Diplomatically, this signals that with Pakistan this country seeks a relationship of military conflict.
Union home minister Rajnath Singh’s decision to do a “shastra puja”, a ritualistic worship of weapons traditionally performed by Kshatriyas, on the India-Pakistan border in Bikaner on Dussehra day is singularly wrong-headed.
It amounts to wilful introduction of religious worship in relations with neighbours. In this case, it is obviously meant to taunt a neighbour with which ties, at the best of times, are less than cordial. But for India’s home minister to engage in low-level symbolism seems well below par. One hopes good sense will prevail and the event is called off.
Since “shastra puja” is linked to a certain caste group, Mr Singh appears to be underlining his caste affinity which, again, he should refrain from doing, given the high office he holds. The appeasement of the casteism genie isn’t expected from those in top positions. They should set an example that is in keeping with our constitutional norms and values.
If the senior BJP leader is wedded to traditionalism and must perform the “shastra puja”, it might be better if he does so in the privacy of his home. The worship of weapons on the Pakistan border gives the impression that he is trying to catch the eye of his particular community for political and electoral reasons.
Diplomatically, this signals that with Pakistan this country seeks a relationship of military conflict. For a responsible nation like India, this isn’t the best message to send out to the world. We needlessly place ourselves on the same level as Pakistan, where the military traditionally decides the kind of democracy the country should be.