US cable praises India’s secular society

Saturday, December 18, 2010

NEW DELHI/LONDON - A diplomatic cable sent by the US embassy here to Washington says America can learn a lot from the Indians’ tolerance for all faiths, according to whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.

An April 2006 cable posted in The Guardian newspaper said that in the Indian context, secularism was synonymous with tolerance for all faiths, and does not imply life devoid of religion.

It said India enjoyed a “democratic, multi-religious, multi-cultural, heterogeneous, multi-ethnic society”, where all major world religions were practiced freely.

Though “isolated elements of religious extremism of many varieties” had occurred in India, “notably among Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs”, extremists were outnumbered by “secular” moderates, it said.

The cable says that 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, and a realisation by politicians that religious hatred is not a vote-getter among the increasingly savvy, globalised, and prosperous Indian electorate”.

It, however, warned that there always remains a risk of isolated outbreaks of sectarian violence.

This would be so “especially in response to the terrorism” that has plagued India for decades “or when provoked by regional politicians for their narrow political purposes”.

Filed under: Religion

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