By Shwan Haddad
India has many different religions within in its borders.
Hinduism is the largest one in the country, and is argued to be ‘favoured’ by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.
There have been accusations of ‘Hindu nationalism’ by the current sitting prime minister.
We interviewed Shubham, a graphic designer and native of Delhi, and he tells us about his observations.
What’s the Background?
The 24 year old told us how religion and politics seem to be intertwined in India.
He tells us that peoples religious views have a major influence on their political leanings in India.
“In such a diverse country with so many religions, and the Prime Minister, who is a Hindu, only focuses on one religion. Every morning he’s telling people how Hindus are superior, and there are many blind followers.”
“Riots happen and people die, yeah, so yes when the government is biased towards a single religion, riots happen.”
He then tells us about how Hindu ideals and beliefs are forced on everyone else.
“Beef is banned in India, why? Because it is wrong according to the Hindu culture. What about other religions contributing towards the country’s GDP.”
Controversial citizenship law
Back in 2019 a bill was introduced called the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019.
What this bill did was grant Indian citizenship to persecuted religious minorities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.
What it left out was Muslims from being able to obtain citizenship in India.
Shubham elaborates more on this:
“People who won’t be able to prove their citizenship, they’ll be sent back. And sent back to where? They have nowhere to go.”
“People have been living here for hundreds of years. How do they find such old documents? And in such a short span of time?”
He tells us he believes this was targeted at a certain group of people, saying:
“It was aimed towards Muslims and Bangladeshis, a lot of riots here, I mean a lot, before COVID the situation here was so bad. People protesting, getting assaulted by the police, Muslim minorities dying, areas being burnt down.”
There were protests against the bill which ended up in violence from both the protesters and the police.
By the end of it, at least 65 people had been killed and thousands of arrests were made.
The Khalistan movement is a motion for a proposed ‘Sikh Country’ due to many Sikhs not feeling as if they’re part of India.
The Indian media blamed the farmers protests on the Khalistan movement, which has been going since August 2020.
Shubham tells us more about this:
“They are claiming that it’s a Khalistan movement but it’s not, it is just farmers asking for their rights, that’s all, the media is corrupted.”
The reason why people were blaming the Khalistan movement for the farmers protests was due to a flag mix up.
And with many of the protesters being Sikh, this seemed to have caused the media frenzy around it being a Khalistan related movement.
What are the effects COVID-19 on this situation?
The COVID-19 situation in India is dire.
The current strain has caused a shortage in oxygen supplies and patients with COVID-19 aren’t getting oxygen tanks they so badly need.
Hospitals are full and not many patients are getting beds to receive care.
With the celebration of Kumbh Mela attracting millions of people, all gathering in one place, Prime Minister Modi’s position seemed to be clear
Shubham talks about the reactions to how people celebrated their faith, saying that there seemed to be favouritism and finger pointing.
He tells us:
“It was not a major factor in the current situation, but it was some what out there, when people went to Mosques and Churches, fingers were pointed, that during COVID, they’re still gathering for prayers, on the other hand there’s Kumbh Mela going on that favours Hinduism.”
He also adds:
“I am a Hindu myself, but I don’t support this at all, any more like me they don’t either, this is dictatorship in the name of Democracy.”
Only time can tell what will happen in India.
COVID is currently ravaging the country, and with the tensions between religions at an all time high, who knows what is going to happen next?