Since the ancient times, India has been blessed with the ubiquitous presence of Gurujis and Swamis, and now they are embedded in our societal structure as if they are an essential part of the Indian culture.
But over the time, their influence has transformed considerably. From being the people’s spiritual guide, now they are shaping the political environment of the nation. Every nook and corner has become a workplace for these professionals. From the TV sets with lakhs of their followers to the open air amphitheatre grand events; they are hovering everywhere. Recent times show that our political set up has become the latest bastion for these self-styled godmen’s hegemony.
The appointment of Babas and Swamis as ministers in some states has sparked controversy, raising some serious questions. These ideal so-called godly men are seen as the best options to woo voters; therefore many parties are trying to rope them in. And voters for some reason believe that these spiritual gurus will somehow also alleviate their economic woes. Thus, it creates the authority based on the charismatic personality of these men who appeal to the voters’ sentiments or emotions. This, in turn, disturbs the spirit of democracy.
The Policy formulation requires leaders who understand the workings of administration and social services setup; not the ones versed in hymns of the holy texts. The spiritual gurus cannot substitute the real political leaders.
The Indian parliament needs diverse voices and competent players from various walks of life for effective governance. And surely there’s nothing wrong with religious leaders too. But the way religious angle is being introduced at every step in our policies is horrifying. Practising religion has been politicised in a way that it is now getting in the way of people’s fundamental rights.
And the way, the current developmental policies are framed with keeping religion as the centrepiece is extremely problematic and biased. Every second news is now linked to religion in some way. The naming of towns, the building of temples just to incite violence is disturbing. And for what? Just to satisfy the agenda of some religious bigots!
Therefore, I purpose that instead of having religion in every aspect of the parliament, let’s make it a separate ministry to manage religious issues – Ministry of Religious Affairs. It can have many benefits such as:
1. Bridge the gap between different religions and resolve their conflicts.
2. Promote communal harmony.
3. Limit the influence of religious leaders on various political schemes.
4. It will coordinate with other ministries to develop consensus on the religious dimension of government schemes and policies.
So, it’s high time we should give this idea a run. It might not be the best solution to prevent our political leaders from using religion as a weapon, but it will certainly limit the influence of religion – which is destroying the fabric of our nation.