Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement at a Church function on Tuesday calling for religious tolerance and freedom underline a course correction brought about by a series of events in the past three months.
Mr. Modi had been remaining silent despite the demand from Christian leaders that he speak out against conversions and attacks on Church institutions.
“There had been a sustained signature campaign by a U.S.-based group of Indians to apprise President Barack Obama of the attacks and strong public opinion that found expression in national and international media asking for Mr. Modi to break his silence,” said a Christian leader who was among those who met the Prime Minister and urged him to make a statement.
Mr. Obama’s remarks in New Delhi on January 27 and at the National Prayer Breakfast shortly after his return to the U.S. could have led to the change in stance, experts said.
The Delhi election results, which saw the Aam Aadmi Party trump the Bharatiya Janata Party, made Mr. Modi break his silence.
“The rejection in Delhi has given the BJP a big jolt, leading to a course correction and a perception management exercise,” Balveer Arora, political scientist, said.
Pushing to bring down pollution levels, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched India's first national air quality index on Monday.
"We have given a perception to rest of the world as if we are not bothered about climate and environment. The world is tackling with the challenge of Global Warming, but they still haven't been able to find a way. No one can question India's sensitivity towards nature protection," he said.
Modi also asked Indians to practice conservation of energy. "We all should pledge that once a week we will not use any kind of products that use any kind of energy. We must think of developing ways in our Lifestyle with which energy can be conserved," he said.
However, the availability of this index is unlikely to make any immediate impact on improving the air quality. According to sources in the Central Pollution Control Board, there is no plan to take any action even if pollution levels remain severely high.
During a meeting with leaders of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) last week, the Union culture and human resource development ministers pledged to launch a countrywide movement to rid the nation of " sanskritik pradushan (cultural pollution)", it has emerged now.
"We will cleanse every area of public discourse that has been westernised and where Indian culture and civilisation need to be restored - be it the history we read or our cultural heritage or our institutes that have been polluted over years," Union culture minister Mahesh Sharma said.
The culture and HRD ministries will prepare independent roadmaps for the proposed culture "cleansing" exercise which will touch school curricula, art and cinema, science and technology and libraries, sources said.
"We have 39 institutions under the culture ministry, including grand museums and the National School of Drama, but we have not been up to the mark in presenting our Indian cultural heritage in a right way," said Sharma. "We will totally revamp all these institutions after a detailed roadmap is prepared."
It is a matter of embarrassment when an Indian student goes abroad and is asked to recite a Sanskrit couplet but fails to do so, Sharma said. "It is because we do not take pride in our ancient language and it has not been part of our learning. So, is not a change required there? We have to change the mindset of people."
Sources present at the meeting said it was decided that all RSS wings would ensure greater integration to make "key changes" in culture and education.