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Constitutional Amnesia
by BS Murthy Bookmark and Share
 

Continued from "Ant Grows Wings" 

Mohammed Ali Jinnah got what he wanted for the Musalmans of Hindustan, though in time, their religious fervour turned Pakistan into a Rogue State.
       
What of India, the product of an irony of a partition? While the Hindu nationalists lamented about the loss of the country’s land, the Musalman intellectuals were alarmed at their reduced numbers vis-à-vis the Hindus. Even as the Golwalkars articulated the Hindu frustration in shrill voices, the Maulana Azads voiced the Muslim fears in secular tones. Whatever, as Pakistan became an Islamic nation for the Musalmans, India remained a habitat of varied interest groups, the Musalmans included! While the Indian political classes were beset with a sense of loss that partition brought in, in its wake, the Hindu intellectuals were upset by the age-old caste guilt that the reform movement occasioned in their collective consciousness. 
 
It was in such a setting that India ventured to formulate a constitution for itself, of course, piloted by Ambedkar, the intellectual from the oppressed sections of the polity. And the end product, touted as the bulkiest of the written constitutions in the comity of nations, turned out to be an exercise in selective amnesia.  
 
We The People Of India, reads the preamble of the Constitution of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic And to secure to all its citizens:

Justice, social, economic and political;
Liberty of status, expression, belief, faith and worship;
Equality of status and of opportunity;
And to promote among all
Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and    integrity of the Nation;

In Our Constituent Assembly this twenty-sixth day of November 1949, do Hereby Adopt, Enact and Give to Ourselves this Constitution.”

None can fault the lofty ideals of this august document but for the politicization of the testament itself, i.e. by the induction of socialism into it. Strange it may seem, won’t the socialistic slant negate the economic justice that it seeks to provide? After all, socialism, as per the COD, is a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the community as a whole should own and control the means of production, distribution and exchange. How could there be an economic justice for an individual enterprising Indian then? However, mercifully in the end, Narasimha Rao could extricate the country from the Nehruvian socialist grip to leave his legacy of a Sovereign Secular Democratic Republic of India. But that was not before socialism wrecked Indian industry and ruined its economy so much so that the country, for servicing its national debt, had to pledge its gold for all those sterling pounds.
 
What about the sloganeering of a secularism of India? To be secular, again going by the COD, is to be concerned with the affairs of this world; not spiritual or sacred, and in matters of education etc. not concerned with religion or religious belief. Yet the constitution of our secular democratic republic in the name of the ‘Right to Freedom of Religion’ dabs in all matters religious!
 
The article of the Indian Constitution with regard to “Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion” exhorts thus:
 
1.  Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion.
 
2.  Nothing in this article shall affect the operation of any existing law or prevent the State from making any law - 

(a) regulating or restricting any economic, financial, political or other secular activity which may be associated with religious practice;
 
(b)  providing for social welfare and reform or the throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus.”

Agreed, the right of the citizen for the profession and practice of one’s religion is unexceptionable as it constitutes the birthright. But, why an ordinary Indian citizen should be concerned about the propagation of his faith for the constitution to grant it to him? Besides, where does the right of an Indian citizen for propagation of his faith leave his fellow citizen’s cultural need for preservation of his own faith? After all, the right of propagation is but the right to spread one’s religion, and one cannot do that without coming into conflict with another’s religious faith, can he? 

Hence, one citizen’s right to propagate his faith vitiates the right of another to profess and practice his religion. Unwittingly thus, the Constitution of India, in granting   the right for propagation of one’s religion per se takes away another’s implied right for the preservation of his own faith. Besides, to what avail is the right to propagate one’s religion for the citizen rather than to fuel the zeal of the religious zealots for converting?

And what about the ‘Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation’ that the constitution provides for! What of the individual dignity of those Hindus who fall prey for the inducements, known to be offered by the Church, for them to embrace the Son of an alien God! Thus, is not the creed of the Church to propagate its faith that causes the poor of the land to lose their dignity is at odds with our constitutional spirit itself? 

Besides, as the raison d’etre of religious propagation is conversion, wouldn’t that individual right prove inimical to the unity and integrity of the Nation? However, going by the hell raised by the missionaries and the mullahs and their political cohorts at any move by the State to disfavour fraudulent conversions, the popular belief is that the right for propagation is without any constitutional strings attached to it! Only when the clamour for the future partitions of India on religious lines picks up, would a Western historian be able to spot the constitutional blind spots that gave rise to the development! Yes, it needs Western intellectuals even to see it all in the hindsight even, for India’s left leaning political analysts are notoriously blind to the realities of the Indian life and times.

Be that as it may, what’s the rationale of religious propagation based on which the framers of the constitution granted that to its citizens? Though Hinduism and Judaism, the world’s oldest surviving religions, are content with their constituencies, it is the Christianity and Islam, the new brands in the religious marketplace that hanker for conversions, of course, having come into being through propagation. Indeed, their religious spread worldwide is owing to their creed as enshrined in their Scriptures per se. If not all, many a Christian missionary and the Musalman mullah strive to turn the world all Christian or all Muslim as the case may be. After all, that’s what their scriptures ordain and their religious creed obliges them to do so. 

It thus defies logic as to how our constitution makers, who went about the exercise in the immediate wake of the country’s partition on religious lines, deemed it fit to endorse the propagation of one’s faith, read the Christian and the Islamic, in the Hindu midst! Well, it’s the illusionism of Gandhi that became the idealism of the Congress which influenced the Constituent Assembly of the just-partitioned India. And that shows, isn’t it?

How strange that the Constitution exhibits a singular lack of application of mind of its framers to secure India’s integrity as a constituent country for all times to come. Sadly thus, the wise-heads then, not to speak of the foresight, lacked the hindsight even. God forbid, they seemed to have unwittingly laid the seeds of a future partition of the Hindustan whose wings Jinnah had truncated. But, would this religious error ever be erased from our statute before history gets repeated!   
 
If all this were Ambedkar’s idea of a religious safety valve for the disenchanted dalits, the then harijans, then it would be a betrayal of India’s cause. Of course, one can understand Ambedkar’s hurt when he vowed not to die a Hindu, and, indeed, kept his word by embracing Buddhism before his death. But then, the true dalit emancipation might lie in bringing about the Hindu reformation from within and not in opting out of the faith, only to remain in the domain of the Indian social discrimination.

Now, over to the “Freedom as to attendance at religious instruction or religious worship in certain educational institutions” that the constitution stipulates.

(1) No religious instruction shall be provided in any educational institution wholly maintained out of State funds.
 
(2) Nothing in clause (1) shall apply to an educational institution which is administered by the State but has been established under any endowment or trust which requires that religious instruction shall be imparted in such institution.
 
(3) No person attending any educational institution recognized by the State or receiving aid out of State funds shall be required to take part in any religious instruction that may be imparted in such institution or to attend any religious worship that may be conducted in such institution or in any premises attached thereto unless such person or, if such person is a minor, his guardian has given his consent thereto.”

The sum total of freedom of religious instruction is that the State, in true secular spirit, is expected to keep itself away from it in the physical sense. Thus in a nutshell, religious education is fine so long as the government funding is not involved! And thus the State is allowed to retain the secular pretence by keeping itself overtly out of religion. One would have expected the constitutional makers to address the content of the religious education and the need for the same to serve the needs of the communities concerned without compromising the general public order and good.
 
Of course, all communities need some amongst them to undergo religious education to help facilitate their lives in accordance with the tenets of their faith. That should at once be the scope as well as the limitation of the religious education, isn’t it? To cater to these legitimate needs of a given religious group, the required religious education with or without the government funding forms a fundamental communal right of the members of that group.  

Right, but what if in the name of freedom of religious instruction, the dogmas of such faiths, given to deride the religious beliefs of fellow citizens, are sought to be inculcated in members of that community? Won’t such a move hamper the secular charter of the country besides inculcating religious bigotry in the mind-set of any given community? 

Obviously, the framers of the constitution didn’t delve deep enough into the vexatious subject of religious intolerance of the practicing faiths in the country. What is worse, this supposed constitutional religious goodness came in handy for the ugly politician to turn it into an exploitative mask for the Muslim Vote. It is one thing to espouse the cause of the Musalman and another to abet the whims of Islam. Sadly, for the minorities, our politicians tend to be on the right side of the wrong issues, i.e. to curry the Muslim favours to the benefit of none, save themselves. 

Is it not time for We The People of India, nearly sixty years after our fathers, or be it grandfathers had adopted the constitution,  to factor the new realities into a more equitable document? After all, isn’t the level playing field the theme song of the world today? And the Hindu emotional grievance is that they are denied just that in the religious plane in the country that their forbearers made their own before all else’. 

Related article:  Sham of Secularism – Fraud on India 

Continued to “The Stymied State”
   

20-Sep-2012
More by :  BS Murthy
 
Views: 940
Article Comment Dear rdashby:
You fears -
"... this will be positively restrictive on the expression of other foreign religious influences? The simple consequence of this will be Hindu exercised religious intolerance much as Nazism in its own sphere proved to be; ultimately to the elevation of a leader of all Hindus, as Hitler was to Nazism, with disastrous consequences on all Hindus themselves, all committed to die for the ideal, if needs be, or considered unworthy of Hinduism. - are unfounded for
1) The Hindu ethos has always been inclusive exemplified by such concepts as vasudhaika kutumbam (the world is but one family), sarve janah sukhinobhavantu (may all people be happy). This juxtaposes the Semitic religious self grandiose emphasis of, the Jews the chosen people, Salvation only to the Christians and Islam is the only true path etc.
2) Secondly none of the Hindu gods and goddesses is jealous and intolerant as the Semitic God who constantly eggs His own faithful – the Jews, the Christians and the Musalmans - to be aggressive towards each other. So it is the followers of the Semitic faiths that need to inculcate the secular temper as the Hindus are born with it and this is something that is beyond the grasp of the psedo-secualrists.
3) Even without ‘the God’ religious guard in India, there is no way for some Hitler like character to cause havoc in the karmabhoomi for it is incapable of cultivating some hate crop like the Christian anti-Semitism.
Having said that, there is no denying the positive influences of the Islam and the Christianity in the Indian cultural setting, which truly enriched the way of life in the country and that should be enough for now and forever.
Regards,
BS Murthy


BS Murthy
03/17/2013
Article Comment Dear Sir, your graciousness in publishing my comments is done in exactly the democratic spirit of the Indian Constitution.

The bottom line is your call for a 'more equitable document'. May I suggest this will be positively restrictive on the expression of other foreign religious influences? The simple consequence of this will be Hindu exercised religious intolerance much as Nazism in its own sphere proved to be; ultimately to the elevation of a leader of all Hindus, as Hitler was to Nazism, with disastrous consequences on all Hindus themselves, all committed to die for the ideal, if needs be, or considered unworthy of Hinduism.

The secularist nature of the Indian Constitution is noted, where the very loosening of religious freedoms is done in a spirit of intellectual condescension, as if to imply religion today is a private affair with no real influence in the running of the country, whose laws are secular and bind on every citizen - ideally. If there is corruption it has nothing to do with religion, and based on the opportunism of natural selection, which after all is the prevailing theory of secularism that lacks any concept of divine goodness or holiness; it’s natural virtue is living on one’s wits, avoid being caught, and if caught, evading temporal justice in the instinct for survival. This is all achieved with money and influence; thus, a complete cycle of corruption is integral to secularist politics. It can be rationalised in certain aspects of it as democratic rights, that, in the case of gay marriage, for example, encroaches on religious values with impunity, because the only real values are secular. Here I will conclude my comments for this artcicle.
rdashby
03/17/2013
Article Comment Dear rdashby:
Your comments in effect validate my arguments about idiocy of those who had shaped the Constitution of India.
The nations of Europe, the North and the Latin Americas et al have a right to their Christian ethos, and the countries of the Middle East and the rest of the Muslim majority States, need no Christian consent to declare themselves as Islamic Republics.
But thanks to its Constitution, India, the only country, apart from Nepal, which has a Hindu majority, has no right to even preserve its ancient religion and culture against the poachers of the Semitic faiths of the Christianity and Islam.
True in the times gone by, the Hindu disunity enabled the Musalmans to alter the demography of Hindustan leading to the creation of Pakistan and as a Hindu I am afraid that India’s Utopian constitution shaped by those, who were oblivious of the new Christian appetite to proselytize, in times to come, would give raise to the demand for a separate nation for the Indian Christians.
That the Hindus are politically naïve is no secret to the Muslims and the Christians, and the endeavor of ‘Puppets of Faith’ is to let the Hindus have a grasp of their stupidity, and I am sure the Indian nationalists, not necessarily Hindus, would not fault me.
Regards,
BS Murthy

BS Murthy
03/17/2013
Article Comment Dear Sir, in respect of your enquiry, you also state:

>After all, the right of propagation is but the right to spread one’s religion, and one cannot do that without coming into conflict with another’s religious faith, can he?<

In reply, there is no occasion of conflict in exercise of democratic right of propagation, because in a democratic context no one is deprived of his or her democratic rights, to wit, the Hindu's choice to follow his own religious path and to simply ignore others propagation of their religious beliefs. To conceive of conflict is delusory, or an inversion of the Hindu will to monopolise the religious scene in India, which is clearly undemocratic.






rdashby
03/17/2013
Article Comment Dear rdashby:
I have no issue with the Indian Constitution that it concedes the citizens’ right to change their religion on their own volition, which freedom Islam denies to the Musalmans, who, like the rest of the humanity, are not born into a believing household by choice. While the urge of the Musalman to convert the kafirs is borne out of the fundamentality of Islam, the Christian urge to proselytize the Hindus, fueled in part by political consideration, is a product of conceit for they allow themselves to believe that the Son of God is superior to even the gods of Hinduism!
What do you mean by - "What is there to prevent it? The fact of Christian and Muslim propagation? This is a form of defeatism, a neurosis in the Hindu mentality."
Pray tell, what is the Christian mentality called that did not allow them to rest till they reconverted the Musalmans of Spain or had expelled the unwilling from it? Well, while the Christians and the Muslims always had a historical grasp of the demographic benefits of proselytizing, the Hindus continue to remain naive about it, in spite of the demographic disasters that it brought in, in its wake, and the Constitution of India bears witness that they fail to learn from their own history.
Regards,
BS Murthy
BS Murthy
03/16/2013
Article Comment While I understand the point you make that freedom of propagation of faith in the Indian Constitution serves the interests of proselytising Christian and Muslim faiths, I cannot see how this 'vitiates the right of another (including Hindu) to profess and practice his religion', since the constitution guarantees freedom of religious expression to all. The tendency to propagation of faith is everywhere rife in the world, as evidenced by Christian evangelical preachers in the US, for example, that exercise the same form of democratic constitutional right. This does not mean anyone else's right to practice religion in the US, Muslim, Catholic or Hindu, is in any way hampered or spoiled. Indeed, freedom of expression in a democracy implies the right to air one's views; it is equally implied one cannot impose them on others.

Your estimate of the influence of Hinduism in India juxtaposed to Islam and Christianity is as one rendered vulnerable by the latter's constitutional right to propagation. You await a change in the constitution to permit Hinduism to reform from within: surely, Hinduism has the opportunity to do just that now? -What is there to prevent it? The fact of Christian and Muslim propagation? This is a form of defeatism, a neurosis in the Hindu mentality. Or it may indeed reveal a Trojan horse in Hinduism itself, since in your own words Hinduism is a way of life, and in that philosophy, other religions too play their part as expressing this.
rdashby
03/15/2013
 
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