Vichar Vinod witnesses young intellects discuss hard-hitting realities on religion, caste
At a time when India and Pakistan are at loggerheads, individuals from a broad spectrum converged over a single stage on Friday to discuss and raise questions around what religion in our country means, the meaning of being a Muslim in India, and how appearance determine the caste of a person.
Organised by The Raza Foundation at the India International Centre, the programme titled ‘Vichar Vinod’ witnessed young intellectuals and academics raise their voice and ask “what is the question” when we talk about Muslims, caste, religion and citizenship in India.
Professor Apoorvanand of the Delhi University began the discussion with an appeal to the Indian government to use the opportunity of the release of Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman to have an honest dialogue with Pakistan and come to a peaceful conclusion which does not entail war.
“The discussion today is taking place at a time when there are rising tensions about the possibility of war between India and Pakistan. We all convey our deep worries about the possibility of war between India and Pakistan.
“With the release of Indian pilot Abhinandan, a possibility of dialogue has risen between the two countries. We appeal to the Indian government to use this opportunity to begin a dialogue. History is evident that war never solves terrorism and that is why both countries don't have any option but begin a dialogue,” Apoorvanand said.
As all the members of the conference agreed to what the Professor said, ‘Vichar Vinod’ progressed to discussing if religion is in crisis.
Speaking on the same, Sanjay Srivastava said that there is a new religious movement like the Art of Living and Dera Sacha Sauda cropping up now which is based on the “amalgamation of culture and consumerism which is feeding ideas to the modern middle class”.
“The Swami Narayan movement which culminated in the form of Akshardham temple and many other temples is a perfect example of consumerism being offered in the form of spirituality. As new middle class wants to be a global citizen, they adapt the change rapidly,” he said.
Another speaker, Valay, added that people have gone astray from the true path of what religion used to be and that now Godmen use ancient religious scripts for political gains and material benefits.
Irfanullah Farooqui, Huma Hasan, Heba Ahmad, and Amir Ali meanwhile raised the various commonly ignored problems faced by the people of the Muslim community in India with Farooqui asserting that in the 21st century in India, “religious looks lead to a kind of performative anxiety”.
“In a polity and culture that is reasonably sceptical towards religiosity, is religious appearance also accompanied by the constant quest for approval?” he asked adding that denial of appearance is denial of communication.
Grown up in communal hit city Aligarh, Heba Ahmed, on the other hand pointed out the “narrow perspective” of the media of looking at Muslim women just because of their religion and how, after 2014, the love for Muslim women suddenly grew and everyone was talking about “rescuing” Muslim women from atrocities. Side lining other women in similar situation across India.
Amir Ali expressed that being a liberal on top of being a Muslim is difficult. “Speaking up involves a hefty cost sometimes and a Muslim always has to justify himself/herself for being a liberal,” he said. He is caught between liberal immunity and coreligionists.
The session also witnessed Umar Khalid joining the discussion about citizenship in the country and focused mainly on the rural and tribal parts of the country by saying that one has to bring in a more historical and democratic approach within the system of gram sabha and tribals for more equality.