Religion is the most dominant social force in the society and is next only to technology and materialism. It is surprising to note that we have not been able to overcome the harmful effects of religion. The opium of religion is still intoxicating our people and we have received more harm than good due to its existence.

Take the modern urban man as an example. His contribution towards religious causes is very low. He devotes a small time period in temples, mosques or churches, his busy schedule does not allow him to get overindulgent in religious affairs. He is a machine which must churn out money and materialistic assets. Then, how could he Possibly devote his entire time to religion? Strange it many seem but we must take note of the fact that ignorance of religion in the urban areas is harmful to the urban masses. The peace of mind and mental satisfaction are no longer the keywords in urban settings. The lust for money. power, cars, mobile phones and factories is increasing and this is giving more tantrums to the urban society. We therefore, feel that “fear of God” and a will to remain on the right path should be inculcated by religion in the urban areas. The “cog in the machine” concept has made the urban people devoid of religious feelings; even if they rely upon religion, it is only an escape for their sins or a platform for their politico-religious machinations.

Now let us have a look at the rural religious landscape. The rural masses are credulous and gullible. They are simple and do not have evil depths in their hearts. They take the statements at their face values and are sans all evil manipulations. So the religious leaders and the politicians use their innocence to their own advantage and exploit them to the core. The sixth anniversary of Babri Masjid demolition fell on December 6, 1998 and there were fears of reprisals from the Muslim militants and fundamentalists, The USA had warned her citizens residing in India that there could be bloodshed on December 6, 1998, The rural areas are the worst hit by the religious turmoil. The master manipulators, politicians, the resource rich People and antisocial elements exploit such tense situations to their advantage. It must be noted that in a total contrast to the urban scenario, the moral values use upheld properly in the rural areas. But still, the rural people are mare conforming to religious practices than their urban counterparts. They need not cleanse themselves as they do act have wicked beasts. But they are forced to take a diabolical recourse to religion, What an irony!

This blood and gore would have to be stopped. India is a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic society. We are secular to the core, There are no communal differences or strikes in the rural areas. The political and religious groups create these differences for their vested interests. The ultimate losers are the villagers, the farmers, the rural industries and finally, the national economy. We have to put a check on the communal frenzy at all costs. Our record as a “diverse but united nation” must remain intact.

The communication revolution — through satellite television, Internet. cable TY networks and telephone networks — could deliver the message of communal harmony to the rural masses. Community workshops must be organized in sensitive pockets in order to preach non-violence and brotherhood among the masses. Cinema and theatre could play vital rote in this context. If faces are put before the public in the right perspective, then the public would take the criminal elements to task. The police and judiciary should extend all cooperation and support in this regard.

It is very important to educate the masses so that they could distinguish between communalism and religion. An educated individual would have a conscience but an uneducated individual would only have a religion-based motivation for performing any task. Education would inculcate logic, rationale and communal brotherhood among the various communities. After all, we have been living together for the past 5,000 years. A few stray incidents cannot tear our national fabric. We are strong and united national organism and time has made this glaring fact known to the world.

Religion should dominate our personal and spiritual lives. It should be separated from politics and economic problems, We have entered the new millennium. We have to shed most of the features of the past. Communal violence and hatred is one such evil, which must be done away within the national context. Already, this demon has consumed lakhs of people and property worth billions. Let this demon know that we all are united and would oppose all those forces, which tend to divide us, We shall emerge victorious in the long run as we are on the right path. Our sacrifices would not go in vain, We have already faced enough of communal violence.

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