A BLASPHEMOUS LAW
Punjab government’s proposal to amend Article 295 of the Penal Code is deeply (1) regressive and will have deep (2) ramifications beyond Punjab. The proposed amendment gives life imprisonment for whoever causes injury, damage or (3) sacrilege to the Guru Granth Sahib, the Bhagwad Gita, the Quran and the Bible. As we have seen in the case of neighbouring Pakistan, the progressive strengthening of anti-blasphemy laws during the Seventies was a sign of a toxic combination of greater intolerance and authoritarianism. Does India want to (4) traverse the same road?
Holy books like the Adi Granth are sacred. They are sacred not just for their content. They express the highest truths about Ultimate Reality. The “Sat” in “Ek Omkar Sat Nam” brilliantly combines both Truth and Existence. But in the Sikh tradition, the Book is also treated iconically, with elaborate rituals around its sacred treatment, often to the point where it is not easily (5) disseminated. But using state power to enforce the sacred, both (6) defiles the sacred and messes with the secular. The article defiles the sacredness of the Book, the eternity of the Word because the status of the Book now becomes an artefact of state power. The greatest (7) heresy is to think that the word of God needs protection from the mortal state. The sacrilege to the book is not its burning, it is this law.
But this law also messes with secularism. A liberal state needs two sensibilities. The first is that many good things are good and derive their authentic meaning precisely from the fact that there is no coercion behind them. The second is that my beliefs and faith, even if entirely sound, do not by themselves provide sufficient ground for the state using its coercive power to enforce them. This law is also deeply authoritarian. The idea of life imprisonment for acts of injury to the book is neither about (8) deterrence, nor piety. It is simply about the state making a show of its power because it can. The law also messes with history in bizarre ways. In order to show that the law was not directed at a particular religion, the act includes texts like the Bhagwad Gita in its (9) ambit. It is true that in Punjab there were acts of desecration of several religious texts. But there are enough existing laws to deal with those who would want to maliciously generate enmity between communities. For, caving in to some (10) nebulous argument about religious sentiments does not just make us destroy both religion and the state, it also produces political cowardice of the highest order.
1. REGRESSIVE (adjective) प्रतिगामी
Meaning: returning to a former or less developed state.
Synonyms: unmodernized, backward, retrogressive, returning, reverting, retrograde, throwback.
Antonyms: progressive, forward, head-first, advanced, modernized, proliferating, rising, prospering, escalating, growing.
2. RAMIFICATIONS (noun) जटिलता
Meaning: a complex or unwelcome consequence of an action or event.
Synonyms: result, aftermath, outcome, effect, upshot, complication, implication, outgrowth, spin-off.
Antonyms: antecedent, forerunner, juncture, cause.
3. SACRILEGE (noun) अपवित्रीकरण
Meaning: violation or misuse of what is regarded as sacred.
Synonyms: desecration, profanity, blasphemy, impiety, impiousness, sin, irreverence, irreligion, godlessness, disrespect.
Antonyms: sanctuary, deference, devotion, veneration, admiration, piousness, piety, consecration, devoutness, worship.
4. TRAVERSE (verb) पार करना
Meaning: to move or pass along or through
Synonyms: cross, course, pass over, negotiate, wander, roam, range perambulate, peregrinate, proceed (along), track, transit.
Antonyms: substantiate, hold, stop, back up, bear out, abide, remain, sustain.
5. DISSEMINATE (verb) प्रसारित करना
Meaning: spread (something, especially information) widely.
Synonyms: circulate, distribute, disperse, diffuse, proclaim, promulgate, propagate, publicize, communicate, dissipate, broadcast, publish, trumpet.
Antonyms: gather, absorb, assemble, aggregate, amass, congregate, accumulate, fetch, conceal, occupy.
6. DEFILE (verb) अपवित्र करना
Meaning: damage the purity or appearance of.
Synonyms: spoil, sully, mar, impair, debase, degrade, pollute, poison, corrupt, taint, tarnish, befoul, infect, destroy, ruin.
Antonyms: regard, purify, honor, protect, sanitize, cherish, decontaminate, respect, cleanse, sustain, purge, uphold, benefit, clarify, upgrade, extol, laud, conserve.
7. HERESY (noun) विधर्म
Meaning: a belief or opinion that does not agree with the official belief or opinion of a particular religion.
Synonyms: dissension, dissidence, unorthodoxy, apostasy, schism, faction, atheism, non-belief, unbelief, idolatry, paganism, separatism, sectarianism.
Antonyms: orthodoxy, conformity, belief, schism, agreement, conventionality, reassertion.
8. DETERRENCE (noun) अवरोध
Meaning: the act of preventing a particular act or behavior from happening.
Synonyms: determent, disincentive, dissuasion, obviation, preclusion, preemption, hindrance, discouragement, stoppage, caution, prohibition.
Antonyms: incentive, inducement, encouragement, impetus, impulsion, motivation, stimulus.
9. AMBIT (noun) सीमा
Meaning: the scope, extent, or bounds of something.
Synonyms: boundary, periphery, circumference, range, reach, sphere, purview, extension, arena, limit, margin, edge.
Antonyms: forefront, center, foreground, verge, hub.
10. NEBULOUS (adjective) अस्पष्ट
Meaning: (of a concept) vague or ill-defined.
Synonyms: unclear, hazy, uncertain, indefinite, indeterminate, imprecise, unformed, muddled, confused, ambiguous, inchoate, opaque.
Antonyms: pellucid, obvious, definite, evident, apparent, clear, limpid, certain, exact, lucid, perspicuous, vivid, explicit.
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