By Manuwant Choudhary
I am happy that the `Mahagatbandhan' for `Secularism' has won in Bihar....but I do worry why we have left secularism to mean simple `arithmetic' to be protected and defended by the likes of Laloo Yadav....
So today my appeal is to the people of India to reclaim the essence of India.
Otherwise, we will continue to elect the Modi's to power...`Ab Ki Baar Money Sarkar' !
Yet, if I tell you that India is not a secular country you may think I am batting for the RSS.
But that is exactly what Minoo Masani, a member of India's Constituent assembly that framed India's constitution in 1949, told me.
He said India was not a `Secular' country and that is the reason why after debates we decided not to include that word in the Indian constitution...
So if its not Secular then what is India supposed to be?
He explained, "India cannot be Secular..because Secular in its strict sense means to be anti-religion...so if we call India Secular it is wrong...since India is a deeply religious country..with its thousands of gods...so if you ask me I would say our constitution when it was framed was `non-denominational'..that is the government was not to have a religion or favoured religion...."
So in reality `Non-denominational' is what we mean by `dharmnirpeksh' or the equal treatment of all religions.
This word would also give equal treatment to the non-believers or atheists.
But Indira Gandhi in the national emergency introduced two words into the preamble of the Indian constitution...`Secular and Socialist' so now we have a situation that liberal parties cannot even contest elections,,,while a communal BJP rules India !
But right through my journey across the deserts of Rajasthan I came across stories of how Hindus and Muslims co-exist peacefully....they do not really have to be at war.
Like at this temple Tanot Devi at Tanot..just 10 kms from the Pakistan border...we saw a pir baba housed in the same temple as the Devi and both Hindus and Muslims worship together.
The story is that in the 1971 war when Pakistan attacked the temple complex...none of the shells that landed here exploded...so the diety has all the unexploded Pakistani shells around her even now !
Tano Devi is actually an incarnation of Hinglaz Mata in Balochistan...in Pakistan...and both represent `Shakti' or Durga....
Alone under a tree in a desert camp... with a full moon looking down at me through the branches...my mind wandered across the fenced international border with Pakistan....
....to an India of the Hindu Kush mountains...when we were all safe...even Allah..and all our Gods....