Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Religion and Development


Minor Research Project

Kabir Krishna
Master of Philosophy (Social Anthropology)
Department of Anthropology
University of Delhi


Currently in the 21st century, there is a more intellectual climate, which is more receptive to an analysis of development within theoretical frameworks and the dynamics of cross-cultural practices, meanings and discourses. New approaches to development and local and global relationships underline the importance of analyzing how knowledge and power are constituted and reconfigured. This has brought out the usual anthropological problem of how to engage with and represent other cultures, whilst trying to understand and move away from its own historical roots in Western rationality and the commitment to 'progress'. (Marcus and Fischer 1986)

The dominant conception from the origins of anthropology as a discipline was the idea of social evolution. Thus the project at the time was to trace the different stages of progression and use the observations of 'savage' and 'barbarian' peoples as evidence that would fill in the earlier stages of what human history had been, thus creating a vision of a kind of human unity. Furthermore it was a device of differentiating and ranking different contemporary society according to their level of evolution, since, "other tribes and nations have been left behind in the race of progress." (Morgan: 1877: vi)

Universally, most people are religious – they believe that there is an invisible world, which is distinct but not separate from the material world, and which is inhabited by spiritual forces with whom they can interact. Rather than religion being a quality that gives meaning to live, as for many in the west, for people in many countries, the spiritual world is integral to the world as they know it.

A religion is a set of beliefs and practices generally organized around supernatural and moral claims, and often codified as prayer, ritual, and religious law. Religion also encompasses ancestral or cultural traditions, writings, history, and mythology, as well as personal faith and mystic experience. The term "religion" refers to both the personal practices related to communal faith and to group rituals and communication stemming from shared conviction.

Religion has been defined in a wide variety of ways. Most definitions attempt to find a balance somewhere between overly sharp definition and meaningless generalities. Some sources have tried to use formalistic, doctrinal definitions while others have emphasized experiential, emotive, intuitive, valuational and ethical factors.

Definitions mostly include:

Ø a notion of the transcendent or numinous, often, but not always, in the form of theism
Ø a cultural or behavioural aspect of ritual, liturgy and organized worship, often involving a priesthood, and societal norms of morality (ethos) and virtue (arete)
Ø a set of myths or sacred truths held in reverence or believed by adherents

Sociologists and anthropologists tend to see religion as an abstract set of ideas, values, or experiences developed as part of a cultural matrix. For example, in Lindbeck's Nature of Doctrine, religion does not refer to belief in "God" or a transcendent Absolute. Instead, Lindbeck defines religion as, "a kind of cultural and/or linguistic framework or medium that shapes the entirety of life and thought… it is similar to an idiom that makes possible the description of realities, the formulation of beliefs, and the experiencing of inner attitudes, feelings, and sentiments.” According to this definition, religion refers to one's primary worldview and how this dictates one's thoughts and actions.

Other religious scholars have put forward a definition of religion that avoids the reductionism of the various sociological and psychological disciplines that reduce religion to its component factors. Religion may be defined as the presence of a belief in the sacred or the holy. For example Rudolf Otto's "The Idea of the Holy," formulated in 1917, defines the essence of religious awareness as awe, a unique blend of fear and fascination before the divine. Friedrich Schleiermacher in the late 18th century defined religion as a "feeling of absolute dependence."

In the frame of European religious thought, religion presents a common quality, the "hallmark of patriarchal religious thought": the division of the world in two comprehensive domains, 'one sacred, the other profane (Durkheim). Religion is often described as a communal system for the coherence of belief focusing on a system of thought, unseen being, person, or object, that is considered to be supernatural, sacred, divine, or of the highest truth. Moral codes, practices, values, institutions, tradition, rituals, and scriptures are often traditionally associated with the core belief, and these may have some overlap with concepts in secular philosophy. Religion is also often described as a "way of life".

The development of religion has taken many forms in various cultures. "Organized religion" generally refers to an organization of people supporting the exercise of some religion with a prescribed set of beliefs, often taking the form of a legal entity. Other religions believe in personal revelation. "Religion" is sometimes used interchangeably with "faith" or "belief system,” but is more socially defined than that of personal convictions.

Anthropology and Development

Early anthropologists were engaged in debating two major sets of theoretical issues which bore directly on the practical application of anthropological knowledge. The first of these was the notion of change itself. Within anthropology, social change was initially debated between diffusionists - who saw change as gradually spreading across cultures from a common point, and evolutionists - whose ideas rested on the assumption that all societies, if left alone, would evolve through broadly similar stages. In time the diffusionist arguments, which recognised that cultures interact with each other and are thereby altered, gradually replaced those of the evolutionists. With the growth of functionalism, anthropology began to concern itself more with the means through which societies maintained themselves than with the ways in which they changed.
The tendency to study societies as if they were static remained strong in the period up to the Second World War, but was challenged by anthropologists interested in what was termed 'culture contact' in the colonial territories. Communities and explanations of social and political change were sought and somewhat explained. Increasingly, change came to be seen as inseperable from society itself, and the realisation and acceptance of this by anthropologists and development. The second obstacle which stood in the way of developing applied anthropology was the issue of cultural relativism, which raised the problem of the ethics of intervention by anthropologists in the communities in which they work - one which has not been resolved and is still debated today.
'Development' projects were seen as the answer to the crisis of colonial empires. France and Britain had strong doctrines of colonial self-sufficiency, in the name of which long-term initiatives to improve the colonial infrastructure were repeatedly rejected. However, the concept of development became a framing device bringing together a range of interventionist policies and metropolitan finance with the explicit goal of bringing forward, and modernising the colonies, and essentially 'development' became apart of the colonial project. The development framework was an effort to reinvigorate and relegitimise empire as it was being challenged by nationalist movements, labour militancy, and increased questioning of colonial rule. In the end, the colonial development effort had a different effect. It provided a means by which imperial powers could reconcile themselves to their loss of power, while maintaining a connection with their ex-colonies and a continued sense of their mission in shaping their future. The de-colonisation period, changed the world order toward different nation states, beyond its previous diverse sorts of political entities. Furthermore, it brought former colonies into relationship with the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and numerous multilateral organisations, which took development out of the colonial realm and made it a basic part of international politics and the internationalisation and politicisation of development.
This created a large demand for new kinds of knowledge from specialist to the scientific, and created a demand for training more relevant to the conditions of poor societies in the tropics, where anthropologists led the way. Further, it created a market amongst the newly emerging nation states to accept the advice and scientific 'expertise' in the name of development as it brought financial investment under the banner of development aid. This modernist disposition inspired a narrative concerning the way to achieve rapid economic development in Third World countries, which relates back to the social evolutionary theories of the late 19th century in anthropology which were revived in some forms during the post-war optimism, despite the strong cultural relativist debate, which saw the evolutionism theory as empirically flawed and ethnocentric.

Anthropology of Religion

The anthropology of religion involves the study of religious institutions in relation to other social institutions, and the comparison of religious beliefs and practices across cultures. In the 19th century, cultural anthropology was dominated by an interest in cultural evolution; most anthropologists assumed that there was a simple distinction between “primitive” and “modern” religion and tried to provide accounts of how the former evolved into the latter. In the 20th century most anthropologists rejected this approach. Today the anthropology of religion reflects the influence of, or an engagement with, such theorists as Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Émile Durkheim, and Max Weber. They are especially concerned with how religious beliefs and practices may reflect political or economic forces; or the social functions of religious beliefs and practices.

Anthropological approaches to religion reflect a more general tension within anthropology: the discipline defines itself as a science in that all anthropologists base their interpretations and explanations on empirical evidence (and many anthropologists are concerned with developing universal models of human behavior), and the discipline also defines itself in terms of the seriousness with which it takes local beliefs and practices, and its commitment to understanding different cultures in their own terms through participant observation. Thus, although many Westerners (including some anthropologists) have rejected “religion” out of hand as being unscientific, virtually all anthropologists assume that there must be good reasons for the endurance and importance of religion and, by implication, assume that religious beliefs and practices are in some sense “reasonable.” According to Swatos William, "It has never been difficult to make a case for the significance of religion in human life. Religion has been found in all societies studied by anthropologists." In order to determine the reasons for the importance of religion, however, anthropologists

generally move beyond the literal claims of any religion to look at its metaphorical meaning or latent social functions.

One major problem in the anthropology of religion is the definition of religion itself. At one time anthropologists believed that certain religious practices and beliefs were more or less universal to all cultures at some point in their development, such as a belief in spirits or ghosts, the use of magic as a means of controlling the supernatural, the use of divination as a means of discovering occult knowledge, and the performance of rituals such as prayer and sacrifice as a means of influencing the outcome of various events through a supernatural agency, sometimes taking the form of shamanism or ancestor worship. According to Clifford Geertz, religion is a system of symbols, beliefs, and patterns of behaviors by which human beings control that which is beyond their control. Today, anthropologists debate, and many reject, the cross-cultural validity of these categories (often viewing them as examples of European primitivism). Anthropologists have considered various criteria for defining religion – such as a belief in the supernatural or the reliance on ritual – but few claim that these criteria are universally valid.

In Western culture, religion has become more or less synonymous with monotheism and the various moral codes that monotheism prescribes. Moral codes have also evolved in conjunction with Hindu and Buddhist beliefs, independent of monotheism. However, prescriptive moral codes or even normative ethical codes are not a necessary component of religious beliefs or practices any more than they are a necessary component of science and the scientific method.

Anthony F.C. Wallace proposed four categories of religion, each subsequent category subsuming the previous. These were, however, synthetic categories and did not necessarily encompass all religions.

1. Individualistic: most basic; simplest. Example: vision quest.
2. Shamanistic: part-time religious practitioner, uses religion to heal, to divine, usually on the behalf of a client. The Tillamook have four categories of shaman. Examples of shamans: spiritualists, faith healers, palm readers. One who has acquired religious authority through one's own means.
3. Communal: elaborate set of beliefs and practices; group of people arranged in clans by lineage, age group, or some religious societies; people take on roles based on knowledge.
4. Ecclesiastical: Most complex. Incorporates elements of the previous three.

The role of Religion in Development

All of these initiatives can be understood as part of a wider shift away from a narrowly economic paradigm of development. The concept of human development is now widely accepted. Human development, according to the United Nations Development Programme, ‘is about creating an environment in which people can develop their full potential and lead productive, creative lives in accord with their needs and interests’ (UNDP website). It thus refers to people’s resources beyond any purely material and technocratic aspect. Most policymakers today accept that sustainable development can be achieved only if people build on their own resources. Logically, these assets should be considered to include not only intellectual and social resources, but also spiritual ones, if and when these are available

Moreover, it has become common in development cooperation to emphasise the importance of true partnerships in fostering a cooperation whose binding forces are said to be ‘solidarity and mutual respect’ (Commission for Africa, 2005: 89). If this is indeed so, it implies taking seriously people’s world-views and considering their potential for the development process as a whole. There are in any case eminently practical reasons for including religion within a broad concept of development, since religion provides a powerful motivation for many people to act in the ways they do. It equips many of the world’s people with the moral guidance and the will to improve their lives. Whether one regards religious belief as itself ‘true’ or ‘untrue’ is hardly the point here.

Religion and Development

A major obstacle in investigating the role of religion in development is a widespread misunderstanding about what religion actually is (Ellis and Ter Haar, 2004: ch. 1). For most people in the world, ‘religion’ refers to a belief in the existence of an invisible world, distinct but not separate from the visible one, which is home to spiritual beings that are deemed to have effective powers over the material world (Ellis and Ter Haar, 2004: 14). For people who hold this point of view, the invisible world is an integral part of the world, which can not be reduced to its visible or material form only. For them, the material world is linked to the spirit world, through the human spirit that is believed to be inherent in every person; hence, a regular traffic is believed to take place between the human and the spirit worlds. In such a holistic perception of the world, it follows that people’s social relations extend into the invisible sphere. In the same way as they try and maintain good relations with their relatives, neighbours and friends for their own benefit, individuals and communities invest in their relations with spiritual entities so as to enhance the quality of their lives. Thus, people all over the world enter into various forms of active communication with a spirit world in such a way as to derive information or other resources from it with a view to furthering their material welfare or interests.

Religion and its relation with Development

Sabina Alkire says that “Religion is no panacea, but aspects of it can complement as well as motivate development. It can also obstruct or undermine. The avenues by which religion influences development activities in different faiths and regions are haunting in their complexity. The literature is likewise rich and varied. Religious people and institutions may be agents of advocacy, funding, innovation, empowerment, social movements, and service delivery. Equally, religious people and institutions can incite violence, model hierarchy, oppose empowerment (women should stay at home); deflect advocacy (we care about the next life); absorb funding (build a new worship hall); and cast aspersions on service delivery (they are trying to convert you). A further complication: the gusto of development experts who resonate with religion is enthusiastically matched by the repugnance of those who revile it. To scan busy contemporary intersections between religion and development is to neglect the long and varied historical associations and literatures.”

A number of references can be easily pointed out on this matter. As Amartya Sen pointed out, Ashoka, a convert to Buddhism in the 3rd century B.C., explicitly championed religious tolerance – as indeed did Moghul Emperor Akbar in a muslim state nearly two millennium later (while the Christian Inquisition was in full swing) (Sen 1999: 236, Smith. 1964). Bartolomé de las Casas, a 15/16th century Dominican friar and Spanish missionary to Latin America, wrote in defense of indigenous persons’ rights to self determination. Abdullahi An-Naim reminded that Gandhi’s ‘secular’ India intended to draw upon and incorporate spiritual insights rather than sideline them (Anheier et al 2002: 59-61). The point is that religion and development have often been intimately interwoven most of the times.

Gerrie ter Haar, Professor of Religion, Human Rights and Social Change, Institute of Social Studies says that there is a need to maximise the resources available for development. We call on people’s financial, material and intellectual resources to achieve development objectives – why not also call upon their religious resources which are, she suggested, an integral part of their human resources? These religious resources include ideas (the content of belief), practices (essentially ritual behaviour), social organisation (religious communities) and religious experiences. All, she suggests, produce knowledge that can be beneficial in development. For example, religious ideas can be used to affirm desired behaviour or can seed new behaviour. Ritual, especially ritual associated with rites of passage, can provide opportunities for changing or reinforcing beliefs and behaviour. Thirdly, religious experience is often an affirmative and potentially life-changing source of inspiration for the marginalised, for example, through the experience of being ‘born again’.

Faith-based organizations

Moving to more practical matters, local, national, and international faith-based organizations (FBOs – Faith Based Organisations organizations whose motivation or funding sources derive partly from their faith) are, in some areas, significant purveyors of education, service delivery and other non-market goods. They may also introduce cultural values. Islamic Relief, Catholic Relief Services, the Aga Khan Development Network and others deliver significant resources. The Christian evangelical development agency World Vision, with a 2003 cash budget of $819 million, and an effective budget of $1.25 billion due to inkind contributions, is among the largest and more studied of such international NGOs (World Vision 2003.). The economic views of these organizations are quite varied. For some the provision of social services by such private organizations is consistent with neo-liberal agendas that would prefer to see the state shrink; other Faith Based Organisations’ pose structural challenges and demand greater political responsiveness to social ills. By far the greatest number of Faith Based Organisations’ are local or national. One famous example is the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement in Sri Lanka, founded by A. T. Ariyaratne in the 1950s, which awakened members to their inner person, and urged them then to change outer structures by common activities such as volunteer work camps – with the famous slogan “We build the road and the road builds us” (Lean 1999, Chapter 3).

In some cases religious institutions also deliver services directly; for example religious schools may be subsidized and run directly by churches or monasteries/convents. Some government programs are also faith-based – for the separation of religion and state that is apparent in most industrialized countries is not found in many developing countries (Barro and McClearly 2004). The prevalence of Faith Based Organisations’ has led to their scrutiny by development institutions but the literature is widely dispersed. Most are case studies with respect to a particular sector or region or organization (Marshall and Keough, 2004, Development 2003; World Development 8:4 1980). Some are country-wide – such as World Bank findings that for the poor “in Benin, church-affiliated organizations represent the most prominent and effective protection network” (Kliksberg 2003:58.) or that in Malawi “in the mid-1970s, it is claimed that the annual budget of a prominent ecumenical organisation, the Christian Service Committee of the Churches of Malawi, was 1.5 times the size of the entire government allocation for development.” (Arnold Mhango, Executive Director Christian Service Committee of the Churches of Malawi, WFDD workshop Canterbury, 24 February 2003). The World Bank’s World Development Report 2004: Making Services work for the poor refers frequently to religious schools and organizations as existing delivery mechanisms for essential services.

Religion and Organisation

To date, ter Haar suggests, the main religious resources that have been used in development have been its organisational structures. However, these, she believes, represent less than the potential presented by the full range of religious resources. Religion, she asserted, provides people with spiritual power, which gives them control over and the potential for transforming their lives, thereby addressing development problems. For example, she suggested that Christian ideas suggest not only that a materially better world is part of human destiny, and so development goals may be seen as embodying Christian ideas of the Kingdom of God on earth, but also that people are not just material beings. However, in practice, as noted by Denis Goulet as long ago as 1980, ‘development experts’ can be likened to ‘one-eyed giants’ who act as if people are purely material beings. The development project has been based on a false dichotomy between spiritually-driven and materially-driven development.

Carole Rakodi, has outlined some of the dilemmas faced when researching in a neglected and sensitive area like religions and development. She suggests that the relationships between development theory and practice and religion have been neglected because religion has been seen as irrelevant, especially by development economics, or as an obstacle (by modernisation theory and because of religious conflicts, especially in S Asia, that led to supposedly secular constitutional settlements at independence). Belief in economic development planning, the need to forge national unity and deliver on the promises of independence under-wrote a state-centred approach to social and economic development that was reinforced by secular international financial institutions and bilateral development agencies.

Nevertheless, she says that it is important to study religions and development because religion is a key dimension of many people’s lives and influences their actions; religious organisations are significant in many societies; religion and politics are linked in controversial ways; the role of religion in public life is being radically reassessed; conventional approaches to development and poverty reduction have generally ignored the role of religion in human lives and societies; and relationships between development actors and religious organisations are poorly understood.

She suggests some points. Accordind to her, first, we have to develop understandings of ‘development’ and ‘religion’. Early conceptualisations of development regarded it as progressive change, in terms of either material prosperity or social modernisation. Critics, however, regarded both these models as imperialistic. In reaction, approaches such as the capability approach, emphasised empowerment: societies, it is advocated, should identify the capabilities (the opportunities people have to achieve a certain kind of life) that are central, given people’s value framework; and governments’ role is to ensure that people have these opportunities (i.e. the freedom to choose). Religion is clearly relevant to this approach: it is linked to values (for example, the unique value of each individual, social justice, personal salvation, the sacredness of the material world) and it may also influence opportunities, by providing a basis for positive or negative discrimination, a means for accessing or being excluded from power, and through the nature and functions of religious organisation.

A broad distinction can be drawn between ‘substantive’ and ‘functional’ definitions of religion. Religion has certain attributes that distinguish it from other social phenomena, including belief in a transcendental reality and/or (a) spiritual being(s), religiosity (marked by beliefs and practices) and adherence to or membership of a religious organisation. It also plays a role in the construction of people’s worldviews and the maintenance of social cohesion. It provides meaning and order, which are revealed and transmitted through symbols and ritual, and interplay with class/caste, gender and ethnicity to influence beliefs and behaviour – a sense of personhood, social relationships and socio-political organisation.

Research into both religion and development, however, poses dilemmas for interdisciplinary researchers. The researcher has to find ways of
• recognising and dealing with the different views about the nature of knowledge held by adherents of different religious and practitioners of different disciplines
• studying religions and development without either simplifying complex and contested concepts or essentialising religion as the main source of people’s identity and motivation
• understanding complex relationships, for example, those between religion and culture; or religion and subjective/objective well-being.
• dealing with the complexity of comparisons between and within the six faith traditions we are studying, and between and within four countries, and clarifying the nature of conclusions that can be drawn from such comparative international research.

Vision of Development

Visions of development from faith perspectives may differ significantly from economic development. As Goulet wrote, to religious groups, development experts may seem like “one-eyed giants” who “analyze, prescribe and act as if man could live by bread alone, as if human destiny could be stripped to its material dimensions alone.” (Goulet 1980). For example, Seyyed Hussein Nasr’s writings critically evaluate modernization and development with respect to the extent to which it distracts Muslims from their true nature, or enables them to live out their true purposes better (Nasr 1975). The Roman Catholic social teachings, and in particular those since Populorum Progressio, articulate a faith-based view of development in which the contributions of spiritual disciplines and of ethical action to a person’s “vocation to human fulfillment” are addressed alongside contributions made by markets, public policy, and poverty reduction (Populorum Progressio 1967).

Born-again and Pentecostal forms of Christianity, which are also on the ascendant, hold yet other visions of development, which tend to emphasize the protection and promotion of the virtuous individual and family through behaviors of sobriety, industry, and self-discipline. Pentecostal leaders tend to be dismissive about the state’s ability to introduce meaningful change and often advocate liberation through microenterprise or penny capitalism. They contrast religious visions with ‘the world’ (with its wasteful demands or spiritually suspect traditions). They would also stress individual responsibility and decision-making based on religious principles, even if these upset traditional obligations to family and community (Meyers 2004).

Religion vs Development

Religion may become a practical problem when religious leaders or institutions obstruct development or view it as a threat because it promotes western liberal secular culture and human rights, or when religious rhetoric is a veneer for other motives. Classic issues of value conflict surround family planning methods such as contraception and abortion, HIV/AIDS prevention and implicit messages related to sexual morality and women’s empowerment; other issues might relate to secularism, sacred sites, dress, or tolerance of outside groups. In development such values and practices may be addressed under the label of ‘culture’. Organizations such as UNFPA have actively cultivated respectful modes of cooperation with faith leaders and international religious institutions. Cooperation with donor countries must also navigate religious values. For example, at the time of writing the popularity of the ABC (Abstinence, Being Faithful, Condoms) approach to HIV/AIDS prevention was threatening US funding for condoms (Green 2003).

Given that patriarchy is engrained in the cultural forms of many world religions, a separate literature has developed on women and religion. Many topics may relate not to development itself but rather to sexuality, prayer, family life, or violence. However an active interface occurs between religious groups and ‘gender and development’ agendas such as women’s empowerment, reproductive health, education, or personal security.

This interface is expressed in meetings as well as literature that draws attention to oppressive or theologically disputable practices towards women, and also to devout women in positions of leadership (Balchin 2003, Howland 2001, Ahmed various).

Religious forces in Civil Society

Another literature addresses religion as a critical factor in civil society support for development priorities. The Global Civil Society Report 2004/5 argues that “There is no way we can understand the logic, strategies and dynamics of civil society anywhere in the
Third World unless we bring the transcendental dimension back into our analysis.

Religious devotion is a fundamental motive for many social movements in the South, from Latin America to Africa and South Asia. Political and social movements and advocacy campaigns have often drawn upon religious motivations and the support of religious leaders. The churches’ mobilization in support of the anti-apartheid campaign and the Jubilee campaign for debt forgiveness was arguably central to their political visibility. And in Latin America, churches mobilized in support of literacy (Archer and Costello 1990). Insofar as political parties set development agendas that can be exclusive or equity-enhancing, the religious influence on political movements is also important. In India, the rise of Hindu nationalism has been linked to the televised Hindu epic series Ramayana (Rajagopal 2001). Religious regimes and parties, whether in Bhutan or Iran or Arab States or Pakistan or Latin America or Europe, may influence development priorities to some extent. The international MDG campaigns are actively collaborating with faith groups to mobilize the faithful for advocacy and non-violent symbolic actions.

Religious extremism
However benevolent and indeed inspiring some religious expressions may be, development is regularly obstructed by conflict and violence – some of which is also caused by religious groups (or groups with a religious veneer). An enormous literature has emerged, and gained further momentum after Sept 11th, on religious contributions to conflict and violence. Whether in Sri Lanka or Central Asia and Chechnya, the Middle East or Gujarat, or Bosnia or Southern Africa, armed groups have claimed religious support for their endeavours. Given that conflict both causes and exacerbates poverty, and interrupts development, careful attention needs to be paid to the possible negative consequences of cooperation with religious groups.

Religion is a social and political reality which instills the motivation to act, provides the inspiration to change lives for the better, and is associated with religious networks which are also used for social, economic and political purposes.

To conclude, in India, this problem, combined with the democracy, has become an avalanche waiting to occur. As the people form ‘Vote Banks’, the appeasement policy of the State and Central Governments has acted as a shot in the arms of the people and every act and policy of development, if related to a religion, is obstructed by the people of that religion. Though the number of the people may be less, but in no way is their bullish nature is hindered. This is not a path to take if one wants a developed India. These people who take the flag of religion and wave it as if they are the only one who want to ‘protect’ it should be punished with an iron fist. The polio cases in Uttar Pradesh and the Seva Samudram project to make the traveling of the ships possible between India and Sri Lanka are two cases that point to religious fanaticism.

But to see the silver lining, which does exist, a lot of development has been done for the people through and by Religion. There can be no doubt in our mind that motivation that is provided to the development work through religion is outstanding. The world is changing, and alongside, the rate of development of India is in no way slow. On the contrary, if is faster than a number of countries. The backbone of India is religion and the relationship between development and religion has helped the process of development to move faster and faster.


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