“The present convention, which is one of the most august assemblies ever held, is in itself a vindication, a declaration to the world of the wonderful doctrine preached in the Gita: “Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to me.” Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth.

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करीब १२-१३ बरस का था। नए पड़ोसी आये थे उस दिन। माँ ने मुझे उनकी मदद करने के लिए भेजा। एक ट्रक भर कर सामान था। काफी चीज़ें थीं। घर में उनके बस सिन्हा अंकल खुद, उनकी पत्नी और उनकी बेटी थी। आंटी और बेटी तो अंदर बैठ गए, सो मैंने और अंकल ने मिलकर सारा सामान उतारा और अंदर रखा। थालियाँ, चम्मच, मिक्सर ग्राइंडर – मुझसे तो यही उठ रहे थे। करीब तीन से चार घंटों में ये काम पूरा हुआ। अंकल ने अंदर आकर बैठने को कहा। यही सोचकर कि कुछ खाने पीने को मिलेगा, मैं अंदर बैठ गया।

China has banned the usage of a few Islamic names in the Xinjiang province. This is a Muslim majority province and such an action is supposed to impact children who would be named Imam, Hajj, Islam, Quran, Saddam, Medina etc. These names are supposedly heavily loaded with religious extremism and must not be considered by families for their children if they are to get hukou (household registration) and other state services.

Vajra pushed down the lid of his laptop, gulped down a bottle of water, and hastened to his bed with his cellphone. It was 11.30 p.m. and he had to finish sending a few replies on his phone before calling it a day. There were 120 messages flooding his inbox from friends and groups. The most noisy of all the groups he was part of spoke of Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar incessantly.

I was taking a break at my cousin’s place at Mumbai before starting for the onward journey to home. My niece was about 10 years old then. It was evening and we were talking of studies, sports, music and every other activity she was involved in. At one point, she made a comment – “Chachu, aap chaai bahut peete ho kya? Chai peene se hi aapka rang aisa ho gaya hai.” (Uncle, do you take tea often? Your color has turned into this because of this.). Her mom who was sitting in a corner, feeling embarrassed cut her short and told me – “We have told her that she would become dark if she drank tea, just to keep her away from it. Please don’t mind.”  I couldn’t say much. Here was a kid who had been taught that dark people didn’t exist in the world. People became dark only because they overdrank tea.