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Book Review Discovering New India

Inspite of the fact that Tagore, Ambedkar and Gandhiji had many differences led different paths and different ways of life, yet they arrived at the same conclusion. Jawaharlal Nehru’s “The Discovery of India” throws light on the idea of ‘Unity in Diversity’ being a defining character of Indian civilization. He writes: “Some kind of a dream of unity has occupied the mind of India since the dawn of civilization. That unity was not conceived as something imposed from outside, standardization of externs or even of beliefs. It was something deeper and, within its fold, the widest tolerance of belief and custom was practiced and every variety acknowledged and even encouraged.”

Even as India emerges from the pandemic, we are hurtling into a maelstrom of unrest. To arrest this plunge into lawlessness, violence and unmanageable disorder, it is important for each & everyone to prioritize tolerance, moderation, and above all, social harmony.

To discuss this important issue challenging the sovereignty of Indian constitution, Al-Ameen Educational Society in association with Ekam Sat Trust organized a Book Review on “Discovering New India – Multiculturalism | Pluralism | Harmony” on 28th January 2023 which is a collection of 14 articles and penned by 17 authors edited & compiled by Dr. A Ravindra, former Chief Secretary, Government of India and Dr. Priyanca Mathur, Head, Centre for Research in Social Sciences & Education, Jain University.

Today’s Book Review session had eminent speakers like Dr. B. A. Anuradha, Principal, Al-Ameen Institute of Management Studies, Dr. A Ravindra, Prof. D. Jeevan Kumar, Retd., Professor of Political Science, Bangalore University, Dr. Annapoorna Ravichander, Head, Policy Engagement & Communication, Public Affairs Centre, Mrs. Saleha Begum, Prof. Musarat Bano along with a few students, Maqsood Khan, Nify, Mohammed Umar Saklain, Mohammed Minwal, Mohammed Nasir Husian & Kulsum.

Dr. A Ravindra, President of Ekam Sat Trust in his introductory remarks conveyed his happiness to visit Al-Ameen & meet young minds. He spoke about God – the One Supreme Being and articulated his vision to promote the concept of oneness. He said that the three essential principles of our Constitution – liberty, equality & fraternity are important. The book, he said, talks about four themes : religion and spirituality; the Constitution, environment and education; inclusive society; and the role of youth in nation building and asked the youth to carry forward this message.

Dr. B. A. Anuradha, spoke highly about all the 17 erudite scholars who have penned their opinions on four themes in the book “Discovering New India – Multiculturalism | Pluralism | Harmony”; narrating at a cursory glance their work which have been eye opener for the readers, portraying the importance of coexistence, environment sustainability, women empowerment and the ill effects of the patriarchal Indian Society. She said that in Japan one’s weight is not determined in terms of their sizes but valued in terms of the number of book one reads. So education and awareness are crucial. She applauded the efforts of the Government to operate one train each to Pakistan, Nepal & Bangladesh to boost connectivity and opined that we as Indians should focus on building bridges that unite and not walls that divide.

Dr. Annapoorna Ravichander, Joint Secretary of Ekam Sat Trust read out excerpts from her article in the book and spoke about the youth of India, their rights as future citizens and stressed the importance of youth to participate, understand, react & take action in order to usher the country forward in the right direction through the process of “Learn & Unlearn”. She suggested that sessions on “Chai pe Charcha” should be a regular feature at Al-Ameen to inculcate interest & involve the youth in the new policies.

Mr. Umar Ismail Khan, Chairman, Al-Ameen Educational Society in his address spoke about the formation of Al-Ameen Movement and the divine work of his father, Late Dr. Mumtaz Ahmed Khan Saheb whose vision & passion to open the doors of knowledge to the masses, especially muslims has today successfully led to the establishment of more than 150 educational institutions across India. He gave the credit to his grandparents who were graduates of Aligarh Muslim University, bringing to light the role of parents & family in training children, imbibing good character & values and creating an atmosphere of peace & harmony at home.

He spoke highly of the NCC & sports unit at Al-Ameen, where non-muslim students have kept the flag high, bringing laurels year after year and that they are placed at good government positions. He applauded the role of the Principals’ - Dr. Shivananda, Dr. B. A. Anuradha, Dr. Shobha Rani & Dr. K Ramesh in the success of the institutions, this goes to show that Al-Ameen provides a secular environment, he said.

He believed that education shines a spotlight on how prioritizing education is an investment in people & the future of the country. Contributing to India by facilitating lifelong education opportunities can only break the cycle of shortage, improve health outcomes, prepare people for decent jobs & provide equal opportunity for boys & girls. He advised that students not to concentrate on negativity be it social or political but instead consider the positive side as an inspiration taking the e.g. of sportsmen and businessmen whose sacrifices, hard work & fighting spirit helps them face adversity, become brave, appreciate values & get disciplined in life.

He quoted verses from the Quran that profess oneness, unity, humbleness and the promise of the Almighty to grant relief after every hardship.

He also quoted A.P.J. Abdul Kalam to motivate the students “Where there is righteousness in the heart, there is beauty in the character. When there is beauty in the character, there is harmony in the home. When there is harmony in the home, there is the order in the nation. When there is order in the nation, there is peace in the world”.

Dr. Jeevan Kumar was greatly impressed by the results & placements at Al-Ameen. He discussed about social engagements, contemporary realities on religion in India, socially secure society, misuse of religion by political elite, polarization and lastly introspection for commitment, religious pluralism, spirituality, secular education, peace culture, gender equality & environmental consciousness.

Mrs. Saleha Begum spoke about the constitution & the various articles, appealing the youth to be aware of their rights & resources to create a healthy environment around them.

Prof. Musarat Bano reviewed the 1st & 10th chapter of the book and gave the e.g., of leadership stories of women during the pandemic working in the remotest areas of the country, who actively engaged themselves & everyone around them through self help groups.

The student, Maqsood Khan spoke about Environment, Society, Governance; Niyf spoke on Holism & NEP 2020; Mohammed Umar Saklain spoke about Jawaharlal Nehru’s ideologies; Mohammed Minwal talked about values & wide spectrum of ideals; Mohammed Nasir Husian discussed vote bank, challenges & rumors leading to disharmony while Kulsum conversed about law of the land.

We have to face the fact that without a political order based on multiculturalism & pluralism, India’s diversity will limit its social capital. Growing social distrust will frustrate our vision of a strong and prosperous India. We have to change course—now. We as Indian Patriots cannot & should not tolerate a threat to our National Unity & Safety. Let’s dwell on commonalities rather than difference, inclusiveness of our constitutional values & rights.

This comparison doesn’t come easy, so let’s practice tolerance. If we cannot feel a sense of fraternity, lets atleast live-and-let-live. It’s high time that we as educationists become torch bearers, and lead the way, and demand as our right, that politicians, general public, public officers & media persons rebuild Social Harmony making multiculturalism & pluralism our strength

The event ended with Mr. Azeezulla Baig, IAS & Secretary, Ekam Sat Trust thanking the institution & the Chairman, Umar Ismail Khan for providing an opportunity for book review; Mr. Iqbal Baig, Hon. Treasurer for being supportive & instrumental in organizing the event; Dr. Ravindra for his vision & source of inspiration, Mr. Jeevan & Dr. Annapoorna for their valuable contributions and Dr. B. A. Anuradha for well presented overview of the book. He also invited the students to be part of the Ekam Sat Trust by enrolling as members.