‘I believe we are in a unique situation in India. I don’t see religious fervour dying in the near future. High religiosity will coexist with high consumerism. While political forces try to create wedges using religious and caste lines, these fissures should disappear in a couple of decades. The modern-day office has made caste lines vanish; with increasing literacy, better skill development, I would submit, religious lines too will slowly vanish. We have proved Max Weber wrong with our economic growth because we have allowed skills to move up and down caste and class hierarchies. Religion will also become a force multiplier in the years to come. The multi-religious nature of our society, the intense celebratory fervour we bring to every religion, will help us grow as a country.
What can you do to help yourself, at home, at work and in society at large? I think you can improve your life if you make some effort to know a little more about the major religions of our country. Understanding key aspects of each of these will make you that much more sensitive to differences and also similarities across religious lines. This greater understanding should help you connect better with society at large, maybe greet the shopkeeper a little more politely or offer Eid greetings to your Muslim neighbour. Overall, I think you can become a more sensitive human being by knowing a little more about all religions.
Finally, I think knowing about world religions makes us better human beings. We realize how religious typecasting is a blemish on society and learn to read between the lines that appear in popular media and political sabre-rattling. I also believe that English-language publications we read often varnish the scene in monochromatic shades of secularism. The real India is revealed when you pick up an Indian-language publication and read the religious stories they tell. I would strongly recommend that all of us in corporate India should read at least one vernacular publication. You will notice how all of them provide a glimpse of what English language publications hide: the religious India and its myriad colours and celebrations. The second step is to understand what is behind the celebration. And the final step is to enjoy every religious festival like your own.
It may be my sense optimism speaking but I do believe that high religiosity is a positive driving force for us Indians. It is up to each of us to see it as a blessing. And benefit in the bargain.
So go ahead, start your journey of discovery, pick up that book, start on that pilgrimage, perform that puja, that prayer. And may the Force Be with You!’