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Nationalisation of Religious Minoritism – An Affront to Secular democratic principles of the country

Paper No. 5941                                 Dated 27-May-2015

By R. Upadhyay

On May 7, the Jamiat-Ulema-e-Hind General Secretary Malana Memood Madni urged Darool Uloom Deoband “to issue a fatwa on how to defend Islam in the wake of increasing campaigns against minorities during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's rule”.

Two days later by coincidence or otherwise at the G. K. Reddy Memorial Award function to confer this award to late Vinod Mehta, Congress President Sonia Gandhi in an apparent reference to the present NDA Government said, “Minorities are feeling increasingly insecure”.

Although, the Muslims of the Indian sub-continent “created Pakistan as a successor state to the Mogul Empire” “out of fear of the future and pride in the past”, some of those who stayed back in India after partition continued to suffer from the same fear and pride of the future and past and are still not satisfied with the constitutional space provided to them in the name of minority. Unfortunately, a coalition of the ‘secular’, caste-ist and the Muslim priestly class instead of creating a sense of nationalism in the minority are creating the same fear of the future and pride in the past amongst the minority community. This is not out of sympathy for the community, but to continue to use them as an “electoral bank.”

M.J.Akbar in his book ‘Tinderbox –The Past and Future of Pakistan, rightly asked a question – “Was Islam so weak that it could not survive as a minority presence? The question is still valid for Maulana Mehmood Madni who urged Deoband to issue a fatwa as mentioned earlier.

It seems the Maulana as a loyal ideological follower of Shah Waliullah still believes that the Muslim minority will continue to remain insecure without the political power in the hands of his co-religionists.

Despite the provision of equal rights with extra preferential treatment to the religious minorities in Independent India, the repeated allegation of Muslim leaders that they are feeling insecure in nothing but a political ploy. In fact, for the first time t in the last elections the twenty percent of Muslim electoral group that used to be swinging between the Congress and Communists at national level and casteist parties at regional level for bargaining communal demands in lieu of votes – failed in their tactical calculation.

After losing their electoral block voting, they seem to have woken up to the insecurity of the minority community. In this some of the statements of the majority community from the ruling party have not been helpful either.

Supporting the concerted hard-line Islamist propaganda to create a communal discord on alleged discrimination against the minority, ‘secularists’ in India have nationalised the concept of minoritism at the cost of transforming the Muslim society into a communal minority which is something unbelievable in a secular democracy. Nationalisation of minoritism is not only an insult to secular and majoritarian democracy but also an organised attack on religious majority either directly or indirectly. Their organised cry on the issues like Ghar Wapasi and love jihad which is creating a negative image of India is a point to support it.

Contrary to the basic principle of democracy that is the right to equality irrespective of religion, the religious majority had always been ignored at the cost of minority rights. Successive political leadership of India after Independence avoided enforcement of affirmative action for Muslims in the sphere of Uniform Civil Code while prohibiting the rights of religious autonomy to the religious majority group. This has threatened the principle of national integration.

Ironically, even after the end of the Islamic and British rule, the Muslim leaders as a determined, assertive, and astute religious minority steadily moved away from the expected vision of one nation and remained fully alive to their long-term religio-political objectives of reviving the lost Muslim rule. However, the clueless and short-sighted post-colonial political class ignored this historical tyranny, incorporated special privileges to the religious minority in Indian Constitution and even supported the ever-escalating imaginary grievances of the Muslims without any corresponding demand from them. Even our civil society remained silent on this violation of the human right of religious majority.

Surprisingly, despite the observation of some of the tallest leaders of our freedom movement like Nehru, Sardar Patel, Maulana Azad, Tajamul Hussain and many other Congress leaders against the issue of minoritism during Constituent Assembly debate, the religious minorities were constitutionally protected as a privileged socio-religious group in a secular and democratic India. The community had however overlooked the saner expectation of the Constitution makers that minorities will gradually become an integral part of national mainstream.

One fails to understand that how the present chief of the Congress party could join the chorus that Minority are feeling insecure knowingly that some of the Muslim leaders are using the constitutional provisions to the religious minorities as a lethal weapon to fight for their politico-religious objective ? Why should our political class succumb to the politics of “minoritism”?

Fortunately, the religious majority never demanded any preferential treatment because of their majority status but such treatment to the Muslims in the name of minority through an ever-expanding list of Government Programmes and Institutions like National Integration Council (1962) under Ministry of Home Affairs, the National Commission for Minorities set up under the Commission of Minorities Act, 1992, Union Ministry of Minority Affairs (established 2006), Haj Committee under Ministry of External Affairs and various other preference and privileges are only widening the chasm and mistrust between the two communities.

It is surprising that despite the above mentioned programmes of the government if the religious minorities are feeling insecure it is better that they should accept the advice of Tajamul Hussain in Constituent Assembly debate to “remove the term minority from your dictionary. There is no minority in India …. .”. “We want to merge in the nation”. (Constituent Assembly Debate VOL. 8, Page 333).

The former Chief Justice of India, M.H.Beg who as head of the Minorities Commission in his very first report forcefully recommended that “the Minorities Commission should be replaced with or merged into a National Integration-cum-Human Rights Commission”. In fact continuance of National and State Minority Commissions have only generated feelings of multi-nationalism in various sections of people of this country.

The BJP in its manifesto for 1998 General Election had promised to wind up the National Minority Commission and integrate it with the National Human Rights Commission. However, even though BJP formed a coalition government, it failed to fulfil its promise as it was not included in the Common Minimum Programme of the NDA. But now the party is having majority, it is high time that this divisive Commission is winded up. Since all the citizens of the country are constitutionally equal there should not be any discrimination between Minority and Majority. In a multi-religion, multi-ethnic and caste-ridden Indian society the concept of minoritism has generated the feeling of multi-nationalism which is against the concept of integrated nationalism.

In view of the growing threat of radical Islam all over the world the political statements of ‘secularists’ on minoritism just to garner Muslim votes is only widening the communal divide in the country.

The need of the hour is to understand that in a county of over 1.25 billion population, people are aware of such politics which is based on the historical communal confrontation between the two religious majority communities. But instead of saving the country from the fall out of historical wrongs, the pretenders of secularism often create confusion among the traditionally tolerant, secular and non-violent people only for their self-seeking political interests. They forget that such statements are only justifying that religious minorities in India are under the fear of dominant religious majority which is not correct.

The political parties should stop indulging in encouraging a divide between the majority and the minority communities.

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