India condemns terrorism Jan 02

Over 1 billion people of different religion, cultural tradition, language and social preferences share a land, co-exist in peace, agree to a common democratically elected national government and swear allegiance to the Indian flag. No other country in the world can claim such distinction!


A group of 5 distinguished Indian Parliamentarians visited the European Parliament last week. Mr. Sangma (NCP), the Speaker of Lok Sabha and Mr.Abdul Rashid Shaheen (J&K NC) addressed the assembly. Mr. Sangma's life story, as he told us, reflects the complexity and strength of India. He was, as he said, born in the North East of India, brought up as a Christian, educated by a German priest in India and financed by the Irish Catholics for further education in Europe. He has been in Indian politics for over 20 years and was elected as the Speaker of their Parliament. A Christian from an insignificant part of India, elected to the highest office in a land with a predominant Hindu population, confirms the tolerance and democracy that have taken root in India.


Mr. Sangma said: Terrorism has no place in a democratic country like India that accommodates multicultural diversity and offers religious freedom to its population of over 1 billion!


The attack on the Indian Parliament was a cowardly and cruel act against a nation that cherishes tolerance and peace. Such terrorism is unacceptable and must be condemned by all citizens of India irrespective of their religion. Terrorism should not be linked to any religion. If it is linked to any political group or country, then it must be identified as such and condemned.


Whilst the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 was on religious grounds, there are more Muslims in India today than the whole population of Pakistan Whilst there have been some civic disturbances between Hindus and Muslims, the large Muslim population has enjoyed full rights as Indian citizens - the right to worship, to serve as diplomats or politicians and represent India on the sports field, including the captaincy of the Indian national cricket team. India can take credit for such an achievement. It has in such a short time  given confidence to its 135 million Muslims to be both Muslims and Indian citizens!


Asians living in Britain - Hindu and British, Muslim and British, Sikh and British, Christian and British, Buddhists and British - need to understand and accept their status. Religion is a faith that a person chooses to embrace, nationality is a civic status that one is born with or chooses to acquire. Such an assessment of status is not a problem for Asians only. There are Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Russian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox and others who have acquired citizenship of countries where the predominant religion is different to the one they profess. Whilst they have retained their religion, linguistic and cultural tradition, they have taken pride in adopting their new citizenship..


Some British Liberal Democrats peddle the notion that legislation can eliminate racial and religious discrimination. They are wrong! They must accept that failure to communicate well in English and understand the local traditions often contribute to discrimination in the UK. How can an ethnic immigrant expect to secure and retain a job if he is not fluent in the language of the land?  How can such an immigrant aspire to reach the top of his profession if he fails to understand the culture and tradition of the host community? Whilst he is free to embrace the religion of his choice, lifestyle, linguistic and cultural tradition, he must be prepared to understand, recognise and respect the traditions of the majority of the population his host community. It is through such mutual respect and understanding  - not mere legislation for equality  - that goodwill will germinate and flourish in communities goodwill that will change attitudes and eradicate discrimination.