Today's India is living the nightmares of its founding fathers

Aiding and abetting the BJP in its design are some of the so-called independent institutions of democracy.
Published 31 Aug, 2020 03:37pm

Inaugurating a dam in the 1950s, India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru called it the temple of modern India. For Nehru, factories, research institutes, universities, irrigation dams and power stations were the temples of modern India. As the first premier of a nascent nation, he wanted to keep India away from deep religious divide that marked the country’s independence. Nehru consciously steered clear of divisive agendas and tried to navigate India towards a new trajectory of development to establish it as a secular and modern nation where religion was not to be used as a marker for defining nationhood.

In the second decade of the 21th century, Narendra Modi’s idea of India is the opposite of what the founding fathers of independent India envisioned. He wants to define India as a Hindu nation and not as a modern, progressive, secular state where nation building means a focus on developing a scientific temperament, keeping religion out of political discourse and forging unity in diversity.

By laying the foundation of a Hindu temple in Ayodhya where the Babri mosque once stood, Modi on August 5 announced loud and clear that Indian nationalism could not be separated from Hinduism. He compared August 5 with August 15, signalling clearly that August 5 held the same significance for Hindu nationalists that Independence day holds for all Indians. He even called the foundation day of the temple a liberation day for India’s majority community.

The undercurrent of rightwing majoritarian politics has been a constant presence in Indian politics since independence. But the leadership of the Congress party with Nehru at the helm kept such forces in check and the fringe Hindu groups could never get the political and moral legitimacy in independent India as they enjoy now. There had however always been a constant fear of what will happen to India if and when the fanatical Hindu nationalist fringe took over political power.

That fear is a now living reality in India.

The political agitation to build a temple at Ayodhya in place of the mosque started in the 1980s and reached its crescendo in 1992 with the demolition of the Babri mosque by a fanatic Hindu crowd.

After the humiliating defeat of the BJP in the 1984 general elections where it got just two parliamentary seats out of 545, the new party president Lal Krishna Advani decided to launch an aggressive political campaign in the name of temple building and mobilising people in the name of Hindu pride. It was also advertised that the 16th century mosque in Ayodhya was built on the site where Hindu mythical god Ram was born. Advani established an emotional chord with Hindu nationalists and the BJP started to gain traction in India for the first time.

The temple movement polarised the entire society and wherever the Advani campaign reached, religious tension and violence took place. The campaign became so vicious and emotionally charged that in 1992 the majoritarian mob razed the mosque and riots took place at many places with Mumbai witnessing one of the worst communal unrest in modern times.

The deepening polarisation catapulted the BJP to the national mainstream and by 1996 it secured 161 seats in the Indian parliament and in the subsequent mid-term elections in 1998 the party secured 182 seats, for the first time forming a government in New Delhi, albeit with the support of other parties.

The rise of the BJP has also seen growing political marginalisation and societal otherisation of India's 15% Muslim population.

Furthermore, while the nation-building that started after India's independence focused on inclusive growth and bridging religious faultlines, BJP thrives on these exact faultlines, and to it nation-building only means majoritarian consolidation.

The otherisation of Muslims got new momentum after BJP's thumping victory in two subsequent general elections — in 2014 and 2019 — and subsequently a new phase of Hindu nationalist consolidation got underway. And it is not surprise that for the first time in the last two general elections, a ruling party in India does not have a single elected Muslim parliamentarian in its camp. Before this, it was pretty much unthinkable for a ruling party in India to run without adequate representation from the largest religious minority in the country.

The 2019 mandate further emboldened the BJP, which launched an aggressive push for Hindu consolidation.

The criminalisation of triple talaq among Muslims was the first major change the BJP brought in after returning to power. Under this law, any Muslim man would face a jail term if he utters triple talaq. By criminalising a civil law, the BJP is sending a message to its Hindu constituents that it is punishing Muslim men and not so much that it's protecting Muslim women, which it claimed the law aimed at doing.

The abrogation of the special status of Muslim majority Jammu and Kashmir was another step in the same direction. From the 1950s, the right wing group has had the agenda to abolish Kashmir's special status and it has always seen the issue from the prism of religion.

So blinded is the BJP in pursuing its majoritarian agenda that it fails to take into account the long term consequences of its actions in Kashmir when it comes to regional peace and geopolitical stability.

Similarly, the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) are open attacks on Indian Muslims. The CAA grants citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Parsis from neighbouring countries but denies the same option to Muslims. Meanwhile, the NRC aims to prepare a registry of genuine citizens of India and if a Muslim fails to find a place in the NRC because of lack of documents, he or she will be declared stateless, unlike people from other religions who will be assimilated through CAA.

The humiliation of Muslims didn't end there. The communal violence in New Delhi in February further reinforced the divisive mindset of the regime. Media reports and fact-finding teams clearly blamed pro-CAA elements for inciting violence against Muslims who had been protesting against the controversial law. Majority of the lives lost and properties damaged belonged to Muslims. But the tragedy is such that the government instead of reaching out to Muslims and other victims got busy in arresting those who agotated against the CAA. Many students and civil society activists belonging to different religious groups ,mostly Muslims, have been arrested under draconian terror laws.

On the other hand, those associated with the BJP and other similar right-wing elements, who the fact-finding teams identified as being actively involved in fomenting violence, are roaming free.

Aiding and abetting the BJP in its design are some of the so-called independent institutions of democracy. Commentators question the silence of the judiciary on some of crucial issues, such as the change in Kashmir’s status as well as a lack of concern on mass arrests of civil society activists and students after the violence in New Delhi. Prominent experts and jurists have also questioned the apex court's one-sided verdict on the temple where the judgment gave the disputed land to Hindu plaintiffs without conclusively deciding the charge that the mosque was built after demolishing a temple.

A large section of the media is an active participant in promoting the divisive agenda of the Modi regime. They have turned communal and openly promote hatred and division in society, thereby further legitimising majoritarian rule and majoritarianism.

Today, India is not living the dreams of its founding fathers but in fact their nightmares.

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Sanjay Kumar is a New Delhi based journalist covering South Asia. A keen observer of politics in India and the subcontinent, Kumar in his 15 years of journalistic career has worked with both national and international media. A news reporter, columnist, commentator, producer and blogger, Kumar does not confine himself to one particular genre in journalism.


The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (106) Closed

Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad
Aug 31, 2020 03:43pm
The writer of the article is 100 percent right. However, in the corridors of power and influence in Old and New Delhi dominated by racist, bigot, biased, prejudiced and liar Modi and his fascist R.S.S. cronies and BJP stooges, who cares?
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Ali Sabir
Aug 31, 2020 03:48pm
"Forging unity in diversity" is a pillar of most modern industrial democracies.
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gaurav
Aug 31, 2020 03:51pm
and look who is complaining....pakistan...
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TP LINK
Aug 31, 2020 03:54pm
In Bangalore it was BJP who did arson and stone pelting. Peace loving people were drinking kahwa.
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Osman
Aug 31, 2020 03:56pm
Excellent article.
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S Thapa
Aug 31, 2020 04:00pm
The founding fathers are long gone. They are happy to send their blessings as their principles are still alive. You fail to explain why India suffers while the Indians are finally free and happy.
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S Thapa
Aug 31, 2020 04:06pm
Has any Indian government put the constitution in abeyance? Yes. There was one, it was Nehru’s daughter Indira who declared emergency ... and was thrashed in next election cycle. Modi will be thrashed too if his doings are found to be anti national and dubious
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Raj
Aug 31, 2020 04:07pm
India gives freedom to criticise so freely.
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Fastrack
Aug 31, 2020 04:08pm
Yet the ostriches keep their heads buried in sand of nationalism.
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Fastrack
Aug 31, 2020 04:10pm
Pakistan must thank Modi for undoing decades of Indian propaganda, cultural invasion and India's soft image in Pakistan and around the world.
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Khan
Aug 31, 2020 04:24pm
Well articulated, with Facts.
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bhaRAT©
Aug 31, 2020 04:25pm
An eyeopener for RSS brigade!
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Riyaz
Aug 31, 2020 04:28pm
And pakistan has outlived it.
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Sarwar
Aug 31, 2020 04:45pm
India reclaiming its past.
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Sarwar
Aug 31, 2020 04:45pm
Look who's talking
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Akram
Aug 31, 2020 04:49pm
brave article by an indian journalist. india is certainly going through a third Reich period, those supporting modi should read what happened to the third Reich when the Soviets stormed berlin.
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Sunil
Aug 31, 2020 04:50pm
Today’s Pakistan is enjoying the dreams of its founding fathers. P. N India’s history is thousands of years old its founding father are not the one taught in India and Pakistan
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Ramana
Aug 31, 2020 04:55pm
Today India in beautiful person hands
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M. Emad
Aug 31, 2020 05:01pm
Shri Narendra Modi fulfilling founding father's dream.
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kp
Aug 31, 2020 05:04pm
Today's India is Firm, Determined towards progress and we can achieve that as we are on right path. Left can not digest Peace and Prosperity.
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ADNAN
Aug 31, 2020 05:07pm
courageous man to speak the truth
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Priyanka
Aug 31, 2020 05:07pm
India is not founded by Gandhi it is existing from more than indus valley civilization
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Ali da Malanga
Aug 31, 2020 05:10pm
The world "nightmere" is not enough to describe what is happening in Hindustan. We need another word to define Hindustan's current situation.
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Yash
Aug 31, 2020 05:16pm
It's about time India had a real leader for all Indians rather than for minorities only.
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Critic
Aug 31, 2020 05:23pm
Today’s Indian is nazi Germany but very disorganised and backward.
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Rakesh
Aug 31, 2020 05:38pm
Yes in last 7 years we lost everything we earned...
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anil sahu
Aug 31, 2020 05:45pm
@Rakesh , it is reboot of policy and nightmare for leftists
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bhaRAT©
Aug 31, 2020 05:47pm
A must read for all Indians!
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Ga
Aug 31, 2020 05:58pm
@Ramana, beauty is indeed in the eyes of the beholder. Germans said the same about Hitler
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Chrís Dăń
Aug 31, 2020 05:58pm
@Sarwar, then india should remove the word"secular" from constitution.
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Common Man
Aug 31, 2020 06:05pm
@Sunil , Keep it up Modi, you will definitely take India to societal collapse
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Blue Knight
Aug 31, 2020 06:16pm
It was imperative to get closure for the Hindus, the Majority.. socially, economically & religiouly. These people are the inheritors of the most enriched philosophy and advanced & scientific way of life(which is getting recognised now), which withstood continuos invasions and foreign rule of their land.. This rich culture is now on resurgence, which is good for the whole of mankind.. the hearts are aching of some macalue putras, who are mental slaves of foreign culture & so called 'librals'
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Urmi
Aug 31, 2020 06:20pm
This is best part of India we have freedom of speech and still stay with dignity. India has large Hindu population so it is a Hindu country no doubt about it same as you being a Muslim country, we have many religious groups apart from Muslim that stay peacefully. So to see everything through the prism of Hindu/Muslim is not fare.
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T-man
Aug 31, 2020 06:36pm
Today's India is yesterday's Germany of Hitler.
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Savitri
Aug 31, 2020 06:43pm
India will go back to Stone Age if Modi remains PM.
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M. Saeed
Aug 31, 2020 06:45pm
The party that killed Mahatma Gandhi, the founding father of India, is now holding the reins of the gigantic India.
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M. Saeed
Aug 31, 2020 06:47pm
Lal Krishna Advani is a nominated killer in a Karachi court during the Partition riots and still a wanted person.
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Nitin
Aug 31, 2020 07:48pm
Is Pakistan herself a secular country?
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well-wisher
Aug 31, 2020 07:57pm
Modi and company will wake up one day to see the harm they have done to beautiful India.
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Kashmiri Pandit
Aug 31, 2020 07:57pm
India is going back to it's original roots, Hinduism the way of life here and be a golden bird once again. Fake leaders like Nehru had created a false legacy full of lies and deceit for Indians which is now getting corrected
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Rajeev
Aug 31, 2020 08:06pm
you will find such mir zafars every where.
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@Look at yourself
Aug 31, 2020 08:13pm
Don't worry about today's India,worry about tomorrow's Pakistan
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Bipin
Aug 31, 2020 08:18pm
Totally wrong assumptions, India is the oldest surviving and uninterrupted civilization of thousands of years, not founded by some individual recently.
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K Srinivas Rao
Aug 31, 2020 08:21pm
Politics of religion was started by Nehru. India now paying the price.
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Rishi Kesh Tewari
Aug 31, 2020 08:26pm
@Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad, sir I suppose you are in India or have just visited India to give your verdict above?
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K Sundar
Aug 31, 2020 08:37pm
@M. Saeed, what about gen Zia ul Haq and his successors
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pakOne
Aug 31, 2020 08:54pm
@bhaRAT©, ..A must read for all Indians!.. I was going to suggest the same..A must read for all Pakistanis.. But soon realized the article is in English and for the majority of Pakistanis their knowledge of English is limited to just like Pakistanis cricketers " Inshallah, boij play well".
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Khalid Shahab
Aug 31, 2020 09:05pm
I don't understand what's the fuss about the direction Indians have chosen for their national caravan. There are always unhappy passengers on these journeys. Like supporters of Hindutva were unhappy during the sham clad of secularism.
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Abdul Sattar
Aug 31, 2020 09:12pm
very well articulated. Thumbs up for the writer.
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Pawan
Aug 31, 2020 09:29pm
Perhaps 'The Dawn' saw the only credibility in this writing as it criticizes Modi govt. So be it.
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Zargham Durrani
Aug 31, 2020 09:52pm
My compliments to the author for stating the right things. Under the hindu fascists, Hindustan has become a problem child for the world. India had a history of secular thought which is long dead now. Minorities are not the only causualities, moderate and low caste hindus are also victims.
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Chrís Dăń
Aug 31, 2020 09:55pm
@gaurav, why not?where is the problem?
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Vikas
Aug 31, 2020 09:55pm
It should be a nightmare for some of the founding fathers. That just means things are now going the correct way.
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Veer
Aug 31, 2020 09:55pm
The unfortunate truth Is that British India under the British rule was a better country To live for the common man.
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Jacaruso
Aug 31, 2020 09:58pm
Thank you, Sanjay for uncovering true face of India!
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Marquis de Sade
Aug 31, 2020 09:59pm
@M. Saeed, really? Could you name your source, please?
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Mann
Aug 31, 2020 10:02pm
Well done Modi. When your leader is hated by the enemy your leader is doing something wrong.
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Vinay
Aug 31, 2020 10:18pm
Sanjay Kumar ( Jai Chand of modern times) is lucky to have born in India, which is very tolerant.
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Kris
Aug 31, 2020 11:21pm
Nehru's videos are available online. Nehru was far more to the right than todays liberals would like you to believe.
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Ashish
Aug 31, 2020 11:27pm
Actually Modiji is fixing all the blunders done by Nehru. Please give him more time.
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Shahid
Aug 31, 2020 11:28pm
@Rajeev , Digesting truth is hard for many.
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BANDHU
Aug 31, 2020 11:30pm
Of the enemies don't like today's India, then India is on right track.
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Zak
Aug 31, 2020 11:42pm
@Sarwar, 'India reclaiming its past.' In that case, the Great Mughal rulers should be back.
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Yes one
Aug 31, 2020 11:47pm
@Chrís Dăń, would stop remove it
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Yes one
Aug 31, 2020 11:50pm
@M. Saeed, then why do you act surprised every so often. Make peace with it.
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Yes one
Aug 31, 2020 11:50pm
@M. Saeed, people you don't like always have cases against them
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Prapur
Sep 01, 2020 12:09am
@Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad, Have you read it properly? India has history of thousands of years and not just from 1947 or even after Mughals invaded.
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Erum Aziz
Sep 01, 2020 12:22am
why 1947 happend?
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Erum Aziz
Sep 01, 2020 12:24am
India should learn from history... why 1947 happend?
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aman
Sep 01, 2020 12:31am
This is global politics. Political parties know the weakness of a nation and they know how to exploit it. Also we are the ones who despite knowing the truth and its implications vote for them thinking this new government will not be as corrupt and weak as the previous government. First the public has to be careful and knowledgeable when voting be it in India or Pakistan or any country. BJP was voted because the previous governments were very corrupt and there was infighting between them.
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Changez Khan
Sep 01, 2020 01:25am
India is extremely poor country, BJP should be taking care of the 80% living under poverty level and stop messing with its neighbors.
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bhaRAT©
Sep 01, 2020 01:27am
2 greatest Asian leaders are Modi and Xi
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Chrís Dăń
Sep 01, 2020 01:28am
Modi made india great again
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Tariq Khan
Sep 01, 2020 01:42am
@gaurav, be wise, understand
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Tariq Khan
Sep 01, 2020 01:44am
@Raj, you cant possibly be serious, nobody is alowed to critsize modi gov
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paarth
Sep 01, 2020 01:47am
The founding fathers are overrated. This is new India.
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CU
Sep 01, 2020 01:49am
@S Thapa, you obviously need to get out more and see the 7 out of 10 Indians imprisoned by poverty...
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Mudassir
Sep 01, 2020 02:02am
It's the end of a dream - independent, progressive and Secular India is under seige of religious extremism and majoritarianism. Gandhi, Nehru and Azad are irrelevant and Godse is the ideal.
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RationalBabu
Sep 01, 2020 02:36am
@Akram, irrelevant and outrageous comparison!
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Alih Kazmi
Sep 01, 2020 03:00am
@Nitin, Pakistan is not a secular county nor does it claim to be.
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Sid
Sep 01, 2020 03:01am
We are with you Modi ji.
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Marcus
Sep 01, 2020 03:49am
@gaurav, look whose writing this article boy.
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Observer
Sep 01, 2020 04:00am
@S Thapa, I agree with you. But China is helping Modi to solidify his current position as a PM in India.
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Asif A. Shah
Sep 01, 2020 04:18am
An objective article. The peace loving forces in India and Pakistan both should try to create religious harmony in their countries. Common humanity and fairness should be their common concerns.
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Oxomiya
Sep 01, 2020 04:38am
@Zak, my dear Zak, your knowledge of history is not adequate, you need to read about Indian history to comment.
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J
Sep 01, 2020 05:16am
@Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad, India should be Hindu nation. Why does it need to be a secular country?
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P vora
Sep 01, 2020 06:26am
Why Indian Hindu has to suffer when there are 59 Muslim countries and not a single Hindu nation.
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Lavesh
Sep 01, 2020 06:45am
@T-man, Care to name the Country that has especially built Nazi Germany style Concentration Camps for Muslims.
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rex
Sep 01, 2020 07:38am
@Zak, Why stop at the Mughals, why not the Mauryan empire?
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Modi
Sep 01, 2020 08:19am
@Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad, I agree...who cares...
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Ranjit
Sep 01, 2020 08:20am
@Akram, So you people are the new Soviets?
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Love
Sep 01, 2020 08:37am
@Savitri, It is on its course to become 5 T economy. You seem to be outdated
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Gopal Patel
Sep 01, 2020 08:37am
Indian Democracy more robust than you think.
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Love
Sep 01, 2020 08:39am
@Zak, they were never great. History will be rewritten
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madan
Sep 01, 2020 08:44am
Indian history is Thousands of years old.
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Ibn Batata
Sep 01, 2020 10:01am
@Chrís Dăń, Secular is giving everyone equal rights and not any special rights to muslims. And you should be last one to teach about secularism.
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Banglamitra
Sep 01, 2020 10:17am
Pakistan does not have triple talaq. Pakistan has national register of citizens. India is so backwards and is just try to catch-up now.
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Ash20
Sep 01, 2020 10:21am
Founding fathers of India are happy that India is moving on the right path after too much socialist policies in the past. Muslims are part of India and there is not a single policy which discriminates Indian Muslims.
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Viks
Sep 01, 2020 10:22am
With time things change - anywhere on our planet. Some for better, some for worse. Look at Turkey under Erdogan or Russia under Putin. That's the only constant - change.
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Sane Voice
Sep 01, 2020 10:39am
The picture which is marked as nightmare is hailed by people all across India with great celebrations.
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Human
Sep 01, 2020 11:26am
@Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad, Modi should declare India as Hindu state & nothing wrong on it.
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Human
Sep 01, 2020 11:29am
@Savitri, He will remain PM for another 20 years.
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fika77
Sep 01, 2020 12:05pm
@gaurav, Come on mate. It is written by an Indian.
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UDAY PANSE
Sep 01, 2020 12:36pm
Brilliant ! Manifestation of naivety as the summery of so many words. If this piece entertains some Pakistanis then so be it. India is forging ahead and solving its problems pertaining to social, economic, cultural issues democratically. How does it matter if a few have heartburn ?
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Rajendra
Sep 01, 2020 12:48pm
We are proud of being Hindus. And will not settle for anything less than Hindu Rastra (from Kandhahar to combodia).
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Wahab
Sep 01, 2020 02:19pm
If our enemies whine and complain, then we are doing something right.
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