Indian nationalism a rare animal: Tharoor

Indian nationalism a rare animal: Tharoor

Indian nationalism is a rare animal and Indian secularism is a profusion of religions against the idea of absence of religion, writer and parliament member Shashi Tharoor said here Tuesday.

"Indian secularism is a profusion of religions against the Western concept of secularism as absence of religion," Tharoor said.

The Congress Lok Sabha MP was delivering the fifth annual lecture on 'Who is an Indian? A Nation of Minorities' organised by the National Commission for Minorities at the India International Centre here.

Detailing the diversity of India, which has 23 major languages and around 22,000 dialects, Tharoor, a former United Nations under-secretary general, quoted poet Rabindranath Tagore, saying: "India was one land embracing many."

Noting that "Indian nationalism is a rare animal", the parliamentarian said a Tamil Brahmin may share his religion with a Jat but nothing else in terms of appearance, language, food and culture.

"Religion, region, caste and ethnicity divide India," he said.
Tharoor said "Hinduism is no guarantee of majority as a person's caste may not be in the area where he resides."

"Pluralism emerges from the nature of the country," he said adding that "you can't generalise about India."

Highlighting that protecting minorities should be a priority of governments, he lamented the fact that there was no law on internally displaced people (IDP) who have to leave their homes because of social strife.

"There are around one million such persons in India but we need better data...Having no law on IDP is a shortcoming," said Tharoor.

He cited the case of 2.5 lakh Kashmiri Pandits, who had to leave the Kashmir valley after threats from communal elements, and said minority Bodos and Muslims too had to suffer in recent ethnic clashes in Assam.

"Chauvinism and anti-minoritism are grounds for competitive management of resources," he said adding that "democracy is vital for India's future and for protection of the minorities."

"Our freedom was born in blood but our independence still soaks in it," he said.
Tharoor said reducing any group into a minority in its homeland could be dangerous.
"Pakistan was created as a homeland for the Muslims but India today has more Muslims," he said.