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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Election Commission staff dressed as Santa Claus – whither Secularism?

Election Commission of India (ECI) has organised camps in prominent malls of Delhi to create voter awareness about upcoming Delhi Assembly elections. While the intent of the ECI is laudatory, what is jarring is that ECI staff is dressed as ‘Santa Claus’ in these camps.

From election & railway staff to Government schools, Santa Claus is fast becoming a ubiquitous presence, and  this is also nothing but a form of inadvertent soft proselytisation as it creates a sense of amazement and wonder in children towards Christmas.

In a country where our intelligentsia never tires of reminding us that we are a ‘secular’ state and hence must constantly deny our Dharmic civilizational roots, this benign looking action of the ECI reveals exactly what the idea of ‘secularism’ has been distorted into.

So while the same ECI staff dressed up as Krishna, Hanuman or Ganesha would have kicked up a furore in rarefied Lutyens’ circles, we are told that to prove our secularism and inclusiveness we need to make special concessions for the so-called minorities. The more Hinduphobic you are, the more secular you are.

Secularism means separation of ‘church and state’, we are told by our Westernized elites. Actually, even this is false because no such strict separation exists in the modernized Western nations from where this idea was imported. Countries like UK, Denmark, Norway, Russia, Italy, Spain all have Christianity as the state or preferred religion and their Government’s international aid is often routed through Christian organizations to increase their ‘soft power’ & ‘moral force’. The big daddy of them all – USA – is the global epicentre of ultra-aggressive Christian evangelicals who want to bring all of mankind under the ‘Kingdom of God (Christ)’, and the US State Department openly supports this evangelical agenda through biased federal bodies like USCIRF.

Advanced Western nations routinely declare pride in their Graeco-Roman roots and Judeo-Christian values.  This article in the left-liberal Washington Post mainstream American newspaper tells it like it is –

“The Judeo-Christian tradition is a core tenet of American national identity, part of the civic religion of the United States. President Dwight D. Eisenhower famously called for a government that “is founded in a deeply felt religious faith, and I don’t care what it is. With us, of course, it is the Judeo-Christian concept but it must be a religion that all men are created equal.”

In any Western country, the State would not dare to exercise the sort of control the Indian State does over Hindu temples, religious institutions and schools. In fact, the very word ‘secular’ today has come to represent the work of the Christian Church outside its precincts.

Even Buddhists have shown far more spine than us Hindus and countries like Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bhutan, Cambodia have declared Buddhism as the state or preferred religion. And we need not discuss how proudly Muslim countries wear their religious identity and the sort of severe restrictions they place on practitioners of other faiths.

But in Bharat, the idea of secularism hasn’t just been limited to denying our Dharmic roots; it has morphed into placing minorities on a higher pedestal and giving them benefits denied to the majority (read Hindus). One just has to look at Articles 26 to 30 of Constitution and how they have been interpreted by successive courts to understand the asymmetry at play in Bharat.

The bottomline is this – The Bharatiya state should in no way, shape or form promote non-indigenous, globally dominant religions that have a strong impulse to convert others and thereby pose an existential threat to diverse Dharmic religions, including fragile tribal belief systems, and ways of life. And our State must embrace its Dharmic ethos with aplomb, and work to preserve our Dharmic identity while simultaneously pursuing the material modernization agenda.

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