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The ‘Muslim appeasement’

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By HILAL AHMED

The strength of Hindutva politics practiced by parties like the BJP and Shiv Sena in recent years has relied on two interlinked rhetorical devices – that Hindus are victims in secular India; and Muslims have been appeased in the name of secularism since Independence.

And yet no one has defined the phrase ‘Muslim appeasement’.

 

In a speech dedicated to Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, the founder of Jana Sangh and the official ideologue of the BJP, Narendra Modi said:

“…Fifty years ago, Pandit Upadhyaya said, do not reward/appease (puraskrit) Muslims, do not shun (tiraskrit) them but purify (parishkar) them’. Do not treat Muslims like vote ki mandi ka maal (vote banks) or ghrina ki vastu (object of hatred). Unhe apna samjho (regard them as your own).”

This was not the first time when Narendra Modi, like other BJP leaders, invoked the term ‘Muslim appeasement’ to criticise the policies, programmes and actions of non-BJP political parties. Although the meaning of the term ‘Muslim appeasement’ is not elaborated in the speech, Modi was able to make his point. He was certainly referring to the alleged privileges given to Muslims in India, which, in his imagination of sabka sath sabka vikas, had to be condemned for not achieving real development.

Modi cannot be singled out for using ambiguous, vague and unclear expressions to outline the distinctiveness of his party. The idea of ‘Muslim appeasement’ has haunted Indian politics for nearly three decades, but never really been given any adequate intellectual attention.

Broadly speaking, Muslim appeasement is referred to at least in two aspects of politics regarding Muslims: biased institutional apparatus and unfair political practices.

The constitutional provisions related to rights of religious minorities, which offer legal protection to autonomous bodies such Islamic endowments knows as Waqf, the Muslim Personal Law and educational institutions such as the Aligarh Muslim University, are seen as problematic and unfair. It is asserted that minority rights goes against the spirit of religious equality and secularism based on rule of law.

In an article published in the 1970s called Minorities Problems and Its Solution, written by Balraj Madhok, one of RSS’s known intellectuals, the problematic aspects of the Constitution are outlined. He says:

“Articles 21, 30 and 370, which are discriminatory being in favour of minorities should be abrogated from the Constitution of India. Such provisions be made in the Constitution that no discrimination between the citizens of India will be made by the Government on the basis of religions or methods of worship. ….Such Muslims and other minorities who are not prepared to abjure their separatist tendencies should be declared foreigners, and they should be divested of the right of franchise.”

‘Muslim appeasement’ is also used to denote specific forms of political practices. The assurance given to Muslims by the political parties with regard to educational and/or economic empowerment, distribution of tickets to Muslim candidates in elections and even declaration of holidays on Muslim religious festivals are treated as ‘Muslim appeasement’. A resolution passed by the RSS in 2005 is an example of this critique:

“The Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal (ABKM) decries the return of the demon of minority appeasement under the present UPA government. Its earlier decision to provide 50% reservation for Muslims in Aligarh Muslim University and its attempts now to go in appeal against the HC order on the minority status of the Aligarh Muslim University is a standing proof of its appeasement policy… Also reprehensible is the reported directive given to all the Chief Ministers of the Congress-ruled states to emulate Andhra Pradesh government in extending reservations to Muslims.”

Interestingly, the secular critique of Hindutva’s imagination of ‘Muslim appeasement’, does not propose any alternative idea. Although they tend to talk of the multi-layered structure of the Muslim community and its relative marginalisation, the possibilities of appeasement, its meanings, forms and impacts are not given any serious intellectual/political attention.

‘Muslim appeasement’ is simply refuted as Hindutva propaganda.

Even those scholars, who are critical of Hindu as well as Muslim communalism, could not produce any significant analysis of ‘Muslim appeasement’.

Mushirul Hasan’s assessment of the Shah Bano moment of Indian politics is a good example to underline this confusion. He writes:

“Debates on the Uniform Civil Code have gone on ceaselessly since Independence. Muslim orthodoxy was unequivocally opposed to change, and the liberal view became increasingly blurred because of the unhappy intervention of Hindu ideologues as vocal proponents of reform in Muslim personal law….. The government dare not change its strategy for fear of losing Muslim votes….Rajiv Gandhi imposed a ban on Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses and his successor V.P. Singh declared Prophet Mohammad’s birthday a national holiday. Finally, Muslims were wilfully appeased by the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, and through official reluctance to enact a Uniform Civil Code.”

(Emphases added, Mushirul Hasan, Legacy of a Divided Nation,Oxford University Press, 1997, p. 279)

It is certainly clear from this passage that Hasan is condemning the Hindutva politics, which appropriated the UCC debate. He is equally critical of the Islamic orthodoxy, which was supported by the state in the Shah Bano case. Yet, Hasan fails to specify his meaning of ‘Muslim appeasement’ and we are left with a few puzzling questions: Does Muslim appeasement only mean the political moves of the Rajiv Gandhi government? Or, does it mean that all Muslims were going to vote for Rajiv Gandhi in the election because they were “wilfully appeased” in the Shah Bano case? If this is the case, how is Hasan’s notion of Muslim appeasement different from the RSS’ conceptualisation?

The publication of the Sachar report in 2006 gave a new twist to the idea of Muslim appeasement. As an official document, the report underlines the fact that Muslims of India are socially, economically and educationally backward and marginalised. Although the report very categorically emphasises upon the highly diverse and deeply stratified structure of Muslim community, the ‘Muslim victimhood’ as a new template of Indian politics began to take shape.

The report was invoked, particularly by non-BJP parties, to demonstrate that ‘Muslim appeasement’ was a myth created by the Hindutva forces and Muslims must be treated as an excluded community.

Hindutva politics also refashioned itself in the light of this response. It was argued that the Congress did not show any serious interest in the empowerment of Muslims — they were treated as a vote bank, which led to marginalisation and exclusion; and that the BJP’s firm commitment to equal treatment to all, as the argument goes, helped even the Muslims to prosper in BJP-ruled states. L.K. Advani’s assessed the Sachar Report thus:

“… I feel Gujarat should be grateful to Justice Sachar for proving convincingly to the country that under Narendra Bhai Modi’s regime, Muslims are far better off than their compatriots in other states.”

This argument later evolved into the party’s rhetoric: “Development of all, appeasement of none”.

Now, ‘Muslim appeasement’ has found a new political life in post 2014-India. The BJP has successfully established the fact that addressing Muslims as Muslims is an act of appeasement. The impact of this assertion is so powerful that even the so-called secular, anti-Hindutva, and non-BJP parties have gradually started distancing themselves from Muslims, simply to avoid the tag of Muslim appeasement.

The assumption of ‘Muslim appeasement’ relies on Muslim homogeneity — an undifferentiated picture of a single Muslim community. However, the recognised ‘good Muslims’ in all political parties are never treated as beneficiaries of appeasement. In fact, these ‘good Muslims’ struggle with each other as organic intellectuals — either to refute ‘Muslim appeasement’ as a myth or to evoke the “development of all, appeasement of none” slogan.

The presence of these ‘good Muslims’ underlines the fact that ‘Muslim appeasement’ is not a description of an objective socio-political condition of Muslims; rather it is a metaphor of politics.

The unclear, ambiguous metaphor is cleverly employed to create a ‘fear psyche’ among Muslims. It tells Muslims that they are a pampered lot – even as they experience deprivation – and creates a psychological dissonance. This state prevents them from seeking equity or justice.

The Modi-led BJP is not an exception in this regard. The Muslim faces of the BJP – Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Zafar Islam and Najma Heptulla – are elite Muslims, who are being appeased in the name of sab ka sath sabka vikas.

Yes, ‘good Muslims’ are always appeased.

(theprint.in)


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Opinion

The contours of contest ahead

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By Mahesh Rangarajan

This summer will see a carnival of democracy in the general election. Much has changed in just five years. The elan of Narendra Modi’s party is more muted this time. Last weekend, key opponents, the Samajwadi Party and the BahujanSamaj Party, joined forces in Uttar Pradesh, making the contest real and not a walkover. The Index of Opposition Unity cannot predict outcomes but no one can afford to ignore it.

The Congress’s victories in the Assembly elections in three north Indian States have given it a shot in the arm. Equally important, the older party is firming up alliances in the southern States. The 131 Lok Sabha seats in five States (Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Telangana) and two Union Territories (Lakshadweep and Puducherry) have been critical to it in times of trouble.

 

The Telangana poll outcome was sobering for both the large national parties. Regional nationalism is not new to Indian politics: Jammu and Kashmir and Tamil Nadu were precursors. Regional formations have long governed West Bengal, Odisha and now Telangana. They may well hold the keys to power in New Delhi.

In 2014, it was the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that led in securing allies. Between then and now, BJP president Amit Shah has helped expand its footprint. Not only does it have more MLAs than the Congress, but its cadre fights every election like there is no tomorrow.

The challenge lies elsewhere. The Congress may have lost in 2014 and come down to a historic low of less than one in five votes cast. Yet, only a decade age, in May 2009, the roles had been in reverse. It was Congress that had then polled 29% and the BJP just 19% of the popular vote.

This time is different. It is 1971 that will be the textbook case for the ruling party. When the Grand Alliance said it would oust Indira Gandhi, she replied she wished to banish poverty. She won hands down.

Mrs. Gandhi did not have to contend with a powerful Dalit-led formation in the Ganga valley which commands 20% of the vote. Many of today’s regional parties were yet to be formed. She captured the public imagination. It was a gamble and she won hands down. Mr. Modi too will fight to the last voter. He will try to be the issue. He has sounded the tocsin against dynasty, caste and corruption. Hence the record in getting visible benefits to the individual and the family. The gas cylinder, the light bulb, that rural road: each will, he hopes, add to his appeal.

History has another instance too. The 2004 general election was held early. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was confident that ‘India was Shining’. The dream came apart on counting day. Rather than a unified Opposition (for there was none in the all-important State of Uttar Pradesh), ground-level discontent denied the ruling alliance another chance.

And yet, there is the cloud of the horizon. Even in 2004, the Congress was only a whisker ahead of the BJP — just seven seats more in the Lok Sabha. The Congress had 145 seats to the BJP’s 138. The key was on the ground, where the mood had shifted. The economic upturn began in 2003, but voters did not see gains early enough for the ruling bloc to reap an electoral harvest.

In 2014, the challenger drew on the tiredness with a decade of a Congress-led government and promised a fresh start. Runaway inflation and the spectre of corruption undercut the appeal of the Congress. This time the issues have changed. It is the squeeze on farm incomes and rural debt that are the key poll planks. Similarly, the issue of jobs is more pressing than ever. Cultivators across all strata and young people seeking productive employment want answers.

Two States are key. Maharashtra, a State critical in the histories of both the Congress and the BJP, is not only seeing a coming together of Opposition forces; it is undergoing drought and rural distress. Ominously, key farmer-led allies have walked across. Uttar Pradesh, a bastion of the BJP, has rival Dalit- and Mandal-led parties coalesce for the first time in a quarter century. Both States have something in common. In both, sugarcane cultivation is a determinant of electoral fortunes.

Cane (not caste) and jobs (not community slogans) may hold the key. Ganna and Naukri, not reservations or the emotive Mandir issue. What matters more: bread or identity? Even when both count what takes precedence?

Government policy has had a key role in this denouement. By according priority to consumers in cities (who want low prices for cereals, oil seeds and pulses), the government did not have to pay heed to rural residents who need to earn more. The latter, as producers, are larger in number and percentage than in any other democracy.

India still lives and votes in its villages. Under Mr. Shah, the cadre, organisation and outreach have made the BJP a vastly larger party than any other. But economic policies can strain such organisational gains.

Democracy is about more than development. In a polity where people can throw their rulers out, it is centrally about politics. Since 1999, there has been a bi-nodal system, and the choice is not simply between Mr. Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
We have effectively a one-party government with a firm hand on the wheel (but with the danger of an over-centralisation of power).

Against this, is ranged a looser coalition in which regional forces and rural interests have more play. Needless to add, the latter will be rockier, more contentious and tough to manage in a coherent fashion.

The Modi government is driven by ideology and not pragmatism on a range of issues. This is the first ever BJP government with a view of culture, history and politics that seeks to remake history as much as the future. Is this the party’s agenda or the country’s? This is a question in the background: if the Ram temple issue comes to the fore, it will be a major choice for the voter.

The pluralism and Hindutva debate have another dimension more so than ever, namely the federal question. Across the Northeast (including Sikkim), far more important to the country than its 25 Lok Sabha seats indicate, the idea of citizenship is at variance with the new Citizenship Bill passed by the Lok Sabha. Across the country, State-level parties see an accretion of powers in the federal government unseen since the 1980s.

True, Mr. Modi has a wider mass appeal than any one since Mrs. Gandhi. But history is witness that such appeal can also have limits if voters decide that enough is enough. Has that point been reached? We simply do not know.

More central is the question of questions. Are you better off than you were five years ago, and if not, why not? If so, and even if not, do you think we are moving in the right direction?

In 2014, The Economist observed that if India had the per capita wealth of Gujarat, the country would rank with Spain. Has that dream come true or it is unravelling and fast? How voters answer that will show who they stand with.

(The writer is Professor of History and Environmental Studies at Ashoka University, Haryana. Source: The Hindu)

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Opinion

Headwinds rock Rahul, Modi

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By Jawed Naqvi

Recent headlines have offered clues about the way the wind is blowing before the general elections in India. A make-or-break element in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s re-election bid in May lies in Uttar Pradesh. It was here that he swept the 2014 polls on the back of anti-Muslim blood and gore set off in Muzaffarnagar, what some in the prime minister’s choral media have praised as ‘Modi Magic’. Spurring his win in the country’s most populous state was a palpably disharmonious opposition. That may have changed this year — or has it?

Let’s quickly scour the headlines. My first story refers to the Congress party’s bizarre plan to contest all 80 parliamentary seats in UP on its own. What then becomes of the promised coalition?

 

The second story seemed facetious at first but it describes a crippling fallout on the BJP of its ban on slaughter of cattle in UP. The alarmed party must now contain unwanted cattle in their post-productive state when they become a load on the farmers. Will the revered holy cow be artificially inseminated to produce more cows than bulls, as the animal husbandry minister says? How serious is the looming crisis in a political season?

A fourth story is The Hindu’s damning report by a former Indian supreme court judge, which gathered dust in the vaults of the apex court for over a year, on fake encounter deaths in Gujarat. Will it haunt the BJP together with an equally strong concern expressed by UN rights officials about allegations of widespread killings in Yogi Adityanath-ruled Uttar Pradesh?

And finally, the party’s national convention addressed by Modi where he offered himself as the only choice to lead India, which needs a ‘mazbootsarkar’, a strong government. The opposition alliance can only produce a ‘majboorsarkar’, says he, a government weakened by its own political compromises.

Two of the stories should suffice to indicate the headwinds ahead. The Congress party’s announcement of fighting all seats in UP, came not surprisingly a day after the backward caste Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Dalit BahujanSamaj Party (BSP), once bitter rivals,

declared a joint campaign in 76 constituencies, leaving four for Congress, presumably. In the last vote count, BSP (22.23 per cent) and the SP (28.07pc) totalled more than BJP (41.35pc) and Congress put together. Congress is an insignificant player in UP, and its irresponsible claim to contest all seats makes it a laughing stock given the high stakes in May.

What lies behind the absurdity? The fact is that Congress, perennially described a family enterprise of the Gandhis, is actually a coalition of powerful satraps, usually but not always shored up by Mumbai businessmen.

The business clubs have a chronic allergy to the Gandhis, though they are not averse to backing a Narasimha Rao or a Manmohan Singh in Congress. The allergens are old and damning. Nehru had jailed their leading businessman for corruption, Indira Gandhi had shut their banks, and Rajiv Gandhi ordered them to get off the backs of Congress workers. The tycoons came back hard at him with the Bofors smear though.

In the recent elections in Madhya Pradesh, a local Congress chieftain deemed close to a particular business family, opposed and subverted an alliance with Mayawati’s Dalit party. Congress won but not cleanly and it needs the BSP to sustain a majority. In Uttar Pradesh, the SP has strong ties with key business families, including the one that Rahul Gandhi has named in the Rafael warplanes scandal.

Given the state of play, the young Gandhi should ideally decide whether he wants to be a compromised representative of disparate, even contrary interests as prime minister, something his satraps would like him to be. Or should he be nudging the opposition parties, bereft of common ambition, with a Nehruvian vision to forge a truly durable secular polity?

The left had done this successfully with Indira Gandhi. The model can only strengthen Congress and its essentially left-leaning mass base. See it as a Tony Blair-Jeremy Corbyn moment within the Indian equivalent of the Labour Party. Else, the system in India, a tycoon-run deep state, would continue to harness Congress satraps and the BJP in a bind that undermines the constitution’s fair promise.

Signs of disarray in the opposition should comfort the BJP, but evidently the party for the first time is looking mortally afraid of losing. From ‘Congress-free India’, Modi is now talking about ‘a weak opposition government’. There’s more evidence of panic in Omar Rashid’s story in The Hindu about a cattle market that has collapsed, about stray cows raiding UP farms as impoverished farmers abandon their hungry animals.

Explaining the dilemma, BJP’s minister for animal husbandry said: “UP is a state of small and minor farmers, with two crop seasons. For 15 days of ploughing, a farmer no longer wants to feed two bullocks all year round.” To solve the problem the government has started a sex-sorted scheme under which the chances of a cow producing a female calf would be as high as 90pc to 95pc. Simultaneously, the BJP government is imposing a 0.5pc gaukalyan (cow welfare) cess on liquor and road toll collections, besides doubling an existing 1pc levy on the incomes of wholesale produce markets. The proceeds will fund construction and maintenance of new cow pens.

While the kitten entangles itself in the ball of wool, the opposition should be taking control of the narrative. But Congress, far from offering a vision, which only it could, is saddled with its recent promise to make cow urine economically viable while discussing the grade of the Brahminical thread Rahul Gandhi wears, neither of which is part of the winning calculation for the SP and the BSP.

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Opinion

The social fibre is in disarray

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By Tawfeeq Irshad Mir

Kashmir lost its claim to heaven a long time ago but the debate today is not about ‘why’ but ‘who’ caused the paradise to fly away, leaving behind its miserable and yet romantic claimants.Say Kashmir, and the sweet aroma of pine takes over the mind fluttering among images of valley flowers,

While the valley is brewing to shivered cold, resorting to bone ache, and suddenly you get to hear the act, that tender your muscles and your brain starts oscillating in agony. While I was on the way to home, and as usual my phone keeps on beeping with variable feeds, and at a moment my eyes stuck to a feed, mentioning that a baby was thrown outside in a cartoon enveloped in polythene, across the road from the city’s maternity hospital Lal Ded. Not the first time, I got to hear such inhuman act, previously such incidents have filled the social networking sites with tetra byte data.

 

Kashmir, a Conservative populace with rigid religious beliefs, where such incidents dwindle the heart, to the core and ionise in the surroundings within fraction of the second.

,,, “oh foetid soul, you aren’t a burden,
Your cravings, your presence, is sacred,
” unworthy are those, who abandon you,
,,, “you are born to take nap at the realm of GOD,

This mischievous act is on surge in Kashmir citing numerous incidents in the past, Now concerning the aetiology of this social chaos, : over the years there has been a paradigm shift in the psychological, behavioural, living style of the people inhabiting valley, leading to variant changes, pertaining to psychosexual onslaught, Now we see pre-marital sexual relations, a non-serious concern leading to apathy in the ethos of society, the ramifications of this are vivid and perturbing, the couple especially in their teen ages, moved by their sudden hormonal changes engage in sexual relationships, and in certain cases, unaware of its complications, maybe due to lack of knowledge, debarring the use of protective devices, the female counterpart conceives and remains unaware for most of the time, as fear of surroundings, the societal rejection, the client fears to express the event to parents, till she develops such symptoms, and in reaction, either they go for illegal termination of pregnancy or wait for the term to deliver remaining in isolation carried out in privacy, and later the baby is abandoned.

In certain cases, the baby delivered from legal couple, go for termination, if it’s unwanted, or a female,, called female infanticide “in Kashmir such incidents are on record where foetus laden with blood were found in toilets, on the footsteps of shrines, some years back, an abandoned baby, caught by mob of dogs was noticed outside Lal Ded hospital, such incident shocked the consciousness of people,.

Congenital defects :Every single creation of God is not futile, but I can say, a sheer ignorance, the babies who are born with genetic defects have every right to continue life, even Stephen Hawkins was born with hereditary defect, still he rose to prominence, even normal human couldn’t think ever, contributes to the cause of abandoning babies, recently a horrendous incident captivated the conscious minds of valley where a father tried to Bury his live baby, citing the reasons of poverty, that he can’t afford the care of baby born with genetic defect.

Now describing the risk factors, loosening bondages from religious acuity, problems in socialisation, faults in upbringing, difficulties in coping up with puberty, lack of education, accelerate such incidents.

The treatment is more of a belief than literal.The old age adage holds true everywhere, we should focus on preventive strategies, we should be more religious, because not a single religion advocates such horrendous act, be more conscious when you go for such a relationship, we should profoundly act on such incidents, awareness schedule should be set up,
We need to develop legal resolutions for those abandoned, because we have many childless couples, so as to create balance.

Certainly at the end, those who abandon live births, are abandoning the humanity, the moment they opt for such gigantic mischief, they turn into wilds, and their ability to be human seizes.

(The writer is perusing graduation in Nursing at GMC, Srinagar. He can be reached at: [email protected])

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