Fractured Faith: How Religious Prism Clouds Judgment in Modern India

5 min readApr 20, 2024
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India, the land of vibrant festivals, ancient temples, and a breathtaking diversity of faiths, has long prided itself on its tradition of tolerance and coexistence. Yet, beneath the colorful surface, a troubling trend is emerging. Religion, a force that has historically bound communities together, is increasingly being wielded as a weapon, distorting public discourse, diluting critical thinking and hindering social progress.

This weaponization of faith manifests in various ways, warping how Indians evaluate everything from courtroom verdicts to cinematic narratives. Gone are the days of nuanced discussions and respectful disagreements. Today, religious affiliation acts as a distorting lens, coloring public perception and fueling social division.

Judgments on Trial: In the hallowed halls of India’s legal system, a disquieting phenomenon has taken root. Court decisions, once judged on the basis of facts and legal precedent, are now being scrutinized through the prism of religion. A recent example involved the Supreme Court’s criticism of Patanjali, a major Indian brand, for misleading advertisements. Instead of a sober discussion on consumer rights and fair advertising practices, the case became a battleground for religious affiliation. Trolls attacked the judgement implying bias against Hindu traditions (potentially Ayurveda promoted by Patanjali) and against Hindu leaders (Baba Ramadev, the Founder of Patanjali). Now they are taking it to another extreme by targeting Nestle saying that the Nestle products have a overdose of sugar in their products especially in poorer countries. Media trial without any investigation is a norm these days.

This blatant disregard for judicial independence highlights the dangers of religious bias — it undermines public trust in institutions and derails the pursuit of justice.

Celluloid Conflict: The silver screen, once a platform for fostering empathy and understanding, is becoming a battleground for religious narratives. Movies like “The Kashmir Files,” a film heavily focused on the “Kashmir Hindu genocide” narrative, exemplify this disturbing trend. While acknowledging the suffering of Kashmiri Hindus is crucial, the film’s lack of nuance and focus on emotional manipulation can potentially inflame communal tensions rather than promoting reconciliation. Such films exploit religious sentiments for political gain, hindering interfaith dialogue and perpetuating a climate of “us vs. them.”

Love and Lies: Beyond the courtroom and the cinema, the insidious influence of religious bias extends to the realm of personal relationships. The pernicious conspiracy theory of “Love Jihad” alleges a Muslim plot to lure Hindu women into marriage for conversion. This fabricated narrative, devoid of any factual basis, thrives on fearmongering and religious prejudice. It not only fosters suspicion and mistrust between communities but also disrespects the sanctity of love and individual choice.

Expanding the Battlefield:

This weaponization of faith extends beyond courtroom judgments and cinematic portrayals. Recent controversies like the Hijab row, where Muslim students were denied entry to schools for wearing headscarves, highlight the growing tensions surrounding religious attire. These incidents not only restrict individual religious expression but also fuel anxieties about religious dominance in a secular nation.

Furthermore, the rise of cow vigilantism — self-appointed guardians who attack individuals based on suspicion of cow slaughter or beef consumption — exemplifies the violent undercurrents of religious extremism. These attacks, primarily targeting religious minorities, create a climate of fear and disrupt social harmony.

The Corrosive Consequences: This distorted lens of religion has far-reaching and corrosive consequences for Indian society:

  • Erosion of Public Trust: When religious affiliation takes precedence over objective evaluation, public trust in institutions crumbles. The erosion of faith in the judiciary, as exemplified in the Patanjali case, weakens the very foundation of a democratic society.
  • Fractured Communities: Films that exploit religious tensions exacerbate social divisions and hinder interfaith dialogue. This can lead to a climate of hostility and violence, jeopardizing the peaceful coexistence that India has cherished for centuries.
  • Discrimination and Violence: Conspiracy theories like “Love Jihad” create a climate of fear and mistrust, leading to the marginalization and potential violence against religious minorities.

What is happening in India is not anything new. Our neighbour, Sri Lanka went through this phase in the mid 50s and 60s where majoritarianism thrived in the form of Sinhala Buddhist Nationalism and oppressed the minority Tamils. Sri Lanka was economically №2 in Asia then and poor neighbourhood in Colombo used to be called Korea. We know what happened. These small small actions aggregated into a major conflict culminating in July 1983 when 20,000 Tamils were killed leading to a mass exodus of Tamils and the country plunging into a civil war with the LTTE. Four decades of war battered and bruised the country killings 100s of 1000s of innocent citizens as well as its thriving economy.

Authoritarian Leaders such as Mahinda Rajapaksa further pushed the majoritarian agenda that also garnered widespread support to annihilate the LTTE in 2009 even at the cost of 10s of 1000s of Tamil lives. People worshipped their strong leader but in less than 15 years from the war when the country was expected to grow to its past glory, the country declared bankruptcy. Now, the country understands the effect of in fighting among its own communities. But it is too late.

My wife is a Sinhalese and I am a Tamil. We know that it is so simple to divide people and make them hate each other. It is hard to stand united and spread love.

India — You were a light to the world. You showed how everyone can peacefully co-exist. Don’t stray away from your noble path. All these small actions can aggregate to create catastrophic outcomes.

It is time to wake up.




Father, Entrepreneur & Writer; Edison award winning innovation; Daytime Emmy nominated animation; Author of two books; WEF Davos, Cannes Lions, TEDx