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Taking Steps to Protect Secularism in India

The editorial "Taking a Stand in India," and the articles "Religious Clash Threatens India's Secular State" and "Crisis in India Prompts Strife Elsewhere in S. Asia," Dec. 9, are analytical and enlightening but confined to conventional wisdom. The idea that the Hindus are a majority in India is a myth. The four castes, which make up the Hindus, account for less than 15 percent of the total Indian population of 882 million. The more than 3,000 castes of the original indigenous population of Harappan civi lization, considered outcasts and untouchables, account for 65 percent. The Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, and others account for the remaining 20 percent. Many of the Hindu social and religious traditions are against the very foundations of today's Indian Constitution and would be resented by the majority of the people as a base for promoting an Indian national identity, contrary to what the editorial says. The reports from India indicate that the central union government at Delhi has been too disunit ed and frustrated to act on the temple-mosque issue. Arjun Singh, a member of the central cabinet, is reported to have suggested that the site around the mosque, now demolished, should be acquired and both a mosque and a temple should be constructed there by the state. This would be a symbolic gesture for the Hobson's choice of Hindus and Muslims living together in India and for sharpening the country's posture as a secular state. P. P. Lakshman, New York

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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