Whether Indian Government is worried over the growing perception in world capitals of India becoming a majoritarian country and an authoritarian state, it is clearly working overtime to dispel the impression.
The exercise spilled out in the open when, on Saturday, Tenzing Lamsang, editor of the newspaper The Bhutanese and President of the Media Association of Bhutan tweeted the following:
“On the sidelines of an Indian Embassy press conference on hydropower to the Bhutanese press on 10th Nov - it also issued a press release on the Ayodhya verdict. My reporter was a bit confused with the PR and brought it to me a day later. I found points 8 and 9 interesting. Clearly the MEA & GoI are concerned with international perceptions on the verdict. What with hearings going on in the USA & the western press turning more hostile. India’s democratic & liberal image has been a major source of influence for it in the West & it opened many doors.”
Point 8 of the press note stated, “The Constitution of India guarantees all religious communities equal freedoms of faith, belief and worship. Government is committed to ensuring our tradition of goodwill and harmony among all communities as well as our deep respect for safeguarding all places of worship.”
Point 9 stated, “India has a strongly independent judiciary and this independence is a part of the basic structure of the Constitution.”
The note stressed that the judgment was “solely to determine the Title Suit” and that this was done “by law and not by faith”, listed the chronology of the dispute, beginning with a reference to the early 17th century. There was no mention, however, of the 1992 demolition of the Babri Masjid.
Several statesmen have expressed their concern on the developments in India. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told a meeting in New Delhi, “We should move beyond the majority-minority mindset; pluralism has been a strength of South Asian countries.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel too said during a visit to India, “The situation now for the people (in Kashmir) is not good and not sustainable. This has to be improved for sure.”
Finland’s foreign minister during a visit to India last week, also maintained that the diplomatic community or international observers of the UN should be allowed to visit Kashmir. And Dutch King Willem-Alexander, at an official banquet hosted by President Ram Nath Kovind, said: “Our wish is that, for future generations too, India will be a country where there is room for all Indians, whatever their belief, origin or position in society. A country in which everyone can make their voice heard, from the peaks of the Himalayas to the coastal plains of Kerala.”