The godman brought the world to the banks of the Yamuna and proved that India is a tolerant country. He invited even Boutros Boutros Ghali who passed away a month ago and thus showed that India’s tolerance extends even to the world beyond. The Prime Minister stood beside the godman and proclaimed that India had much “to offer to the world because of its cultural diversity.”
When the PM was declaring his tolerance to the whole world from the banks of the Yamuna, the Milli Gazette published an article by Pushp Sharma with the headline: “We don’t recruit Muslims”: says Modi govt’s Ayush Ministry. The journalist had received the information through an RTI filed by him.
The godman’s Cultural Fest presided over by the Prime Minister was open to international diversity. Is the country open to diversity within it? If not, what was the Cultural Fest but a mere show, a gigantic exercise in hypocrisy?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was an ardent supporter of Mr Narendra Modi for years. They help each other to further their own causes. Many years ago, the godman had exonerated Mr Modi from his role in the 2002 Gujarat riots. In a recent blog, the godman even went to the extent of rewriting the history of the riots by declaring that “In December, 2001, a few months after Modi became the Chief Minister of Gujarat, I received a phone call from Mehul, one of our coordinators in Ahmedabad. He told me that a reliable source had informed him of a riot being planned to create trouble for the new Modi government.”
Godmen perform miracles. One of the miracles is the rewriting of unpleasant histories. Mr Modi will need that miracle. The Art of Living too will need Mr Modi for various purposes such as converting the Yamuna bed and banks to a global convocation.
A few weeks prior to the Cultural Fest where the PM declared his openness towards all cultures, a delegation from the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) was denied entry in India for the third time. The Modi govt was afraid that the Commission would find evidences of infringement of minority rights in the country. The Commission explained that they wanted only to ascertain India's observance of international standards with respect to religious tolerance to which virtually all countries have signed up. The Modi govt was not very tolerant of such international standards.
Less than a month back, eight American senators and 26 members of the House of Representatives wrote to Mr Modi expressing "particular concern" over the treatment of India's Christians, Muslims and Sikhs. They specified certain explicit acts of intolerance being practised in Modi’s India such as the criminalisation of non-Hindu practices in Chhattisgarh, “vigilante violence” against Muslims in various states, and the frustration of the Sikhs in getting their religion an identity separate from Hinduism.
From the time Mr Modi became the Prime Minister, there have been umpteen instances of religious intolerance of all sorts in various parts of the country. Most often, the Prime Minister chose silence over such matters. Occasionally he broke that silence (which vice of his predecessor was ridiculed by him copiously with the rechristening of that person as Maunmohan) to ask some of the vituperative sadhus and sadhvis not to bring disgrace on the Party with their substandard vocabulary.
The simple, plain truth is that the country’s very air is vitiated with communal mistrust and intolerance. So the question naturally arises: what was Mr Modi trying to prove at the Yamuna Fest?