Election time, both at the State and the national levels, is when, in the din of hectic campaigning, many an intemperate comment is uttered by politicians. Apart from the personal mudslinging, the rhetoric also often turns disturbingly communal. Though the Election Commission often pulls up errant politicians, sometimes even banning them from campaigning for a period, given the size of the country and the number of constituencies, it is impossible for the poll watch body to keep track of each and every comment uttered by politicians.

It is in this background that the recent CSDS-Lokniti pre-poll survey brings out some sobering news about the India polity. Among the key findings of the survey, which were featured in The Hindu, has been that 79 per cent of those surveyed believed that “India belongs to all religions and not just Hindus”, highlighting the plural nature of Indian society. There were some interesting findings across the urban-rural and educational divide. The belief in religious plurality was higher among people in urban India (85 per cent) and the educated (83 per cent).

More hearteningly in the 18-25 age category, 81 per cent of those surveyed believed in religious pluralism in contrast to 71 per cent in the ‘56 years and above’ category.

These findings are in broad consonance with the Pew Survey conducted in 2022 on religion and identity politics in India. This survey found that 84 per cent of Indians feel that, “respecting all religions is very important to being truly Indian”.

And 80 per cent believed that “Respecting other religions was a very important part of their religious identity.”

In the same survey 84 per cent believed that religion played a “very important” role in their lives.

This surely is good news for religious tolerance and the secular polity of the nation amidst reports of growing intolerance and majoritarianism in recent times.