India is a nation which has thrived on ‘Unity in diversity’ since its birth. The nation has varied topographical regions, experiences different weather conditions and people are free to practice the religion they prefer.
However, off late questions have been raised on this unity. By whom? By some people who have got everything from this nation and by political leaders of some countries which do not allow freedom of expression to their own people.
Defence forces – Unity in Diversity….
Indian defence forces are the best example of this thriving unity. There are units which have troops from different religious background. As a rule, if any unit has more than 120 troops practicing a particular religion then it will have a place for worship to facilitate them in offering their prayers.
Depending on the religious background of troops a unit may have a single or multiple religious places. The beauty is that all places of worship are housed under a single roof. The Geeta, Bible, Quran and the Granth sahib all co-exist happily in the ‘Sarva Dharma Sthal’ (All religious places under one roof).
All for one, one for all….
The troops irrespective of the religion they practice participate in all the religious functions conducted in the unit. The Commanding officer may be from any religious background but will always lead the prayer ceremonies held in the unit. He may be a Muslim commanding a unit having Hindu troops but that won’t stop him from performing the ‘Havan’ in the unit temple with his troops. Same is true for a Commanding Officer practicing any other religion.
I have commanded a unit having a mix of Sikh and Hindu troops. Once I was posted to a unit comprising of Muslim troops. I have attended religious functions of all three religions.
Every religious place gets the respect it deserves in the Army. Mazar of a Sufi saint located inside my company was well taken care of by my Sikh troops.
In the defence forces it is the name which takes precedence over the surname. Soldiers are groomed in an environment where names are just used to identify an individual and not his religion. There is no discrimination made on the grounds of caste, creed, region or religion. The first religion of every soldier is soldiering.
The units keep changing locations every two/ three year, but each location/ region they treat as their own. Armed forces are major contributors of manpower for providing humanitarian aids during natural calamities or riot situations. There has never been a complaint by any one for being discriminated by soldiers in provision of aid. For a soldier humanity is what matters.
The last word….
The soldiers also have their origins in the villages of India then how can there be a difference his and thought process of any person living in the civil street. Hatred is not part of our culture and does not run in our blood. Some black sheep will always be there in the society but opinion should not be formed based on their action. The way innocent children are massacred in the schools of America every other month doesn’t make it an acceptable norm. Indian society and polity do not accept hatred/ killings for any reason.
To remove whatever malaise exists in the minds of some efforts are to be made from the school level. The schools should focus on teaching about ‘Sarva Dharma Sthals’ and commonality of religions.
Despite all attempts by nations/ people with vested interest to spread misinformation India will continue to be a shining example of ‘Unity in Diversity’.