Parsi Minorities Should Not Forget to Be Grateful

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Rameshwar Sharma’s letter, “Only Indian Courts, Votes Can Judge” (I-W, Feb. 21), was very informative. As a Parsi Zarathushti (Zoroastrian) born and raised in India, I can confirm his comments about the political asylum given by Hindus of India to Parsis who were being persecuted by Muslim invaders in their homeland of Iran, and how they have repaid that gesture with philanthropy, fighting for independence from Britain, and establishment of major businesses that employ hundreds of thousands of Indians.

Although a large number in each of the minority communities of India are thankful for the opportunity to live and practice their religion freely, there are a few ungrateful souls who carry on their campaign to denigrate India in foreign countries. Once, while attending a panel discussion about problems faced by minorities at a local city council chamber, I witnessed a Sikh gentleman complain about discrimination against Sikhs in India and their fear of living in India.

During the question-answer session I stood up and challenged his contention, by stating that being a member of a minority community myself, I had never observed systemic discrimination or danger against minorities, whether Sikh, Muslim, Buddhist, Jain, Christian or Parsi. We have minorities in leading positions in government, military and business, even in the Bharatiya Janata Party and Narendra Modi’s administration in Gujarat, besides having a Sikh prime minister.

Whereas the Ahmaddiya Muslims are persecuted in Pakistan and some other Islamic countries, they enjoy freedom in India. Whereas Christians are in danger in some Muslim majority countries like Iraq, Egypt and Pakistan, they live freely in India. Whereas Shia and Sunni Muslims face discrimination and threats to their lives in some Muslim nations and often kill each other in Pakistan, Syria, Iraq and Iran, they enjoy equality and peaceful co-existence in India.

Hindus in general practice respect for all religions, and the rise of militancy has only been in response to militancy and unfair advantage taken by some minorities who are used as vote banks by political parties.

Minorities should exercise their rights in their host countries, whether India, the U.S., Canada, or the UK, but also remember to fulfill their responsibilities as patriotic citizens, respect the culture and religion of the majority, and not forget to be grateful for the privilege given to them to live freely in the host countries.

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