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Sumedha Singh | HENB | New Delhi | July 1, 2021:: Proud Indians are mostly devout people, a major new Pew Research Centre survey finds perhaps to no great surprise. 60% of them, whether in cities or villages, pray daily for the individual and social progress.
The Survey states, “More than 70 years after India became free from colonial rule, Indians generally feel their country has lived up to one of its post-independence ideals: a society where followers of many religions can live and practice freely.“
But, what is expressed in hint in this survey that the majority Hindu Texture of India and its all inclusiveness and wide acceptance makes the beauty of religious tolerance and reverence reciprocally. In fine, India has set the extraordinary example of Religious Tolerance and Harmony under its Majority Hindu Influence.
The really good news for Indian-style secularism is that religious tolerance gets a big appreciation and ovation from the rest of the world Most Indians – Hindus, Muslims, Christians or Sikhs and others – say they are ‘free to practice their religion’ and that they consider ‘respect for other religions is very important’ to their own respective faiths and being truly Indian, according to a new poll by Pew Research Center released on Tuesday.
The survey also found that members of most major religions – especially Hindus and Muslims – call themselves “very different” from people of other faiths and disapprove of inter-faith marriages, and “overwhelmingly” make friends within their respective religious communities.
US based ‘fact tank’ Pew Research Center said the survey, ‘Religion in India: Tolerance and Segregation’, was conducted among 30,000 Indians through face-to-face interviews in 17 languages in late 2019 and the beginning of 2020, a period marked by escalation in sectarian tension over the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act and the revocation of the special constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority erstwhile state.
“While people in some countries may aspire to create a ‘melting pot’ of different religious identities, many Indians seem to prefer a country more like a patchwork fabric, with clear lines between groups,” the report said.
64% of Hindus say it is very important to be Hindu to be truly Indian. 59% of Hindus tie speaking Hindi to the national identity. Those who say these two things and also voted for BJP in the 2019 parliamentary elections, make up 30% of the total Hindus (Table 1).
Granted wide regional variations, this would be very cheery reading for north-centric Hindutva politics.
Indians who say politicians should exercise influence on religious matters forming the majority will similarly gladden right-of-centre politicians (Table 2). Indian politics since 2014 has also taken definitive strides in this direction. Ram Mandir construction, state laws criminalising interfaith marriages and the gau raksha slogan showed BJP recognising these sentiments.
Even educated Indians agree with state intervention in religion. But if they are also conservative, what does this mean for popular reception of a Uniform Civil Code? It would be the progressive political intervention taking matters like marriage, succession and divorce out of the sphere of personal laws.
Table 3 shows very high caste consciousness across Indians, including among Muslims and Christians. Large self-identification in OBC category buttresses some netas’ demand that the decennial Census reveal OBC data – even as successive central governments have been chary of opening new political minefields.
In this Pew survey 69% of those sampled self-identified as SC/ST/OBC-MBC but were underrepresented among college graduates (56%).
A shared experience across caste groups was that among those reporting recent financial hardship were 27% general category, 27% SC, 10% ST and 35% OBC, largely correlating with their share in the general population. Irrespective of caste, all of India craves an economic recovery.
A majority of those surveyed, hypothetically, had no reservations to neighbours being from other religions. But the India seen here bears little resemblance to a melting pot. All communities cling to their segregations.
As Table 4 shows there is marked disinterest among Indians in drawing people from other communities into inner friendship circles, reflecting also as endogamy. Among married adults, 99% of Hindus, 98% of Muslims and 95% of Christians shared the same religion with their spouse.
67% of Hindus, 80% of Muslims, and 54% of college graduates said it is very important to stop women in their community from marrying into another religion. All cohorts also largely concurred on stopping inter-caste marriages, whether by women or by men.
The survey also found that for a majority of Hindus their religious identify is “closely intertwined” with their perception who is “truly” Indian – 64% say it is very important to be Hindu to be “truly” Indian. And most Hindus – 59% – also believe that Indians should be able to speak Hindi.
But, first, what unites Indians. Most of them agree they are free to practise their faith – 91% Hindus, 89% Muslims and Christians, 82% of Sikhs, 93% of Buddhists and 85% of Jains; 85% of Hindus, 78% of Muslims and Christians, 81% of Sikhs, 84% of Buddhists and 83% of Jains said respect for other religions is “very important” to being “truly Indian; and 80%, 79%, 78, 75%, 86% and 73% of the six faiths say respect for other religions is a very important part of their religious identify.
As per the Pew Survey report, the BJP’s appeal is greater among Hindus who closely associate their religious identity and the Hindi language with being “truly Indian.” In the 2019 national elections, 60% of Hindu voters who think it is very important to be Hindu and to speak Hindi to be truly Indian cast their vote for the BJP, compared with only a third among Hindu voters who feel less strongly about both these aspects of national identity.
Overall, among those who voted in the 2019 elections, three-in-ten Hindus take all three positions: saying it is very important to be Hindu to be truly Indian; saying the same about speaking Hindi; and casting their ballot for the BJP.
These views are considerably more common among Hindus in the largely Hindi-speaking Northern and Central regions of the country, where roughly half of all Hindu voters fall into this category, compared with just 5% in the South.
So, the virtual supports from Hindus in favour of BJP across the country, excluding parts in the south always remain key factor for BJP in the national election, so far.
There is more that they agree on – 77% of Hindus believe in karma, as do Muslims; a third of Christians and a majority of Hindus believe in the purifying powers of Ganga; and in northern India the survey found that 12% of Hindus and 10% of Sikhs, and 37% of Muslims identity with Sufism.
Another interesting aspect reveals in this survey that the Most of Hindus preferably worship Lord Shiva (44%), Lord Hanuman (35%) and Lord Ganesh (32%) than Lord Rama (17%) when Ayodhya Ram Janmabhoomi Temple movement led the Indian politics for decades. This is unbelievable to some extent. The other preferred deities of Hindus are Goddess Lakshmi (28%), Goddess Kali (20%) and Lord Krishna (21%), as revealed in the survey.
Now, what sets them apart, according to the Pew survey. Most Hindus – 66% – believe they are very different from Muslims, and Muslims nearly reciprocated that with 64% of them saying they consider themselves very different from Hindus. Two-third of Jains and half of Sikhs, however, say they have a lot in common with Hindus.
Difference in self-perception among Hindus and Muslims manifests in opposition to inter-faith marriage. Roughly, two-thirds of Hindus in India want to prevent inter-religious marriages of Hindu women (67%) or Hindu men (65%), the survey said. It was also found that larger shares of Muslims feel similarly – 80% say it is very important to prevent Muslim women from marrying outside, and 76% say it is very important to stop Muslim men from doing so.
A majority of those polled say their close friends are from the same religious group – 86% of Indians overall, 86% of Hindus, 88% of Muslims, 80% of Sikhs, and 72% of Jain. But Hindus were divided on who they preferred as neighbours – 45% said they were fine with anyone, 45% said they will not be willing to accept members of at least one of the religions as neighbours, mostly, 39% Muslims.
The pictures obviously reflected in the Pew Survey entitled, Religion in India: Tolerance and Segregation’, have its deep influence of the Hindu hospitality and generosity to others that have been traditionally maintained in this part of Indian sub-continent. Hence, any charge against India on the violation of minority rights in India can be quashed in the verification of reality.
Even then, it’s striking feature that most of the Muslims in India prefer Sharia Court with a mindset to make India Islamic in future.
But, existence of such harmonious picture may not be seen in the other parts of the Indian subcontinent viz Pakistan and Bangladesh (earlier East Pakistan) which were separated from India and established Islamic states there.
Pew Research Center may conduct same survey in Pakistan and Bangladesh to assess the communal harmony, religious tolerance and minority rights in fact in those lands under Islamic supremacy.
Read this news in Hindi: हिंदू बहुसंख्यक भारत में धर्म: सहिष्णुता और अलगाव
Read this news in Bengali: হিন্দু গরিষ্ঠ ভারতে ধর্ম: সহনশীলতা এবং পৃথকীকরণ
Read this news in Marathi: हिंदू बहुसंख्य भारतातील धर्म : सहिष्णुता आणि विलग्नता
Courtesy: TOI & PEW Research Center.