National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval at an event organised by Khusro Foundation at Delhi's India Islamic Cultural Centre in New Delhi, last month (Image courtesy: Khusro Foundation)
Calling India a land of “incredible diversity” and “inclusive democracy”, National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval on Tuesday said that the country has successfully managed to provide space for all its citizens, regardless of their religious, ethnic or cultural backgrounds.
Addressing a gathering that also included Muslim World League Secretary General Mohammad bin Abdulkarim al-Issa at New Delhi’s India Islamic Cultural Centre, NSA Doval emphasised that India is a melting pot of cultures, religions, and languages that co-exist in harmony.
“India continues to play its role as a refuge for heterodox ideas with infinite capacity to absorb dissent. No religion is under any threat. As a proud civilizational state, India believes in promoting tolerance, dialogue and cooperation to deal with the challenges of our time,” the NSA made it clear during his address.
He spotlighted that India has welcomed Arab exiles (in the court of Raja Dahir of Sindh), Jews, Tibetans, Parsis, Shias, Bangladeshis, Afghans and many others with open arms with the enduring tradition of accommodation being a solid testament to the country being a deeply rooted multi-ethnic, multi-religious, and multi-lingual society.
“Among its numerous religious groups, Islam occupies a unique and significant position, with India being home to the second-largest Muslim population in the world. In fact, to give an idea of the scale we are talking about, Indian Muslim population is almost equal to the combined population of around 33-member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation,” said NSA Doval.
The country’s top security official spotlighted that it was also no coincidence that despite having around 200 million Muslims, the involvement of Indian citizens in the global terrorism has been incredibly low.
Insisting that the challenge of extremism and global terrorism compels the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to lower its guard, NSA Doval mentioned that, even in the face of grave provocations, India has steadfastly upheld the rule of law, rights of its citizens and protection of human values and rights.
“India is an extremely responsible power but when the need for a hot pursuit against terrorist havens was felt, we have gone all out to destroy terrorism in our national interest,” he said.
In his speech, NSA Doval also accentuated the “excellent relations” that exist between India and Saudi Arabia, saying that they are rooted in shared cultural heritage, common values, and economic ties.
“Our leaders share a common vision of the future. The enduring profoundness of our historic relationship can be understood from the fact that Prophet Mohammad’s, PBUH (Peace Be Upon Him), noble wife Hazrat Khadija had a liking for silk and Kashmiri shawls from India”.
Citing Muslim World League chief’s frequent calls for civilizational rapprochement based on shared values and common interests to advance the spirit of justice and universal brotherhood, NSA Doval reflected that the philosophy of cooperation and dialogue in Islam has over the centuries merged seamlessly with the ancient Hindu civilizational tradition of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ that means that the world is one family.
“It was not a quirk of history but it was only by being open to accommodating various worldviews and ideas, interactions and assimilations of various cultures, beliefs, and practices that India emerged as a sanctuary for persecuted people of all faiths from across the world since times immemorial,” the National Security Advisor pointed out.
With the slogan for India’s ongoing G20 Presidency being ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’, NSA Doval recalled PM Modi’s “this is no more the age of war” statement made in Samarkand, last year.
“In today’s world, with complex geopolitical challenges confronting us, religion has to become a beckoning light for the humanity to usher into an era of peace and harmony. Our differences will have to take a backseat if we wish to realize the true human potential and make this world a better place to live for our coming generations,” he told the gathering of intellectuals, academicians and religious leaders from India and Saudi Arabia.
The event was organised by Delhi-based Khusro Foundation which aims to promote communal harmony, tolerance and understanding among people subscribing to diverse faith systems, religious practices, ethnic identity and cultural background.
During its India visit, the Muslim World League delegation headed by Secretary-General Al-Issa, who is also Chairman of the Organisation of Muslim Scholars, will attend several events and meet top leaders and high-ranking officials to enhance understanding and cooperation between the two governments and people of various faiths.