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No Your Excellency, India is not a Hindu Israel

Aditya Menon | Updated on: 24 November 2015, 14:32 IST

In two days, Assam Governor PB Acharya, has made two statements that are completely unbecoming of the office he holds.

On 22 November he is reported to have said that "Hindustan is for Hindus". Instead of retracting his remark, he went a step further. A day later he said, " They (Muslims) are free to go anywhere. They can stay here (in India). If they want to go to Bangladesh or Pakistan, they are free to go".

There are two reasons why Acharya's statements are deeply problematic.

Respect the office

First, the office he holds. Acharya holds the Constitutional position of the Governor. His actions and words need to be guided by the Constitution of India, which clearly mentions that India is a secular state.

Acharya's statement that "Hindustan is for Hindus" and his assertion that Hindus from different countries should come and stay here goes against the principle of secularism.

He might adhere to a particular religion in his private life and follow certain religious texts, but as the Governor, his only holy book should be the Constitution of India.

Governor Acharya's words and actions should be guided by the Constitution, not his personal ideology

Any constitutional official who defies the very spirit of this document does not have the right to occupy the position.

But this shouldn't just apply to constitutional positions alone and this brings us to the second problematic aspect of Acharya's statements.

Faulty political beliefs

His statements must not be dismissed as eccentric assertions. They stem from a faulty view of India as a primarily a Hindu country. It isn't just Acharya who adheres to such beliefs. It seems to be a central belief of the political party he belongs to: the BJP.

The BJP has consistently advocated providing refuge to Hindus from across the world. Some leaders like Ravi Shankar Prasad have even gone to the extent of saying that it is the government of India's constitutional responsibility to take up the cause of Pakistani Hindus.

Not only is this ridiculous it is politically harmful. It provides Pakistan a perfect opportunity to lecture India on the treatment of Muslims in the country.

Israel is a Jewish state which welcomes Jews from across the world. That is how Israel has chosen to define itself, for better or worse.

India is not a Hindu Israel, no matter how much Hindutva proponents would want it to be.

Yes India has provided refuge to people from across the world. But this is not because of Hinduism, but a spirit of humanity.

It is for this reason that Zoroastrians made India their home centuries ago. And it is because of this spirit of humanity and compassion that India has welcomed persecuted people from across the world: from Tibetans and Bahais to Afghans fleeing the civil war in the country or refugees from East Pakistan in 1971.

It isn't just Acharya, many in the BJP feel it's India's duty to protect Hindus from across the world

It is wrong to say that only Hindus are welcome and even worse to ask Indian Muslims to go to Pakistan and Bangladesh.

India belongs to all Indians, irrespective of how they pray, what they believe and what political ideology they adhere to. No one, not Acharya nor his ideological cousins like Sadhvi Prachi, Sakshi Maharaj and Giriraj Singh - have the right to tell any Indian to leave this country.

First published: 24 November 2015, 14:32 IST