(Article written in 2008)
Shri Veeresh Malik, a resident of Delhi, filed an application dated 25.4.2006 before the PIO of National Commission for Minorities (NCM), Delhi, wherein he sought information. Not getting a reply from the PIO after the expiry of 30 days from the date of filing the application, the appellant filed a First Appeal before the First Appellate Authority on 03.06.2006. In response to this first Appeal the First Appellate Authority vide an email on 13.06.2006 replied that the NCM had no knowledge and no records regarding the information sought for. Hence their comments may be treated as ‘Nil’. The Appellant being dissatisfied with the reply of the first appellate authority moved a second appeal before the Central Information Commission.
The bench of Dr. O.P. Kejariwal heard the matter on 5th December 2006.
Shri P. Sharma, Legal officer & PIO for the NCM, reiterated during the hearing that they have no idea about the information sought for and hence the reply may be treated as ‘Nil’.
And the information sought by Sri Veeresh Malik, for which the reply by the Commission was ‘Nil’, was just the meaning and definition of the word ‘Minority’.
So, what Minority are we talking about? There is a Minority Commission in this country that doesn’t know the meaning and definition of Minority.
For our politicians meanings and definitions hardly matter. For them what matter are votes. They divide our society into minority and majority; create ghettoes for them; because for them they are not humans; they are just votes. It is this ghettoisation that is harming our nation.
When the Prime Minister talks about the first right of the minorities over nation’s resources, he was not really promoting the interests of any segment of our citizens; he was only promoting the interests of his vote banks. He was not addressing the real issues of the communities either.
Similarly when Sachar Commission talks about the so-called backwardness of the Muslims, it doesn’t address their real concerns, for, its mandate is guided by its political masters.
A friend from Canada drew my attention to the Arab Development Reports being published by the UNDP every year since 2000 A.D. These reports, authored by a team led by the renowned Egyptian sociologist and statistician Mr Nader Fergany, showed that the Arab countries were lagging behind the rest of the world in terms of human development even though many of these countries had high levels of income and wealth. The decline in human development (social, economic and educational) indicators was glaringly evident even though some of these countries have some of the highest levels of Gross National Products (GNP) in the world and a complete absence of discriminatory policies from the political establishment as all the countries have Islam as the state religion.
My friend pointed out that the Sachar Commission has completely overlooked the significance of the findings of these reports. Mr Fergany expressed the core findings of the first report in a nutshell by stating that poverty was not merely a matter of income. He said that a person who is not free is poor, a woman who is not empowered is poor and a person who has no access to knowledge is poor.
What the Sachar Commission has totally ignored was factors like the role of the Muslim Personal Law (Shariah) Application Act of 1937 and its linkages with human developmental indicators of the Muslim Community since Indian independence; the role of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and its impact on the socio-economic and educational development of the Muslim Community in the past six decades; the role of organizations like the Deoband based Darul Uloom and the Tabligi Jamaat on the development of the Muslims in India etc.
It does not investigate the World Bank Report on Madrassas (Islamic schools) and their impact on human development. This study was undertaken during the years 2005/06. In stead the Sachar report tries to underplay the Madrassa issue by coming up with some figures that show that only a very little percentage of Muslim children go to these Madrassas.
Talking of figures, several of the Sachar report’s ‘findings’ were found to be more of a fiction than reality. Contrary to what that report sought to sell, it was found that the literacy rate among Muslims was higher than that of Hindus in several Indian states including the ones like Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. It goes to reinforce the fact that the Sachar report was actually tailor-made to suit the fraudulent secularist somersaults that the present dispensation at the Centre indulges in day in and day out.
That the UPA Government is blatant in its perverted Minority politics is clear from its latest decision on the Government holidays. It removed two Hindu holidays – including the most important festival Holi that is celebrated across the country with great gaiety – in a crass attempt equal the number of holidays for Hindu and Muslim festivals. Now both have 5 days each, and the UPA-brand secularism is protected.
Experience of the past 5 decades, and even the Sachar Commission report itself, establishes the fact that the politics of blatant minorityism have not really helped the Muslim community at all. Principal reason for this is that the real problems of the community that lie in its Shariat, Madrasa education etc have never been targeted. Instead the community has been ghettoised by projecting before it an imagined demon of majorityism. Even the Sachar Commission too followed the same pattern and dumped all the blame on the imagined ‘other’. It must be remembered that this brand of politics has left both minority and majority communities insecure and ghettoised.
The Muslim leadership must realise that the politics of minorityism have left them leaderless. ‘What Muslims needed was a forward-looking leader like Ata Turk Kemal Pasha; what they got was Mullah-type Osama bin Laden’ writes Kushwant Singh.
It is time Muslim intelligentsia realised the follies that its Mullah-led leadership is indulging in and took over the reins of the community into its hands. Traders of minority votes have not helped the community; they have in fact caused enormous damage to it; and in the process to the entire nation. Aggressive minority politics have resulted in the creation of a ghettoised majorityism and in the end, in this conflict of minority and majority, the losers have been the minority only.
The Muslim intelligentsia should now chart a new course for the community. Need of the hour is to shed all elements of separatism and emphasise on the factors that unify the nation. Opposition to singing of Vande Mataram or participating in the Surya Namaskar programme etc are indicative of the ghetto mentality of the leaders of the community. While the former was witnessed in the entire country, the later is being witnessed in Madhya Pradesh as the State is preparing to introduce Yoga in schools.
These occasions which are being converted into points of conflict by the clergy-led Muslim community should actually have been excellent opportunities for integration. After all doesn’t Koran insist that Jannat is right under the feet of the mother? Aren’t there any number of Ghazals that sing the glory of Madre Watan (motherland)?
Skewed logic doesn’t help the community. If good number of Muslims are not there in Government services, don’t blame it on ‘discrimination’. After all, Muslim boys have topped the Civil Services exams in this country several times. What is needed is more education and better education. There should be demands for more schools, but not reservations. If there are more Muslim prisoners in a particular State, don’t again try to put blame on the ‘discriminatory’ police and judiciary. Reform the community, for, statistics by themselves don’t mean anything. There can be more Brahmins in jails in a particular State than in some other State. But that doesn’t mean anything.
Unfortunately such frivolous logic is what is forwarded to prove that there is discrimination against the Muslims; and worse, it is systemic. Our politicians – traders of minorityism – thrive on such perverted logic only.
But then the community should also realise that all this politics of minorityism has resulted in the end in a non-RSS, non-Hindutwavadi Indian also conclude that the Muslims are isolationists. This feeling will go only when the community sheds its minority politics; not if it tries further them through Sachar recommendations etc.