Remember ME - You Me and Dementia

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A separate growth : Aiding communalism with Plan Fund in India

The idea is to fight communalism. The UPA Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has communalised the polity with his cynical Muslim first plank. He introduced an obnoxious 15-point programme for Muslims and reserved 15 per cent of the 11th Plan Fund for minorities along with religion-specific banking, budgeting and education.

In the following pages our expert analysts will show how the UPA plan divides and discriminates the people of this country and how the initiatives the ruling conglomerate has undertaken are akin to the 14-point demands of the pre-1947 Muslim League. We want to forewarn the nation through this exercise how in the guise of secularism the national government has become a tool in the hands of destructive and divisive elements and how it has acquired an unprecedented anti-Hindu agenda. Secularism, to begin with, was a positive, almost indulgent rhetoric under Jawaharlal Nehru; understandable in the aftermath of Partition for which the League and its supporters in India were responsible. Under Indira Gandhi it became vote bank politics. Rajiv Gandhi and his successors made it appeasement. Under the UPA, secularism is interpreted as brazenly anti-Hindu to the extent of denigrating Hindu ideals becoming state policy.

In one of the most significant books written on minority problem in India, Indian Muslims: Where Have They Gone Wrong?, Dr. Rafiq Zakaria says, “The British got, naturally, worried and they did whatever they could to disrupt that (Hindu-Muslim) unity. They engineered riots, they played politics by giving separate electorate to the Muslims, they devised various methods both political and social—to keep the two communities apart. They dangled grants and concessions alternately to both the religious groups. Ultimately they saw to it that the country was divided, through the distrust that they had so assiduously built up between the two over the decades. To perpetuate their rule, they followed the Roman policy of ‘Divide and Rule’. But as Maulana Mohammad Ali rightly put it: ‘We divided and they ruled.’ The blame rests as much on our joint leadership as on the British; however in the last stage it was Jinnah’s obduracy which struck the final blow to our unity.” The UPA under Sonia Gandhi is playing the role of the British, to divide and rule.

The historic parallels are strikingly similiar and ominous. Take this instance, “Before he opted for Pakistan, Muslim League leader (Shaheed) Suhrawardy had decided to stay in India and lead the Bengal Muslims in India. His letter to (Chaudhary) Khaliquzzaman on September 10, 1947, was eloquent and made interesting reading. He was faced with the dilemma that unless Muslims derived their strength on account of group solidarity they would not be respected by the Hindus. At the same time solidarity and strength would raise suspicion about their bona fides. Hence he suggested formation of strong Muslim pockets dotted all over the country. His other alternative that both India and Pakistan should strive to destroy the complex of superiority of their majority populations and they should accept their minorities as their own was a cry in the wilderness so far as Pakistan was concerned.” (Islam: In India’s Transition to Modernity by M.A. Karandikar, Page 276-77)

Manmohan Singh seems to have entirely adopted Suhrawardy’s advice in the last four years as Prime Minister.

The central government has identified 90 districts in the country as minority concentrated for special development plans. An intriguing aspect of this idea is that known Muslim-majority districts say in UP, Assam, West Bengal, J&K or Kerala are not included in the select 90 list. It is said that altogether the Congress is thus focusing on nearly 250 Lok Sabha constituencies for doling out excessive privileges and central funds so as to develop them as captive pocket boroughs. This may or may not work but the damage to the national fabric is intrinsic.

In a similar instance, the centre has a plan to make minority students reap benefits of dual scholarships which is not normally allowed in the case of non-Muslim students. According to a plan announced by the UPA in December 2007 Muslim students can avail scholarships simultaneously from the Ministry of Minority Affairs and the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. This is under a 15-point programme of the Prime Minister meant only for Muslims.

The Minority Affairs Ministry will distribute Rs 100 crore annually for scholarships for Muslim students. This will run parallel to the initiatives of other ministries targeted for the Muslims under the PM’s new programme. The result is, the same set of people getting pampered through numerous sources. A report said that 3,200 students will get this benefit in the current academic year. The UPA followed it up with reservations in educational institutions and recruitment. It made an unsuccessful attempt to divide the Indian Army on communal lines. All this is supposedly to empower the Muslims.

The UPA asked the banks and other financial institutions to have special provisions for interest-free loans for Muslims along with a package for 15 lakh special scholarships for Muslim students. The Prime Minister has announced another programme to offer free coaching for Muslim students preparing for the competitive examinations, for which parents cough up lakhs. In the centrally funded Aligarh and Jamia Milia Universities almost the entire seats and jobs are reserved for this community.

Through a Constitution amendment, the UPA reserved majority seats in all the non-aided educational institutions for the minority communities setting them free from giving reservation quota for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. But this benefit is not available to Hindu-run self-financing institutions. This is a blatant discrimination that will make these institutions financially unviable and covertly promote religious conversions.

Under the UPA, Muslims need not follow any rule that is compulsory for other citizens. They need not sing Saraswati Vandana or Vande Mataram though there is nothing religious about it. There is no need to salute the national flag or sing the national anthem. They need not register marriages. In the event of terror attacks—nearly 6,000 people have been killed in the last four years—there will be no combing operations in Muslim localities. Not a single terror attack has been solved during this period.

And now comes the permanent scourge in the form of communal budgeting and plan allocation. All these are over and above the existing schemes in the Departments of Social Welfare, Education etc. for promotion of madrasas, Urdu, and reservation in various ministries for removing backwardness. The UPA has also created a separate ministry for minorities, now presided over by A.R. Antulay, a crude practitioner of minority politics. During the four-year UPA rule, the Haj subsidy has grown 200 times! The Muslims’ “right first to the national resources”, as Manmohan Singh coined his absurdly ruinous idea, has become the only existential agenda of this government. Should the majority Hindus take this nonsense in stoic silence? Should not we get up and stop this outrage on national security? This is worse than the regenerate Wahabism introduced by Mahathir in Malaysia.

Manmohan Singh has no use for the more enlightened views of Jawaharlal Nehru, who as India’s first Prime Minister laid the foundations of Indian planning.

Calling planning the first attempt in India to integrate agriculture, industrial, social, economic and other aspects of the country into a “single framework of thinking” in his speech on first draft five-year plan, Nehru said, “It has made people think of this country as whole. I think it is most essential that India, which is united politically and in many other ways, should, to the same extent, be united mentally and emotionally also. We often go off at a tangent on grounds of provincialism, communalism, religion or caste. We have no emotional awareness of the unity of the country. Planning will help us in having an emotional awareness of our problems as a whole. It will help us to see the isolated problems in villages or districts or even provinces in their larger context. Therefore, the mere act of planning, the mere act of having approached the question of progress in this way and of producing a report of this type is something on which we might, I think, congratulate ourselves.”

Again, in a speech Laying the Foundations (Broadcast from the Delhi Station of All India Radio, December 31, 1952), Nehru after a visit to Kanyakumari said, “From that southern tip of India, I pictured this great country spread out before me right up to the Himalayas in the north and thought of her long and chequered story. Ours is a wonderful inheritance but how shall we keep it? How shall we serve the country which has given us so much and make her great and strong?...”

“We look at our own country and find both good and ill, powerful forces at work to build her and also forces, which would disrupt and disintegrate her. We cannot do much to affect the destiny of this world as a whole but surely we can make a brave attempt to mould the destiny of our 360 (then) million people... In India, the first essential is the maintenance of the unity of the country, not merely a political unity but a unity of the mind and the heart, which precludes the narrow urges that make for disunity and which breaks down the barriers raised in the name of religion or those between State and State or, for that matter, any other barrier. We must aim at a classless society,” Nehru said. He added, “Of course, you must plan for everybody. No planning which is not for all is good enough. You must always have that view before you and you must prepare the foundations for the next step towards the final goal. And so, you ultimately start a process which grows by itself.” Economic Democracy (Speech in Parliament, New Delhi, December 15, 1952, Jawaharlal Nehru’s Speeches: 1949-1953, published by The Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India)

I have quoted Nehru on Planning, only to underline how flawed Manmohan Singh’s approach is.

There is an interesting survey taken up by the Left leaning socio-scientific NGO Shastra Sahitya Parishad. Kerala: How it lives, How it thinks, released in December 2006. According to the survey, it is not minority Muslims or Christians but Hindus comprising 54.47 per cent of Kerala’s 3.2 crore population who are at the economic downslide. The survey, by the Marxist NGO, says Hindus in the state form the major chunk of the state’s poor with over 39 lakh living below poverty line. Condition of Hindus is worse than that of Christians and Muslims in employment, land holding and income. And the survey says the condition of so-called forward castes is more pathetic than that of the backward caste Hindus.

In March 2007, the CPM released a Charter of Demands for the Advancement of Muslim Community. A dangerous document reminiscent of the Muslim League demands under Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Apart from focusing on a communal quota for Dalit Muslims—a term that violates the basic tenet of Islam, which professes equality of all members of the faith—the charter demands introducing a sub-plan only for Muslims for allocating separate development funds on communal lines. The party was not satisfied with the 2007-08 budget allocation of Rs. 500 crore for Muslim welfare. The wholesale adoption of the Sachar report by the CPM appears ridiculous considering the abysmal record of the party in Kerala and West Bengal in the social uplift of the Muslim community, as underlined in the report. But the CPM’s Muslim courtship in Kerala is so brazen that it has left the Muslim League way behind in communal appeal. The Muslim League is being asked to prove its pro-Muslim character by more zealous outfits ensconced under the CPM perch.

Encouraged by the indulgence of the UPA, Muslim outfits organised a procession in the capital in March 2007 demanding state-wise quotas in proportion to their population. Almost all the known Muslim organisations came on one platform to seek full implementation of religion-based reservation in jobs, education and growth fund allocation all over the country. The UPA and the Sachar report have clearly uncorked the jinn of pre-Partition communal virus.

The UPA has cynically injected a vicious brand of communalism in the Indian polity with the hope that en bloc Muslim votes will permanently become its captive preserve. The insincerity and dishonesty of this Muslim appeasement is underlined by the poor record of its implementation. On ameliorating the genuine grievances of the Muslims both the Congress and the Communist-ruled states project a dubious record. Similar is the sub-text written by more virulent votaries of vote bank politics like Mulayam Singh and Lalu Prasad Yadav.

On the report of the Sachar Committee, the Prime Minister is again working on reservations based on religion. This is ultra vires and goes against every tenet of the Constitution. The Constitution does not allow this kind of discrimination on caste or religious lines. A constitutionally formed government is duty bound to treat everybody equal on legal and policy issues.

Even by Congress standards Manmohan Singh’s prime ministership has touched a new low. Earlier our prime ministers used to exhort the countrymen to rise above caste, region and religion and be Indians first and everything else afterwards. Here is a Prime Minister who works overtime to violate the letter and spirit of the Constitution to divide and discriminate the countrymen on communal lines. And he, like his party, by no means appears contrite over such dangerous perversion. His government is aggressively working towards a polarisation of votes by pursuing a policy of minorityism, encouraging social tension and disquiet. Had the Congress been really sincere about uplifting the minorities or ameliorating their lot, it would not have resorted to such tactless exhibitionism and poisonous promotion of reactionary ideas.

On the Republic Day, 58 years after India became a secular democratic republic, we are inquiring as to how will this politics of appeasement affect national unity? Will it create contrived and bogus grievances deepening divisions in the society or will it strengthen our sense of oneness and belonging? The politics of appeasement started by the Congress under Mahatma Gandhi in the early 1920s, resulted in the country’s vivisection. The tragic history is not forgotten. The wounds of Partition have not yet fully healed. But the UPA has embarked on a course that mocks at those who talk about national integration. They are not taking a calculated risk. The UPA is schemingly provoking a divide through dubious machinations.

The Planning Commission reports say that at least 26 per cent of India’s population is living below poverty line. If emancipation of this deprived segment is the priority why talk only of 13 per cent Muslims, all of whom in any case are not below poverty line? As such, learned maulanas of Muslim Personal Law Board have decreed that Muslims cannot take to banking or insurance, polio drops or yoga classes, as these militate against their religious dogmas.

The Sachar Committee claims that only three per cent of Muslim children go to madrasas. The evolutionary volume was an attempt to tell social scientists that the “Missing Muslim” in jobs was not the result of madrasa education. Sachar was trying to emphasise on a chimera of conspiracy against Muslims for their backwardness. At another place the report stated that the condition of Muslims is worse than that of Dalits.

The notorious record of the UPA government is that it sees citizens as communal compartments. By introducing the Sachar Committee and Ranganath Mishra Commission to devise communal quota, by soft-pedaling on terrorist outfits, indulging the Maoists by politicising internal security and Islamising the foreign policy the UPA has created a cantankerous mess of governance. Even its much-hyped Indo-US nuke deal is in doldrums. The UPA gives the impression that it is working on an agenda for national disintegration.

A valuable input in the debate came from Bibek Debroy, a well-known economist. In his column in The Indian Express (June 12, 2007), Debroy made an interesting observation. He said, “A 21st century government should recognise deprivation as an individual issue and defuse collective tension based on caste or religion. Wherever there is an attempt to segregate, mainstreaming never occurs and deprivation becomes permanent. Contrast economic development in special category Articles 370 and 371 states with Goa… Caste and religion are attributes that should remain in the private domain, irrelevant for public policy purposes. What should be relevant for policy is deprivation based on class. Government permitting that is precisely what should have happened…But governments won’t permit and will intervene to encourage this collective caste-cum-religious identity. … It is a mindset that the UPA government has encouraged across the board.”

The National Sample Survey undertook a study and concluded in June last year that jobless rate among Hindus and Muslims is almost equal. The Survey said that the Worker Population Ratio (WPR) for the male in the age group of 15 and above in the educational level in urban India among the Hindus and Muslims was equal at 71 per cent followed by Christians at 64 per cent. Outside the education parameter in urban India, the Survey says, the worker population ratio among the Hindu male was barely three per cent higher than that for the Muslims at 56 per cent. This was 51 per cent for Christians. This data was released by the NSSO under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation for the year 2004-05. And this has exposed the bluff that far more Muslims were unemployed than the Hindus. If this Survey is any guide then it should be considered a big setback for the advocates of more religion-based reservations as part of the so-called affirmative action. The Survey said that the unemployment rate in urban areas for both the Hindus and the Muslims was the same at four per cent. This Survey revealed that both in urban and rural areas there was only a negligible difference in the literacy rate of the two communities. This revelation explodes the basis of the UPA-sponsored vote bank quota politics and brings us back to what we said in the beginning that deprivation has nothing to do with caste or religion in the present milieu of globalisation, growth and urbanisation. The allegations of rising income and wealth disparities between different castes or religious groups—except for Scheduled Tribes who live in concentrated blocks—has not been proved by any rational survey. But who cares for facts, since politics in India is all about myth making?

The UPA has done nothing to encourage national integration. Its actions are so communally charged that it has refused to give protection to Taslima Nasreen, even after she deleted all the objectionable passages from her book, only to please the perverted fanatics in her community. This might be the first instance in Indian history that the country has turned its back on an asylum-seeker, who was hounded out of her country, who was forced by her own hosts in West Bengal to vacate her second home and has no other place to go. But the UPA protects and felicitates M.F. Husain about whose despicable, blasphemous cartoons Hindus have serious objection.

It seems there is no bottom to the depth to which the UPA can sink in furthering its goal. It has communalised budgeting; it has communalised banking and financial institutions; it tried even to communalise the armed forces. It has vitiated the academia spreading the venom of casteism and communalism and now it is out to destroy the country by identifying districts as Muslim majority and pampering them to promote communal segregation. It is bent on dividing the police force as Hindu, Muslim and Christian, and nobody knows what else remains to be fragmented on communal lines. Some more aggressively lunatic in its ranks have even suggested to introduce a communal quota in the judiciary as well and appoint judges after fixing their religion tag. Is there any guarantee that people who get their position only on their religious identity will behave impartially in their execution of duty? And what will happen to the faith of the citizens in the system and its commitment to delivering justice? What will happen to this country once the people lose all hope of fair play and fair deal under these votaries of fake secularism?

What is the BPL criterion? Those who earn above Rs 12 per day. But what about the lucky above BPL people? According to the report of National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector (NCEUS), 394.9 million workers, i.e. 80 per cent of India’s working population, are in the unorganised sector and 80 per cent of them are among those who live on less than Rs 20 a day. These are real poor and vulnerable, the report says. We quote this statistics to show that poverty has nothing to do with religion. And that politics should be about marrying policies with the people.

A conservative estimate, supported by all empirical data, gives us a statistics of almost 30 to 35 per cent of India’s population living in subhuman conditions. This is not a comforting thought in the 61st year of Independence. And to know that our political class has only archaic, time warped ideas for giving opportunity to the less privileged is a sad commentary.

The UPA as part of its poll-oriented thinking has constituted an equal rights panel to ensure Muslim representation level. How myopic can the ruling class get! In a country with over 35 per cent poor to have an equal rights panel only for the 15 per cent minorities! Does the government have no responsibility to the rest of the population?

If there is any poor, deprived in the country, it is the Hindu. His land was taken away, his homes and temples were looted for centuries, he was made to pay jazia, an oppression tax of slavery, for almost 800 years, for that long the Muslims and for another 150 years Christians ruled this country. How can the ruling class till 1947, become deprived needing special affirmative action? It is only the Hindu who has some claim to a special treatment. And Pakistan was created, after the bloodiest-ever holocaust in history, to pamper the Muslims. Every corner of the country where Hindu is in minority is in the grip of insurgency and terrorism. A convincing Hindu majority is the only guarantee for the territorial integrity of this country. And by artificially identifying 90 Muslim-majority districts is Manmohan Singh trying to lay the foundation for another partition?

The Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has the gumption to claim that this will not divide the society. It is not entirely surprising, only God knows what more disastrous plans he has in mind to divide the society further, that he thinks all that he has done so far is not enough.

There is no economic or literacy backwardness that is exclusive to one community. Yes, social and religious attitudes can ghettoize a community. For that the state cannot do much.

By R. Balashankar


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

No comments: