India is known all over the world for its centuries-old syncretic culture, religious diversity and ethos of assimilation. They define the essence of the idea of India.
However, the recent incendiary outbursts by two BJP spokespersons against Prophet Muhammad and the Muslim community come as an affront to these core values. Ironically, the self-proclaimed guardians of Indian culture are causing damage to the country’s image with their derogatory comments.
Though the BJP central leadership and the government denounced the remarks of the ruling party’s national spokesperson Nupur Sharma and its Delhi media head Naveen Kumar Jindal and took disciplinary action against them, the damage is already done.
Infact, the damage caused by this whole incident has the potential to hurt the interest of India in the long run.
Understandably, there is widespread outrage across the Arab world. The calls for boycotting Indian products are sweeping the social media platforms in the Gulf countries while several countries summoned India’s ambassadors. Qatar went a step further and demanded an apology from the Indian government over the issue. In a damage-control exercise, the BJP suspended Nupur Sharma and expelled Jindal from the party, and issued a categorical statement saying it respects all religions and strongly denounces insults of any religious personality.
There is no place for peddlers of hate in a secular India. It must be pointed out that every person has the right to practice and preach his or her faith freely in the country. The damage that such hate peddlers can cause to the country’s image is enormous. The BJP spokespersons’ comments threatened to harm relationships that India strengthened with a number of Arab countries and cause problems for the millions-strong diaspora.