OVER the last few weeks, Kerala saw the spectacle of sections of the clergy and politicians making allegations of non-Muslim youth being targets of “love jihad” and “narcotic jihad”.
The terminology deployed was clearly to drive a sectarian wedge in a state which boasts of centuries of communal harmony.
It was commendable that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had the courage and the gumption to dispel these allegations with precise facts and figures showing the numbers of persons arrested from various religious denominations emphasizing that “narcotics business is not run on the basis of religion”, and that “such campaigns would tantamount to sowing the seeds of hatred.”
It is this peace among religions, which has enabled Kerala to climb the dizzying heights of the human development index and showcased to international acclaim the remarkable manner in which its well-heeled healthcare systems could effectively deal with the pandemic.
John Kenneth Galbraith had written about how societies consisting of populations having the requisite education and skillsets could thrive post-war and devastation, like Japan and Germany.
If he were alive today, he would certainly have named Kerala, which bounced back after two devastating floods. All this was possible because so far, Kerala could avoid the fratricidal politics of sectarianism and focus solely on development.
As attempts to drum up sectarian conflict will continue, it will pay for Kerala to study the lessons from the history of Lebanon. Lebanon, like Kerala, was the very epicenter of a rich, multi-religious and ethnically diverse society in the Middle East.