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Thursday, Dec 02, 2021
Outlook.com
Independence Day Diary

Multiculturally Yours

Multiculturally Yours
Multiculturally Yours
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
On this Independence Day, we the people of India should consider with some degree of satisfaction that while Britain, Europe and the United States are seriously contemplating new restrictions on civil liberties their citizens formerly enjoyed, our blessed republic is relatively uncontaminated by this virus of illiberalism. Once upon a time, not long ago, Great Britain basked in the triumph of multiculturalism. The British pointed out with great pride that they had managed to create a uniquely tolerant society in which the melting pot idea was conspicuous by its absence. Immigrants lived fearlessly in accordance with their religious beliefs and cultural values, yet contributed substantially to making the sceptred isle a healthier, brighter, more vibrant and intellectually robust land. Sadly, multiculturalism has today become a dirty word, a source of many British troubles, a phenomenon which has enabled Muslim suicide bombers to do their dirty work on London's clean streets. Prime Minister Tony Blair candidly and publicly confessed last week that the "rules of the game" had changed irrevocably. Britain will henceforth be a different country where free speech is only allowed on soap boxes in Hyde Park Corner.

Meanwhile, in India multiculturalism prospers, indeed is taken for granted. It is too deeply embedded in the ethos of our civilisation. The BJP in its short reign tried gamely and repeatedly to subvert multiculturalism, but eventually gave up. The single identity advocates had few takers while the supporters of multiple identity easily won the day. Mr L.K. Advani, possibly the most dogmatic and dogged exponent of identity politics, himself converted to multiculturalism. Interestingly, Mr Advani's conversion to Nehruvian India was not on account of minority pressure; he was defeated, in a delicious twist of irony, by Hindu India. After all, who is more multicultural than India's nearly one billion strong and eclectic Hindu population? The Brahmin of West Bengal would feel an alien, culturally speaking, in Tamil Nadu. And vice versa.

Recently, President George Bush (by his standards) said something at once interesting and profound. Introducing Dr Manmohan Singh to his wife, he said, "He is the prime minister of the world's largest democracy in which there are 150 million Muslims. Not one of them has joined Al Qaeda."
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