Riots over sect head conviction expose India’s woes

By Liu Lulu Source:Global Times Published: 2017/8/27 23:13:39

India has been engulfed by riots in the past few days, with at least 36 killed and hundreds injured, after a religious guru was convicted of raping two of his followers last week. The riots are reported to have spread from the state of Haryana to Uttar Pradesh and Delhi.

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, head of a social welfare and spiritual group, has over 60 million followers, according to media reports. The god-man's high popularity highlights that India is like an elephant mired in the furious struggle between traditions and modernization.

Indians always regard their country as a bastion of purity in the world, but this superstitious and outdated traditional spirit has fettered India's modernization.

Indians always worship gurus. God-men are business tycoons in India as well. With tremendous clout in his country, Singh has his own hotel, cinema and school, and is depicted as a hero in a movie that he starred in.

After his conviction, tens of thousands of Singh's followers flooded into his headquarters in Panchkula to protest, and some of them even attacked police with clubs and stones.

The guru phenomenon also suggests the public's disappointments toward the country's traditional politics. Dissatisfied with reality, an increasing number of Indian citizens are turning to these non-traditional religious groups.

It is quite ironic that modernization in the means of communication by these so-called gurus has become the barrier that impedes the Indian public from spiritual modernization. The phenomenon also exposes the country's serious political and societal problems.

It is India's internal affairs to settle the riots, and China hopes the Indian government can quell the unrest soon.

But, as Beijing and New Delhi have been locked in the Doklam standoff for some time, we have reason to worry that India may use the border disputes to divert public attention away from the domestic conflicts if the riots escalate.

India's Home Minister Rajnath Singh claimed last week that a solution to the Doklam faceoff would be found soon, adding that "friends can change but not neighbors." His rhetoric is regarded by many as a sign of easing tensions over the border dispute. But New Delhi should alleviate the tensions through practical actions.

India is perplexed by a number of ethnic and societal problems. Fostering consensus through religious means is not a good way out, but will only escalate the already-tense crises. We hope India can withdraw its troops from Chinese territory as soon as possible, and focus its attention on domestic development. Utilizing the border disputes to alleviate domestic conflicts will only lead to lose-lose results.



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