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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Meddling With Nationhood

By Swapan Dasgupta


The extent to which the discourse on the vexed issue of reservations has changed over the years is quite remarkable. When the Constitution was being framed, the remnants of the Muslim League argued that independent India should persist with the reservation of seats in legislatures for Muslims and other religious minorities. Predictably, in the aftermath of a Partition that many attributed to the system of separate electorates and the notorious Communal Award, the demand drew a sharp response from the Congress benches.
Intervening in the debate on August 28, 1947, the then home minister Sardar Patel had some harsh words for the proponents of minority reservation: "I once more appeal to you to forget the past…You have got what you wanted. You have got a separate state and, remember, you are the people who were responsible for it, and not those who remain in Pakistan…What is it that you want now? In the majority Hindu provinces you, the minorities, you led the agitation…Now again you tell me and ask me to say for the purpose of securing the affection of the younger brother I must agree to the same thing again, to divide the country again in the divided part. For God's sake understand that we have also got some sense..."
Had a politician of standing delivered a similar speech today, it is certain that the liberal media and the assembled army of secularists would have construed it as a textbook example of ahate speech. Over the years, thanks to changing political fashion, the sharpness of political discourse which was a feature of the national movement, has been blunted and replaced by squeamish angst. This is particularly evident in the debate over the proposal of the Congress to introduce a 4.5% quota-to be raised to 9% if the party wins Uttar Pradesh-for religious minorities in government jobs and higher education.
In line with the recommendations of the Rajinder Sachar committee report, the issue has been presented as an aspect of India's quest for social justice. Since many Muslim communities are understood to be even worse placed than dalits in their socio-economic status, the imperatives of social justice, it is argued, demand they be given a helping hand to help them enjoy the full benefits of citizenship. If the politically consequential Other Backward Classes can enjoy the benefits of reservations, or so the argument goes, it is against natural justice to deny similar benefits to people just because they follow a different faith.
It is a compelling argument and one which has moved the liberal elite. Against this is the letter and spirit of a Constitution that is quite clear that special privileges for minorities must be limited to their absolute right to manage their own religious, cultural and educational institutions-a privilege denied to non-minorities. The Constitution is also categorical that religionbased reservations in government jobs and political representation constitute a big No. Small wonder there is subterfuge involved in concealing the real motives behind the proposal.
For the Constitution-makers, the status of minorities posed a dilemma. There was a consensus on postponing a common civil code to help Muslims get over their post-Partition disorientation. Yet, the Constituent Assembly was not at ease with the principle of differentiated citizenship. In a landmark intervention, B R Ambedkar, for example, confessed that "I personally do not understand why religion should be given this vast expansive jurisdiction so as to cover the whole of life and to prevent the legislature from encroaching upon that field."
The extension of job reservation to Muslims threatens to add a new dimension to differentiated citizenship. From separate personal laws and full cultural and educational autonomy, minority rights are sought to be extended to other arenas including the handling of sectarian conflict. The road is being readied for political reservations at a future date.
There may be strong electoral compulsions governing the move to institutionalise a separate Muslim identity. But before jumping headlong into legislation, the political class must enter into wider public consultations. The issue is not who is 'secular' and who is 'communal'. The stakes are higher: the very character of the Constitution and the meaning of nationhood.

9 comments:

RKg said...

very well articulated but at the risk & cost of being termed communal or at the most non-secular.

h s rao said...

Swapan daa... simply gr8

Anonymous said...

The Indian Government ( read Congress party & its staunch allies including The Left) is as much at fault as those claiming to belong to various religions other than Hinduism.

Enough has been written & discussed on this matter only raising may be TRP ratings of television channels.

The "converted christians" among Indians have consolidated themselves as another ruthless lobby bending even law & Justice. Remember the "converted christian Indian student" who was acquitted after he forcibly sodomised & killed a fellow Hindu student cutting the Hindu victim's body to pieces stuffing them in a bag ? When he walked out of the courtroom , was hugged by another "converted Indian christian father".

There are many crypto chriatians retaining Hindu names- the infamous perjuror cum ex President K.R.Narayanan a Keralite with a Burmese wife being one of them.

One solution is to appoint all the Indian muslims deserving quotas , jobs , reservations as Personal Bodyguards , Blackcat Commandoes to ALL Congress politicians , their cronies who are so all pervasive.Pronto.

Let the Indian Muslims stand as guards outside the Parliament also. Appoint them also as chauffeurs.

This is the ONLY way Congress can prove their love towards Indian Muslims.

Anonymous said...

The Indian Government ( read Congress party & its staunch allies including The Left) is as much at fault as those claiming to belong to various religions other than Hinduism.

Enough has been written & discussed on this matter only raising may be TRP ratings of television channels.

The "converted christians" among Indians have consolidated themselves as another ruthless lobby bending even law & Justice. Remember the "converted christian Indian student" who was acquitted after he forcibly sodomised & killed a fellow Hindu student cutting the Hindu victim's body to pieces stuffing them in a bag ? When he walked out of the courtroom , was hugged by another "converted Indian christian father".

There are many crypto chriatians retaining Hindu names- the infamous perjuror cum ex President K.R.Narayanan a Keralite with a Burmese wife being one of them.

One solution is to appoint all the Indian muslims deserving quotas , jobs , reservations as Personal Bodyguards , Blackcat Commandoes to ALL Congress politicians , their cronies who are so all pervasive.Pronto.

Let the Indian Muslims stand as guards outside the Parliament also. Appoint them also as chauffeurs.

This is the ONLY way Congress can prove their love towards Indian Muslims.

Anonymous said...

This word called minority or minorityism is very misleading. Consider the way Congress party has always attempted to impose Hindi on Tamil speaking people. And declaring hindi as lingua franca.

What happens to minorityism then?

Muslims always insist on eating halal meat wherever they go. In addition to a lot more religion specific demands.

When I was forcibly dragged & dumped in a psychiatric hospital by my hindu heartless "husband" I raised this point & said as per our Vedas which happens to be my religion I am entitled to my own rights.

None other than Kaanchi Seer (MahaPeriyavaa/Paramacharya) has emphatically stated:-

" There is nothing called psychiatric or mental illness.It is the psychiatrists who are in need of treatment. The so called psychiatric patients do not tell lies and hence are very dear to God....".

On hearing this an Indian nurse replied:-

" In India & for hindus no such rights..only for muslims & converted christians".

Anonymous said...

This word called minority or minorityism is very misleading. Consider the way Congress party has always attempted to impose Hindi on Tamil speaking people. And declaring hindi as lingua franca.

What happens to minorityism then?

Muslims always insist on eating halal meat wherever they go. In addition to a lot more religion specific demands.

When I was forcibly dragged & dumped in a psychiatric hospital by my hindu heartless "husband" I raised this point & said as per our Vedas which happens to be my religion I am entitled to my own rights.

None other than Kaanchi Seer (MahaPeriyavaa/Paramacharya) has emphatically stated:-

" There is nothing called psychiatric or mental illness.It is the psychiatrists who are in need of treatment. The so called psychiatric patients do not tell lies and hence are very dear to God....".

On hearing this an Indian nurse replied:-

" In India & for hindus no such rights..only for muslims & converted christians".

Anonymous said...

Great piece sir .

chinmay said...

Swapan da i cant understand why this fuss about Muslim reservation is all about.Its well known fact that congress would pander to Muslim interests for vote bank politics even at cost of national disintegration.It was indeed the congress which marginalized the secular man in Jinnah and made him a virulent propagant of communalism.Offcourse there is no need for me to tell you this as you yourself are master of history.But it boils my blood when the OBC,dalits who were lecturing upper castes on virtues of reservation till now cant digest Muslims getting a share of the pie.Muslims are backward and irrespective of the reasons like lack of family planning,madrassa education whatever they should also get the reservation like dalits,OBCS etc.If not remove the reservation for everyone.What congress is doing is good.Beat dalit,OBC leaders at their won game

Anonymous said...

The intellectual class of today has labeled Sardar Patel as anti-minority and, what many in the media call, the RSS man. As a result, his observations, no matter how accurate, are tarnished and not worthy to be read or remembered by the opinion makers of today. This explains why anyone who publicly opposes religious reservations is silenced, or worse shouted out in debates, and labeled as the, guess what, the dreaded RSS man!

The argument that the Indian government, in the 21st century, cannot identify economically backward classes, regardless of religion, and design policies for the economically backward category is hard to fathom. By doing so, the political parties will not win elections.

We will soon witness some crafty Indians switching their religions to avail the benefits of the new reservations. And, if you dare say anything against it you will be the boogieman, who is out to destroy the essence of Indian democracy and fail all the minorities - only the politically favored kinds, of course.