Secularism- a case of democratic accident
India, says, Dr. Durga Basu Das, is a secular state i.e., a state which observes an attitude of neutrality and impartiality towards all religions. In a Secular context, believes, Jawarlal Nehru, majoritarian politics should exercise maximum restraint and minority religious communities are allowed to flourish. A secular state is one in which survival of every distinct culture allows growth and development of other ethnic cultures.
However, in the recent times, certain events have dented the image of India as regards as its secular character enshrined in the Indian constitution by the insertion of article 44- a change made by Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government. In short, India with its overwhelming Hindu Majority, would tolerate religious and ethnic diversity. Hindu Nationalist Party insisted on denying the remaining the Muslims full rights of citizenship. That opposition was now in power to reword with a revenge history of India.
BJP historians shouted that Indus Valley was the birth place of its civilization more than 5000 years ago and that the Vedas, The sacred text of Hinduism, were the only source of Indian culture. They malice the history by pointing out that the Islam came to India by force and other religious groups should be converted to the Vedas.
However the looming threat of religious zealots clouded Indian grand idea of secularism and spoiled its very essence. After partition Hindu zealots for the first time razed a mosque at Ayodha, the violence followed, claimed 1200 lives and left 4600 injured in the worst hit Hindu-Muslim clashes since 1947. The Ayodha massacre was communal in violence and religious in execution.
Ten years later, Vajpaye government was hit by Gujarat riots of 2002, worse than religious violence in Ayodha. After fifty-nine Hindus perished on a train, apparently the result of
An accident, Hindu extremists went on a rampage.
Hindu zealots raped hundreds of woman and girls, looted stores, killed approximately 2,000 Muslims and left a flood of refugees estimated at 200,000. Human Rights Watch accused the government of providing the Hindu killers the addresses of Muslim families and the police of participation in the pogrom.
Jawaharlal Nehru soundness of spirit of secularism did not find expression in the India Gandhi policies toward Sikh communities during her brutal crackdown on Sikh separatist movement. In October 1984, two of Gandhi’s bodyguards, both Sikhs, shot her to death. Riots that followed claimed the lives of thousands of Sikhs.
India Gandhi was succeeded by her son, Rajiv Gandhi who continued the suppression of Sikhs. In May 1991, he became the victim of a suicide bomb, one of the first ever. He died as his mother had, the victim of an ethnic movement seeking independence. The ethnic and sectarian violence in the face of partition claimed one million lives and ultimately claimed the life of even Mohandas Gandhi, shot by a Hindu extremist to death, believing that, Gandhi had been too pacifying to the Muslims, the supreme symbol of nonviolent resistance.
The secular grand narrative of Indian parliamentary kind of politics stem from the fact that communal ism be deemed as a pivot and fundamental element in determining the representational politics of Indian nationalism and minority representation in parliamentary politics be checked at earnest and kept at distance from the echelons of power. Political power is controlled by few higher caste elites as minority representation is inadequate or negligible or absent in various government departments.
Let me elaborate. The reservation bill for minority rights when it came to parliament for discussion meet with strong protests as higher-ups speak of prejudiced provisions and demanded its revision at the hand. The fact is all top most institutions in Indian democracy are controlled by few elites, be it politics, educational institutions or military institutions, handle of power is concentrated in few hands who decide the fate of lives of millions of people.
The poverty alleviation program should not be confused with social empowerment of backward section of society as it only represents their number in different categories previously represented as inadequate and in practice did not empower them.
In the wake of spree of arrests of some innocent Muslims at random, later acquitted, by Supreme Court, the frequency with which Muslim youth are arrested has increased rapidly from past few years.
The Indian kind of politics as is believed is gripped by Hindu extremist elements who seek to curb religious minorities and establish a Hindu state.
During the partition, mobs of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and others savagely attacked one another in acts of reprisals, bitterness and desperation. In many cities, terrorism raged out of control for days when arson,looting’s, murder and rape became common. Villages became battlegrounds of warring groups and massacres were frequent along the high ways clogged with poor and usually unprotected migrants.
The bottom line is that the secular character of Indian authoritative version has in real terms all the way met with a democratic accident and failed to come out. You cannot be secular at one time and communal at other time.
It is communal politics to arrest, at random, any one, lodge into jails, without trial, it is up to courts to prove the conviction of charges against a person and police shall not over step the mark line so as to flout the very sanctity of courts.
To crave for sub quotas within quotas for backward sections of Muslim society for vote-bank-politics is an act secular character as religious grounds does not qualify any reservation for any religious minority.
Secular ambiguity of Indian politics has transformed into nothing less than targets on religious and ethnic minorities.
Author is Kashmir based political analyst. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org