Eminent Jurist Fali Nariman at the annual lecture organised by the National Commission for Minorities said that the ´Hindu tradition of tolerance is showing strain´. He said, “My apprehension is Hinduism is changing its benign face because… it is believed and proudly proclaimed by a few ,and not contradicted by those at the top, that it is because of their faith and belief that Hindus have been now put in the driving seat of governance.”
He said that he was chosing to be “unpopular rather than untruthful”, highlighted increasing instances of hate speech, and indicated that Commission was failing to discharge its responsibility.
Minister of Minority Affairs, Najma Heptullah, responded to his veiws by saying that Nariman had right to hold his views, but claimed that the government and Prime Minister Modi were committed to safeguarding the rights and liberty of all minorities.
In his lecture, Nariman said he “welcomed” but also “feared” the strong majoritarian government in power at the centre. Outlining his views at the lecture, “Minorities at Crossroads: Comments on Judicial Pronouncements” he highlighted the varied ways in which regimes dealt with minorities – either through forceful suppression and eradication, coercive or hostile toleration, voluntary or involuntary assimilation – adding that India´s founding fathers had chosen a liberal path, of “affirmative action for protection and preservation”.
Yet, he said minorities were at “crossroads today” because “the body set up by parliament to protect minorities has omitted to take effective steps to protect them”. He noted the almost daily “tirades” by individuals and groups against citizens belonging to a religious minority and agreed with the criticism that the government at the centre had done nothing to stop these tirades.