New Delhi: Why do we Indians and especially Hindus continue to curse ourselves?
The polarisation of India's intellectual class is so deep that it is difficult to express an opinion, which would still be considered an objective one. If one writes a few lines on Hindu festivals and oriental traditions and values, he is in danger of being called a communal!
But the fact of life is that some Indian and, for that matter, Hindu fests have attracted attention and excitement globally. Yoga has been acknowledged, and now Deepawali or Diwali is one such momentous event.
The US is mulling a new draft law to declare Diwali as a federal holiday. In the meantime, Diwali is already a national holiday in many countries.
Media reports said lawmakers have announced that a bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives to declare Diwali, the festival of lights, a federal holiday, led by Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney from New York.
The historic legislation is co-sponsored by several lawmakers, including Indian-American Congresswoman Raja Krishnamoorthi.
The festival of light and sound, which essentially marks the victory of Good over Evil and Knowledge over Ignorance, is being celebrated with religious zeal in countries such as the UAE, Canada, African nations, and Malaysia.
It is worth mentioning that in 2016 in the context of Art of Living's World Culture Festival in Delhi, none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said – "We (Indians) can make contribution (of India's soft power) only when we ourselves feel proud of our culture. But if we continue to curse ourselves, then how will the world look towards us.The world is not only united by concerns of economic growth, but also by human values and India can play a vital role in it."
The pandemic, perhaps, has yet again underlined the power of 'soft power', and in this endeavour, we have Yoga and fests like Diwali making waves globally.
In countries like the US, every year, the White House lights up to mark Diwali. This tradition was started by the then US President Barack Obama and was continued even under Donald Trump.
Amid the debate over environmental hazards posed by firecrackers, while a section – Left-liberal and distorted Nehruvian secularism schools have targeted Hindus alone, a question emerges whether they played into anti-Modi and anti-Hindu lobbies. Importantly, have the media and the environmental activists deliberately or otherwise become a party to spread a message that the Hindu fests and rituals have negative connotations?
Has the media lost its focus on playing a mirror's role and instead fallen prey to wrong interpretive and cheap sensationalism in journalism?
It is worth mentioning that even during the peak of the second wave of COVID-19 adverse fallout in March-April, 2021, a section of foreign media and their 'acolytes' in India raked up debates about certain facets of Hindutva. This only shows their 'distance from the real facts' and patronising tone, along with a latent and overt bitterness against Hindus and India. This motive of building a pre defined narrative thus falls flat.
In 2020, Kenyan President said that Diwali symbolises the triumph of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance and good over evil. How true!
In fact, many think the strength of this 'soft power' and as PM Modi underlines about "human values" would have a greater impact globally if India can manage to enlist the support of other oriental powers, including ASEAN nations and China.
This also means–time to wake up the foreign policy community to realise that the traditional diplomatic game could change fundamentally in days to come.