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.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Now an Islamic Bank?

To what extent secular absurdity can go is best illustrated by the UPA announcement of setting up Islamic banks in India. Already the Centre has provision for separate welfare schemes for minorities. The madrasa education, though purely religious in nature is being funded by the Union and State governments. It is also well known that these institutions are becoming the recruiting ground for jehadi terrorists in the country.

Reports say that the Finance Minister P. Chidambaram has directed the Reserve Bank of India to study the feasibility of setting up an Islamic bank.

India has a large and yet shrinking banking system. The trend today is to link banking with their profitability. Even the nationalised banks are now becoming increasingly profit conscious. There is no service including simple savings bank account transactions that is not charged. The very idea of bank nationalisation was to take banking to villages and remote areas and help rural, agricultural financing. Now these banks are closing their loss making rural branches, while proliferating them in commercial centres.

This background is necessary to understand the total irrationality of the Finance Minister’s directive. If one is to go by Islamic approach, interest taking and giving is prohibited. Then how can an Islamic banking system exist in a free market economy? And should the government do everything possible not to allow Muslims to integrate with the rest of the society?

There are states like Andhra Pradesh and Kerala which give reservation to Muslims. Minority reservation and privileges in education and jobs is another divisive idea. Promotion of languages on religious lines is yet another move patronised by the Government to foister separateness. Now there are demands for reservation to State Assemblies and the Parliament by Muslim organisations. Thank God! They have not yet demanded separate electoral rolls as was the case before Partition. A few months ago the Human Resources Development Ministry announced 50 per cent reservation of seats in postgraduate and degree level in Aligarh Muslim University over and above the already existing reservation in that University.

It is not clear as to what is preventing Muslims from going to the PSU, private and cooperative banks in the country. Does that mean that Hindus, Christians, Jains, Parsis, Sikhs and Buddhists should also ask for Reserve Bank permission for religion based banking? One also can further expend on caste lines. If this nonsense is allowed what will happen to our financial system and the economy in general?

It is not clear in what way a religion-based bank can enhance the welfare of a particular community other than segregating and ghettoizing it further. If the idea is to facilitate the flow of petro dollar or channelise the hawala money that has already created a parallel economy, such banks can only become a tool for subversive activities.

If the Government is really interested in the upliftment of the Muslims in the country, it should educate the Muslims on the need to integrate themselves with the rest of the society. The community should come out of the shariat constraints and work towards a common civil code, as normal citizens. There is no indication that Muslim saving, investment or enterprise is hampered in the absence of Islamic bank. And financial institutions in the country have a record, which is above caste, religious considerations. In the name of “Vote Bank” politics, the UPA should not destroy this functional autonomy of our financial institutions.

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