Why let religion destroy India?

It’s not that we don’t have real issues bothering us. In fact we are immersed in issues that threaten us from multiple sides, writes T J S George.

Published: 11th November 2018 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th November 2018 07:14 PM   |  A+A-


For representational purposes (BP Deepu | EPS)

What’s happening to our country? A huge and diverse land of 135 million people, 29 states and 22 scheduled languages, yet we are caught in a single obsession—religion. All discussions, all decisions, all policies are shaped by religion. Sabarimala is on the edge of civil war. “Hindus are losing their patience,” a Union minister tells the Supreme Court after it postponed the Ayodhya case hearing. Uttar Pradesh changes Allahabad into Prayagraj. Soon Azamgarh will be Aryamgarh, Aligarh will be Harigarh, Muzaffarnagar will be Laxminagar, and Ahmedabad will be Karnavati. Will they become model cities as a result, all civic problems solved?

It’s not that we don’t have real issues bothering us. In fact we are immersed in issues that threaten us from multiple sides. The Reserve Bank is fighting the Finance Ministry. CBI, of all things, is sabotaging CBI. Breathing in the national capital has become more injurious to health than smoking. More and more youngsters are ending up jobless. Education has become a scandal. Not one Indian university is among the world’s top 100. Indians are committing unbelievable crimes, like raping a 100-year old woman. Our food has largely become unfit for human consumption. No party talks about these subjects. Religion alone counts.

Food, the everyday food we eat, has become a threat. Chemical farming is so widespread that hardly any vegetable escapes residual dangers. Pesticides that are banned globally are used in India. Even endosulfan was supported by ministers like Sharad Pawar despite the horrible deformations it caused in a generation of people. The “American way of farming” was introduced in Punjab in 1960s to usher in the Green Revolution. The result was the Cancer Train that left the farmers’ town of Bathinda every night for Bikaner, where treatment was more affordable. Overuse of pesticides turned the Green Revolution into a nightmare.

Did politicians do anything? Did people learn anything? Today farmers in several parts of Tamil Nadu use excessive pesticides on crops meant to go to neighbouring states, and less on portions meant for local consumption—a version of parochial patriotism. Fish is preserved in chemicals used to keep human corpses from decaying too fast. According to UN reports, India ranks among the top countries whose agri-food products are rejected in the US and the European Union. Indian exports are sent back because of the presence of microtoxins, microbial contamination, veterinary drug residue, heavy metals, unauthorised food additives, pesticides remnants and wrong product composition.

If our best is so often rejected by advanced countries, what would be the state of the food we keep for our own consumption? No wonder advanced countries export their worst to India. In 2008, as many as 35 large containers of hazardous American waste were found rotting in Tuticorin port for three years. Who allowed it to come there? Who kept it unattended for so long? How many made how much?

In 2003, Parliament went to the extent of banning Coca-Cola and Pepsi from its canteens because of too much toxic pesticides. But there was no ban outside Parliament. That means, what was bad for MPs was okay for ordinary folks. MPs themselves lifted the ban after a while. The Coca-Cola factory in Plachimada was closed because the waste fluids from it made neighbouring areas unfit for agriculture. But other factories in other cities continued. Before the power of lobbies, our policymakers bend their knees.

Colouring agents, among the most dangerous chemicals that go into food, are allowed free play. A look at Diwali halwas will show how colouring can even look unhealthy. Everybody knows that adulterants are used widely—saw dust (in chilli powder), coal tar (in tea), dyes (in turmeric, green chillies, apples). Most colour-enhancing dyes are highly carcinogenic. In responsibly governed countries these problems are contained. In Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok, the authorities ensure that street food is not only clean but good enough to be a tourist attraction.

If others can do these things, why can’t we? Because we are obsessed with religion and its politics. Nothing else matters. In Madhya Pradesh, five sadhus were appointed ministers of state. Union minister Giriraj Singh warned Muslims of “consequences” if they did not support the Ram Mandir. As the distinguished novelist Mukundan said: There are no humans in India any longer, only Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Dalits. We have turned religion, meant to be a positive force, into a destructive idea. We spread hatred, attack others, lynch people in the name of God. No God will forgive us.

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  • Madhan Dhesikan

    'Today farmers in several parts of Tamil Nadu use excessive pesticides on crops meant to go to neighboring states
    4 months ago reply
  • Pramod

    Here is a simple set of facts that I see. PK the movie came out but only went after Hinduism
    4 months ago reply
  • C B K Menon

    If all the women who rise up in militant anger against women between 10 and 50 years of age entering the Sabarimala temple were to rise up against political corruption
    4 months ago reply
  • George

    Really worth observation people should introspect
    4 months ago reply
  • rajan

    the writer should know what bagawatgita teaches? lord krishna advises arjuna and his brothers to kill their own grand gaurdian bishma
    4 months ago reply
    • Kaus

      because they were evil.. while abrahimic god spares all rapists & pedophiles if they accept him.. that's why all you criminals are attracted to it..
      4 months ago reply
  • stam

    It is enough to read the comments here to realize how pathologically obsessed Indians have become about religion. Religion
    4 months ago reply
  • Seena

    I was going through the comments and is surprised how much religion has poisoned the educated middle class! A renowned journalist like TJS is reduced to a religious entity! Ironically this is what the writer was speaking about. What India achieved out of her religious fanatism? I do not understand why we still carry the past baggage of destruction and violence. And none seem to have any issue with British who literally impovetished India whereas Mughals were not taking away the wealth of India but was spending that here. Those who are keen to compare India with Muslim countries- our democracy is modelled on western concept and Indian live and practice their religion peacefully there. ( Of course they do leave Indian citizenship to live in a secular and comfortable country). Yet they do throw their communal dirt into India
    4 months ago reply
  • G Rajagopalan Nair

    Mr George ought to do some introspection before belting out highly slanted reportage like this. If religion has become the overriding concern of people
    4 months ago reply
  • Suresh

    It would not have become like this if pseudo journos like you had written about minority appeasement
    4 months ago reply
  • Mattur Sameer

    Sir!! why are you comparing apples and oranges. The issue of food safety has to be tackled differently and the issue of renaming cities has to be debated separately
    4 months ago reply
  • S Raju

    Mr George
    4 months ago reply
  • badri narayanan poondi

    Hindu outfits getting vocal is cause for disturbance of minority scholars and pro minority leaders for obvious reasons. If Muslim invasions destroyed a significant population of native religion, the later colonial patrons, the European missionaries took another significant simpletons to their Faiths. There is persistent subjugation of the majority, their temples being administered by non believers appointed by govts. their temple revenues spent for paying off the salaries of the HRCE officials who only help the political Trustees to loot the temple property! They have reason to feel abused by the Names of historic places and institutions by the foreign rulers. Why the learned author takes up this issue and tries to link it with development? Sadly we understand the why's and wherefore's.. we still see them as part of our (majority clan) in some way.. and they continue to stop the least little compliance of our wishes!
    4 months ago reply
  • Gopal

    Keeping the original names to the cities gives lot of satisfaction and happiness just like startup to the city. Not only this the person this about the history of the past what it is. The originality stands for fairness. But this should not be compared to the religious things which and who are compared this. You can ask directly about the development. More than 200 years our past rulers had spolied and ruined everything
    4 months ago reply
    • badri narayanan poondi

      yes bror Gopal
      4 months ago reply
  • bala

    Let George talk like this in Malaysiaa and Indinesia which are also secular but predominantly Islamic Don't close our eyes .Pl read history the amount of ignominy we have undergone from Babur to Aurangazeb Pl allow the govt to function. Let not media be spokspersons for foreigners Mr George I have great respect for your writing .Pl don't join the band Of Tharoors God save us Bala
    4 months ago reply
    • R S Chakravarti

      Is building huge statues with public funds the answer to past atrocities?
      4 months ago reply
      • badri narayanan poondi

        no indeed bror chakravarthi. Singing the praise of the invaders and taking pride in their monuments is the answer. Go ahead garlanding the statues of the British bosses in various cities. We are notorious for taking all the right things in the wrong self serving ways - like the satyagraha into violent protests for every wrong reasons. But there are many others among us who value the great leaders like Patel and would feel good about a great memorial and the area around the big statue is made to earn rich revenue
        4 months ago reply
  • Nadiy Chancescu

    A religion will not destroy any nation. A fake religion (or irreligion) can destroy this planet. That must be stopped quickly!
    4 months ago reply
  • Suresh Vallath

    Population is 1.3 billion and not 135 million.
    4 months ago reply
  • Vikram

    4 months ago reply
  • Pradip

    Vote bank and appeasement by political parties for a political gain is the major concerned for religious unrest. Again the so-called minority religious groups are a actually majority on world prospective and the majority here is actually minority on world prospective. As a result lot of illegal fund being transferred from abroad to to create serious unrest with the majority’s religious interest and unfortunately with an indirect support from political leaders.
    4 months ago reply
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