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US Senators’ So-Called Concern About ‘Tolerance Level In India’ – OpEd

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It is reported that eight US senators and 26 members of the US House of Representatives have raised grave concerns about “increasing intolerance and violence experienced by members of religious minority communities in India.”

Obviously, the above US lawmakers have made such statements without studying the facts and ground realities in India and probably have reacted based on some reports provided to them by someone or the other. Holding the position as senators and members of US House of Representatives, they ought to have been more responsible and more careful before issuing such statements.

Conditions in US no better

In recent times, we have repeatedly seen incidents in the US, where members of minority community such as Hindus and particularly Sikhs have been attacked, and even killed by extremists. Feelings of hatred against Muslims has also been whipped up in the US, despite there being a large number of Muslims living in the US that do not hold any extremist views and indeed are loyal to the US, the country to which they have migrated willingly. On seeing such isolated incidents, nobody can say that the US has become an intolerant country.

Violent attacks on blacks by the whites and by the whites and the blacks are not uncommon in the US, though not frequent. The conflict between blacks and whites is routinely talked about in the US though the government does not make any distinctions between blacks and whites in its policies and laws. Can we accuse the whites in the US of being hostile to the blacks, or vice versa, because some stray elements speak and act against one race and color or the other.

What is particularly surprising is that no one in the US seems to have disapproved the above negative statement of some US senators and members of US House of Representatives,  and how such avoidable statements unfairly tarnish the image of India and the people of India.

Under the circumstances, one cannot but suspect that the above senators and the members of the House of Representatives have some motivations. One wishes that they have no such motivations, but are only ill-informed and careless.

India is a tolerant country

There are around more than 1.2 billion people living in India belonging to various religions, different castes in the same religion, speaking different languages, having different types of skin color and facial features, with different socio-economic background. Millions of Indians belonging to different religions live in harmony and peace as neighbors without any animosity.

In the Sabarimala temple in southern India, where millions of devotees visit every year, there is a mosque by the side of the Hindu temple and the Hindus who go to the Sabarimala temple visit the mosque also. In the same way, many Hindus visit the Velankanni church in Tamil Nadu every year during the annual festival. Many other similar examples can be readily given.

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Just like the US , some isolated incidents take place in India and unfortunately a section of the media and political parties blow such incidents out of proportion to give huge negative publicity.

The fact is that whenever such incidents take place, the police force acts immediately, arrests the culprit and the law takes its own course.

Prime Minister Modi has been deploring and disapproving such activities at every opportunity and has made it very clear that his governance is oriented towards peace and happiness for all without making any difference between different people on religious or economic basis.

Need to highlight the positives to defeat the negatives

It is particularly shocking that some US senators and members of  the House of Representatives, elected for the job by the enlightened citizens of US, do not understand the basic facts that representatives of the people should be balanced in taking a view on any matter and should study the matter in depth before arriving at conclusions and issuing statements.

Ever since the world was born there have always been negatives and positives — and the fight for civilization is the fight to overcome the negatives by the positives.

By highlighting some isolated incidents in India that are totally disproportional to the size and complexity of the country, the above US lawmakers have not only blackened their faces, but also caused serious doubts about the wisdom and pragmatic outlook of average lawmaker in the US.

N. S. Venkataraman

N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

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