Pakistan and India gained their independence in 1947 from British rule on August 14 and 15 respectively. Pakistan was unfortunate to have been deprived of its founding fathers at an early stage, resulting in democracy getting derailed by spates of military take-overs. A democratic system of government did get restored last year but is struggling to survive because of non-democratic norms having been ingrained in the structure which can be purged only with a Herculean effort. India on the other hand, was fortunate to have its naissance leadership ruling the country for extended periods, providing it a modicum of continuity. Never having been ruled by the army, India has been generally hailed as a paragon of democracy. The truth however can be found in an observation by John Kenneth Galbraith the distinguished economist and former US ambassador to India, who described the country as "functioning anarchy." Another relevant quote is from former BBC South Asia correspondent and Indophile, Mark Tully and his colleague Gillian Wright's book, India in Slow Motion: "Unfortunately, when India got independence it started with British style of colonial administration where bureaucrats and other public officials treat people as if they are governing them rather then serving them." The erudite scholars add: "Another aspect of this non-governance is the ongoing culture of the mai-baap sarkar where only self-servers and lackeys survive." However, the real blow to Indian democracy comes from its obsession with Hindutva, which is a nationalist ideology, based on a modern day version of centralised intolerant Hinduism. It has nothing to do with the historical tradition of spiritual practices in Hinduism. This centralised and chauvinistic Hinduism - Hindutva - has been brought to the forefront today by a group of political organisations called the Sangh Parivar (Sangh Family) - consisting of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteers Association - the mother organisation after which the label Sangh Parivar is coined), the Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian People Party - Hindutva's constitutional front that fights elections etc), the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP - World Hindu Council - the formation's activist front), the Shiv Sena (the fascist front), the VHP of America (Hindutva's overseas arm) and the Hindu Students Councils (VHP of America's student wing). India is a multi-religious, multi-lingual and multi-cultural nation. Yet it has no state religion. According to the Constitution of India it is a Secular State and every religion has equal status. The constitution guarantees freedom of religion to all persons and prospects the cultural rights of all its citizens and specially the minorities. The Preamble to the Constitution of India (as given in Mathew's book Freedom of Religion and a 'Debate' on religious Conversion pv) reads: "We the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic and to secure to all its citizens: JUSTICE, social, economic and political; LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation; in our constituent assembly this twenty-sixth day of November 1949, do hereby adopt, enact and give to ourselves this constitution." The readers can themselves decide the extent to which Sangh Parivar is violating the constitution and is trying to deprive its citizens of its fundamental rights by destroying the basic features of the constitution and secular ideology and its pluralistic vision. The true concept of freedom and democracy is that our freedom does not impinge upon the rights of others while we continue to respect other people's freedom. India has not lived up to this promise either. Directly after getting its own independence, it unlawfully occupied Kashmir, Hyderabad, Junagadh, Goa and Sikkim, while in 1971 it invaded East Pakistan under the pretext of helping the Bengalis create their own homeland Bangladesh. India has downtrodden its own minorities, reducing them to rubble. According to Wikipedia, India is itself beset with 21 serious separatist movements. The atrocities against minorities and subjugation of its lower caste and non-Hindus would shame the worst perpetrators of crimes against humanity. Yet India continues to masquerade as a champion of democracy. Besides harassing its own people, India has made its policy to practice state terrorism against all its neighbours. It has tried to foment trouble in China, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives and even Bangladesh, whose independence it had itself engineered. In Pakistan, it has reportedly been found responsible for training, equipping, arming and launching bands of terrorists in Balochistan, FATA and Swat. Despite the fact that India does not share a common border with western Pakistan, yet it is clandestinely using its Consulates and Trade Missions in Afghanistan, strategically located all along the Durand Line, which are purportedly teeming with RAW operatives to destabilise Pakistan. If this is the kind of secularism and democracy it is practising, it needs to be hauled up in the international courts of justice. Pakistan too needs to exercise restraint. Many Pakistanis have become intolerant towards their fellow countrymen. Either they are critical of their faith or try to force their own brand of radicalism; be it enlightened moderation at one extreme or fanatic orthodoxy at the other. We have become so intolerant that we are ready to torch property and kill and maim others at the drop of a hat. Pakistan was not created to usurp the rights of others but to live and let live in an atmosphere of peace and harmony. The freedom, which Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and his compatriots worked tirelessly to bestow upon us, needs to be guarded with zeal, vigour and hard work. It should not be sacrificed at the altar of bigotry, hate and intolerance. If we lose it now, would another Quaid-i-Azam come to our rescue to restore our independence? I doubt it. The writer is a political and defence analyst