The recent referendum in the UK where BREXIT or BREMAIN was the option with the possibility of the UK having to leave the European Union (EU) within the next two years has caught the world’s attention. To ensure this win, the advocates for the BREXIT made many falsehoods to hoodwink the public and so the final result of the referendum has left many flabbergasted. Some UK citizens with Irish parents, are said to be applying for Irish passports so that they can keep their benefits of being in the EU intact. Many, especially Londoners and Scots are even asking for a second referendum but the EU, fearing that such action may act as stimulus to whittle down the 28 nation conglomerate even further, has vetoed the idea.
We in Nepal had a referendum about thirty five years ago when the choice was whether to retain a Panchayat with reforms or to opt for a fully democratic system. To make the choice easier for the public, they had to stamp on either the Royal Gold or the Sky Blue side. The Gold won and the Blue supporters, who lost narrowly, shouted hoarse that subterfuge had been done. In course of time the voices tired and life went on. However, we in Nepal are now at a stage when the situation is right for a referendum regarding whether to keep the secularism that we have now or to opt for a Hindu State. The choice could be between ‘Secular Keep’ and ‘Secular Out’. More simply between SECKEEP and SECOUT.
There have recently been in Facebook a number of postings asking the computer savvies to express their thoughts on whether Nepal should once more revert back to being a Hindu State or should stick to being Secular as has been recently foisted on the Nation by the first Constituent Assembly. In retrospect one realises that the strategy of this quick and sudden change from being a Hindu Kingdom was the hidden agenda to remove the Shah Kings who had been at the helm of affairs for over two centuries.
There was in the 24th June 2016 issue of New Spotlight an article about a Christian pastor Rev. KB Rokaya, who apparently stated in an interview on Avenues TV that ‘secularism was a bad idea for Nepal’. In a country where Hindus are in large majority the concept of secularism has been surreptitiously included in the constitution. The public response prior to the constitution being officially proclaimed was that an extraordinary large percentage of people wanted Nepal to be declared a Hindu Rastra. This public demand was sidelined by the politicians and Nepal made secular. The people were simply just hoodwinked.
Narendra Modi, down South was said to have been annoyed and a drastic blockade by India was imposed, causing much hardship to the Nepalis. The issues of our Constitution are still not solved and many are vocal for the essential changes. A couple of politicians in the present Constituent Assembly have never been silent on this score but their voices are literally in the wilderness! What then is the answer? How should the problem be solved for us Nepalis?
The concept now is not to label a society as secular but rather to label it as ‘multi religious / cultural’. Many years ago Prince Charles of UK voiced that the monarch of that land should be ‘Defender of All Faiths’ and not of just one that it presently adheres to!
One has only to look at the history of the world. The Jewish faith, starting from the time of Abraham has had many ups and downs. The Jews and the Arabs, both descended from Abraham / Ibrahim are said to be stepbrothers. The Bible consists of both the Old Testament for the Jews and the New Testament for the Christians. The conquest of the Moors right up to Spain and the rule of the Ottoman Empire till the beginning of the twentieth century brought about many changes but all these have now been superseded.
Constantinople, the City founded and named after the Greek Emperor went through phases of being in control of the Romans / Byzantine, Latin and Ottoman rulers. The 15th Century Muslim conqueror Mehmed converted the Greek Orthodox Christian Cathedral into a Muslim mosque.
The Wailing Wall, nearby Temple Mount in Jerusalem is considered to be the core of both the Christian and Jewish faiths. From early 20th Century, it has become a point of contention between the Jews and the Christians.
In our side of the world, the Hindu Kingdom which once stretched from Kandahar in Afghanistan, via Bali in Indonesia to Angkor Wat in Cambodia has seen many rulers come and go. Angkor Wat was started as a Hindu temple to Vishnu in the 12th Century but was soon converted into a Buddhist shrine.
Indonesia, a Hindu and Buddhist religious area in the 7th Century was conquered by the Muslims in the 13th Century and by Christians in later years. Tourists now flock to Bali to see Hindu culture and hear tales of Hindu mythology, recited by Muslim by way of ‘shadows on sheets’ methods.
India / Bharat with the periodic Muslim onslaughts from the North have been through such changing of hands too. However, Dargah Sharif, dedicated to a Sufi saint is regularly visited by peoples of different faiths. Thus having a more tolerant society, with each person aware of his / her rights and freedom is the requirement of our generation where ever one may be residing in this world.
The author writes fiction under the name of Mani Dixit. Website: www.hdixit.org.np. Twitter: @manidixithd