Pseudo-Secularism

Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Appeasing Blunders

by Dina Nath Mishra

Muslim leaders and organisations have from time to time demanded reservation in Government jobs, educational institutions and even in the Army. These demands were no strangers even in the pre-Independence era between 1900 and 1947, with radical Islamist organisations, including the Indian Union Muslim League (1906), the Tablik-e-Jamat (1911), the Jamat-e-ulema-e-hind (1919), the Aligarh Muslim University (1920) and the Jamat-e-Islami (1941) raising them.

The appeasement policy of the Congress nourished these separatist and secessionist traits of Islam, ultimately resulting in the partition and the horrendous bloodbath and exodus of millions of people.

The Communist Party of India had not only supported the fanatic demand for a sovereign Pakistan, but had also at one time advised the Sikhs to join Pakistan on the basis of a pact with the Muslim League. On another occasion, it endorsed an independent Sikh State. In both cases, India's Communists have played a divisive role.

The first notable appeasement was the support to the Khilafat Movement. The Khilafat was none of India's business. It was Turkey's problem. But Mahatma Gandhi supported it for his Hindu-Muslim unity dream. It ultimately resulted in Kerala's Mopla riots of 1921, wherein thousands of Hindus were massacred. Yet Mahatma Gandhi described the Moplas as "brave and god-fearing" people "fighting for their religion". In his book 'Thoughts on Pakistan Dr B R Ambedkar recalled the Mopla riots thus: "The blood-curdling atrocities committed by the Moplas in Malabar against the Hindus, were indescribable. Any person could have said this was too heavy a price for Hindu-Moslim unity. But Mr Gandhi was so much obsessed by the necessity of establishing Hindu-Moslim unity that he was prepared to make light of the doings of the Moplas and the Khilafatists who were congratulating them."

The degree of the Congress' appeasement of extremist Muslims only increased with time. The late Chief Justice of Bombay High Court, M C Chagla a nationalist Muslim who also served as Judge in the International Court of Justice at Hague, has said in his biography 'Roses in December': "One grievance about which I felt deeply, arose from the indifference shown by the Congress and even Mahatma Gandhi to the Muslim nationalists. Jinnah and his communalist following seemed all important. In comparison, we counted for nothing. It was Gandhiji who gave Jinnah the appellation of Quaid-e-Azam - one which Jinnah gratefully and proudly accepted."

Even those who voted for Pakistan and the two-nation theory overwhelmingly remained in India and conveniently transformed into a solid vote-bank of the Congress. The assiduous campaign was led by nothing less than Jawaharlal Nehru's tactic to create the bogey of communalism and protecting them from the RSS and the Jansangh. The correct strategy would have been to change their separatist mindset and inculcate in them the spirit of co-citizenship. Instead all so-called secular parties increasingly used RSS and the Parivar as communal whipping boys decade after decade.

But after Bangladesh was create by truncating Pakistan, the Muslim vote-bank of the Congress' got eroded considerably. The Muslims went for an alternate to the Congress and the BJP wherever they had a choice. For an entire decade now, the Congress has been at a loss figuring out how to regain the Muslim vote-bank. It is in this background that it promised the Muslims reservation in Government jobs and education in Andhra Pradesh during the Assembly elections.

By granting 5 per cent reservation to Muslims, the Congress Government of Andhra has proved that even today the so-called secular parties have learnt nothing from past blunders. Andhra Chief Minister Y S Rajashekhar Reddy knows well that constitutionally reservation cannot be granted on the basis of religion. He, therefore, categorised all Muslims backward, before doling out his reservation.

Many States have included backward Muslim castes for reservation in Government jobs. Andhra too could have done the same. But Reddy wanted to go the whole hog. Competitive appeasement to the Muslims by political parties in this country has done no good to the Muslim masses. Rather it has been disastrous for them as well as for national health.

Ignoring the separatists has become fashionable with our secularist intellectuals and politicians. Today, when India is facing terrorism on a daily basis, it was amazing to see the sympathy generated for the LeT terrorists killed recently in Ahmedabad. The manner in which the 'secular' media projected Ishrat Jahan and 50,000 people gathered for her burial was shocking to say the least. To their great dismay, the LeT website owned her as a martyr. We do not know how many more 'innocent' Ishrat Jahans are rubbing shoulders with anti-national elements.

On July 21, 2004 former Union Minister Arun Shourie wrote an article headlined: 'This is not Mr Advani Speaking'. He quoted from former IB Director and recently appointed Uttar Pradesh Governor T V Rajeshwar's series of articles in the Hindustan Times in early 1996. TVR had written: "There is a distinct danger of another Muslim country, speaking predominantly Bengali, emerging in the eastern part of India in the future, at a time when India might find itself weakened politically and militarily." He has also given the map of the Indian districts neighbouring Bangladesh. But to talk of Bangladeshi infiltrators has become rank communalism, fascism these days.

What is the Indian response to the dangers posed by terrorist networks, Islamic expansionist designs and the rest? Give increased doses of appeasement to the Muslim vote-bank. That is what the Congress is doing right now. For the first time a Muslim league member has been inducted in the Union Cabinet followed by reservations in Andhra. Saner voices of Muslim leaders and intellectuals on reservations in Government jobs are being ignored by the Congress even today just as late Justice Chagla had pointed out.

Courtesy: The Pioneer, Frankly Yours, July 25, 2004

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