Can’t Be Communal If India Wants to Be Global Power: Ex-CJI Khehar

“Everything that is happening today is not in the interest of this country,” the ex-CJI warned.

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India
3 min read
Justice Khehar touched on a variety of issues – ranging from religion and secularism to demonetisation and corruption – that the country was currently dealing with.
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Former Chief Justice of India JS Khehar favoured a peaceful resolution of the Ayodhya dispute while stressing that India had opted for the path of "absolute secularism" after independence at a lecture on 11 January.

Recalling that Hindus and Muslims had both suffered the "greatest violence" during the Partition, he stressed that post independence, when Pakistan became an Islamic state, India chose to become secular.

"The greatest violence came when India became independent. (It saw) a brutality that generations cannot forget. But something wonderful happened in India. When Pakistan became an Islamic state, India chose to become secular," he said while delivering the Lal Bahadur Shastri lecture in Delhi.

India's leaders had ensured that there should be "absolute secularism" in the country, he said.

"We have forgotten that. We are again into tit for tat," the former CJI said.

Justice Khehar touched on a variety of issues – ranging from religion and secularism to demonetisation and corruption – that the country was currently dealing with.

He recalled that as CJI, he had offered to help Hindus and Muslims find an amicable solution to the Ayodhya dispute.

The two communities had suffered in the past and had willingly decided to remain secular after the partition, he said, adding that secularism was essential for a country aspiring to be a global power.

"Just imagine, India is a secular country and looking to be a global power. If you have to be a global power, can you be communal in today's world," he asked.

“If you want to befriend Muslims in the Islamic world, you cannot be anti-Muslim. If you want to befriend Christians, you can’t be anti-Christian. Therefore everything that is happening today is not in the interest of this country,” the ex-CJI warned.

He favoured a peaceful resolution of every dispute, including Ayodhya, and said one could not settle issues through war.

"Negotiations in India are more possible than anywhere in the world. You see how the US is reacting to other religions in today's life," he said.

That is why, he said, when he was the CJI, he suggested that he would be ready to mediate in the Ayodhya issue.

"Because we can. We have the capacity to. We have seen it. We have suffered it. Both communities have in their own way and we have chosen to be secular," he said.

He then referred to a spate of scams that India had seen over the years, describing them as shameful.

Every sale of immovable property involved a 30-40 percent deal in black money, he said.

"This eats the vitals of the nation," he added.

“We are not mature, society is not mature enough to deal with corruption. There has to be some extraordinary measure to bring back the country on the road of progress.”
Justice Khehar 

At the 24th memorial lecture organised in memory of India's second prime minister, the ex-CJI lauded Shastri's work and way of life.

"Shastriji's work in all capacities as a political leader reflected a way of life...in his dress, eating and work. He embodied eternal universal values of humanity. He preached and lived these values. India had the unique privilege of having truly a prime minister who quintessentially represented Bharat," he said.

Shastri, he pointed out, was born in the family of a poor school teacher.

"(His) life continues to teach us lessons of integrity and simplicity, which can transform an ordinary person into a moral force. I would describe his endeavours as emulations of Constitutional Gandhianism," Khehar said.

Anil Shastri, chairman of the Lal Bahadur Shastri Institute of Management, also spoke on the occasion.

(We Indians have much to talk about these days. But what would you tell India if you had the chance? Pick up the phone and write or record your Letter To India. Don’t be silent, tell her how you feel. Mail us your letter at lettertoindia@thequint.com. We’ll make sure India gets your message.)

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