity and if we do not than these religious differences will divide India. By and large people have to live united. Co-existence is a fine word which should explains people’s spirit of mutual understanding and religious tolerance. Everyone has the right to practice his religion and speak his language. We should develop a mentality that we are all equal.


"Religious India is religiously intolerant". Despite enshrining the idea and notion of Secularism in our Constitution, India is increasingly becoming a place for communal differences. Discuss

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