Religious Freedom and Tolerance – for public comment

Dear Visitor,

This policy has been released on 29 April 2009 for public comment.

Please note that FTI releases the same policy on two blogs.

a) The first blog (this one) is for public comment, through the comments box at the bottom of this blog. All FTI policies will remain drafts until formally agreed to by at least 1500 FTI leaders in the coming years. Your comments will inform the development of these policies, but it will not always be feasible for FTI members to directly debate with you on this blog.

b) On the second blog (here) only FTI members are able to comment, but you are invited to read the discussions on that blog. The reason why the ‘FTI member only’ blog is in the public domain is to give you a broad sense of how this policy was arrived at how it is evolving. Every new FTI member has FULL rights to influence the policy.

1. The significance of religious freedom and tolerance

a)      Members of FTI believe that religion is a purely personal matter, not a matter for government policy.

b)      We also believe that religious freedom is a fundamental personal freedom; a matter of choice for each citizen. Therefore, FTI neither promotes any religion or religious activity nor opposes it unless it trespasses other’s liberties.

c)      In a free society, everyone can enjoy religious freedom only by giving others similar freedom. This means tolerating (and accommodating in good faith, to the extent possible) all religious beliefs. It also includes ensuring that each citizen has the right to preach his or her religion (or not religion) and convert others to his or her beliefs.

d)      But religious freedom, like all other freedoms, must be accompanied by its matching accountability. We must not harm others through our religious (or non-religious) activities. We must all remain accountable for our actions.

e)      FTI is proud of India’s great history of religious tolerance. We would like India to continue to lead the world in showing how the people of all religions can happily co-exist together..

2. The need to keep the state and religion separate

a)      FTI advocates the complete and total separation of the state and religion. Our religious and political goals are different domains and should not be allowed to mix. Note that this does mean the state must be secular; it is best to see it as non-denominational, and tasked with a different job to that of religion.

b)      In particular, the role of government is to make and enforce laws which specify our accountabilities. While these laws can be based on precepts of morality, and should, indeed, be compatible with ethical principles, they are meant to clarify our accountabilities and do not aim to represent any particular (such as religious) moral view. All that the state asks for from the citizen is for him or her to comply with laws; the state does not preach morality which is not its domain of expertise.

c)       In this vein, we believe that political groups which promote particular religions harm society by harking to particular views of the law, and thus they emphasise our divisions rather than unity under the law. FTI condemns all political organisations that want specific a religion to inform public policy

d)       While debates among different religions are a natural part of free society (so long as these are conducted in a non-violent environment), the government can have nothing to say about the merits of the content of these debates .

e)       Making political claims based on religion can often provoke or lead to violence. A government’s job is to come down heavily on individuals and organizations that advocate or use violence, irrespective of the basis of their advocacy – including religion.

f)       FTI is not disrespectful of religion. It simply asks that people politics and religions separate. In doing so, it recognises that in a society like India, steeped deeply in religion, even ordinary greetings (e.g. namaste) could at times take on a religious meaning. Many official functions in India are opened with lighting earthen lamps or breaking coconuts. Other common practices include applying tika or welcoming guests with garlands. FTI is happy for these practices to continue without attributing religious motivations to them. However, dealing with them could require good judgement on the part of government functionaries. For instance, when a government representative (e.g. a Minister) attends an actual religious event, he or she must not use official titles, and speak on that occasion purely as a private individual.

g)      FTI notes that religions often specify matters such as marriage and divorce . These are to be treated as personal law because these things involve the most intimate unit of human existence, the family. FTI believes that families should be able to structure themselves freely without, however, violating the life and liberties of members of the family. Subject to such constraints, religious requirements that apply to families are outside the scope of a government’s jurisdiction. The government, for instance, cannot enact ‘religious laws’ (e.g. Hindu Laws or Muslim Laws) but only make generic rules that apply to everyone uniformly, such as minimum standards that everyone must comply with (see Section 3).

h)      Clearly, this means that a government cannot financially support religious activities. For instance, subsidies for Durga Puja on the ground that these will increase tourism in a particular city are not admissible expenditures from the public purse, since they effectively fund a particular religion. Similarly, subsidies for religious pilgrimages such as for the Haj. or temple management by government functionaries is not acceptable in a free society.

i)        FTI believes that a government must be ‘religion-blind’, ‘caste-blind’, ‘tribe-blind’, ‘language-blind’. In particular, a government has no cause to recognise ‘minorities’ as a specific category using religious (or related) classifications. Indeed, if everyone has equal freedom, then a separate category of ‘minority’ rights are not needed. A strong defence of liberty and the uniform enforcement of laws, as well as the provision of equal opportunity for all would ensure that no minority could harbour any fear from any majority. However, until the rule of law is well-established in India, FTI recommends preservation of Articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution, while ensuring that no subsidisation of any religious or other minority takes place.

3. The role of the state in regulating the ‘excesses’ of religion

While not involving itself in any religious matter, as clarified above, a government must establish and enforce rules of accountability to ensure equal justice and liberty to all citizens. For instance:

a)      FTI believes that India must enact uniform minimum standards of accountability for all citizens. This will ensure that all citizens receive equal justice and equal liberty. While not a Uniform Civil Code, it would effectively mean that uniform standards of accountability apply to all. As a corollary, all specific personal laws and religious laws enacted would need to be repealed and substituted by a single Law of Minimum Standards to protect everyone’s life and liberty. These standards would include prohibitions against social ills like sati, child marriage, etc.

b)      All religions have legitimate rights to compete for loyalty and seek to extend their influence. To the extent such activities lead to conversion, the state has an interest in ensuring that no coercion, bribes, or misleading conduct is involved in the process. FTI would ask religious bodies to come up with self-regulatory (and binding) Code of Practice by which all religions will ensure that misleading conduct is eliminated. This Code should have provisions for concerns, if any, from any affected party to be adequately addressed.

c)      Religious freedom is not license It does not give anyone any rights to encroach on public land, harbour criminals and terrorists, harass or threaten those carrying on civilized discourse, or otherwise create public nuisance such as by feeding stray animals, fouling rivers and ponds, and disturbing peace by blaring loudspeakers at unseemly hours. FTI believes that religions are as accountable as anyone else to maintain order and public calm. No religious organisation should disturb the public order. Illustrative regulations are outlined below.

  • FTI believes that all religious activity in the common spaces of society must be regulated for public order and discipline. This means, for instance, that religious symbols should be on permanent display only in private property that is owned by relevant private individuals or organizations.
  • FTI believes that while any religious group should be fully entitled to buy land and build an appropriate structure on it, this should be done keeping the general tenor of the ambience, and in any event, no religious structure should be built on public spaces like roads. If such structures are detected on public land, these must be respectfully removed and handed over to suitable religious organisations where these structures can be rehabilitated.
  • On a similar ven, while it valid to hold religious events in public spaces, on payment of appropriate fee as may be admissible to any civil society organisation, they must fully comply with the conditions of behaviour set out by the government, particularly where security is demanded at public expense.
  • In particular, just as no private citizen is allowed to use amplifiers at certain hours, so also religions occasions or announcements cannot be exempt from such regulation.

25 thoughts on “Religious Freedom and Tolerance – for public comment

  1. On a policy level, I feel that the policy outlined is matching with what the Indian Policy is as of now.

    But, as we can see in todays India and which our policy should also address, if we dont want conflicts is –

    Clause g –
    In view of this clause, how do we ensure the equal freedom with accountability, for example matters of child birth, arbitary marriage and divore or even simple issues like using services of a doctor or a religious quack.

    For when the population is economically sound (may be a consequence of universal education and equal opportunity, then it is OK, but otherwise economically weaker and less educated population tends to be more influenced by religion and associated evils, that are generally promoted by some special interest groups.

    So either we wait for the majority of population to be economically robust, which shall take decades or accept some state involvement in regulating certain religious practices that cant be considered good in a free society (for freedom not only means freedom of a particular religious group, or a family but also of each individual of that family, be it a man or a woman).

  2. Dear Sudhir

    Since you are a member of FTI I’ll respond on the FTI member-only blog on this subject ( This blog is PURELY for the public to provide comment, where we can receive public input but are not obliged to specifically discuss. On the other hand, FTI must discuss all questions raised by FTI members.


  3. Pretty comprehensive and well laid out. A very good beginning. On a personal level, I completely agree with all the items mentioned in this policy though there may be debate about several of them – e.g. the ‘minority’ category issue – simply because we cannot wish away the fact that there are sections in our civil society which historically, and for any number of reasons, have ranked lower on several “Human Development” indices than other categories – be it education, health, jobs, salaries etc. While one option would be to treat everyone of a lower economic scale equally and provide certain incentives for their progress, we may need to really look at data and effectiveness of these interventions before we frame (or reframe) policies.

    I particularly applaud your inclusion in 2(f) policies dealing with people’s representatives attending religious events. In light of recent trends where crucial decisions are made in consultation with religious (con)men or by looking at positions of stars/planets, this is most welcome.

  4. Dear Arun

    Thanks for your considered comments. I want to touch upon one on which you think there an be a debate:

    Re: “There are sections in our civil society which historically, and for any number of reasons, have ranked lower on several “Human Development” indices than other categories – be it education, health, jobs, salaries etc.”

    Do note that that the issue you raise primarily relates to policies for education and equal opportunity. But we are talking freedom here, not an artificial a-philosophical construct like Human Development Index (motivated by the socialist, Amartya Sen). The HDI does not measure freedom. It is therefore irrelevant. A government’s must restrict itself to delivering freedom and a handful of other things. Invariably doing these things well leads to outcomes that improve a society’s performance on HDI and things like that. But doing well on HDI can’t be the driver of government policy. There can be no philosophical mandate to deliver HDI rankings.

    Therefore I’d be reluctant to have FTI provide for a special shelter or category to any religious body on any non-religious pretext (e.g. education being weaker, etc.). Let equality of opportunity be offered through good school education and a few other related things, and beyond that let people compete fairly and squarely in the market. However, you will note that “until the rule of law is well-established in India, FTI recommends preservation of Articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution, while ensuring that no subsidisation of any religious or other minority takes place.”

    The problem with the concept of minority is that it is collectivist and therefore essentially dangerous. It combines individuals together on a pretext (religion) even as there may be many other observable differences between them. When everyone is treated equally under the law and has equal freedoms, this construct should not matter. After all, we are each of us minorities in our own way. Should a special law be created for each of us? I can demand a subsidy to go to Disneyland if I worship Mickey Mouse. And someone’s beliefs may demand a subsidy to visit the Antarctica on a homage to the Ice God.

    Note that this is my personal view only. What I say need not necessarily represent FTI’s final views. FTI is committed to considering all inputs from citizens in finalising its policies. So feel free to add further thoughts.

    Sanjeev Sabhlok

  5. Dear Sanjeev,
    Thanks for your detailed comments on my post. You make several interesting observations – the most important one being that data pertaining to education or health etc are irrelevant when it comes to freedom. Using this plank, you make ‘freedom’ the be-all and end-all element of your policy – hence the name of this group 🙂

    It’s definitely an interesting concept and that’s the reason I have signed up too. However as a group committed to the serious issue of governing the country (rather than just debating issues – like our friends in the left), one will have to look at all the policy tools available at our disposal. Let me make my personal stand clear – I abhor creation of incentives on the basis of caste and religion. At no point did I make that suggestion in my post. So in that sense, you spent a considerable amount of words preaching to the converted.

    What I was trying to drive is that the purpose of policy making cannot necessarily hinge on the success of just one factor (freedom in this case) and that we must be able and willing to frame a set of incentives (in whatever shape or form except explicit quotas), based on solid data and statistics to measure their effectiveness. For a government, end results should matter and policy implementation and administration should be adjusted to ensure these results. To be fair, the policy statements on this site do say that many of the desired policies will have to be introduced in phased manners rather than a big bang approach. After all, it would be interesting to measure the results if one approaches a person who earns Rs 20 a day and tells him that he has freedom to pursue his happiness.

    And that’s why creating an economic model based on introduction of incentives and measurement of results are the key. The incentives can be anything from vouchers for school education, health insurance policies (e.g the Yeshaswini model in Karnataka is much talked about though to be honest, I haven’t studied it in detail), market driven solutions for water and electricity and so on.

    Another point just to play the devil’s advocate – the core belief statement of this group places an individual’s ‘happiness’ as the defining end result and freedom to pursue this end result (through equal opportunity and dignity) as the defining policy. From that perspective would you consider India to be a happier place than Singapore?

  6. Dear Arun

    I was not sure what you were referring to because you wanted to debate the “‘minority’ category issue”, which is anathema to me. However, apparently you were referring to broader economic policy matters. This blog post, however, is dedicated to FTI’s draft religious freedom policy. FTI’s economic policies are still being debated and drafted.

    Therefore it is best to stick very literally to the religious freedom policy on this blog and point out where it may be insufficient. Discussions on HDI, water, electricity, school education, health insurance, etc. are not appropriate on this particular blog.

    As for the concern that the single point agenda of FTI re: freedom is in potentially flawed. Is that really so? I do believe that there are only two things a government must ensure: our life and freedom. The rest is none of its business. From these two, though, arise a range of economic and other policies which will be discussed separately. Free interaction (subject only to accountability) is proven to produce innovation and wealth, among other things. Policies of freedom are extensive and comprehensive.

    In any event, please therefore hold on to your thoughts on economic policy matters: FTI will come to these things in the coming months.

    Thanks, and regards

  7. I seek that all public places of worship need to compulsarily register themselves, so that it can be identified as to who manages or owns these places, what activities etc are carried out in these premises, what people occupy these premises, how assets (premises etc.) have been acquired and what persons can be held responsible for breaking laws such as encroaching/ grabbing land, creating noise and other nuisance or disregarding safety norms.

    Narinder Bhatia


    I think it's not enough to simply disassociate the state from religions. Religions should be actively curbed in order to protect our freedoms in all aspects of our lives.
    I make a clear distinction between individual belief and organized religion and when I use the term "religion", I use it entirely to mean organized religion.
    Belief is purely a private matter and everyone should be entitled to believe in whatever they want to believe in. For me, PRIVATE is a keyword here. Every individual should also have the right to freedom of association (organized religion in this case). I do not advocate curbing individual thought/belief or an individual's right to association. What I advocate, however, is curbing the freedom these associations should have in a liberal society.
    I strongly believe that such mass delusions should not be allowed to dictate our social, cultural and political lives, demand subsidies, reservations and so on. Aggression on freedom of speech (Taslima Nasreen, M F Hussain, Danish cartoons etc), on healthcare and scientific developments (opposition to contraception, stem cell research), on cultural (mangalore attacks, V-day attacks etc), and socio-economic freedoms (caste system) among many other aggressions should actively be curbed in a free and liberal nation.

  9. @Ashish,

    I saw your comment today. I strongly disagree with your statement – "I think it's not enough to simply disassociate the state from religions. Religions should be actively curbed in order to protect our freedoms in all aspects of our lives."

    This is not a liberal view at all but an communist/dicatatorial view.


    "I strongly believe that such mass delusions should not be allowed to dictate our social, cultural and political lives, demand subsidies, reservations and so on. Aggression on freedom of speech (Taslima Nasreen, M F Hussain, Danish cartoons etc), on healthcare and scientific developments (opposition to contraception, stem cell research), on cultural (mangalore attacks, V-day attacks etc), and socio-economic freedoms (caste system) among many other aggressions should actively be curbed in a free and liberal nation."

    Any pepetrators of the violence should be punished by the law. And it is the responsibility of the government to maintain law and order in the society.

  10. @Anupam
    I think you misunderstood me on this. I have explained in my second line how I see a clear difference between individual beliefs and organized religions. There's nothing communist and definitely not dictatorial about my view because I don't propose a blanket ban on religions. I simply don't expect the state and society to be dictated by religious beliefs, that's about it.
    So for example, someone saying that Sania Mirza shouldn't wear short clothes is an individual's personal opinion and s/he is entitled to hold that opinion but that person has no right to impose that opinion on others through his/her religious office by releasing fatwas.
    Banning books is not violence. Demanding ban on contraception is not violence. Caste system is not violence. So I think we can't look at aggressions only in terms of violence and non-violence. Many aggressions on freedom are done in a very non-violent way but they are aggressions nonetheless. Again, anyone has freedom to believe that contraception is a sin but a state should not succumb to demands to ban contraception just because someone's religious book says so.
    That's what I mean when I say "curbing religions", not an outright ban on all religions.
    Hope that clarifies my position!

  11. I see what you are saying. I agree that state shold not succumb to the demand of religious organizations to breach the freedom of othes.

  12. Dear friends,
    It is the ‘Dharma’ which gives the animal the form of ‘Being Human’. It was the Hindu Dharma which gave the now thinking animal a form of Being Human. Similar efforts were made by the Jain, Boudha, Christen, Islam etc Dharmas including Hindu which were turned into Religions (English term) due to Veil nature of this animal (Human Beings). It is originally the Dharma which defines the Politics, Governance, Society and so on. Religion is the term which the foreign culture has given the name to this Dharma. Due to inappropriate conceptions of the Dharma, the term Religion not necessarily implies the same thing as the Dharma does.
    When Politics is separated from the Dharma, the politics become the law of the animals not of the Human beings. If problems are created with the Politics, then effort to establish the Dharma with its pristine purity should be made and that it could never be separated from the Dharma which is its seed, the father.
    At FTI if it is true that the Dharma is being separated from the politics by confusing the Dharma with the English term Religion, it will be more disastrous than any past happenings in the history of the human race.
    Is there anybody who can clarify the stand of FTI? Dear Sabhlok, Shantanu……..

  13. Dear Ramesh

    Thanks for your comment. I can assure you that your concern about things becoming disastrous is totally unwarranted!

    The sum and essence of freedom is justice. Justice is nothing but the Golden Rule or categorical imperative. In particular, the Bhagavad Gita talks about the ideal person as ‘one who does not hate any creature, who is friendly and compassionate, free from (the notion of) “I” and “my”, even-minded in pain and pleasure, forgiving’.

    When a statement is made that politics and religion should be kept separate, the goal is that the good is extracted from all sources and enforced by the state. The ideals of the Golden Rule and the Gita are 100% compatible with FTI’s vision for the laws of the state which, in essence, boil down to justice.

    Once the laws of the nation are based on justice, and enforcement is precise and proportionate, then the society will flourish. Freedom and justice are the greatest dharma. Once these are assured, then the rest of the belief system (e.g. people’s belief in God or not, or which name of God) should become a private matter. Whether one wants to worship in a temple, church or mosque, should remain off-bounds for the government.

    I trust this clarifies your concerns.

    I assure you that FTI stands for the HIGHEST ethics, the highest dharma, the highest justice. Once the state can guarantee that, then surely it is not appropriate for religious agendas to be thrust on the state. Religion as practised has not always been Dharma-friendly. Adharmic actions by so-called religious leaders have often led to major problems across the world (and India!). Let us extract the good out of all philosophies.

    As the Rig Veda says, “Let noble thoughts come to us from all sides.”


  14. Dear Ramesh,

    I have just posted my reply to your comment on my Blog and being relevant to the same discussion on this thread, am reproducing it here.

    Thanks for the comment. Understand your viewpoint and very briefly would like to distinguish between Dharma and Religion as follows:

    Religion is derived from the Latin word Religio, meaning bind or connect together. The purpose of religion through the ages has been to help respective groups stay firmly bonded together and in part clearly distinguished in ideology & belief from other groups.

    Dharma is described in Wikipedia as –

    1. Many languages have words that can be translated as "religion", but they may use them in a very different way, and some have no word for religion at all. For example, the Sanskrit word dharma, sometimes translated as "religion", also means law.


    1. The word dharma translates as that which upholds or supports, and is generally translated into English as law. The antonym of dharma is adharma meaning unnatural or immoral.


    I believe you have referred to Dharma in the context of Law and not Faith or Belief.

    The dharma of FTI is to offer a clean and transparent government, free from all evils and bias, including religious.

    I hope this clarifies!

    Regards / Ashish.

  15. Dear Sabhlok,
     Excited to see you replying to me. Surely it has clarified the matter to the extent to which I have commented. I am satisfied to see that you have agreed to the fact that Dharma is quite different from the Religion and that approach of the FTI is dharmic in nature. But note that the FREEDOM AND JUSTICE are JUST A FEW ASPECTS of the greatest Dharma. Greatest wonder to me is the fact that FTI is trying to establish an ideal society by establishing the Freedom, Justice and few similar things which are only a few insufficient aspects of the Dharma.
     The essence is that without understanding the Dharma- which includes the study of the human instincts, its behavior over the period of time and other scientific aspects so abundantly and indirectly dealt with throughout the Indian tradition and to some extent by other religions and that DHARMA abounds in ADHARMIC APPROACH FOR THE SAKE OF DHARMA- there is every possibility of implementing Freedom, Justice and similar things in a bit distorted way and thus bound to fail over the period of time.
     Note that wikipedia or similar things don’t have the authority to define it or describe its nature. Only Jnanies are apt to say what Dharma is. Now the subject enters altogether a very basic, philosophical (nay scientific) discussion which is indispensible and without which any approach (FTI or any other) is bound to fail horribly. This subject needs to be entered into only with your kind permission. 
     [I am talking of Dharma so much because Freedom and Justice are quite a relative terms when isolated from the Dharma (and cause havoc when established as such) and the same become absolute when they are in consistent with the Dharma and brings in ideal society only as such.]
     I have just begun reading your two books. After I complete the same I will be returning to comment with more understanding of yours and pinpoint few flawed points of the FTI alongwith the remedial measures for the same.
     However if you understand the exact intent of mine, waiting for your reply.

  16. Dear Ramesh

    What good is knowledge that is known only to so-called Gnanis? What I have in mind is knowledge that ANYONE can acquire by careful diligent study and critical thinking.

    I am glad you are looking through my two books (the second only a draft). Happy to clarify if you find anything in these books that violates what you call Dharma (I'm assuming that YOU are a Gnani and know what Dharma is, else please ask the relevant Gnani to discuss the issue).

    Btw, it won't be a bad idea (for my knowledge) if there is any succinct summary for a common man like me that clarifies what precisely Dharma is – starting with precise assumptions on human nature, etc. as you've outlined.  



  17. Sir
    Comprehensive and astute as a policy document.
    Although:   Clause 2(h) Temple management / shrine management should be over looked by Govt and be taxable as per corporate / Trust laws. They cannot accumulate monies in name of God and waste it.
    Religion is a bad translation of DHARMA akin to blind men of Hindoostan describing an elephant.
    What I understood on this critic of modern india is that Dharma is to be brought back. It is not religion but the philosophy evolved through eons.
    The gaiety and fervour I have seen with celebrations of festivals in our country is across all groups and we should strive to preserve it. 

  18. This post may look muddled because there are several points and I have gone back and forth to edit different sections.  Please read with patience.
    What would be the appropriate position on tax exemption given to religious donations and even existence of religious charities.  What about religious holidays? What about private practice of religious discrimination, e.g. not society members not approving sale of house to members of particular communities, schools not giving admission to children from particular communities?
    In those cases, I think the government or local government should be proactive.  For example, to make a law that for societies that have only members from a single community, or societies not having enough diversity will be taxed at a higher rate.  But here the problem is deeper.  Members of different communities just cannot get along socially because of widely different practices.  For example, a devout Jain family will claim to suffer if they are forced to live next to a muslim family, given their completely different diets.  Similarly in schools, jain parents might be worried that their child will share lunch with a muslim child and inadvertently consume meat.  The schools do not find it practical to set up a tiffin police, and would instead just opt for denying admission to children of particular communities.
    The government cannot force private organizations from discriminating.  I mean what is the sense in forcing a church to hire a muslim priest?  However it can tax organizations at a higher rate for the privilege of being exclusionary.  In essence like the tax on tobacco which keeps rising every year, tax on religion should be a clear practice.
    I think that tax exemption for donations should be removed because the money just goes to build fancier and fancier temples, which are huge waste of space and money, especially given our current economic status.
    In the 3-c-second bullet point, about buying land and building structures, this would be regulated by zoning laws in effect.   Zoning laws may set aside only a particular section of the city where public religious structures can be built.  The point is that not only should govt be religion blind, it should be religion fearless.  It should take action in interest of citizens without regard to what religious sentiments are being hurt.  Banning beef because of mad cow should not be decision to agonize over.  Destroying religious structures for health and safety reasons, e.g. temples and sufi graves in the middle of the road, or any structure built illegally, should not be a decision to agonize over.
    To clarify, it is not enough to say that the government will not act in favour of or against any religion.  You have to go on and say that the government will not practice inertia because it is considering that religious sentiments may be hurt.
    In the end, the quicker people realize

  19. Dear Kinjal,

    The government will not discriminate against any religion. What that means is that no one is above the guidelines laid down by the constitution. It includes every form of discrimination you had mentioned. If a complaint is lodged, then appropriate actions will be taken by the police and/or judiciary to enforce the law.

    Does this answer your question?

  20. I think you need to seperate culture ( welcoming some one with garland , or use of namaste)  and religion in your document. These are not really religious activities.

  21. Religion:
    1)     India did not produce any religion. The word Dharma translated as religion is like translating Science as religion. This notion is another of the colonial legacies imposed on Indian minds. The notion that religion is a universal phenomenon was the need of Semitic traditions, the only tradition that have religion as a category. There need to believe it to be universal arose because otherwise they could not claim of a "True religion" vs false religion. In fact most of the Pre-Christian Europe, China, India had no notion of religion. INDIA has no native religion.
    a)      If you take any definition of religion it will either render Christianity, Islam etc not being religions as these traditions claim, or
    b)     Show that Indian traditions are not religions. To say that religion means belief in supernatural will not work either unless you use wrong English translations of Sanskrut Categories. The “SAT” which is the most elemental category means unborn, uncreated, from which all else arises. But such a state is also claimed by Sciences.
    c)      In particular all finite entities have Dharma, characterized by the very measurable qualities of the entity. Thus space has Dharma, water has Dharma, all living an non-living have Dharma, so doe friendship, Fatherhood, Motherhood, citizenship have Dharma. None of these have religion.  Point is Dharma is not religion. Dharma captures the foundational, supporting, holding qualities of a finite phenomenon.
    2)     Freedom.
    a)      What does it mean? The notion of freedom in west also arises out of Christian theology. Christianity claims “God has given absolute free will to Humans (& only Humans), to decide whether to follow laws of GOD (as revealed in Christianity) or go against it. You see God could not have punished human in hell, if he was not given this absolute free will. It fits their need to call God a just God. Otherwise, if humans did not have this absolute free will, they can not be held responsible for their actions to be punished.
    b)     Actual experience tells us that we do not have absolute free will. We have some kind of choice that gets limited by circumstances of our birth,  by the resources of our parents, what village we are born in, what our parents do etc etc. (Of course Hindu tradition also says it is partly decided by your past Karmas. There is some evidence in favor of rebirth from the 2500 case studies of claimed rebirth from Prof Ian Stevenson of University of Virginia Psychology department and many other professors working in his field)
    c)      Why is western notion of freedom (encapsulated in their Jurisprudence under natural Justice) some how more sacrosanct than out native notion of limited freedom of will as in Purshaartha.
    3)     Religious Freedom:
    a)      To Semitic traditions in particular Christianity it is the freedom to proselytize.  What is that a fundamental freedom of an individual?
    b)     To Indian tradition is freedom from intrusion freedom from Proselytization.  Why is the notion of freedom to proselytize more important than freedom from the Priselytization?
    c)      Notice in the point (3 a) above there is a jump from absolute individual freedom to a freedom to collectively create force to Proselytize. 
    (1)    What creation of that force not inimical to the freedom of individual, since such an activity needs large funds. So it takes an organization to Proselytize hence no issue of free will.
    (2)    Why is the freedom from Proselytizing not more important than the (3 a). In particular since Dharma is not religion there is no notion of Proselytization.  Why should alien traditions be given more importance ot validity than internal notions?
    (3)    In particular the notion of freedom in the first sense was pushed in the UNO on behalf of Christian groups, ans Indian representatives were too naïve and clueless that they did not object.  In fact did not even know stand of Dharma.
    4)     Hence I request this group to please first understand the notions of Secularism (which is really soft protestant theology), issues of freedom, issue of Kartavya Pradhanta and Adhikaara Pradhanata of a given society before writing any significant policies on it, lest it come to haunt us later.

  22. On Tax Exemption: I am giving a short comments on it. This really needs lot more understanding and research.
    As I have summarized previously India has no notion of religion, but only of Dharma. To call Dharma religion is like calling Sciences a religion.
    The criterion of Tax exemption should not be if some institution is religious or not religious.
    The only TAX exemption for creating a religious Institutions should be given to those institutions whose funds are raised entirely within the country and the accountability is essential. Otherwise foreign countries will continue to use their economic power to create forces to dismantle us from within. You can see the role of LTT (supported by Catholic church etc) in Ceylon. You can also see the states where cession movements are strong. You will notice a common theme there. The external forces of Proselytization are exceedingly strong. You take North East as prime example. Please read "Breaking India" by Shri Rajiv Malhotra, it is a monumental work with names of organizations and individuals actively involved. If you pussyfoot around it you will fall pray to intentional blindness and pressures of secularism and help disintegration India.
    Besides the Tax exemptions should be given to those institutions that are native creations of India. That will strengthen the native traditions. Again for these too the funds used must be collected internally. You do not want to leave mechanism open that can be misused by foreign powers to subvert India. In this category are come Dharma traditions.
    It is exceedingly important that India’s language of intellectual discourses be pushed aggressively. These languages are Samskrutam and Tamil. That will connect the modern youth to its past integrate and strengthen the nation. Allow Indians traditional knowledge’s to flourish and provide some of the most rational and natural languages reach beyond where these were stopped.

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