Hindu ethos key to Indian democracy, secularism: Advani

Last Updated: Sunday, April 11, 2010 - 18:04

New Delhi: Veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader LK Advani Sunday said Hindu ethos was responsible for the success of democracy and secularism in India.

"In human history, intolerance towards a different point of view has been reflected most in the field of religion," Advani said in the latest post `Roots of Democracy and Secularism` on his blog.

He said as opposed to the west, there has been an open-minded and liberal approach in India, even in religious matters.

He quoted Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International, from his book "The Post American World" that every sect and sub-sect of Hinduism worships its own god, goddess, or holy creature.

"Every family forges its own distinct version of Hinduism. You can pay your respects to some beliefs, and not to others. You can be a vegetarian or eat meat. You can pray or not pray. None of these choices determines whether you are a Hindu. There is no heresy or apostasy, because there is no core set of beliefs, no doctrine, and no commandments," Advani said quoting the author.

"Zakaria argues that it is this non-doctrinaire character that gives Hinduism its absorptive and assimilative power. I hold that it is this Hindu ethos that accounts for the success of both democracy as well as secularism in India," Advani said.

Advani said in late 1980s when he was BJP president, a Canadian television channel approached him for an interview on a serial `The Rise and Fall of Democracies around the Globe`.

He said the team wanted to know his analysis as to why democracy had been such a success in India.

Advani said his answer was: "I hold that the most important ingredient for a successful democracy is readiness of the people of that country to accept that on any issue there are bound to be divergent views and that citizens generally must be informed by an attitude of tolerance toward diametrically different points of view. And in India, this has never been lacking."


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First Published: Sunday, April 11, 2010 - 18:04

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