One of the most controversial legislations ushered in by the previous BJP regime in Karnataka, the anti-conversion law, is to be REPEALED along with the amendments to the Agricultural Produce Marketing Act (APMC) brought in by the BJP, which was opposed by number of farmers’ groups, in the Budget Session of the Karnataka Assembly which starts on July 3rd. Keeping its promise to the electorate, the Karnataka Cabinet also decided to reverse the changes made to Kannada and Social Studies including lessons on Hindutva idealogues.
A wide spectrum of political parties and socialists have welcomed this decision of the Karnataka Cabinet which is to set right the retrograde, backward and bigoted acts of the previous regime which religiously pursued the Hindutva agenda to the core.
Anti-conversion laws, or anti-conversion legislations, are a set of judicial rules that restrict or prohibit conversion of faith from one religion to another. It is a federal law in countries such as Algeria, Bhutan, Myanmar and Nepal.
In India, there is no federal law on conversion but a few states have sanctioned their own laws preventing conversion such as Chattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh.
Karl Marx viewed religion as “the soul of soulless conditions” or “the opium of the people”. According to him,” Religion plays a critical role in maintaining an unequal status quo, in which certain groups of people have radically more resources and power than other groups of people”. In the context of religion and capitalist societies, he said that the religion as a tool is used by the capitalist societies to perpetuate inequalities.
The constitutional guarantee of religious freedom and following had been done away with the controversial anti-conversion law and the newly elected Congress Government, which promised repealing the law if voted to power, has taken immediate steps which will see the anti-conversion law being confined to the dust bin in the ensuing budget session of the State Assembly.
Ever since the BJP came to power in 2014 at the centre, it is unabashedly pursuing the retrograde Hindutva agenda along with shameless proliferation of hate politics and the State of Karnataka has borne the brunt of such proceedings with little known outfits such as the “Sri Ram Sena” and its leader Pramod Muthalik wreaking havoc on unsuspecting couples on Valentine’s Day. The hate politics pursued by the ruling party saw the level of intolerance touching the nadir resulting in the murder of journo and activist Gauri Lankesh on September 5th, 2017, outside her residence in Bengaluru, by people belonging to the right wing. Gauri Lankesh was a champion crusader against communalism that was being pursued as a single point agenda in the State of Karnataka by the ruling BJP.
Therefore, it is time that the State of Karnataka made amends to the reprehensible deeds ardently and religiously pursued by the previous regime. The present Congress Government is proceeding in the right direction by initiating measures to repeal the Anti-Conversion Law, reversion of changes to the Agricultural Produce Marketing Act and by removing lessons in text books on Hindutva idealogues and re-introduction of lessons on Dr.B.R.Ambedkar, Savithri Bai Phule and Jawaharlal Nehru which were dropped by the previous BJP government.
The society in which we live has a responsibility to protect the multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-lingual character of our country.