It was for the first time when Barack Obama visited India in 2015 to attend the Republic Day, and in a public lecture, he expressed his anguish over intolerance prevailing in the country, the lynching by the cow vigilants and attacks on churches. In his personal talks with the Prime Minister and in his public speech, he was fair and frank to find fault with the government of India. Seven months after Narendra Modi came to power, the atmosphere was thick and dirty with communal hatred and a foreign dignitary who visited India as a government guest could not help realizing the ground situation. The question arises as to how the communal forces belonging to Sangh Parivar were so dare to harass the minorities to the extent that the foreign guest had to speak aloud and advise the Prime Minister. After his departure, these forces were not ashamed of their action but were sore and wrathful that they were found fault with and that too by a foreign guest. The then US president was targeted that how dare he criticize the Sangh Parivar organizations. The BJP leaders said they need not be advised how to treat minorities in India. Minorities and Dalits were not so upset in India as they were just after the BJP came to power and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the reins of the country in his hands. It was the image of the secular country where the communal harmony was the hallmark and was at stake.
Now when the tenure of the Prime Minister Modi is nearing its end, the former US president thought it fit to reiterate his advice to the government. While addressing an audience at a conference organized by the Hindustan Times Group on December 1, the former president praised the Prime Minister for his vision for India and the part played by the country in the global forum of climate change. The same time he advised India to cherish and nature Muslims who were part and parcel of Indian culture and consider themselves Indians. They are assets and no other country has such a large number of minority. He was all praise for pluralism and emphasized to practice tolerance.
The irony of the circumstances is that the present government is guided by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh which follows its own philosophy of Hindu Rashtra. This system does not treat the minorities on par with the majority community. The main hurdle for the Sangh Parivar is the constitution of India which has adopted secularism as a guiding principle. The BJP has never appreciated the secular values and criticized the former government for following appeasement policy. The rights to Muslim minority particularly their religious freedom is being attacked in the name of gender equality. A law is being framed to make triple Talaq a crime in penal code even when the Muslim Person Law Board assured to convince the Muslims on this religious issue. The cow vigilantes which were even condemned by the Prime Minister are still scot free to go berserk. This aggressive attitude that is stifling the spirit of democracy has to be halted.