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.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Secular press promoting casteism

Author: Narad
Publication: Organiser

Will some Congress notable kindly enlighten the general public as to what exactly is meant by secularism? Is it related strictly to religion? Can one be casteist and still be secular?

The word, unfortunately, has Latin origins. But in the Indian context, anyone who is casteist should automatically be damned to perdition as a communalist. By that reasoning, and looking at the Maharashtrian political scene, all Congressmen must be branded as communal judging by the manner in which Sushil Kumar Shinde has been shunted to Andhra Pradesh. ‘Maratha Lobby Averse to Shinde as Chief Minister’ was the heading to the lead story in the Chandigarh-based The Tribune (October 29).

Practically all newspapers made the distinction between the Maratha lobby and the Dalit lobby. What sort of ‘secularism’ is it when casteism is openly—and brazenly—practised? Do we have perpetually to think in terms of our leaders as belonging to this caste or that? B.G. Kher, the first Chief Minister of Mumbai, was a Brahmin—and the best Chief Minister Mumbai ever had. Morarji Desai, his successor also distinguished himself as a Chief Minister but it never occurred to anyone to paint either of them as Brahmins. Yashwantrao Chavan was an excellent Chief Minister but no one talked of him in terms of his caste. They were Chief Ministers because they were such good administrators.

What has Congress come to? It is just as communal as the parties it so disdainfully dismisses as communal. The hypocrisy of the English media in this connection as in others is to be seen to be believed. Such is the hypocrisy that when the Gujarat government and Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority (GSDMA) bagged the Gold Award of the Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management for ‘Innovation in Governance’, not a single Mumbai paper cared to publish it as a news item. Why? How can Narendra Modi be given any credit for good administration? Never mind if the Commonwealth Association is a world-renowned organisation ‘dedicated’ as Deccan Herald (October 29) put it, “to strengthening public management, consolidating democracy and good governance in Commonwealth countries”.

One can be sure that the organisation went thoroughly into Narendra Modi’s administrative record and into charges that he is fascist, communalist, saffronist, etc. etc. before giving his administration any award. He won. But our English media couldn’t care less. One is reminded of the lines quoted by Jawaharlal Nehru during the time when the Nehru family was being scandalised. ‘When all its work is done’ went the lines, ‘the lie shall rot’. Truth is great and shall prevail when none cares whether it prevails or not. Damn Modi by all means. This is a free country, but give him credit where credit is eminently due.

Now think of this: Months ago The Indian Express made serious charges against Petroleum Minister Ram Naik for allotting petrol pumps mostly—almost exclusively—to his party supporters. Ram Naik was painted in pretty lurid colours as a communalist. During the old Congress regime, Capt. Satish Sharma was charged with corruption, too. Now, according to The Statesman (November 2), “Close friend of the Gandhi family, Capt. Satish Sharma, may get reprieve from corruption cases because the Union Home Ministry has refused to sanction his prosecution.”

How nice! According to The Statesman, “The CBI today petitioned a Delhi court to close 15 cases of irregular allotment of petrol pumps, gas agencies and kerosene dealerships registered against the former Petroleum Minister…..” The Hindu (November 3) pointed out in a report that the cases against him were pending for nearly five years before being turned down. Why were they kept pending? Why didn’t the BJP-led government act against Capt. Sharma? If it had, then it would have been charged with vengefulness. Meanwhile, no less a paper than The Hindu itself has written a strong editorial condemning the reprieve given to Capt. Sharma, saying: “The blame for the state of affairs that led the CBI to seek a Delhi court’s permission to close 15 cases against Capt. Sharma must be laid squarely at the door of the Central Government. It was the Home Ministry’s prejudiced and politically suspect decision of refusing the investigative agency sanction to prosecute the Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament and close friend of the Sonia Gandhi family that has resulted in a situation where justice is in serious danger of being subverted. The Home Ministry’s decision, which was ostensibly taken after consulting the Law Ministry and after ‘considering all factors in totality’ has left the government open to the charge that it is trying to protect Mr Sharma from being tried in a court of law.”

To the best of one’s knowledge, the editor of The Hindu is not a communalist or a saffronist, a point that needs to be stressed these days when virtue has been monopolised by the Congress and Leftist parties, and those that don’t follow their line are dubbed as unworthy citizens fit to be banished from all public life. Incidentally, those who belong to the midnight generation and even older with poor memory may find it very educative to read an article on the Communist Party in all its avatars published in, of all newspapers, Gomantak Times (October 28). The article is written by M.A. Sunderam, a retired bureaucrat. It is a fairly good exposure of the party. Towards the end, Mr Sunderam writes: “The Indian communists have been great at piggy-back riding. They let down my generation of bureaucrats who reposed great faith in them. These bureaucrats had the satisfaction of breaking bread and wine with the ‘so-called progressive Left’. In the twilight of their lives, they have reason to believe that they were let down also. Marxism is not dead but Indian communism is.”

And, then there is the interesting story carried by The Statesman (November 1) about the Ayodhya issue. Says the story: “The BJP-led NDA had a ‘widely acceptable’ solution to Ayodhya but postponed its implementation on the sure bet that an early Lok Sabha poll would bring back the coalition to power... . And the BJP arguably lost the chance to go to voters with an Ayodhya package.” It is an ‘exclusive’ story, a scoop—and so far it has not been denied. Many names have been mentioned as being involved in the negotiations between the government and the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, a majority of whose members “consented to the construction of the proposed Ram temple provided certain conditions were met”.

It is an exciting story and, if true, could lead to the settlement of a problem that has haunted the country for years. What is intriguing is that no other paper has followed The Statesman story according to which “the talks had been so fruitful that the construction (of the Ram temple) could have begun on Ramnavami.”

One can be assured that, if true, our secularists will see to it that no settlement takes place. Our secularists have a stake in keeping the embers of Hindu-Muslim distrust burning. Fancy a nation at peace: What on earth would our secularists have to do if the Ram temple becomes a reality?

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