Religious Identity, Pluralism and Peaceful Coexistence in India

WordForPeace.com

One of the remarkable achievements of Indian civilization lies in its tolerance and
accommodation of diverse identities as well as the facilitation of a creative synthesis of
these identities. It is no exaggeration to say that since primordial times India has
represented a melting-pot of races and cultures. Since ancient times, Indian civilization has
had a pluralistic and composite character, the pluralistic and composite ethos of Indian
civilization, which began germinating during the Vedic period, was supplemented by the
rise of Buddhism and Jainism, and was further reinforced during the early medieval period
which witnessed the early flowering of the Bhakti and the Sufi Movement. In India therefore,
the identities we hold in common as citizens, as members and participants in a common
overarching Indic civilization need to be preserved.
The people of India gave themselves a republic that is sovereign, socialist, secular and
democratic and a constitutional system with its focus on justice, liberty, equality and
fraternity. It is this plurality that the constitution endowed with a democratic polity and a
secular state structure. Pluralism became a moral value in which all duly constituted
groups and all individuals are actors on an equal footing, with equal legal rights.
Experience of almost seven decades sheds light on the extent of our success, and of

limitations, on the actualizations of these values and objectives. The view that nationalism
and national identity are rooted in a broad civilizational framework should not make us
oblivious of the role of primordial, ethnic, religious and regional identities. From time to
time there have been conflicts between the over-arching national identity and sub-national
identities. Similarly, sub-national identities sometimes tend to acquire rather communal
and divisive overtones and thereby threaten the unity and integrity of the country. There
have been incidents of conflicts based on religious, ethnic and cultural plurality. The
challenge today then is to reiterate and rejuvenate Constitution’s basic principles: equality,
freedom of religion and tolerance, and to emphasize that equality has to be substantive,
that freedom of religion be re-infused with its collectivist dimensions, and that toleration
should be reflective of the realities of Indian society and lead to acceptance.
The aim is to tackle the complex relationship between religiosity, identity and politics in
historical and contemporary times. To examine the ways in which this interplay between
religion and violence is invoked by state and non‐state actors in support or justification of
both violence and peace. It is an attempt to critically comprehend the various pluralist
trends in all religions and contemporary multi-religious initiatives for countering violence
and building peace. To invite students and research scholars from diverse field to reflect
on the new cognitive perspectives and to comprehend the social and political changes due
to religious diversity.

The central question is how has democracy contributed to the various dimensions of Indian
pluralism? How people in a given territorial society speaking different languages, following
different faiths and belonging to different cultures live together with harmony and civility?
How do we promote and strengthen dialogue, negotiation, resolution of conflict and
peaceful coexistence between communities? This conference seeks to discuss these
pressing concerns and invites papers to be presented on the following subthemes –
Sub-Themes and Topics:-
 Nation Building in India
 Minority Rights in India
 Quest for Pluralism within Indian Democracy
 Religious Radicalism and Political Violence
 Philosophy of Different Religion In Promoting Peace And Conflict Resolution
 Alternative Traditions and Peace Initiatives
 Syncretism, Religious Pluralism, Tolerance and Toleration
 Interfaith Dialogue, Inter Community Relation and Communal Harmony

 

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