Religion, a growing threat to civil security?

By Rubaina Sangha 

Religion, a growing threat to civil security?

Religion's importance has increased globally despite the rise of secular ideology and the formation of nation-states. India, a secular democracy faces one of the biggest security threats in the form of growing dominance of religion in the public sphere. The rise of religion can be attributed to the collapse of other modern political institutions which fail to connect to the masses in terms of questions of identity, values, belongingness and lifestyle. Religion as a concept serves as a means through which individuals seek to escape the regulatory intrusions of the state on matters of morals, lifestyle and personal beliefs. Since religion acts as a savior from the state, it becomes integral to the core identity and belief system for many. Any threat to this identity is seen as a threat to the very existence of individuals and sense of community.

Rising nationalism is one of the prime examples in South Asia. While Hinduism itself may not promote violence and the right to sanction different lifestyles based on personal values, the watchdogs take upon themselves to show others the right path. Religious threats cannot be limited to one religion; the idea of the fear of the other has taken hold in almost all religions. Buddhists in Myanmar are in the process of protecting their sanctity, while Muslims in Kashmir believe that Kashmiri Pandits have no claim in the region and are in the process of eradicating the same. Violence against minorities in Sri Lanka has been prevalent since ages and no amount of secular ideologies has been successful in diluting this hatred.

There is an additional presence of Godmen in South Asia which is a huge security threat as it has led to bifurcations in the society. There have been several examples where Godmen have been responsible for violence, as witnessed during the recent case of Gurmeet Ram Rahim in North India. There have been several instances in the past as well where godmen have successfully instigated crowds in the name of belief.

Section 144 has repeatedly been imposed in India due to communal violence. In a recent instance in Uttar Pradesh’s Ballia district members of two communities clashed leading to police to imposing prohibitory orders under section 144 under the CrPC. It was also imposed after the conviction of Gurmeet Ram Rahim as a precautionary measure in various cities in North India. This is a key example of how communal issues can hinder everyday life to large extents. Other than causing inconvenience it also causes huge loses to shopkeepers and companies as the business is affected. It was recently imposed in Kashmir as educational institutes remained closed for the second consecutive day in view of the separatists’ call for peaceful protests against the rising braid-chopping incidents. Communal violence also broke out in North 24 Parganas district in West Bengal after an offensive Facebook post. This led to several shops being torched and houses ransacked in Baduria, Tentulia and Golabari.

Religion was created as an institution to introduce a sense of belongingness and community within societies. It has escalated to a point where it is used to control and influence circumstances. It is one of the few institutions which believes that it can override the law and the concept of state if need be. The slightest of religious disagreement can tinder communal clashes which have the potential to escalate into national issues leading to huge losses in business operations and create problems for citizens in all aspects.

About the Author

Rubaina Sangha has recently completed an internship at UNHCR, New Delhi. She has done her Masters in Diplomacy, Law and Business from Jindal School of International Affairs and has an Honours in Sociology from Miranda House, University of Delhi.

Disclaimer: Any views or opinions represented in this blog are of the author and do not represent those of MitKat. Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual.

Published On - Oct 16,2017


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