In the dirty, dastardly and insufferable cesspool of Indian politics today, VOTES are voluptuously hugged as Minorities and Minorities are romantically kissed as Votes. In terms of electoral physics, I call this as the most fundamental Indian-Newton's Law of Political Motion!
To quote the appropriate words of Profull Goradia, former Member of Parliament, from his brilliant book 'Anti Hindus': 'In any case, the National Minorities Commission needs to be abolished as it provides a potential nucleus for another State within the Indian Union. 'Minority' is largely an euphemism for the Muslim. The National Minorities Commission was set up by the Morarji Desai government in 1978. This decision was politically inspired by the wave of 'en masse' Muslims voting for the Janata Party in the 1977 General Elections.
When P V Narasimha Rao was Prime Minister, his government outclassed the record of the Morarji Desai government, by converting the National Minorities Commission into a statutory body by an Act of Parliament in 1992.
What are the functions of the National Minorities Commission?
The main tasks of this Commission are to evaluate the progress of the development of minorities by the Union and the States; to monitor the working of the safeguards provided in the Constitution and in the various Acts of Parliament and State Legislatures; to make recommendations for the effective implementation of safeguards for the protection of the interests of minorities by the Central/State Governments and to look into specific complaints regarding deprivation of rights and safeguards of the minorities and to take up such matters with appropriate authorities. The National Minorities Commission is also vested with the powers of a Civil Court.
Self-chosen political confusion was the favored staple diet of Jawaharlal Nehru as first Prime Minister of independent India. He often spoke on very sensitive issues in two voices or three voices. This seemingly civilized attitude coupled with the draconian authority he enjoyed as the unchallenged leader of the Congress party after the death of Sardar Vallabhai Patel, enabled him to treat everyone in India with supreme contempt. And what is most wonderful is that if it suited him politically, he was too willing to eat his own words with gusto and pseudo-secular enthusiasm in order to corner minority votes, especially of the Muslims. Yet for the sake of form, I would like to quote his own words against the concept of 'minority' during a debate in the Constituent Assembly: 'Where you are up against a full blooded democracy, if you seek to give safeguards to a minority, you isolate it. May be you protect it to a slight extent, but at what cost? At the cost of isolating it and keeping it away from the main current in which the majority is going, 'at the cost of forfeiting that inner sympathy and fellow feeling with the majority.'
After saying all this, it was he who gave political accommodation if not sanction for the revival of the Indian Muslim League in India in the 1950s. Can any one doubt that the Muslims and Christians of India, by virtue of their privileged position granted to them, are getting isolated from the majority? In order to weaken the Hindu society and to divide India into pieces, the UPA government is going to introduce a Quota Raj based on caste, color, creed, religion and community.
Sardar Vallabhai Patel too was against the concept of minority. In the Constituent Assembly Sardar Patel said: 'In the long run, it will be in the interests of all to forget that there is anything like a majority or a minority in this country, and there is only one community.'
The tragedy is when the Morarji Desai government created the National Minorities Commission in 1978, they had not yet learnt the lessons of partition and separatist steps like separate electorates that were preparatory to partition. The fundamental fact of history is that those who preferred a Muslim Homeland for themselves had got Pakistan and could easily emigrate to it. Those who chose not to move need to accept Indian nationality in all its splendor. And not be an 'imperium in imperio' as has been stated by Dr. D D Basu in his 'Introduction to the Constitution of India.' He has rightly observed that nobody compelled the Muslims to stay on in divided India.
What is the internationally accepted concept of minority?
It can arise only when the population of a country is directed or driven by external circumstances, like war, to another country against its will.
According to Dr. D D Basu, Indian partition took place in a diametrically opposite way. Muslims under Jinnah had asserted that they were a nation separate from the Hindus. There was no question then of a minority which would have entitled them to safeguards as distinct from separation. In almost all countries of the world, a certain segment - ethnic, religious, linguistic or ideological would be in the majority and some others would be in a minority. This is unavoidable and inevitable. A multi-cultural nation like the United States has its majority and minorities as well, but one seldom talks about them. The biggest minority in USA are the Afro-Americans, but no one from the Republican or Democratic party there has ever thought of providing reservation for the Afro-Americans in the Senate or Congress or in government service.
A path breaking book on the subject of minoritism called Insight into Minoritismhas recently been written by Muzaffer Hussain. In this well-argued book, he goes into the subject in different contexts and in great detail. Muzaffer Hussain draws pointed attention to the fact that minorities have been dealt with very poorly in Pakistan and Bangladesh, India's immediate neighbors. To quote the exact words of Muzaffer Hussai in this context: 'There is a sizeable population of Hindus in the Gulf countries but those countries are not ready to give any facility to them in the name of minority or Human Rights. The Hindus are not allowed there to cremate their kith and kin as per their belief. They can't construct places for worship nor can they celebrate their festivals at public places. During the Ramzan, non-Muslims can't eat anything at daytime in public places. The Muslims expect to get everything as minorities in the countries of Hindus, Buddhists and Christians but in Islamic countries the minorities don't have such privilege.'
Muzaffer Hussain argues that when all are born and brought up in the Indian context, the question of 'alien' and 'indigenous' people does not arise. Hussain's argument is that all over the world, a minority status is granted only to those classes, which have migrated from abroad. Hence, according to him, it is not proper to designate Muslims and Christians of India as aliens or minorities since they, too are very much Indian. In the light of this well founded argument, Muzaffer Hussain damns minoritism as a 'menace' which it has indeed become. He eloquently maintains that Christians and Muslims in India can't be dubbed as minorities because they are very much Indian.
Kamath, the veteran journalist has done a brilliant review of Muzaffer Hussain's book for the Free Press Journal. He has said: 'All are one in this country where there is one citizenship for all and everyone is a part of this nation.
The word 'minority' Hussain asserts, weakens the unity of the country and draws a dividing line between individuals. How right he is. Hussain is critical of Muslims in India who, he says, haven't accepted democracy. Inevitably the Islamic world has been gripped by fanaticism and narrow thinking.'
Kamath further observes: 'Indeed in older textbooks on political science there would hardly be any reference to majoritarianism and minoritarianism. These are recently-coined words. But India is different. Here we constantly talk of minorities as if they are a plague and we even have a Minority Commission! It is a carry over from British colonialism. How can Muslims who form between 15 to 20 per cent of India's population consider themselves a minority? Not many have dared to raise this question. Hussain has. All praise to him. This is a book that our policy-makers and politicians would do well to read. It may not necessarily have all the right answers, but it certainly raises all the right questions. And isn't that what a good study should be all about?'
What is then the solution to the minority problem in India? According Muzaffer Hussain, a uniform civil code is the only answer. The term 'Minority', Hussain concedes, is not in itself bad, but problems arise when it is used by vested interests, As he sees it, minoritism is a 'deception' practiced on human civilization of which one should be aware of. And majority communalism is a myth. Muzaffer Hussain asserts with dignity that it is essential to respect the opinion of the majority in day-to-day life.