Learning About Faith and Environment

Surrounded by the intermixing Lush Greenery and rich history at the Hauz Khauz monument in Delhi, I got a chance to interview Mr. Manu Singh, chairman SDS (Sarva Dharma Samvad). SDS focuses on involving youth in interfaith dialogues for peace.
When asked about what this organisation does, Manu tells me that it focuses on the main problems in India when it comes to interfaith peace. According to him ,there is no action being taken to address the matter, there is acute shortage of youth in the movement and the most important; involvement of youth in riots, social media , according to him SDS tackles these problems by promoting action, dialogue, and peace between their faiths.
When asked about atheists and whether they are stakeholders, he states the difference between religion and faith by quoting, “Faith is what you think and believe in, it could be science or god; it doesn’t matter.”
He suggested to me that the things to consider before choosing a faith are 3D’s, namely
● Doubting what you believe in
● Debating about its good and bad
● Descending from what you don’t believe in

Seeing popular news these days, when I asked him about his views on lynching and mob justice, Manu dismissed them as criminalism and urged the government to take harshest actions against them while expressing the need for political parties to condemn such things and refraining from extending support to such petty criminalism.
Underlining the difference between such people and common man and refraining a connection of these things with religion, he quoted “Whoever gets uprooted from the basic fundamentals of the religion gets radicalised and becomes orthodox. No faith promotes communalism; it resides within us and our egos.”
Highlighting my concern about the youth, when I asked what his organisation does to bring back already radicalised youth, with a glittering confidence he said,
“There is no need to bring them back, we let people talk about similarities and differences between there faith and let people talk about problems; it is the perception of others that we make that is the problem. We have a sketch for people in our brain on how they should behave, a subconscious problem which gets manifested as communalism. The promotion of talks and commonalities and difference and tge debate can take care of itself.”
Before going for the interview , while researching about Manu sir, I read about his work for environment; when asked for his emphasis on developement if it isn’t all about building skyscrapers and concrete jungles, he simply answers by telling that it is something that the society needs to figure while clarifying that he is not against development, just against amassing wealth.
He gave the example of central India where adivasis are being forced out for minerals and about many natural calamities and disasters occurring due to Global Warming and made clear on the point that Earth will remain and continue to exist if it goes on like this by saying “Consequences of arrogance and anthropocentric view point that everything is made for me, it isn’t like that”.
When finally asked about if Maoists are right in protecting the jungle the way they do, he explained that while he understood why they are doing so but use of separatism and violence for anything is condemnable; we may have problems of implementing the development model but the use of violence and killing is utterly absurd and shouldn’t be promoted at any cost.

-Akshit Gupta


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