For the last week or so, The Indian Express was conducting an intriguing debate on the area of Muslims within our polity and society. Much as I’ve been tempted to jump in the debate in the ExpressI believed I’d make my contribution into the far bigger audience available in ndtv.com.
The discussion was initiated by Harsh Mander’s remark on Sonia Gandhi’s replies to questions in the India Today Conclave about problems between the Muslim area.
Referring to Smt Gandhi’s opinion that Mander left as”that the Congress suffered since the BJP persuaded people it was a Muslim celebration”, Mander went on to point out that”many political parties would be accepting the assumption that the vast majority Hindu vote would sour whether a party is regarded as near Muslims”. He also tellingly illustrates his point with the narrative of another”dominant” political leader that said without pity,”By all means come in massive numbers to our agendas. As a result, Mander states, Indian Muslims are being counselled to comprehend that they”owe it to (their own ) secular Hindu counterparts to measure down from the political arena entirely”. Even a”former Congress MP”he adds, even circulated a notice, claiming,”minorities are quickly becoming a burden”. The Congress leader to acquire a state assembly election lately by himself has been Amarinder Singh, another Sikh. However, Mander is definitely correct in drawing attention to the profoundly saddening and disturbing tendency within our polity advocating that”Muslims stay away from politics, be invisible, do not effort, but do not look for political office, only keep a very low profile, in most vote gently on election day”. And then comes Mander’s crushing claim that Muslims themselves are telling their”liberal Hindu buddies”:”To shield usabandon us”.
He (or the IE News editor) despairingly branded the pillar,”Sonia, regrettably”. Ramachandra Guha responded,”Liberals, regrettably.” Having read and fretting over Guha’s retort, I’d love to call this expression,”Guha, regrettably”.
Rather than comprehending the issue as among combating the galloping momentum of this obvious trend towards the political and social marginalization, really ostracism of those Muslims by non-Sanghi mainstream parties, and battling for the governmental and societal inclusion of our enormous Muslim community – the next or third-largest on earth – as a crucial, crucial, and integral part of our democracy,” Guha drifts off to comparing the sporting”burkhas” into the brandishing of”trishuls”. He proceeds to question the validity (as well as slogans ) of all Muslims flaunting their individuality by wearing their skull caps and burkhas. He doesn’t accept that this is their manner of fighting because of their political and human and political rights their identity as Indian Muslims their rights to advancement and land. Most importantly, Guha denies them their right to freedom of expression to the degree of wearing burkhas and skull caps.
Can Guha seriously feel that when Muslim leaders started a campaign to rip the burkha off the faces of Muslim girls or knock on the skull cap away from the minds of Muslim men, the RSS would quit injecting their”toxins into the veins of Indian social existence”, as Mander states? They’re such a smug, self-righteous lot they readily fall prey to exactly what Mander tags that the”strong, addictive, and heady” propaganda of their Savarkar breed, also need Muslims to become such as Guha to escape their”medievalist ghetto” and their”most reactionary, antediluvian” ideas and practices. Guha’s schedule to the Muslim community would be to conform to his”contemporary, liberal principles”, and betrays a woeful lack of understanding a community under siege is barely a community which may prioritize reforms over self-assertion and self-protection. When endangered a tortoise withdraws into its shell. It is threatened by communalism. Ergo, a much more educated”liberal democratic” perspective of the Muslim problem today is to raise the banner of secularism if secularism is in its own gravest danger because the nightmare of Partition than lecturing Muslims to doff their skull caps prior to requiring their inherent rights and dues.
Guha appears to believe that secularism is all about the minorities getting much more like Guha and much less like themselves.
It was Nehru who clarified secularism in government, not at the mode of Guha but in really resonant conditions when, after beating the Hindu majoritarian uprising in his party fostered by the party President, Purushtottam Das Tandon, he announced in the Ram Lila grounds on Gandhi Jayanti, 1951:”If anybody lifts his hands against the other in the name of faith, I will fight him until the last breath of my life, if from inside the government or external”.
Nehru subsequently went on to argue that he didn’t care if his party will win or lose from the then coming 1952 general elections – the first to be held on the basis of universal adult franchise where each voter had a personal experience or recollection of the horrors of Partition – that Nehru, might not permit any communalism to pollute Indian democracy. In case, the Hindu Mahasabha won two seats and the Congress secured that a majority that was overpowering on the stage of secularism that was principled which communalism was kept at bay for another 3 decades. It is. Not a move to advocate 175 million Muslims put their skull caps and to package their burkhas.
And Gandhi gave his life by simply increasing the security and promotion of Muslim life, limb, individuality, and individual rights since the very first tenet of Indian secularism. Guha has trivialized the matter to flaunt his or her scholarship. In doing this, he’s harmed himself over the secular cause as revealed by the many public intellectuals who’ve joined the IE discussion – Apoorvanand, Suhas Palshikar, Harbans Mukhia, Mukul Kesavan, however, possibly, best of all, Irena Akbar (no relative of this arch defector). There is, like all weapons, A trishul designed to kill, to intimidate the enemy, and has been utilized by Hindu deities to conquer forces. In instances of hyper-Hindutva,” she adds,”that the trishul is utilized by grass-roots BJP employees to exert dominance within the Muslim enemy.” Let the final words of the column be hers:”If you endorse a politician’s information to a neighborhood to maintain away its spiritual symbols” – since Guha has done -“you mock the rights of people also. This really isn’t the place that is liberal. It’s as illiberal as it has”. Wah! Wah!