August 1947 was a watershed moment in the history of the Indian sub-continent. India – the jewel in the British crown – became an independent nation as it broke away from its imperial past of over 200 years. The joyful moment however was short-lived as independence unfortunately came at a heavy price in the form of Partition. Millions of people lost their lives in the ensuing migration between borders. In those blood thirsty times when neighbours and fellow-countrymen became enemies overnight due, the leaders of independent India led by Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel and Pandit Nehru among others chose to establish a secular, modern, democratic and pluralistic nation.
Over the ensuing decades India’s democracy and pluralist outlook survived an Emergency in the mid-70s and the scars of communal polarization. Resentment towards minorities continued to fester since Partition and manifest itself through periodic incidents of riots but the wedge only grew deeper after the Ram Janmabhoomi movement launched by the RSS-BJP combine under L K Advani’s leadership.