Bigotry being whipped up in India a political exercise, not actual spirit of Indians: Tharoor

Shashi Tharoor said Indians essentially have lived together for far too long to allow "periodic spasms" of bigotry or unpleasantness to derail it.

Bigotry being whipped up in India a political exercise, not actual spirit of Indians: Tharoor

NEW YORK: Congress leader and author Shashi Tharoor said the "bigotry" that is being whipped up in recent years in India is essentially a "political exercise" and does not reflect the actual spirit of most of the people in the country. 

He said Indians essentially have lived together for far too long to allow "periodic spasms" of bigotry or unpleasantness to derail it. 

"What we are going through now is just an awful temporary phase," Tharoor said Thursday during a conversation titled 'India Sutra' held at the Jaipur Literature Festival, organised as part of Season of India at Asia Society.

"the kind of bigotry that we have seen whipped up in recent years is an essentially a political exercise and not to my mind in any way reflective of the actual spirit of most of the Indian people," he said.

On Hinduism, Tharoor, the author of 'Why I am a Hindu', said, "The wonderful fact is that in an era of uncertainty, of incertitude, you have uniquely a religion that privileges incertitude." 

He noted that the Rig Veda actually says "where the universe comes from, who made all of this heaven and earth, may be He in the heaven knows, may be even He does not know". 

"A religion that is prepared to question the omniscience of the Creator is to my mind a wonderful faith for a modern or post-modern sensibility. On top of that, you have got this extraordinary eclecticism," Tharoor said.

He added that Hindu "is not a religion of one holy book, but of multiple sacred texts". 

"There's an awful lot to pick from. What you pick is up to you. If you choose to pick the misogynist or casteist or offensive bits of the faith and say my religion allows me to discriminate against people or to oppress people, it is your fault not the religion's," he said. 

Speaking of an assertive Hindu nationalism, Tharoor said it is actually based on a "rather dismaying inferiority complex, these are people whose Hinduism has been conquered, subjugated, they feel an ancestral humiliation" that they have to overcome.

"There assertion or aggressiveness today is the unsuccessful removal of a chip from their shoulder, whereas the Hinduism that I have seen read, seen growing up and practised, is a much more self-confident Hinduism," Tharoor said. 

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