The call for communal amity by civil society groups in Goa comes at a time when religious intolerance and majoritarian politics in the country are at a high and free speech is being curtailed. That brings out a question: Is India already an authoritarian democracy or is this still debatable?
There is no place for religious supremacy in a country that always espouses its democratic values. Those who practice the virtues of religious supremacy are nothing more than bigots. In a democracy, every religion has the rightful place and all co-exist and in Goa we have seen and lived this peaceful co-existence.
However, some of the incidents we have witnessed over the last few months do not bode well for a State like Goa which is a perfect example of how religious communities have co-existed peacefully with each other.
The Margao meeting where civil society group leaders met was actually a referendum against religious bigotry and is a wake-up call for Goans of all faiths not to fall prey to the idea of religious supremacy. If we go by the Constitution, there is no place for religious supremacy in this country.
However, the reality on the ground is different, and now it is time for well-meaning people to start a discourse among Goans to keep outside fundamental influences at bay and at the same time imbibe some of the good ones.
Having said that, the point here is no religion teaches us to hate or kill each other and it will be prudent if we don’t allow our religious beliefs to control our behaviour to an extent that we rise up and challenge other people's faiths.
Religious supremacy has no meaningful interpretation and its only objective is to show other people’s faith as inferior. When Christ died on the cross he said ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing’.
Look at some of the countries that espouse the cause of Christianity and where Christian supremacists hold sway, showing other religions in a bad light. They really don’t know what they are doing.
The same thing is true of Hindu supremacists in India today who do not understand that Hinduism is a way of life with some of the oldest cultural values encompassing cultural diversities and popular beliefs. By calling Hinduism a religion, the supremacists have toned down its true meaning and are now prophesising that their faith is in danger.
Goans have to be wary of such people who are out to disturb communal peace. Now that elections are around the corner, the political discourse is veering towards religion keeping in line with Bharatiya Janata Party’s polarisation plank which will hit its peak soon.
Goans will have to be wise this time to choose their leaders wisely and not vote on the basis of caste, religion and region. They will have to impress upon their leaders so elected to uphold the Constitution of the country and not fall for the machinations of divisive forces.
We were never born as religious beings, but were created for a purpose, and the only way for us to be happy is to live in harmony with each other. Some may believe they have a creator, some may not, but for both groups, there is a bigger purpose to fulfill in life and that is to co-exist with each other.