Ram Rajya Khalsa Aid Style!
LUCKNOW: There seemed to be no one except Bangladesh willing to come to the help of the terrified Rohingyas being driven out of Myanmar with the tacit support of the the once famed Aung San Suu Kyi, an international Sikh charity organisation Khalsa Aid took the much needed plunge.
The organisation moved to swiftly set up ‘langars’ or community kitchens which are traditionally offered in Gurdwaras. Even India, which otherwise has a historic reputation of responding sympathetically to any humanitarian crisis and accommodating all kinds of f people seeking refuge, turned the desperate people away. With a right wing government at the helm India said that they could be a potential threat because of their religion.
The Indian National Human Rights Commission has highlighted Article 21 of the Constitution upholding Right to Life and Personal Liberty for the Rohingyas as well and opposed plans for the deportation of the approximately 40,000 living in India, but the government is planning to keep them in 'detention centres'.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi celebrated Diwali with soldiers on the border, as has become the wont, and Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath lit 1,87,213 diyas or earthen lamps, one in the name of every citizen in Ayodhya at government expense.
PM Modi must be asked why does he have to rush to the border on every occasion of religious and national importance? Lal Bahadur Shashtri, a PM his Bharatiya Janata Party holds in higher regard than the members of the Nehru-Gandhi family, had given the slogan 'Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan.' Should not the PM be visiting families of farmers whose members have committed suicide, or parents of the children who died in Baba Raghav Das Hospital, Gorakhpur, which could have been avoided with better health care facilities, instead of demonstrating his militaristic mindset on every occasion?
CM Adityanath announced a package of Rs. 133 crores following up on Rs. 350 crores plan declared earlier in June for Ayodhya's development. This colossal waste of public funds on purely religious events violates the secular principle incorporated in the Indian Constitution. More than constitutional, it is morally unacceptable when half the children are malnourished and people can be found begging on every major street crossing of major cities, including the 'smart' ones, and outside temples, mosques and shrines.
The remnants of the 25,000 litres oil burnt in earthen lamps was being collected by people after the event, possibly to be used for cooking a meagre meal. The oil used was that of mustard and sesame and maybe soyabean too.
Models especially invited from Mumbai dressed up as Ram, Sita and Laxman arrived in a UP government helicopter to create an impression, according to mythology, of Ram arriving after 14 years of exile from Lanka in Pushpak Viman.
This use of state helicopter by artists was in violation of governmental protocol. It needs to be investigated s to who authorised its use for this event. UP Governor Ram Naik, whose job it is to see that Constitutional propriety is maintained was part of the event, almost hand in glove with the UP government. Very quick to point out any irregularity in the last government he seems to be overlooking some discrepancies in the present one. His Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh background, which is the ideological parent of the BJP, prevents him from being unbiased.
While Khalsa Aid is winning global accolades, the BJP's religious polarisation and indifference to rights and justice is under a question mark. Whereas people belonging to the Sikh religion are using their private resources for a noble cause, the people engaging in politics as torch bearers of the Hindu religion are taking public resources down the drain. It would have been so much better if Adityanath had fed 1,87,213 people of Ayodhya a wholesome meal. But there is no concept of feeding people respectfully in Hindu religion like in Sikh religion. The only way somebody is fed is by treating him/her as beggar. That is why Hindu and other religions have failed to get rid of the practice of begging whereas Sikh beggars are non-existent.
The core universal religious values are compassion, large heartedness, tolerance and empathy. While Khalsa Aid has amply demonstrated these, their Hindutva counterparts have displayed their sectarian tendencies. The Sikhs associated with Khalsa Aid are definitely religious who also don't discriminate on the basis of religion, race, caste, etc. They have provided succor in the 2005 earthquake, 2009 in the Swat crisis and after the terror attack in Manchester earlier this year.
Even though Adityanath has pompously declared that now there is Ram Rajya established in UP, for the second time in history, in which there will be no discrimination on the basis of caste, religion, etc. t it is no secret that RSS-BJP thrives on anti-Muslim propaganda and misadventure. Performing rituals in not being religious, but living the universal values is. The RSS-BJP is merely interested in politics of symbolism. People indulging in politics in the name of religion can at best be described as pseudo-religious. With the emergence of the RSS and coming to power of BJP in various states and at the centre we've witnessed more hate crimes, targeting of Muslims and Dalits in public lynchings, curb on freedom of expression, moral policing and in general creation of an atmosphere of religious intolerance. Actually this is acting against the spirit of religious values and tolerance with the RSS-BJP doing serious damage to the fabric and image of Hindu religion in the world.
(Sandeep Pandey is a Magsaysay Awardee)