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Sunday, 30 November 2014

Secularism: The very spirit of India

I am Akash Kumar from India currently in the United States on KL-YES (Kennedy Lugar Youth Exchange and Study) program sponsored by the Department of State. In context to the International Education Week (November 17-21, 2014), we would be discussing the religions and the secular nature of India.

Coming from India- a country so rich and diverse in terms of culture instills in me a sense of sheer joy and pride. India boasts of a history several millennia old which helped shape its diverse culture. Four world religions- Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, have their roots in India. Buddhism and Jainism originated in the medieval period as modified forms of Hinduism. Sikhism came with the concept of universal brotherhood. Islam, Christianity and Zoroastrianism came to India in the first millennium CE. Secularism is at the heart of India. The Rigveda, a sacred text for Hindus and probably the oldest book in the history of mankind says: "Truth is one. God is one. But the sages refer to it in many ways. Our paths might be different, the destination is the same." Similar is the essence of Qur'an: "To you your religion and to me mine". India is an example to behold for the people who believe that religion comes with extremism. Despite the fact that people are highly religious, India not only by law but by its very nature is a secular nation.The banks of Holy River Ganga and Yamuna are testimony to our Indo-Islamic culture which is a perfect blend of the goodness of Hinduism and Islam. Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World is a perfect example of the Indo-Islamic architecture which blossomed with the intermingling of the cultures. Hindus join Muslims in Eid celebration and Muslims are ahead in savoring the joy of Diwali- that's the very Indian spirit. Christians make around 2% of the total population but Christmas is a public holiday. My town has just around 200 Christians out of its total population of 200,000. But, you'll have trouble finding empty space in the Churches on Christmas with people from all religions coming to light candles and celebrate the very joy.

A common identity for all- INDIAN
Religious diversity, co-existence and religious tolerance are both established in the country by the law and custom. And yes, it's not just tolerance, we are a step ahead with acceptance of each others' religious practices.  

(Akash Kumar is the Editor-in-chief of
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A series of skype group conversations beetween students from India & Pakistan

A series of skype group conversations beetween students from India & Pakistan
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