India’s secularism is strong and it will not be shaken, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at a reception in Berlin for the Indian community, hosted by the Indian ambassador to Germany on Monday night.
The Prime Minister was talking about Sanskrit. He said decades ago, German radio had a news bulletin in Sanskrit when there was none in India. “I must applaud the Germans, they had Sanskrit news bulletins…our country didn’t… because of secularism…,” the PM said, adding, “India’s secularism is not so weak that it will be shaken just because of a language. One should have self-confidence. That should not be shaken.”
He did not elaborate, but a reference is being seen in his comments to the Modi government’s decision last year to replace German with Sanskrit as the third language in over 500 schools, which upset Germany.
PM Modi had spoken to German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the issue then.
So far, the Sanskrit language issue hasn’t come up between the two sides during Mr Modi’s trip, but sources said there is a possibility of discussions during bilateral talks between Mr Modi and Ms Merkel and their delegations today.
PM Modi’s comment on India’s secularism also comes in the wake of widespread concern over a series of attacks on churches and other Christian buildings over the last few months in India.
On Monday, at the world’s largest trade fair in Hannover, which the PM inaugurated, top Indian industrialist Sanjay Kirloskar said the government must “send the right signal” and make clear that “we are a secular nation… we are a tolerant nation.”
“Most investors in foreign countries are Christians,” said Mr Kirloskar, noting that “a slight concern” was visible among foreign investors. He pointed to a protest by a small group demanding “protect India’s minorities” outside the massive fair in Hannover.
Before arriving in Germany, the PM, addressing UNESCO in France, said that his government is committed to defending the rights and liberties of all Indians. In February, addressing a conference organised by Christian groups in Delhi, Mr Modi had said, “My government will not allow any group belonging to majority or minority to incite hatred against others.