Role of Youth in Developing Religious Harmony

Rev. Dr. Selvam Robertson
Role of Youth in Developing Religious Harmony
            This paper is a simple attempt to graphically highlight a few challenges that affect religious harmony in India and to suggest seemingly possible space to youth to engage themselves working towards religious harmony. In the process I have sketchily mentioned some salient characteristics of youth and why Christian youth should involve in bringing about religious harmony.

It is not easy to exactly categories ‘youth’. However the UN defines ‘youth’, as those persons between the ages of 15 and 24 years. It is a period where persons move from childhood (dependence) to adulthood (Independence) and realize the necessity of interdependence. Identity-seeking, choosing peer-group, developing a passion for social acceptance, confrontations with parents and other authority figures, and decisions of right and wrong, ‘ are often the pressures which ‘draw youth to religion’.[1] Nevertheless the fact remains that the “youth as individuals vary greatly in their ideological interests.”[2] As youth is vibrant the church and the society look for their creative and constructive role in shaping the future. We, therefore, discuss the ‘Role of Youth in Developing Religious Harmony’.

Why We
            Religious harmony is a constitutional duty bestowed upon every citizen of India. Hence, the starting point for discussion on religious harmony can be the Indian constitution.[3] The preamble envisages fraternity, secularism and guarantees religious neutrality of the state; principle of democracy provides space for our views; fundamental rights guarantee religious freedom subject to public order, health and morality; directive principles prevent inequality; and fundamental duties call for religious harmony.
            Religious harmony can be pursued on the basis of Human Rights and common humanness as well.
We are concerned with it because our faith mandates. Psalm, 133:1 reads “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” It is written in Ephesians 2: 14 “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility.” Jesus prayed “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:21)

I Challenges for Religious Harmony
            I shall now discuss a few sketchy factors, although not exhaustive, that affect religious/communal harmony in India. The list is short of grass roots issues, but these are the issues that at higher/intellectual levels trigger disharmony which spreads ripples to every corner of the nation.

1. Constitution
The framers of the Indian constitution have allowed necessary space in the constitution to promote harmony among (religious) communities. The disturbing fact is that there is a call occasionally for a debate on the constitution to deal with religious/communal issues. It is an intentionally worked out strategy of the RSS towards imagining a Hindu Nation while downgrading religious minorities. They say ‘let the Constitution be re-examined and re-drafted, so as to establish this unitary form of Government’.[4]
This happens in spite of the provision in the preamble of the constitution, among other things (justice, liberty and equality), for fraternity. Even after incorporating the word Secular in the preamble of the constitution, it is often hard to find ‘religious neutrality’ in the functioning of governments.  The point that religion should not be used for political ends is becoming a rarity.
Even the principle of democracy is misinterpreted as “in a democracy the opinion of the majority has to hold the sway in the day-to-day life of the people. As such it will be but proper to consider the practical conduct of the life of majority as the actual life of the national entity.”[5]
‘In stark contrast B.R. Ambedkar, could say, Hinduism is a menace to liberty, equality and fraternity and it is incompatible with democracy. In any given national context, the more politically dominant a religion, the greater its capacity to undermine democratic values’. [6]
These in fact, contravene the spirit of directive principles of the constitution which envisages spirit of equality and justice to everyone.  Call for a national debate on article 25 is a well calculated plot to paralyze freedom of religion in India. This in turn contributes to disturbance among different communities.
Replacing secular state with Hindu state, framing anti-conversion laws against freedom of religion and democracy being compared with Hindu majority point of view are real challenges to religious harmony.

2.  Rejection of Plurality
Rejection of the existence of many/different religions is a major threat to religious harmony in India. One of the RSS ideologues maintained that “we are Hindus even before we emerge from the womb of our mother. We are therefore born as Hindus. About the others, they are born to this world as simple unnamed human beings and later on, either circumcised or baptized, they become Muslims or Christians.”[7] Superiority claims, arguing/debating for higher status on grounds of religion and provoking minority religions perpetuate religious disharmony. In the words of Ravi Tiwari “the fact of plurality of religion, in which Hinduism is merely one among many, has been very uncomfortable to the propounders of neo-Hindu ideologues.”[8]

3. Nationalisms
Territorial/geographical nationalism versus religious nationalism is another contentious debate that causes religious disharmony in India. It distinguishes between independence struggle and real nationalism. The advocates of such debate say anti-British activities are different from real nationalism (Hindu nation).  People who adhere to other faith traditions are discarded from this communal nationalism. Establishing a Hindu nation is called as world Mission of RSS.[9]
Using religious symbols or images for nationalism is a real challenge for religious harmony because this does not provide space for other religious communities to identify with. Even their contributions towards nation-building and transformations are undermined, belittled or misinterpreted.
India’s nationhood was intimately tied to a religious, and specifically Hindu, imaginary. ‘As independent India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, summed up in his Discovery of India, “That mixture of religion and philosophy, history and tradition, custom and social structure, which in its wide fold included almost every aspect of the life of India, and which might be called Brahminism or (to use a later word) Hinduism, became the symbol of nationalism’.[10]
‘Clearly, this Hindu conservatism, whose nationalism is a curious amalgam of revivalism, xenophobia and triumphalism, can never attain respectability except in a self-contained discursive ghetto.  Indeed, it is an ideology which consigns a few hundred million non-Hindus to second-class citizenship.’[11] That is why,  “religious nationalism” is a genuine fear among the country’s minorities’.[12]
            Suchitra Vijayan writes, “In a secular democracy, citizenship is the civic religion. Religious nationalism is the antithesis of this principle and excludes the notion of a secular state, and denies equal participation of those who do not identify with the dominant religion.”[13] Further ‘the disastrous marriage between religion and nationalism will ultimately subvert the values that have held this nation together.[14]

4. Mono Culture
            The beauty of Indian culture is plurality (of cultures). Religion is integral part of any culture. Talk of monoculture, rather majority culture, in place of multi-culture is another source of discrimination that leads to disharmony. We are faced with the claim that the Hindu Rashtra ‘stands for cultural and religious unity’.[15] This is further expanded as our concept of Hindu Nation is ‘essentially cultural’.[16]
It implies that only a particular set of teachings, morals, standards and practices are the final and similar other resources do not have relevance. The followers of such resources, because minority in number, have to adhere to the values of the majority otherwise they do not find place in India.
Jawaharlal Nehru refuted such notion and wrote “a Buddhist or Jain in India is a hundred per cent product of Indian thought and culture, yet neither is a Hindu by faith. It, is, therefore, entirely misleading to refer to Indian culture as Hindu culture. In later ages this culture was greatly influenced by the impact of Islam, and yet it remained basically and distinctively Indian.”[17] Further, ‘it is, therefore, incorrect and undesirable, to use ‘Hindu’ or ‘Hinduism’ for Indian culture’.[18]
The monoculture advocates are unaware of the reality that in some parts of India their so called “Hindu Culture” is strange, not-known and irrelevant. 

5.  Sanskrit
Language is the vehicle that carries the rich resources of different religious traditions.  Any effort to promote one language and undermine the value of other languages is another form of religious discrimination.  The value of Urdu for Muslims cannot be substituted. It applies to the scriptures of all the other religions also. There is a need in India even to credit the religious resources that mainly depends upon oral traditions.
Unmindful of these stark realities it is often argued that Sanskrit is to this day one of the greatest cementing factors of our national life.”[19]  And it shall become ‘lingua franca’, in India. [20]
The spirit of absorption particular to Hinduism is vivid in the declaration that ‘the theme present in the Tirukkural is the same old Hindu concept of catuvidha-purushartha’[21] It is a fact that in some parts of India people are unaware of Sanskrit and there is no necessity for them. Sanctifying and promoting a particular language and ignoring other can lead to dissension and disharmony.

6.  History and Education
We are faced with the aspiration of rewriting Indian history and Hinduvising of educational system.  The notion behind such aspiration is that the existing histories are based on different periods (Hindu, Mughal, British, etc) and the education system in vogue is not based on Indian (Hindu) values. The new history is expected to be in line with the heroes (mainly religious) of India and the education system is to be framed after the Hindu literatures. The idea behind the new history is that ‘Hindus are the only people who have succeeded in preserving their history which began from the Vedas’.[22]
Similarly, “the raising of Godse’s statue is not an isolated act by fringe elements. It is a political maneuver, aimed at rewriting the history of the Indian polity, and its principles of secular, pluralistic statehood.”[23] That is why it is said “India’s future lies in pluralism, parity, reasonable and principled cosmopolitanism and not with settling scores in history.”[24]
There is an observation that “It is no secret that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has been struggling to find intellectuals to head various academic and cultural institutions.”[25]   RSS had even set up an informal committee to come up with saffron-friendly candidates for some 680 positions.  But it could come up with only 160 names. None of these names has inspired much confidence in the constituencies these bodies serve. Many have charged the NDA with not just saffronising but also degrading the country’s premier institutions by appointing under qualified candidates to the post’.[26] This is also called “the closing of the Indian mind”, and viewed that “the present government despises writers, scholars, artists and film-makers.”[27]
There is a fundamental distinction ‘between intellectuals and ideologues. Intellectuals contribute to the growth of knowledge, whereas ideologues are “more interested in promoting their political or religious beliefs”. Most of the so-called intellectuals, including RSS sympathizers on the Narendra Modi team, would automatically fall into the category of ideologues.’[28] An ideology which relegates a few hundred million non-Hindus to second-class citizenship can ever form the basis of serious scholarship.’[29]
It is true that ‘the BJP Government in Gujarat, MP, Rajasthan and Haryana are introducing Hindu religious texts in schools and making Saraswati Vandana and surya namaskar Hindu rituals compulsory on schools’.[30] The entire exercise is aimed at imposing a particular point of view without space for other views. This then leads to discrimination and disharmony.     

7. Muslims and Christians
 Often the patriotism of Muslims is suspected and they are accused of enjoying the benefits of a minority religious community. [31] Another allegation is that there is no true religion in them they are only trying to further their political ambitions.[32]
Christians in India are also subjected to criticism like, “together with the change in their faith, gone is the spirit of love and devotion for the nation.”[33]  They are also warned that, if the Christians do not subscribe to the ideology of Hindutva ‘they will remain here as hostiles and will have to be treated as such’.[34] In a way, these two minority communities are pictured as ‘working against the nation’, a dangerous charge that can bring about hatred among religious communities.
Sense of insecurity is another cause of disharmony. The majority community fears that, the increase in the number of Christians and Muslims is ‘a political strategy’ under the garb of religious propagation’.[35] Hence ‘it (Hinduism) feels threatened’.[36]
            Savarkar ‘defines the Hindu identity based on inclusion and exclusion. He includes Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs as inheritors and partakers in the legacy of Hinduism, but he clearly excludes Islam and Christianity as foreign ideologies brought from outside.’[37]
Disharmony, hatred and disturbances are often manufactured ‘through riots, destruction of religious sites such as churches, organizing religious conversion camps, beef bans, rewriting textbooks, censoring works of history, literature and fiction that challenge the ‘Hindu’ version of history, appropriating political icons, and raising monuments’.[38]

8.  Reconversion
The effort of converting people back to Hinduism is differently called as Home coming/ Ghar Vapsi/ Reconversion/Suddhi, a process began with Dayananda Saraswathi continues even to this day. This is to reconvert people to Hinduism from the religions where the dalits, discriminated and neglected of this country found liberation, respect and acceptance. For the RSS, ‘this is only a call and request to them to understand things properly and come back and identify themselves with their ancestral Hindu way of life’. [39]
Security concerns is often attributed to other forms of religious mobility, saying “conversion of Hindus into other religions is nothing but making them succumb to divided loyalty in place of having undivided and absolute loyalty to the nation. It is dangerous to the security of the nation and the country.”[40] Jawaharlal Nehru refuted this false allegation and said ‘Indian converts never ceased to be Indians on account of a change of their faith’.[41] Attempt to cloth re-conversion with nationalism is another dangerous threat to religious harmony.

9.  Politicization of Religion
The serious threat to religious harmony comes from political parties that use religious sentiments to polarize the society.  It is now a reality that election manifestos of some political parties include highly inflammable and sensitive and controversial religious issues. It is also becoming a reality that just before elections communal riots are instigated. It was seen in Uttar Pradesh before the general elections. Gujarat became a strong BJP stronghold, presumably, after an ugly communal clash. Earlier, even a few political leaders became popular after demolishing a mosque. Another new trend that has developed is the ones who make incriminatory and provocative communal attack on minority communities are given attractive positions in the government.
            ‘Mobilizing the masses using religion and religious symbols for political ends started along with independence movement (Bharat Matha).  And “almost fifty years later, the Ayodhya Ram Janmabhoomi campaign employed similar strategies to mobilize popular support for its vision of Hindu nationhood.”[42] These mobilizations are aimed at constructing the Hindu nation.[43] Such acts ruthlessly undermines the existence and rights of religious minorities to the point of extreme hatred and mistrust.

10.   Suppression of Voices
The process of politicization of religion targets people who help the victims of communal hatred. ‘In an interview to the Hindu Teesta Setalvad said that under the Modi regime the future is dark for activists’.[44] She was ‘the face of the fight for justice for the victims of the Gujarat riots in 2002. She has tirelessly fought scores of cases, provided legal aid to the survivors through her non-governmental organizations and played a role in securing conviction of 120 perpetrators. But today, she is accused of forgery and criminal breach of trust, facing multiple inquiries and six FIRs. Her organizational and personal accounts were frozen in early 2014, and a travel ban was imposed recently’.[45]
            This is a sign of growing intolerance towards others and intolerance towards transformation-social, religious. People who voice for justice are treated with contempt. Without justice, there cannot be peace or harmony.

II Role of Youth 
In the context of these issues we can look at some measures that the youth of the country   who have a love for the nation,   desire to serving, passion for righteous life and leading purpose driven life may engage in promoting religious harmony. One way of doing it is by “opinion building”. This can be done among the peer group, in working places, worship places and in all the places.

1. Protecting Constitutional Provisions
            The youth can mobilize towards protection of constitutional provisions that guide religious harmony in India. All efforts to do away with secularism should be handled diligently. If there is no religious neutrality the minority religious communities may have to live at the mercy of the majority. Such a state will lead to more tensions and suspicions. Religious harmony will be almost impossible. Similarly, we cannot lose our democratic provisions which help representing our views. It is said “one of the important values that religions will have to promote is democracy or a reverential attitude for others.”[46]
Not to ignore the values of equality and justice the guiding principles that are enshrined in the directive principles. With all the democratic tools alone we will be able to realize the vision of fraternity that is enshrined in the preamble of the Indian constitution.
            As opinion builders the youth can be proactive in exploring various possibilities to uphold the sanctity of the constitution as it is the only firm foundation for establishment of religious harmony.  In order to protect our constitutional rights we need to learn to work with secular political parties and ideologies as well.

2. Fulfilling Fundamental Duties
One of the fundamental duties of every Indian citizen is to promote (religious) harmony: [Part IV, Article 51-A(e) “to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending  religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women;”] There cannot be any blame or insult when we  fulfill our constitutional responsibilities. The avenue of fundamental duties can be more authentic for youth to pursue religious harmony because it is free from religious stigma. Majority community cannot accuse us of desperate attempt to promote religious harmony. Youth can discuss and involve their peer-group so actively if the concern for harmony emerges from fundamental duties as found in the Indian Constitution.  
3. Right Perspective on Freedom of Religion
The youth should develop right and clear perspective on freedom of religion. Article 25 provides for freedom of conscience, freedom to profess, practice and propagate any religion. It is often mistakenly claimed that, the article allows conversion of others. In fact what is guaranteed is freedom of religion and not freedom to convert others.
Everyone has freedom to convert him/herself to any religion of his/her choice. Nobody has right to convert others. But every Indian citizen has freedom to choose his/her choice of religion. A right understanding will eliminate unnecessary controversies with neighbors of other faith and help promote religious harmony.
What is at stake is the freedom to choose any religion. This freedom is hindered through freedom of religion bills. The present government’s effort to have a national debate on conversion is to ban freedom of religion as a whole. A blanket ban on conversion will be the final death blow to freedom of religion in India which will generate so much of unrest among communities. The youth of our country should rise to the occasion and should not fall prey to such deceptive political schemes.
One more aspect that needs our careful attention is that freedom of religion is not absolute freedom but subject to public order, morality and health. This implies that the state is in its limit to control freedom of religion when it feels necessary. It applies to both majority and minority religions. When there is suspicion over state actions, it is appropriate to seek legal remedies. The youth should be educated in this process. This can promote religious harmony and avoid hatred towards each other.
The Supreme Court has often stressed the need to ‘stamp out’ religion from civil laws.[47] The court has said what was protected under Article 25 was the religious faith and not a practice which may run counter to public order, health or morality. What the State protects is religious faith and belief. ‘If religious practices run counter to public order, morality or health or a policy of social welfare upon which the State has embarked, then the religious practices must give way before the good of the people of the State as a whole.[48]
According to pope Francis ”One does not have the right to offend and ridicule the fiath of others in the name of freedom of religion.”[49]
            Shallow understanding of crucial facts can lead to fundamentalist attitude and hatred. This can be overcome if we place ourselves within the ambit of the constitution. No reasonable human being can oppose religious harmony if pursued within the framework of the constitution.

4. Legal Remedies
Religious freedom has an important role in unifying a country. Unless religious freedom is complete there cannot be any effort for religious harmony. When everyone is equal before the law, those equals can come together to utilize their potentials for religious harmony and resulting public good.
In the contexts of religious conflicts ‘without justice and fairness’ we cannot strive for reconciliation and harmony. Swami Agnivesh points “Peace without justice will be simply a euphemism for reinforcing the social and economic status quo.”[50]
We live in a country where worship places are razed to the ground by a mammoth mob under the leadership of communal political leaders, in the full view of cameras and security personals. No one is punished. Thousands of people belonging to a particular religious community are killed as genocide under the banner of communal conflicts and the responsibility could not be exactly fixed.  Increasing number of elected members of the parliament makes provocative and communally sensitive statements and goes unpunished.
It is true “Justice is a necessary precondition for the existence of unity and harmony at every level of society.”[51] The youth of the country who are committed for religious harmony have to explore the possibilities of bringing about fairness in justice delivery system. All issues that affect harmony need to be legally resolved. Justice can promote harmony.

5.  Legislative Process
Another option opened before the youth to establish religious harmony is through legislative system. The drawback to this process is that there is less number of legislative members from minority communities compared to the larger number from the majority community. Court rulings that are to be set right for healthy and harmonious future can be done only through legislative process.
For example the Supreme Court has ruled that freedom of religion bills legislated by different states do not infringe the freedom of religion. In reality these bills have made the choice for Freedom of Religion more difficult and complicated. As human beings are becoming more civilized and global the possibility to change religion should become simple and individual’s affair without government interference as long as it does not violate the constitution of India. This can now be achieved only through reasonable legislations.
Another pretentious effort to curb freedom of religion and to endanger peaceful coexistence is the effort to initiate a national discussion on conversion. This is a willful attempt to completely seal freedom of religion and promote hatred and disharmony in the place of unity and harmony. The youth need to build opinions in the political arena to nullify those efforts.
The Supreme Court has earlier declared Special status to Sanskrit as the ancient Indian literatures are in Sanskrit. This shows the subjective consideration of issues and the unpalatable nature of the verdict in our context. It requires a legislative process to set right matters. Similarly the presidential order disallowing government privileges to scheduled caste Hindus converted to Christianity needs a bold legislative correction. A united Christian persuasion along with other minorities, political parties and ideologies can be of help to achieve this end.
While respecting the Courts it is worthwhile to look for better environments for harmonious living. The youth must be empowered to take up these challenges by providing necessary resources so that religious harmony can become a reality.

6. Human Rights
Religious harmony cannot be devoid of human rights; it is the respect for human rights that will curb religious disharmony. Youth can explore this possibility as well. There are many young and old who have chosen this process to work for harmony.  The point of caution is that in the UN’s declaration of human rights “religious freedom now emphasized the right to change or maintain one’s faith, not the right to convert or proselytize other.”[52]
Felix Wilfred writes ‘no social harmony is possible without recognition of the dignity and rights of people’. ‘By defending human rights Christianity will effectively champion the cause of peace in the Asian societies’.[53]
As per UN declaration, freedom of religion is a fundamental human rights. When it is recognized as inalienable it automatically implies that irrespective of different religious affiliations people need to live in harmony because no individual is wrong as he or she adheres to the faith tradition to which he or she is affiliated. Human rights channel can bring together youth from any number of religious traditions for the sake of promoting religious harmony.

7. Humanness
One way of youth working towards religious harmony is to recognize the common humanity behind the many religious followers. What is common is humanness not religion. Religion is a choice. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam writes “in whatever field we work, be it science, technology, medicine, politics, policing, theology, religion or the judiciary, we have to remain in the service of the common man whose well-being is central to all human knowledge and endeavor.”[54]
According to Raimon Panikkar “What religion needs to do is to make the human beings realize their common humanity and strengthen the bonds of friendship and affection.”[55] Plurality of religions should be celebrated but should not become obstacle to harmony. Harmony is not possible without differences for a specific oneness.
In promoting religious harmony “some of the principles that are to be looked onto are the fundamental principles of the oneness of humankind, not just in the form of an intellectual acceptance but also observing it in practice in one’s day-to-day life.”[56]
Realization of a common humanity behind the multiplicity of religions can inspire young minds to build teams to bring about religious harmony among people of different faith orientations.
Poverty is a mass killer of humanity in spite of following different religions. Felix Wilfred remarks “the pervasive threat to peace is caused by poverty.”[57] As poverty is a common human concern youth can rally around towards eradication of poverty. This will bring them together as harmonious lot.

8. Change
 Paul F. Knitter affirms, “Study, prayer, interreligious dialogue, and action to promote justice, peace, liberation, and the integrity of creation have changed me.”[58] He also maintains “A new way of understanding other religions implies a new way of understanding Christianity.”[59]  It is true that “we must all remember, very often we tend to forget that religion is an accident of birth except perhaps for that minuscule minority which might adopt it by choice. It is, therefore, essential that we realize that the purpose and objective of every religion is to foster peace, harmony, brotherhood, and not to quarrel needlessly.”[60]
            The perception that religious minorities are threat to the nation requires conscious correction/adjustment from us to instill trust in our programs. We also need conscious paradigm to present untainted Christian image free from political.
 From the point of theology we need an ecumenical theological vision. No theology is absolute. We need to honor the possibility of multiple interpretation and perspectives for positive harmony.  Our priority should be the ‘Life sustaining vision of Jesus’. His life and work was to make life meaningful and not to make religion rigid. His ministry was extended not just for Christians alone. We are to transcend our imaginary dogmatic barriers to bring about “a new heaven and a new earth”. We cannot be passive as we are ‘salt, light and city on the hill.
Elisha granted permission to Naaman to go into the house of Rimmon with the king, even after declaring that there is no god in all the earth but in Israel. Jesus appreciated the faith of the Roman centurion who constructed temples for the Jews. Change of theological viewpoints and mutual openness and respect shall contribute to religious harmony.

9. Dialogue
We have the habit of organizing prayers for our own groups in work places, offices, etc. We need extra effort to form dialogue groups/ friendship groups with friends/colleagues belonging to different faith traditions. This has to be done with utmost sincerity. In the words of Ravi Tiwari “no experience of dialogue is worthy if it is conducted, or engaged in, without sincerity and integrity of purpose.”[61] Further, “the purpose of interfaith dialogue is not to argue and win but to listen and understand the true teachings of other religions.”[62]
Dialogical, living and witnessing is essential for a plural society like ours.  For example ISKCON is taking initiatives to have dialogue with Christians in spite of both being mission oriented traditions. It is a unique experience.
A youth leader ‘Builds healthy relationships’, has ‘Passion for harmony’, is ‘A team player’ and ‘A mobilizer of young people’. Hence he/she should play a proactive role in maintaining communal and social harmony.
There is definite need for dialogue for the sake of peace and harmony among religions. Communal harmony should become passion for the youth.
Godwin R. Singh writes “Communal violence reveals the stark fact that there is communication gap among individuals and among communities. One possible way of bridging this gap is through dialogue which enables peoples of various communities to come together and to think out for themselves the implication for the life which they live as communities in a pluralistic context.”[63]
Pope Francis: “While there will necessarily be a variety of religious convictions, honest and transparent expression of the same would bring out what unites and divides the believers,”[64]
10. Creating Awareness
We may use our communication and educational channels to raise awareness about the importance of religious harmony.  Wise, meaningful and innovative use of social/ media is essential to create awareness about religious harmony. “The search for communal harmony will be futile if the approach is not geared along with participation of the people in realizing their objective. Particular attention has to be given to the growth of awareness of the people; and to help them to translate their awakened consciousness into action at grassroots level.”[65]
            Awareness programs should be used for opinion building. Youth must rise above fear, jealousy and hate on opinion building towards respecting plurality and diversity.  No expert or social scientist, not even a religious leader or a prophet will be able to solve the communal problem unless the masses join hands to accomplish it. Peoples’ participation is the crucial element in this search.[66] That is why we read statement like:
“I think that in all our educational institutions, it is necessary to form interreligious fora so that our children, the growing generation, who have to mould the destiny of our country, know the essential teachings of different religions.”[67]
            Awareness about politicization of religion has to take place as well. This is evident from the role of communal programs behind electoral success in Up, Gujarat, Karnataka.
Creating awareness to continue with works of social transformation can be another effective way of dealing with religious harmony. The reforms brought about by early missionaries and secular ideologies like Dravidian Movement was quite impacting. We need to incorporate these aspects along with other forms of Christian witness.

            There may be numerous other challenges to religious harmony than the ones discussed. Similarly there may many more methods for youth to engage in religious harmony. Though the possibilities discussed are very essential for working towards religious harmony an actual encounter with different situation will help understand the other causes of disharmony and solutions for harmony. It is an ongoing process. Hence, continuous study/research, engagement and explorations are necessary for a fruitful search for harmony.

Religion and Dialogue

[1] Paul B. Irwin, The Care and Counseling of Youth in the Church (USA: Fortress Press, 1975), 59.
[2] Paul B. Irwin, The Care and Counseling of Youth in the Church (USA: Fortress Press, 1975), 61.
[3] Rudolf C. Heredia, “Mission as Text in Context: Religious Conversions in Contemporary
India,” Vidyajyoti Journal of Theological Reflection 73/7 (July, 2009): 6.
[4] M.S. Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts, 3rd ed., Reprint (Bangalore: Sahitya Sindhu Prakashan, 2000),227.
[5] M.S. Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts, 165.
[6] “The missing conservative intellectuals,” The Hindu (Vijayawada) 25 July  2015, 10.
[7] M.S. Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts,117.
[8] Ravi Tiwari, Reflections and Studies in Religion (Delhi: ISPCK, 2008),138.
[9] M.S. Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts, 9.
[10] “The missing conservative intellectuals,” The Hindu (Vijayawada) 25 July  2015, 10.
[11] “The missing conservative intellectuals,” The Hindu (Vijayawada) 25 July  2015, 10.
[12] “Rewriting the nation state,” The Hindu (Vijayawada) 17 March 2015, 9.
[13] “Rewriting the nation state,” The Hindu (Vijayawada) 17 March 2015, 9.
[14] “Rewriting the nation state,” The Hindu (Vijayawada) 17 March 2015, 9.
[15] M.S. Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts, 129.
[16] M.S. Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts, 34.
[17] Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India, Centenary Edition (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1989),75.
[18] Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India, Centenary Edition (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1989),75.
[19] M.S. Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts,112.
[20] M.S. Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts,112.
[21]  M.S. Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts,112.
[22] Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Hindutva: Who is a Hindu?, 6th ed. (New Delhi: Bharti Sahitya Sadan, 1989), 93.
[23] “Rewriting the nation state,” The Hindu (Vijayawada) 17 March 2015, 9.
[24] “Rewriting the nation state,” The Hindu (Vijayawada) 17 March 2015, 9.
[25] “The missing conservative intellectuals,” The Hindu (Vijayawada) 25 July  2015, 10.
[26] “The missing conservative intellectuals,” The Hindu (Vijayawada) 25 July  2015,10.
[27] “The missing conservative intellectuals,” The Hindu (Vijayawada) 25 July  2015, 10.
[28] “The missing conservative intellectuals,” The Hindu (Vijayawada) 25 July  2015, 10.
[29] “The missing conservative intellectuals,” The Hindu (Vijayawada) 25 July  2015, 10.
[30] Irfan Engineer, “Preamble, Secularism and Constitution,” NCC Review Vol. Cxxxv /1 (January- February, 2015): 37.
[31] M.S. Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts, 185.
[32] M.S. Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts, 189.
[33] M.S. Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts, 125.
[34] M.S. Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts, 194.
[35] M.S. Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts, 128.
[36] Ravi Tiwari, Reflections and Studies in Religion (Delhi: ISPCK, 2008), 129.
[37] “Rewriting the nation state,” The Hindu (Vijayawada) 17 March 2015, 9.
[38] “Rewriting the nation state,” The Hindu (Vijayawada) 17 March 2015, 9.
[39] M.S. Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts, 129.
[40] M.S. Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts, 170.
[41] Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India, 62.
[42] “Rewriting the nation state,” The Hindu (Vijayawada) 17 March 2015, 9.
[43] “Rewriting the nation state,” The Hindu (Vijayawada) 17 March 2015, 9.
[44] “I have been a hate target, says Teesta,” The Hindu (Vijayawada) 25 July 2015, 13.
[45] “I have been a hate target, says Teesta,” The Hindu (Vijayawada) 25 July 2015, 13.
[46] Varghese Manimala, Toward Mutual Fecundation and Fulfilment of Religions  (Delhi: Media House and
ISPCK), 2009, 506.
[47] “Stamp out religion from civil laws, observes SC, ”The Hindu (Vijayawada)10 February 2015,10.
[48] “Right to religion not above public morality :SC,” The Hindu (Vijayawada) 10 February 2015, 10.
[49] “Reclaiming a space for the Church,’ The Hindu (Vijayawada) 29 July 2015, 11.
[50]Swami Agnivesh., “Promotion of Peace through Social Justice,” in Towards a Culture of
Harmony and Peace, edited by T.D. Singh (New Delhi & Kolkata:Delhi Peace Summit & Bhaktivedanta Institute, 2005),  185.
[51] Zena Sorabjee, “Interfaith Education,” in Towards a Culture of Harmony and Peace, edited by T.D. Singh (New Delhi & Kolkata:Delhi Peace Summit & Bhaktivedanta Institute, 2005), 126.
 [52] Rudolf C. Heredia, “Mission as Text in Context: Religious Conversions in Contemporary
India,” Vidyajyoti Journal of Theological Reflection  73/7 (July, 2009): 6.
[53] Felix Wilfred, Religion and Culture for social Amity (Bangalore: ECC, 2006), 16.
[54] A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, “The Joy of Human Life,” in Towards a Culture of Harmony and Peace, edited by T.D. Singh (New Delhi & Kolkata:Delhi Peace Summit & Bhaktivedanta Institute, 2005), 13-14.
[55] Raimon Panikkar, “Introduction,” in Toward Mutual Fecundation and Fulfilment of
Religions,  Varghese Manimala(Delhi: Media House and ISPCK), 2009, 18.
[56] Zena Sorabjee, “Interfaith Education,” in Towards a Culture of Harmony and Peace, edited by T.D. Singh (New Delhi & Kolkata:Delhi Peace Summit & Bhaktivedanta Institute, 2005), 120.
[57] Felix Wilfred, Religion and Culture for social Amity (Bangalore: ECC, 2006), 15.
[58] Paul F. Knitter, Introducing Theologies of Religions (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2002) 4.
[59] Paul F. Knitter, Introducing Theologies of Religions (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2002) 13.
[60] A.M. Ahmadi., “Towards a Global Society,” in Towards a Culture of Harmony and Peace,
edited by T.D. Singh (New Delhi & Kolkata:Delhi Peace Summit & Bhaktivedanta Institute, 2005), 18.
[61] Ravi Tiwari, Reflections and Studies in Religion (Delhi: ISPCK, 2008), 186.
[62] P.K. Shamsuddin, “Religion and Harmony,” in Towards a Culture of Harmony and Peace, edited by T.D. Singh (New Delhi & Kolkata:Delhi Peace Summit & Bhaktivedanta Institute, 2005), 113.
[63] Godwin R. Singh, In Search of Communal Harmony (Delhi: ISPCK, 1985), 63.
[64] “Reclaiming a space for the Church,’ The Hindu (Vijayawada) 29 July 2015, 11.
[65] Godwin R. Singh, In Search of Communal Harmony (Delhi:ISPCK, 1985), p. 62.
[66] Godwin R. Singh, In Search of Communal Harmony (Delhi: ISPCK, 1985), p. 62
[67] P.K. Shamsuddin, “Religion and Harmony,” in Towards a Culture of Harmony and Peace, edited by T.D. Singh (New Delhi & Kolkata:Delhi Peace Summit & Bhaktivedanta Institute, 2005), 114.


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