ONE STEP FORWARD, TWO STEPS BACKWARD

conversion

When Narendra Modi was elected as the Prime Minister of India, I was overjoyed. After all, I had voted for the first time and it had been to bring this epitome of success to power. I wanted a relief from the scams that were continuously being unearthed from the deep, dark recesses of the parties in power. I wanted a relief from politicians running rampant and arresting any innocent citizen for stating their opinions on social networking sites. I wanted a country that would be brought back to its feet with revolutionary economic reforms and renewed vigor in development. I wanted a country free from unnecessary limitations that would curb the democratic authenticity of this country. Thus, I was very happy when the prime minister announced Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (Prime Minister’s People Money Scheme, a scheme for comprehensive financial inclusion), Swaccha Bharat Abhiyaan (Clean Indian Mission, a national level campaign by the Government of India, covering 4041 statutory towns to clean the streets, roads and infrastructure of the country) and admonished ministers who behaved inappropriately.

Lately, the Hindutva leaders have reigned in the attention with the news of religious conversions that are happening all over the country. The Ghar Wapsi (return home) program, that plans to help Christians and Muslims that had earlier converted from Hinduism to reconvert to their original religion, has been set up in different regions. About sixty Dalit Christians reconverted to Hinduism in Kerala, and many other programmes have been setup by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (an Indian right-wing Hindu nationalist non-governmental organization) all over the country to lure in people to reconvert.  Even though it seems like all there is to it is the news of some people converting to a different religion, it fills me with apprehension. It feels as though we are back to rudimentary fundamentals that we were supposed to have left behind a long time ago. One would think that India has come far ahead and that now its priorities lie in developing the country, but what the people of India have to worry about instead is religion based reservations, caste based reservations, and now forcible conversions to Hinduism. Of course, the members of organizations like Vishwa Hindu Parishad, and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Organization or National Patriotic Organization is a right-wing charitable, educational, volunteer, Hindu nationalist, non-governmental organization) will claim that it is voluntary, and it is high time that we brought back and strengthened Hindu culture, and that muslims and Christians forcibly converted or lured in the poor and the mistreated.

I cannot help but feel cornered and frustrated with what the ruling governments do each time their pressure groups change. Is it not time for us to stop meddling with a person’s beliefs just because she/he doesn’t feel the same?