Religion can’t be sole foundation: Mooshahary

Raju Das

– History has proved that religion alone cannot be the sole foundation of a relationship, if there is great cultural and linguistic disparity, Meghalaya Governor Ranjit Shekhar Mooshahary observed here today.

Inaugurating an International seminar on Indo-Bangladesh cultural relationship, the Governor said, history has proven, in the case of Bangladesh, that two different entities with diverse culture, customs and language cannot sustain a relationship for long, just on the basis of a common religion or faith.

Mooshahary was citing the case of West Pakistan (Pakistan) and East Pakistan (Bangladesh), which could not be together for a long period as the culture of the people of these two countries, were totally different, despite Islam being the State religion.

In fact, India assisted Bangladesh in its Liberation War of 1971, after the dictators of West Pakistan tried to force Urdu on the people of Bangladesh. The UNESCO recognising Bangladesh’s defiance against Urdu and fight for the preservation of its mother tongue, also known as “Bangla language movement day” held annually on February 21, declared the day as the “International Mother Language Day.”

“Bangladesh is an example in history, how the experience to hold two countries with diverse culture, custom and language together, just on the basis of a common religion, has failed,” Mooshahary told the gathering of academicians and other dignitaries from both India and Bangladesh.

On religion, Mooshahary said that in India there are more Muslims than in Bangladesh with a total number of 180 million. Bangladesh, a Muslim majority State, has a population of about 150 million. In the North East alone there are about 11 million Muslim people, with Assam having the largest number with 10.50 million Muslim population, he added.

Citing that India and Bangladesh share a lot in common, in terms of culture, customs and language, Mooshahary said both countries with secular Governments can gain a lot by “walking together on the highway of prospects and prosperity.”

He also touched on the recent conflict in Assam and said that the problem arose due to fight over resources and it wasn’t a conflict between two religious groups. “It is the scarcity of land that has prompted the conflict as people were jostling for space,” he added.

On Indo-Bangla relationship, he said that both countries can gain by following the fundamentals of “four Ts” – “Trade, Tourism, Transport and Transit”– can bring prosperity, growth and amity between the people of India and Bangladesh,” he added.

Mooshahary also said that the NE stands to gain tremendously in having a stronger relationship with Bangla due to its strategic geographical location. He said that the Central Government must try further the relationship by having more passport offices in the region and think of opening a Bangladesh Deputy High Commission’s office in Shillong or Guwahati.

“Years back, Shillong used to have the East Pakistan Deputy High Commission’s office before it was closed down. Such an office would help further the relationship of the two nations. Moreover, opening of the Chittagong port for Indian products would help the region economically,” he stated.