By Sawraj Singh, M.D.
Special to Northwest Asian Weekly
Due to the increasing number of terrorist attacks, India should review its domestic and foreign policies. India is a multinational, multicultural and multi-religious country bound together by a common civilization and a shared value system.
The underlying principle of unity in India has always been “unity in diversity.” Shri Guru Granth Sahib, the zenith of Indian philosophy has strongly advocated the principle of unity in diversity.
The Indian concept of secularism is based upon the principles of tolerance and respect for different religions. This concept is different than the Western concept of secularism that primarily evolved from the conflict between the modern state and the church.
Therefore, the Indian concept of secularism can be considered positive secularism that promotes harmony, unity, and peaceful coexistence; whereas the Western concept of secularism can be considered negative secularism because it has increased differences and sharpened contradictions between different religions, cultures and nations.
We can clearly see in India that the British deliberately promoted conflict between different groups of people who had been living peacefully together for many centuries. This phenomenon was called “divide and rule.” Ultimately, this policy led to the partition of India and the largest and worst interreligious conflict India has ever seen.
In today’s world, the so-called “secular West” is pitted against Islam. Some people think that this is a conflict between Christianity and Islam. However, the conflict is not between these two major religions of the world, but between the consumerist West and Islam.
The pope has repeatedly made it clear that there is no conflict between Christianity and Islam. The Christian countries of Latin America are coming closer to the Islamic third world countries and moving away from the Christian western countries.
India’s policy of secularism and non-alignment was compatible with the fundamental principles of Indian philosophy and value system. However, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, India gradually moved away from its traditional nonalignment and started tilting towards the West. By aligning with the West, India has been drawn into an anti-Islamic alliance.
The perception that India is pro-Western and anti-Islamic is the fundamental cause for the rise of religious fanaticism in India. The Islamic fundamentalists see India aligned with the United States and Israel, its main enemies. However, the rise of Islamic fanaticism promotes retaliatory Hindu fanaticism.
This vicious cycle can only be broken by India reviving its secular and nonaligned policies. Countries such as Russia and China are now seen as neutral in the conflict between the West and Islam and also represent true secular forces in the world. A trilateral alliance of Russia, China and India can not only promote peace in the world but also increase stability and tranquility in India.
Sawraj Singh is a Fellow of the International College of Surgeons, Washington State Network for Human Rights Chairman and Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice Chairman.
Sawraj Singh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.