Challenging Minorityism and Pseudo-secularism

Implication of the Emergence of Narendra Modi - IV

Continued from “Taking on the Phantoms of the Past”

The 2014 election is going to decide which road the Indian polity takes in the years to come: continue on well-paved, familiar two-lane highway of pseudo-socialism with two converging lanes of pseudo-secularism and minorityism, or take the newly built road of development-for-all backed by good governance. The choice will be crucial for the ill-guided, long-suffering masses who have been let down in the past by many a false god.

If the Indian Muslims were looked after by all governments so far, why is their economic condition so pathetic? The answer is that they were not appeased; but only made to look like so! Vested interests had ulterior motives in doing that.

Fortunately, though not lettered and much too often tricked by our self-serving politicians, the electorate has home-spun common sense to decide what’s what. The democratic experiment of the last six decades has taught them – and politicians have lately discovered to their astonishment – how to differentiate, when called upon to do so, even between Tweedledom and Tweedledee. (Look at UP and Tamil Nadu).

Modi’s election strategy is likely to be built on two fronts: first, an exposé of the devious policy of Muslim appeasement and the great damage it has done to the polity in general and Muslims in particular and secondly, an exposure of the deleterious effects of the so-called secularism Congress has preached and practised over the years.

Taking the Bull by its Horn.

Will Modi take the Congress bull by its proverbial horns to floor it down? (The expression, allow me to add in passing, is generally attributed to have originated in the American West where it was a fairly common, but hazardous, practice to wrestle with steers (as young bulls are called). Is that the reason the Americans didn’t let Modi visit their land lest he should learn the secrets of this game fraught with dangers from the real masters of the sport? The American version was not just for fun but was part of the everyday working life of ranchers in the Wild West. To control a bull or a steer, the cowhand would first have to catch it. The only practical option was to take a deep breath and face the problem directly by grabbing the bull by the horns and then pulling it to the ground. So, the expression has come to means to confront a problem directly without the proverbial beating about the bush). And that’s what Modi will have to do if he means business.

Muslim Appeasement

Thanks to the fast-paced British manipulations, there were far-reaching changes in the Indian sub-continent in just seven years. On March 26, 1940, the leaders of the Muslim League, the political front of Indian Muslims, had raised – (or were they asked to raise?) – the issue of creation of Pakistan as a separate Muslim homeland. On August 14-15, 1947, the partition of India created two independent states, India and Pakistan. Just before Independence, the Muslim population in undivided India was 23 percent. However, on the basis of religious majority Pakistan received 32 percent of the land area. The most appropriate follow-up step after the partition was to carry out population exchange, or send the entire Muslim population of the divided India to Pakistan and bring all Hindus and other non-Muslims from Pakistan to India. (That most of non-Muslims were driven out from Pakistan is another story.) This exchange of population, as a logical part of the partition, was included in the original Pakistan proposal by the Muslim League. Most importantly, after communal riots in Bihar, Jinnah himself requested the Government of India to carry out population exchange as early as possible. But it could not be undertaken due to Gandhi’s staunch opposition. He termed it an absurd and impractical proposal. And that was the beginning of the politics of Muslim appeasement.

Mountbatten, the then Governor General of India, Dr. B R Ambedkar and many other nationalist leaders of the Congress Party were staunch supporter of the said population exchange and advised Jawaharlal Nehru to carry out the same without delay.

Supposedly, he was weak in mathematics. For this reason, he was forced to change from physics to botany as one of his tripod subjects at Cambridge University. However, he knew enough mathematics to realize that in order to ensure a stable working majority – that accursed pre-condition of democracy to remain in power – he required permanent Muslim vote. So, as a shrewd politician he realized the indispensable need of a rock-solid bloc of vote which the hapless Muslims constituted if they were to stay in their hearths and homes in post-Partition India. With both the British and Jinnah gone, they needed a mai-baap and that protective role Nehru played consummately.

Nehru’s successors meticulously followed the game plan. It is understandable how appeasement of the minority communities in India drives the adrenalin of the increasing number of Sangh Parivar outfits. The ire of these outfits is usually directed against the Muslim communities since they are said to be constantly “appeased” by various governments, both at the Center and in the states.

Haj Subsidy

The most blatant manifestation of this appeasement that BJP is bound to capitalize on is the practice of providing subsidized airfare by the Government of India to Haj pilgrims. It began as a policy of appeasing the Muslims, though it was a direct violation of the declared secular principles of the government. While commenting on it, Bipin Pal, in his article The Haj subsidy A Himalayan shame, writes: “How absurd, if not sad, that India is the only country in the world that provides a subsidy to its second biggest majority for pilgrimage to Mecca....” Doesn’t that make a mockery of our pretensions of secularism?

In 1992, after the demolition of the disputed structure at Ayodhya, P V Narasinha Rao, the then Prime Minister of India, to cool down the aggrieved Muslims, increased both the Hajj quota and amount of subsidy. It may be mentioned here that the government does not provide any such subsidy to the Hindu pilgrims who go to visit Kailash-Mansarovar in Tibet or to Amarnath in Kashmir or Gangasagar in West Bengal.


It was the British intellectual C.E.M. Joad who famously compared socialism to a hat that had lost its shape because so many had worn it – each one in his own way. The same is true – perhaps more poignantly – of secularism. Similarly, so egregiously confused and confusing has been the use of the term secularism at the hands of Congress leaders – and their innumerable acolytes and lackeys – that reportedly the British writer George Jacob Holyoake who first coined the term secularism in 1851, has stopped turning in his grave. Although it was an addition to dictionary, the general idea of free thought – bordering on Hindu way of life – on which it was based had been present all through history. In particular, it was rooted in ideas involving the separation of philosophy and religion. These days everyone has uses the term to suit his beliefs – even Jinnah turned a secular after dividing the sub-continent on grounds of religion.

Some of my readers may be surprised to hear that the “founding father of secular thought in Western Europe” is considered to be Abu l-Walid Muhammad bin Ahmad bin Rušd, commonly known as Ibn Rushd or, much more commonly, by his Latinized name Averroës. He was born in 1126 in Spain (then under Muslim rule) and died in 1198 in Morocco.  He was born in 1126 in Spain (then under Muslim rule) and died in 1198 in Morocco. The thirteenth century philosophical movement based on Averroes’ work is called Averroism. Of course, his views and philosophy were understandably controversial among Muslims of his time. However in the history of thought he was one of the first to expound what is today branded as secularism.

As mentioned above, the term “secularism” was first used by George Holyoake in 1851. An agnostic himself, Holyoake argued that

“Secularism is not an argument against Christianity; it is one independent of it. It does not question the pretensions of Christianity; it advances others. Secularism does not say there is no light or guidance elsewhere, but maintains that there is light and guidance in secular truth, whose conditions and sanctions exist independently, and act forever. Secular knowledge is manifestly that kind of knowledge which is founded in this life, which relates to the conduct of this life, conduces to the welfare of this life, and is capable of being tested by the experience of this life.”


However, what the Congress Party has over the years been practising is not secularism but pseudo-secularism. Surprisingly indeed, the first recorded use of the term pseudo-secularism was in a book, Philosophy and Action of the R.S.S. for the Hind Swaraj, by a Christian priest, Anthony Elenjimittam. Elenjimittam accused our leaders of merely pretending to uphold secularism.

Nehru’s stand with which started the practise of the Congress brand was, straight from Alice in Wonderland

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,
“it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice,
“whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty,
“which is to be master
that's all.”

Nehru’s secularism was always selective. Remember, how India’s secular Prime Minister refused to serve on the Congress Working Committee in 1951. The reason was it was presided over by Purushottam Das Tandon, who didn’t measure up to Nehru-prescribed criteria of secularism.

After Nehru, his dynastic successors stuck to norms of pseudo-secularism. Nehru was a self-declared agnostic. His daughter, always keen to derive political dividend from any situation, ensured that Nehru’s cremation was strictly as per Hindu Vedic rites, which Nehru certainly would have scoffed at. However, she knew she couldn’t win an election without some Hindu support.

Simultaneously, Muslims must continue to live for ever mired in the Sharia-prescribed grooves of life. Take for instance the status of women-dependence in Islam, which could have been changed for the better, and overnight, if Nehru had the courage to introduce uniform civil code in India. Nehru knew that would be opposed by the obscurantist among Muslims, and thereby divide the Muslim vote bank. Electoral support today is more important than a progressive society tomorrow.

Shah Bano Case

Another opportunity came in 1985 when Jawaharlal’s grandson had inherited the gadi from his mother. It was an opportunity to make amends for the failure to introduce a uniform civil code in India – an indispensable step toward bringing Muslims in national mainstream.

A helpless 62-year-old Muslim, woman and mother of five from Indore, Madhya Pradesh, was divorced by her husband in 1978 because he opted for a younger woman. She sought the help of courts to have alimony. Even after winning the case in the Supreme Court of India she was denied alimony because the Indian Parliament, in its profound secular wisdom, reversed the judgement under pressure of obdurate Islamic orthodoxy.

For how long the supposedly secular Indian polity should have different civil codes for different religions, especially for Muslims in India. Under pressure from the Mullahs, the Congress government passed the controversial Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 which vastly diluted the judgment of the Supreme Court and, actually, denied even utterly destitute Muslim divorcées the right to alimony from their former husbands. The Shah Bano case is an everlasting blur on Congress face – an eloquent testimony of the Congress’s practice of pseudo-secularism.

Political commentator Uday Mahurkar considers “minority appeasement” as divisive and against social peace in India. His path-breaking analysis of the voting pattern of Muslims in Gujarat in the 2012 elections was an indication of the rejection of the Congress as pseudo-secular even by the Muslims.

Sachar Committee

Howsoever exposed, the Congress Government’s tender concern for the Muslim minority continues unabated. This is confirmed by the appointment in 2005 of a committee headed by Justice Rajinder Sachar to study the socio-economic conditions of the Indian Muslims. How touching! The Committee submitted its report on 30 Nov 2006. Here’re some highlights of the Committee findings:

The economic condition of the Indian Muslims continues to be pathetic indeed.

  • Nearly one-third households have income of less than Rs.10,000
  • 24.4% between Rs.10,001-Rs 20,000
  • 7.5% between Rs.20,001-Rs.30,000
  • 3.8% between Rs.30,001-Rs.40,000
  • 1% between Rs.40.001-Rs.50,000 and
  • 5.6% above Rs.50,000. 
  • A significant 27.6% live in jhuggis in slums.
  • 46.1% respondents live in one-room houses.

If the Indian Muslims were looked after by all governments so far, why is their economic condition so pathetic? The answer is that they were not appeased; but only made to look like so! Vested interests had ulterior motives in doing that.

  • How did the ban on Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses help Muslims improve their lot?
  • How did VP Singh’s decision broadcast from the ramparts of the Red Fort to declare Prophet Mohammad’s birthday a national holiday help Muslims improve economically?
  • Didn’t the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 contribute towards perpetuating the backwardness of Muslim women?

Vote bank politics is the arch villain among the motives found in Indian politics.

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Continued to “Vote Bank Politics vs. Development-for-All”


More by :  H.N. Bali

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Views: 3471      Comments: 1

Comment Mr H.N. Bali has posed some fundamental questions about our professed secularism. As such the right to religion in our constitution makes India a secular nation. Following the constitutional tenets in right spirit will always uphold our secular values. But the policy of appeasement of the minority community and also the socially backward classes has done little good to their cause or to the nation as such. On the contrary, owing to this vote bank policy, more damage has been caused to the minority community and the backward classes. It is like reminding them constantly about their vulnerability to cope up in the midst of the majority, thereby dividing the nation on religion and caste line.

This is why, the integration and peaceful co-existence amongst the religious groups has not been achieved after more than six decades of our independence. The development of the minorities and the backward classes of the society is, of course, a matter of importance for any government. However, development and appeasements are never the same. Appeasement leads so separation and development leads to integration. From the statistics provided by Mr. Bali based on Justice Rajinder Sachar committee report, it is evident that very little development has, in fact, happened in upliftment of the minority community. On the contrary, a separate identity has been created for them beyond nationality.

The inability of the government to promulgate a uniform civil code is a pointer to our adhocism. I entirely agree with Mr. Bali about practice of pseudo secularism in India. It should be the avowed duty of the governments to cling to the policy of freedom of religion and equality of all religious groups in the eyes of law. But appeasement policy based on vote bank politics will neither do any good to the minority community or the nation.

Taraprasad Mishra
08-Jul-2013 04:26 AM

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