A Hindu Perspective. (Reflections on Tolerance)

By Sharma, Arvind | Conscience, Winter 2002 | Go to article overview

A Hindu Perspective. (Reflections on Tolerance)


Sharma, Arvind, Conscience


COERCION IN FAMILY PLANNING is a major concern for Hindus--but for political, rather than religious reasons. Hinduism per se is not opposed to family planning, but during the period of emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi in the 1970s, draconian methods of family planning were imposed, leading to a backlash. The so-Called Hindu parties were political beneficiaries of the backlash and now that they are in power they do not wish to repeat Mrs. Gandhi's "mistake." There is another political concern: the perception among Hindus that the Muslim minority in India is extremely fertile and may outnumber the Hindus in due course.

On a religious level, Hindu ethics in general are less individualistic than Western ones although its religious practices are more so. Hence the Hindu does not have to be convinced in favor of collective ethics. Hindus do need to be convinced however that everyone is doing his or her fair share in helping cope with any perceived problems. In this respect Hindu scholars tend to compare population levels in India and consumption levels in the West and point out that high consumption levels pose as much of an ecological challenge as population levels. When calculated in terms of energy consumption, for example, US consumption surpasses that of India as the energy consumption levels of an individual in the US exceed those of an Indian by a factor of five. …

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