Washington: At a time when nations around
the globe are losing ground to extremism, India`s tradition of
tolerance and its management of a large and diverse society
can be an important learning ground for the world, a US cable
from its New Delhi embassy said in 2006.
The cable said in the democratic, multi-religious, and
multi-ethnic society that India is, secularism is synonymous
to tolerance of all faiths and extremists are far outnumbered
by `secular` moderates.
"India`s large Muslim population, and that community`s
relatively positive relations with its Hindu majority, also
offer insights on how we can more effectively engage in the
battle of ideas against violent extremism within a democratic,
pluralistic society," said the cable coming of the US Embassy
in New Delhi in April 2006.
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"We can learn a great deal from India`s management of
its large society to minimise extremist ideologies. India
enjoys a democratic, multi-religious, multi-cultural,
heterogeneous, multi-ethnic society where all major world
religions are practised freely," it said.
"Isolated elements of religious extremism of many
varieties have, however, occurred in India -- notably among
Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs -- although extremists as a whole
are by far outnumbered by `secular` moderates," the US Embassy
said, praising the secular democratic tradition of India.
It said in the Indian context, secularism stands for
tolerance for all faiths, and does not imply life devoid of
religion, although religious freedom -- including atheism --
is protected and guaranteed by the Constitution and a long
history of court precedent.
"At a time when many nations appear to be losing
ground to extremist movements, India`s trendlines are pointing
in the right direction, bolstered by strong indigenous
traditions of communal co-habitation, non-violent political
protest, a free press," the embassy cable said.
It also noted a realisation by politicians that
religious hatred is not a vote getter among the "increasingly
savvy, globalised, and prosperous Indian electorate".
However, it said a risk of isolated outbreaks of
sectarian violence remains.
"... especially in response to the terrorism that has
plagued India for decades, or when provoked by regional
politicians for their narrow political purposes (for example,
the recently passed anti-conversion legislation in
Rajasthan)," the cable said.