It’s all about balancing
My op-ed in Mint covers some of the arguments and discussions on this blog on state-sponsored greybeards. Indeed, it is necessary to thank all those who commented on those posts: supporters and critics alike. All that helped to refine and tighten up the op-ed piece.
In a secular state such as India, there is little role for the state in matters of faith and religion. But the rise of a radical, intolerant version of Islam around the world is also not in its interests. Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran have no self-imposed restrictions on promoting their own Islamic values. It is unlikely that India can counter these exertions of soft power by promoting the virtues of secularism to the Islamic world. But it could promote its own syncretic Islamic tradition to offer an alternative narrative to the worldâ€™s Muslims.
In any case, secularism as state policy is meaningful only in the domestic context. To insist Indian foreign policy must always be â€œsecularâ€ would be to miss a fundamental principle of international relationsâ€” states act to maximize their relative power using any means at their disposal. If Indiaâ€™s Islamic values allow it to â€œbalanceâ€ Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran, it should do so. [Mint]
Want to continue the discussion? Why not write a letter to the editor of Mint?