What India needs most: Tolerance and communal harmony

“Pluralism, best expressed in ‘Unity in Diversity,’ is what makes our Constitution unique. What do you think?” was the topic we proposed for the Teen Point of View for this month. The responses we received were, as usual, more than what we can publish in one issue. However, we are happy that we have given an opportunity to our young readers to reflect on a very important issue that touches the very soul of India. Here are a few excerpts from the responses:

“…The architects of our Constitution made plurality, unity in diversity, the bed-rock of the Indian polity. The concept of plurality, therefore, is very central to the idea of India,” wrote Chanpreet Kaur Bhinder from St Joseph’s Convent School, Jalandhar. Arunima of the same school writes, “Before being a Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh or Jain, we are Indians. This is pluralism.”

Here is an incident that took place at Nilakkal in Kerala some 35 years ago. Overnight, an “Ayodhya-like” situation, erupted there regarding an ‘ancient’ cross situated near a Hindu temple. One night, the cross was destroyed by some communal elements.

The Christians around were up in arms, insisting on re-installing the cross at the same spot, at any cost. But to the dismay of all concerned, the Bishops of the region took an entirely different stand: ”What we need is not the CROSS, but tolerance and communal harmony!” Soon, the situation calmed down, and normalcy was restored.

A few years later, in the context of the “Ayodhya build-up” set by the Sants and by the Sangh Parivar, a lone voice was heard in Delhi, that of Puri Sankaracharya. He spoke at a press conference, “Those who insist on building a temple for Lord Ram, should remember what Lord Ram did – he gave up his rightful throne, left the palace in favour of Bharata, and lived in the wilderness for 14 long years!”

In the context of the landmark judgement of the Supreme Court giving Hindus the right to build the temple in Ayodhya, the birthplace of Lord Ram, and a Mosque elsewhere in a prominent spot, we need to reaffirm the beautiful principles of pluralism and tolerance on which pillars our country stands. Let us affirm: “What India needs most today is not a Cross, a temple or a Mosque, but tolerance and communal harmony,” while agreeing that these places of worship do play a vital role in our personal lives!

Alfonso Elengikal
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Alfonso Elengikal

Alfonso Elengikal, SSP, has the unique distinction of being the longest-serving editor of THE TEENAGER TODAY, an office he held for over 17 years. He is the bestselling author of You Can Make A Difference, You Are Destined For The Skies, Let The Real You Stand Up! and Discover The Hero Within You published by Better Yourself Books.