ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Ghar Wapsi: Political Agenda, Religious Garb

An appropriate response is not to curtail legitimate civil liberties or democratic freedoms, for this could have even more dangerous political and social consequences in areas of civil liberties and democratic rights, but rather to work towards better inter-religious understanding and dialogue. Those opposed to religious conversions also need to interrogate themselves. Why is it that the oppression or wretchedness of would-be converts merits little attention, except in the event of their changing religious allegiance?

In his Anti-Memoirs in 1968, André Malraux recalls asking Nehru “What is your greatest difficulty since Independence?” Nehru’s spontaneous reply was “Creating a just State by just means, I think”, and after a pause, “perhaps too, creating a secular State in a religious country”. The controversy over religious conversion epitomises how both difficulties have grown exponentially in tandem.

In many places in our world, religious indifference loosely unites a large part of the population, while in many others religious differences sharply divide people. The problem is not so much with religion itself as the kind of religion implied with the unity or the division, with the difference or the indifference. Jonathan Swift once perspicaciously remarked that we have enough religion to hate each other but not enough to love each other! Perhaps nowhere is this truer than in the charged religious climate in India today, and no issue illustrates this better than the one of conversions recently on the boil because of the ghar wapsi (homecoming) imbroglio.

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