November 7th, 2005
This is an account of a small incident of my friend……read on..
This is such an unfair question by itself (Is India a secular country?). The festival of lights, festival of joy invites shops, services, stores to increase sales during this period of diwali. But is diwali meant only for those who celebrate it? Isn’t a festival common to all? Common to mankind in general whether you reside in Europe or USA? Leave alone Europe ; it happened in Chennai.
Listening to grandma’s rants about diwali discounts, I entered a well reputed beauty parlour in the city which offered good discounts for all kinds of stuff done till Diwali in their parlour. The lady who was being attended to just before my turn was told that her payment would be Rs.6 for threading. But she was charged Rs.8-the real cost of threading without taking into account the diwali offer. When she inquired into the issue she was told that it was a diwali discount and since she was a Christian she couldn’t avail it!!!horror of horrors! In a secular, democratic, socialistic, republic (whatever they taught us in civics!)Country like India and among the well educated ladies of Chennai this discrimination based on religion still exists! What if she had worn a “bindhi” and walked into the parlour? She becomes a Hindu and gets the discount? The issue here was a matter of trivial two rupees which she could have easily parted with; but can India part with its secular policies because of shameful incidents like this?
In this age even when lowly thieving does not discriminate religions and caste, people earning a decent living do fail to notice this. Is this what our 57 years of independence as a free body taught us?Obviously enraged by this, the lady voiced out “What? You discriminate based on religion in a secular country like India? Be ashamed of yourselves to have spoken those words” and so on and also added ” I’m going to write about this to the newspapers and to the police. You will be in jail; remember that”. Although I’m not aware if one could be jailed for this because it was forgotten by the lady herself when she added, “I’m silenced now; be sure it does not happen to anyone else”. This incident is giving me nightmares because being new to this kind of aghast experience I never believed that religious discrimination ever existed in the world, should I remain oblivious to the incident and walk away like that lady?
Well, the least i can say is, this is really sad……