India in 3 Maps: Why Minorities Matter More In India in 2020?

by Pankaj Pachauri 4 years ago Views 3739

“When India speaks, the world listens. When India moves, the world takes notice.”

All Prime Ministers of India have used these sentiments in different forms at home and abroad while addressing the people or heads of states. Because in the last seven decades of its independence, India has surprised the world many times by its 3 strongest tenets: Ingenuity, Innovation and Indefatigability. 

From the post-colonial wreckage, it rose like a phoenix and provided leadership to newly independent nations in democracy, inclusivity and, lately, economic stability. In 2019, India surprised the world by another 3 ‘I’s’: Insularity, Indifference and Indecency.

It started with the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir just before its 72nd Independence Day and ended the year with the Citizenship Amendment Act and its social fallout. Headlines from as diverse outlets as the Voice of America and South China Morning Post have drawn the world’s attention to what is happening in India. 

Governments across the world have held that both the above moves were the country’s “internal matter’, hence distancing themselves with the churning in the world’s largest democracy. But there was no stopping their citizens – from rating agencies to senators- to point out that what is happening in India is not how modern multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-party democracies behave. And their focus is on India more than ever.

When India speaks, it also speaks for the second largest population of Muslims in the world, 10th largest Buddhist population in the world and the 20th largest Christian population in the world, besides the majority of Hindus who have lived here forever.


For the last two decades, as Islamic fundamentalism reared its head across the globe, India, with such a large Muslim population, dealt with the crisis mostly with equanimity despite many provocations. Terrorist attacks were dealt as terrorist attacks and the law of the land took its course whether it was the attack on the Parliament Complex in Delhi or prominent landmarks of Mumbai. 

As promised by the founding fathers of the nation, Muslims remained on an equal footing with other citizens on all parameters, including debilitating poverty in some sections. So, when the Prime Minister and the Home Minister of India start speaking in a language which identifies Muslims as “them” or identifies rioters by “their clothes”, the world listens. And when India moves to enact a law which deliberately targets the Muslims by their ‘non-inclusion’ in an otherwise humanitarian endeavour, the world takes notice.

Most of the current government’s utterances about the greatness of India hinge on underlining the number of our people- 1300 million Indians! “Largest democracy, second largest market, largest social media consumer base, biggest potential and opportunity of growth”: these are catchphrases only when we are cohesive in our intent. Excluding any religion or ethnicity while going about the complex business of governance dilutes the importance of our greatness and appeal. How we treat our minorities under NRC and NPR would be the two next exercises which are under the spotlight.

India is also home to the 10th largest Buddhist population in the world and would be the 20th largest Christian country by population.


The grandeur and leadership role of India emanates from these numbers living together in harmony towards a shared future of prosperity and peace. By systematically chipping away this adhesive of social integration, the current government is discounting India’s appeal to the rest of the world as the new template for development. Otherwise, we are merely a post-colonial multitude with a per-capita income and social indicators among the bottom of the world’s economies.

Our culture of assimilation sets us apart and aloft. 

Everyone is listening and noticing. 

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