As the PEW survey had shown, seven decades after the independence, Hindu assertion has come to occupy the national center stage in India, with 65% of Hindus believing that Hindu and Indian were coterminous.
India has a national chronicle of several millennia. Its societal mores have grown over a long and often intriguing historical journey. A linguistically, politically, and socially diverse demography has been woven into a united society on the strength of an overarching religious-cultural identity.
India is a nation of believers in God, an immense majority of whom were optimistic about His existence. Most Indians, hitting across religions, also consider extramundane notions like karma, fate, reincarnation, purification, and angels. That delivers India the most religious country.
Hindus and Muslims reaffirm their commitment to tolerance and religious freedom. However, the majority still prefer to confine their relations in marriage and friendship to their co-religionists only. Over 66% of Hindus said they would limit their men and women from uniting into other religions. This figure is even more critical among the Muslims, 80% of whom insisted that it was essential to stop their women from marrying outside the faith.
Despite the occasional appearance of sentiments about common DNA, a gulf existed between the major religious communities like Hindus and Muslims over centuries. Mughal Emperors Akbar for syncretism did not succeed due to historical factors like continued iconoclasm and religious orthodoxy. In any case, his successor Aurangzeb epitomized religious intolerance and bigotry. The British era had accented the partitions in the later centuries.
The revolt in 1857 was one incident when the Hindu and Muslim sepoys came collectively to fight against the British. Critics refuse to see it as any unity of minds contending that the two had revolted for diverse reasons. Hindus suspected that the Enfield rifles‘ cartridges, which required the sepoys to use their teeth to rip open, were greased with cow fat. Muslims considered that pig fat was applied for the same. Hindu sepoys attested by the waters of sacred Ganges, while Muslim sepoys preferred the holy Koran.
Pointing to the revolt in Delhi in May 1857, Savarkar wrote in ‘The First War of Independence. Those five days declared by the beat of the drum the end of the continuous fight between the Hindus and the Mahomedans dating from the invasion of Mahmud of Ghazni, and on those days, it was proclaimed first that the Hindus and the Mahomedans are not rivals, not conquerors and conquered, but brethren.
This exuberance prevailed short-lived. The emergence of Muslim politics from Sir Syed Ahmed Khan to Mohammad Ali Jinnah had defeated the hope for unity. Instead, Hindu-Muslim unity became a political delusion, intending to stop the partition of the country. Again, Gandhi was in the forefront, pleading with the Muslims to remember that ‘many Hindus and Mahomedans own the same ancestors and the same blood runs through their veins.
Before the Hindus protest the destruction of the unity of India, let them ensure that the unity they are harping upon does survive. What unity exists between Pakistan and Hindustan? So Ambedkar wrote in his opinion; the two communities were living in an armed truce only.
Seven decades after the independence, Hindu assertion has come to occupy the national center stage in India, with 65% of Hindus considering that Hindu and Indian were coterminous. Politics, too, did not support taking Hindu-Muslim unity beyond a political strategy.
Hindus and Muslims existed together independently. They were more than strangers, not often rivals, but less than compatriots. It emphasizes the need for sustained efforts for Hindu-Muslim unity. Those efforts should be viewed as a genuine and optimistic urge for establishing greater national coherence.