Note: This is a guest piece by IndiaFacts reader Jai Sharma.
Shorn of all the verbiage the, the UPA’s minorities welfare programme, tomtommed as seeking “ the welfare of the Minorities” is a sinister plan prepared after some hard thinking and careful planning by the ruling establishment to perpetuate their hold on power. The UPA’s election managers are apparently convinced that despite constituting 80% of the population the Hindus will not be able to pose a serious threat to the UPA’s hold because:
(1) they are hopelessly divided into several mutually antagonistic camps on account of caste (Brahmin, Thakur ,Vaishya, Jat ,Gujar,Yadav, Dalit, non- Dalit, OBC, non-OBC, SC, ST, etc), religion, sect, and so on.
(2) Many educated and affluent Hindus just do not vote and
(3)The poorer sections of Hindus can be easily manipulated to vote by exercise of money, muscle or some other tried and trusted mechanism.
On the contrary the Muslims (13.4% according to the 2001 census but actually about 20% at present) and the Christians (1.9% according to 2001 census but estimated to be about 6-10% at present) constitute solid vote banks who would largely vote according to the advice of their religious leaders. Once the loyalty of these two sections is ensured, victory of their favourite political party becomes almost certain. Bribing the Muslims and Christians and keeping the Hindus divided by encouraging the factional Hindu leaders–for example, Mayavati, Mulayam Singh, Ajit Singh, Laloo etc to pursue their divisive agenda are among the key planks of the UPA strategy.
The UPA government must have known it fully well that giving concessions to citizens solely on the ground of religion is violative of the principles of Secularism as also of the guarantees of the right to Equality and Prohibition of Discrimination on the grounds of religion, caste etc, enshrined in our constitution. To give its actions an appearance of legitimacy it created the smokescreen of Muslim backwardness. The Sachar Committee and the Ranganath Misra Commission were appointed to prepare the groundwork for building the edifice of Muslim welfare measures. In furtherance of its plan to add the Christians to its targeted votebank, the UPA Government took recourse to the longstanding excuse of Minority welfare by announcing a revival and revamping of the Prime Minister’s 15 point programme for the welfare of the Minorities.
Those familiar with the history of the Indian National Congress know it very well that right from about 1920 this party has been chronically afflicted with the disease commonly known as Muslim Appeasement and has been seeking to endear itself to the Muslim community. The Congress leader whose thinking was most seriously warped by the disease was none other than the first Prime Minister of India — Jawaharlal Nehru. His handling of the case of J&K’s accession to India is a painful and permanent reminder of his fatal obsession with the Muslim community. Unfortunately not many Indians remember his disgusting conduct in the matter of the Nehru–Liaqat Pact (1950). Even when the trauma of the Partition and the price India had to pay for Muslim Separatism should have been fresh in his mind, Nehru entered into an agreement in March 1950 with visiting Pakistan Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan according to which India agreed to provide reservation for Muslims in all government services and representative bodies both in the states as well as in the centre in proportion to their share in the population. It was only because of the opposition by NV Gadgil and Sardar Patel that the paragraphs containing these provisions were deleted from the Agreement.
Throughout the period that the INC has been wielding power in India, it has been posturing as the protector of the rights of Muslims and depending on the Muslim community as an important constituent of its votebank. Perhaps to prove itself even better than the INC, the Janata Party which came to power in 1977 created a semi Government Minorities Commission by a Resolution dated 12.01.1978. which stated that “despite the safeguards provided in the Constitution and the laws in force, there persists among the Minorities a feeling of inequality and discrimination.” For lack of support in the Parliament the Commission could not be given statutory status till 1992.
Successive governments kept on trying to exploit the issue of minority welfare. On returning to power, Smt. Indira Gandhi addressed a letter to the Chief Ministers in May 1983 containing certain points to ensure the economic, social and educational development of the minorities. This letter listed 15 different aspects for action and came to be known as the Prime Minister’s 15-Point Programme for welfare of the minorities. The programme was reiterated by Rajiv Gandhi in his letter dated 28 August, 1985 addressed to all the Chief Ministers. The Minorities Commission got statutory sanction and was renamed as the National Commission for Minorities with the enactment of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992. Vide a Gazette notification issued on 23 October 1993 by the Ministry of Welfare, Government of India, five religious communities viz the Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis) were notified as minority communities. As per the 2001 Census, these five religious minority communities constitute 18.42% of the country’s population.
The period of eight years spent in political wilderness seems to have imparted an unusually strong urge to the appetite of the INC for perpetuating the party’s hold on power. Shortly after assuming power in 2004 the INC-led UPA decided to pursue its minorities-wooing plan in with unprecedented vigour. Following a visit by a delegation of Muslim MPs and Ministers, the Prime Minister through a Notification dated 9 March 2005 appointed a High Level Committee under the Chairmanship of Justice Rajinder Sachar to report on the social, economic and educational condition of the Muslim Community in India.
In his address on the occasion of Independence Day in 2005, the Prime Minister announced inter-alia that “We will also revise and revamp the 15 Point Programme for Minorities. The new 15 Point Programme will have definite goals which are to be achieved in a specific time frame.” A new Ministry of Minority Affairs was created on 29 January, 2006 “to ensure a more focused approach towards issues relating to the minorities and to facilitate the formulation of overall policy and planning, coordination, evaluation and review of the regulatory framework and development programmes for the benefit of the minority communities” The Sachar Committee submitted its report on 17 November 2006 dutifully declaring that the” Muslims were among the most educationally, socially and economically backward communities of India.” The Sachar Committee’s report has been examined in great detail and it has been found that the Committee’s conclusion about the condition of the Muslims was entirely unwarranted by the available evidence.
The Sachar Committee Report was laid on the table of the Parliament on 30 November 2006. While addressing a meeting of the National Development Council on 9 December 2006, the Prime Minister made the astounding declaration that “the Minorities, particularly the Muslim Minority must have the first claim on the nation’s resources.” In response to the widespread criticism of the PM’s declaration, the PMO came out with a clarification on 10 December 2006 in an apparent effort to defend the indefensible.
It is a matter of deep regret that no Hindu individual or organization has come forward to challenge the grave injustice done to the Hindus in the wake of the Sachar Committee Report. One obvious reason could be their thousand year old habit of submitting to oppression without protest. A second reason is the ganging up of the mainstream national media in distorting the concept of Secularism to mean anti-Hinduism. Anybody taking up any issue for the Hindus is immediately branded as Communal while those engaging in blatantly communal actions—for example, the UPA, Mulayam Singh (Socialist Party), Mayawati (Bahujan Samaj Party), Mamata Banerjee (TMC) and the leftists are still called’ Secular.’ A little examination of the PMO’s clarification will reveal the its clumsy attempt to mislead the nation.
The extracts below constitute the crux of the PMO’s clarification:
We will have to devise innovative plans to ensure that minorities, particularly the Muslim minority, are empowered to share equitably in the fruits of development. They must have the first claim on resources…….. .” While better off sections of society will benefit from this process, it is the responsibility of the Government to pay special attention to the welfare of weaker and marginalized sections. …….. India must shine, but shine for all.
The above clarification leaves the UPA government as clearly guilty of trying to deceive the country and of acting against the Constitution. In the first place, it seems to create the false impression that the Muslims of India have been left far behind the others in India’s march towards development. Even assuming for argument’s sake that the Minorities and particularly the Muslims happen to be among the weaker and marginalized sections of the Indian society, what exactly is the reason for giving them the first claim on the nation’s resources? When the Government is so solicitous about the condition of the Muslims and Other Religious Minorities, what makes it totally indifferent to similarly circumstanced Hindus? (unless the Government believes that all Hindus have risen above poverty)
The Government’s concern for the weaker and marginalized sections loses all credibility because of its decision to divide the weaker and marginalized sections into two groups—one made eligible for huge benefits and the other made completely ineligible with the religion of each group being made the sole determinant of eligibility. It is necessary to find out the reason for the government being unable to deal with the welfare of the weaker and marginalized except through communal lenses. The Constitution specifically forbids discrimination on grounds of caste, race or religion. The intention of the UPA government as is clear from the above statement is that while Muslims and other minorities (ORMs) deserve to be helped to rise above their poverty, the Hindus deserve no such help. The only reason for such skewed thinking could be their intention to purchase the loyalty of the voters belonging to these Minorities.
Apart from the religion-based criteria followed by the government, there is another serious flaw in the Governments discriminatory policy: that it is against the principles of equity and natural justice. The Sachar Report has been closely examined and it has been found that the conclusion reached by the Committee about the condition of the Muslims is entirely unwarranted by available impartial evidence. Independent studies have repeatedly come to the conclusion that there is virtually no difference in the overall situation of the Hindus and the Muslims in India. In fact extreme poverty is more common among rural Hindus than among Muslims. Despite the availability of these reports in the public domain, the Sachar Committee proceeded to give a fraudulent report. The government needed an excuse to pursue their votebank policies and that was provided by Sachar. All said and done, providing the means of rapid advancement in life to one section of the population and denying the same to another equally deserving section must be condemned as offending against the universal principles of equity and natural justice.
The case of the other Religious Minorities is even more strange. In their case no enquiry at all was considered necessary and after receiving the Sachar Committee report, the UPA government quietly proceeded to grant the same benefits to these ORMS as had been granted to the Muslims. The only imaginable reason of this munificence towards the ORMs could be perhaps the Government’s unstated belief that these Minorities also belonged to the “weaker and marginalized sections of the society.”
It is common knowledge that far from being weaker and marginalized, these ORMs are in the top bracket of the educational, social and income spheres of the Indian Society. The real reason for the ludicrous decision to make these Minorities equally eligible for the favours granted to the Muslims could have been the Government’s desire to look even handed while dealing with the Minorities in India. Alternatively, in the UPA’s judgment, belonging to a religion other than Hinduism could perhaps be justification enough for being granted the same package of favours as the Muslims. As it is the numbers of the ORMs being small, the Muslim community will remain the largest beneficiary of the Government’s largesse.
It is high time this massive fraud perpetrated on the country is exposed by the media and nullified by the courts.
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