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India in the Secular Era

Whilst on the one hand the ruination wrought by Hindoo regressiveness on Indian society as a whole was recognized as an incontestable truth, on the other hand, half-hearted efforts by successive governments playing to the Hindoo vote-bank had yielded at best temporary relief. Although some visible progress had been made in states like Kashmir, West Bengal, Kerala, and for a brief period along the coastal belt of the state of Andhra Pradesh, it was unanimously agreed by policy wonks, think-tank mavens, and public intellectuals of the nation that the time had come for a final solution to be implemented to deal once and for all with the lingering, festering problem. Hindoo orthodoxy posed grave threats to peace and tolerance not just in India, but the world over.

The government therefore decided to establish a committee headed by an Archbishop seconded by the WhatIcon a maulvi (who was kindly seconded for this effort by the kingdom of Dakshin Colocasia), who held joint meetings inside the Hindoo temple at Teer-ul-mala. To allow the two scholars to conduct their deliberations in complete quiet, all activities at the temple were brought to a halt for the entire month. This was important as it sent a strong and symbolic message to both the nation and the world that this was an endeavour being pursued with the most honest of intentions and the utmost sincerity. Prominent Hindoo intellectuals and civil society experts came forward to express their appreciation of and support for this revolutionary step. The world commended this as the first genuine attempt towards the establishment of genuine syncretic secularism in India. The vision of the founding fathers of the nation was finally seen as nearing fruition.

These month-long deliberations culminated in a charter that would over time be applied to all Hindoos in India. The encyclical, as it was finally named, was not without its controversies. The maulvi preferred to call it a fatwa, but was magnanimous enough in letting the archbishop have his way. The cause was larger than the individuals. The charter itself was hailed as far-sighted and visionary. Now that enough time has passed since its complete and successful implementation, a few highlights are worth calling out, if only to show just how far ahead of its time this charter was. As a footnote, even the IS, at the time a permanent member of the UN Security Council, wistfully commented that it may perhaps have chosen this committee’s recommendations had they been available to it then, and thus saved time it otherwise spent in the establishment of a caliphate in all of Europe.

First, it recognized that Hindoos were cheating the nation by depositing money at their temples, and not with the government. This deprived the government of revenues much-needed to provide public services under the auspices of MNREGA and other progressive schemes. The committee declared that all such money deposited at temples would be transferred to a central vault, and which would be administered by a special representative nominated by the WhatIcon. The choice of a WhatIcon representative was a stroke of genius and ensured that there would be no charge of bias or conflict of interest in the administering of such wealth. Everyone accepted without question the unimpeachable honesty and impartiality of the church when it came to matters of wealth. The WhatIcon’s special representative would have complete discretion on how those funds were to be utilized The WhatIcon was however aware of the immense responsibility handed to it, and to ensure that its actions were completely above board, it entrusted World Whyschism, a noble charitable organization, with the task of apportioning the six billion dollars deposited with the WhatIcon in the first year alone. This sum, by the time the exercise came to its natural conclusion, would grow to over three hundred billion dollars. World Whyschism ploughed substantial portions of this wealth, running into several hundred million dollars, back to India for its development. The government feted World Whyschism for its selfless and holy spirit of service, and also granted its India special representative the rank of cabinet minister, and a special office at 7 Race Course Road.

Second, it recognized that the more than thousand-year old practice of caste-based discrimination by the Hindoo priestly and bania-class had continued unabated, and that stronger steps were required for its elimination. Acknowledging that the primary source of such evil could be traced to the indoctrination of young minds that took place within the cloistered confines of Hindoos hovels, the committee therefore decided that all children of the Hindoos would be compulsorily schooled in special institutions. There these young Hindoo minds could be detoxified of the retrograde influences of the primitive, hate-filled verses these young children were subjected to from a very early age. It was decided that boys would be hereby put under the care of pastors and priests from the religion of love, and who had spent their lives in the celibate pursuit of God and could therefore be relied upon to share and spread this love into young boys. The girls were to be put under the care of equally loving maulvis, who would shower their special love upon these girls, giving them important life-skills that would hold them in good stead once they entered married life at the appropriate age of twelve. After the boys turned sixteen, they would be returned to the Hindoo families.

Third, the committee discovered that Hindoo temples owned large tracts of land which were far in excess of what could reasonably be required for the conduct of pagan rituals. Condemning this deceitful tactic of the Hindoo priests to squat over fertile lands with the sole motive of deriving illicit pecuniary benefits from such land, the committee decided that all such occupation of the lands was ipso-facto illegal. An emergency session of Parliament was convened, and a unanimous constitutional amendment was passed which authorized state governments to take over all such Hindoo temple lands with immediate effect. Where the state governments felt overworked, it was also decreed that special peace and love representatives could directly take over such lands. Any legal hurdles the Hindoos may place in its implementation was pre-empted by placing the act outside of the purview of the courts. Furthermore, it recommended a stiff retroactive financial penalty on all such temples for this crime. With the developed world showing zero tolerance for financial irregularities, there was no reason for Hindoos to stay seeped in their traditions of cheating. it was vital for the heathens to aspire to the the same standards of probity as displayed by banks in the United States.

Fourth, the committee came to another insightful revelation that true secularism could never be heralded in the nation unless gaudy and ostentatious displays of religion by the Hindoos was not curbed. Such garish displays served no purpose other than to remind the deprived of the oppressive mores of the rich Hindoos. Therefore, any public display of tilak, kumkum, bindi, mangalsutra, etc… was put under the gambit of the progressive legislation that received immediate Presidential approval – “The Anti-Superstition Act”. Furthermore, anyone found playing Holi was sentenced under the Wastage of Water (Prevention) Act; lighting diyas or bursting crakers at Deepavali was a cognizable offence under the Clean Air Act; wasting rice for drawing kolams attracted stiff penal sentences under the Conservation of Food Act; flying kites at Hindoo festivals was an offence under the Prevention of Cruelty to Birds. A repeat offence attracted a mandatory jail term for the offender and his or her entire family for a period of no less than thirty days. The scholars at the prestigious JNU, who had taken time off from their onerous duties to draft the legislation, were awarded the Bharat Ratna for their stellar efforts. The NGO that had championed and mustered public opinion in favor of this path-breaking legislation was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Several universities in the United States established chairs in honour of the the founder of the NGO. Indians were ecstatic that they had finally found a seat of honor at the high table of the west. The chests of progressive liberals in India swelled with justifiable pride.

Fifth, and most importantly, the committee recognized any legislation and all steps to inculcate a true spirit of secularism among Hindoos would come to naught unless and until the source of continuing fundamentalism in the Hindoos was not tackled head-on – the temples themselves. The committee felt, and got widespread support from progressive intellectuals on the Hindoo side also, that while the right to practice religion was sacrosanct, it was however not an unfettered right, especially if it encouraged discrimination and prevented society as a whole from evolving to higher standards of faith. While the Indian Constitution had attempted to address the problem of temples, the committee felt that stronger steps were needed. It therefore decided that every temple would henceforth be required to have within its premises at least one structure from each of the prominent faiths of the land. This would allow true unity to be fostered within the two great religions and Hindooism, bringing the one Truth to the place the Hindoos called their temples. This was admittedly a big step, but this is where the role of foreign governments cannot be appreciated enough. They voluntarily stepped in helpfully at that juncture. Unstinting help came in the form of encouraging editorials in prominent newspapers, resolutions in houses of parliament across the world praising the vision of the committee on the one hand and exhorting Hindoos to embrace this opportunity to be considered almost equal to adherents of the two true great faiths, discreet financial incentives to the Hindoo priestly and journalistic class to allow them to shape the opinion of the unwashed Hindoos. The war against darkness was difficult, but the pilgrims made steady progress, and after several weeks of determined efforts, victory was obtained.

Sixth, the teaching of Hindoo scriptures was deemed a crime on part with Holocaust-denialism in some European countries. Much of the regressiveness of Hindoo society could be traced to this haphazard collection of texts. A multi-year project was initiated under the auspices of Darul Uloom Deoband to produce a Critical Edition of all Hindoo texts – including the Vedas, Upanishads, and Puranas. It was also decided that within five years of the completion of this project, all morning prayers at the remaining Hindoo temples would be conducted only from these syncreized texts. As an added measure to reassure the needlessly suspicious Hindoos, the government also promised to get these texts reviewed by renowned scholars of Hinduism – Ms Why Andy and Prof Satdown Pock. While there were mild murmurs of protests from Hindoo fundamentalists, the enlightened intellectuals were more embracing of this initiative.

Not unexpectedly, the natural intolerance of the Hindus reared its ugly head for the umpteenth time when they attempted to take out a march against these progressive initiatives. Even though they called it a “silent march”, no one was fooled by that facade. Roads were attempted to be brutally closed to march to the state legislative houses, in what was seen as a clear attempt to intimidate and subvert the democratic process of the nation. The police was called in to peacefully halt those protests. The media declined to cover or report on that non-event, so it was difficult to verify whether sixteen thousand Hindus had indeed died, or whether it was yet another vile and typical exaggeration to be expected from the fundamentalists Hindus. In either event, these peaceful actions by the administration had the desired effect of quelling to some extent the penchant for violence in the Hindoos. Such peaceful means of quelling violent protests were in some states outsourced to willing civilians who had already seen the light that the committee’s recommendations promised to usher.

Peace and glory finally dawned when on a glorious sunny day, the first day of the new calendar was declared, and a new era dawned. Leaders and intellectuals cut across party lines to embrace each other, tears of joy streaming down the cheeks of the enlightened.

It was January 1, 0001 SE (Secular Era).

Disclaimer: this is a satirical piece that bears no resemblance to reality – which goes without saying. The opinions expressed are personal.

– Abhinav Agarwal

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