डिजिटल अर्काईव्ह (2008 - 2021)

Conversion by force, fraud or inducement is barred and the rights conferred by Article 25 are specifically made subject to "public order, morality and health" and to all other fundamental rights.

The BJP-VHP-RSS Shiv Sena litany about pseudosecularism, minorityism, Muslim appeasement and the rest is by now well known through constant iteration. It has been repeated so loud and long that many, even outside the Parivar fold, may have came to believe in some of these fantasies. A simple primer on the facts might therefore be useful.

1. Statement: All Indians are Hindus which is a cultural expression embracing all those who live in India.

Response : This is unexceptionable but purely semantic. However, "Hindu" is also defined by the Parivar as a religious as much as an original or indigenous national category, so-called late-comers like Christians and Muslims being "foreigners". This is in confusing. Until the Parivar stops speaking in many voices, as it is prone to do, such ambiguity will be suspect.

Some ideologues of the RSS-BJP-VHP have sought to project the theory that while every society is rooted in a dominant civilisation, the logical and legitimate driving force of Hindu civilisation in India was challenged by Islam and thereafter by the British- Nehruvian- Marxian secular, modernist model. The current social revolution represents the climax of an epic civilisational battle before the ultimate triumph of Hindu civilisation with the establishment of Hindu Rashtra.

2. Statement : The culture of India is Hindu.

Response : Surely, yes. But while being the dominant stream, with many variations within itself. Indian culture cannot exclude the Islamic, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh, Christian, Parsee, Jewish and numerous tribal and other streams. All these have constantly interacted at many levels. So much in language, dress, art, architecture, music, dance, cuisine and otherwise represents a synthesis that has enlarged and enriched Indian culture.

3. Statement: The Aryans were original inhabitants of India. They founded the Harappan civilisation.

Responds : This is unhistorical. Aryan essentially represents a language rather than a racial group. Aryan influence was not so much an invasion from the northwest as a linguistic migration. The Harappan culture was limited to north-west as a linguistic migration. The Harappan culture was limited to north-western India.

Having declared others "foreigners", Parivar historians are out to establish the myth of the primordial "Hindu" as the pure people. Hence, efforts by certain princes to stop the march of Alexander are sought to be described as India's "first war of independence." Likewise, the Mauryas, under Chanakya's direction, are mistakenly being portrayed as the fountainhead of "Hindu- nationalism." The Parivar has endeavoured to rewrite history textbooks, some of which were introduced into the school system in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh by the Kalyan Singh and Patwa governments in 1992. This represents a systematic effort to appropriate all history, remove any seeming warts, and glorify the rest. Dynastic history is projected and heroes and villains selectively promoted, while popular history is ignored. The entire "Babar ke aulad" theory is erroneous. Babar did not replace a Hindu kingdom in Delhi. The Mughals displaced the Lodhis who overran the Sayyaids who had overcome the Tughlaks who ousted the Khiljis, who in turn ended the so-called Delhi Sultanate which followed Mohammad Ghori's conquest all of this several hundred years before Babar. Many provincial dynasties remained untouched by the rise and fall of Delhi kingdoms over considerable periods. Delhi history does not exhaust Indian history. Only a small number of Muslim Indians are descendants of Afghans, Turks, Arabs or others. The vast majority are Indian converts.

 

4. Statement : Babar (or his general, Mir Baqi) destroyed the Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir in Ayodhya in 1528. This is typical of the destruction and conversion of Hindu shrines earlier and since, the latest example being the systematic vandalising of temples in Kashmir.

 

Response: The alleged destruction of an extant Ram Mandir at the Babri Masjid site is unsubstantiated. The last "diggings'' by VHP-led squads through 1990 and 1991 were done by its ideologues without the permission or the presence of anyone from the Archaeological Survey of India or independent experts. Nor were any in situ photographs taken of all that has been claimed to have been discovered. The entire site has now been rendered archaeologically sterile. This was an act of self serving vandalism. It is true that conquerors at various earlier times have destroyed places of worship and other buildings that symbolised preceding political and social regimes. This kind of medieval barbarity has been witnessed around the world and not only in India. Hindu political revival during the 6th-9th centuries resulted in the destruction or conversion of numerous Buddhist and Jain sites. The Maha Bodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya is a prime example. The Jain cave temples in Udayagiri, Orissa, are another. Both are currently in dispute. Every history has a pre-history. Any effort to undo the wrongs of history forcibly can only result in the destructive unravelling of nationhood through fratricidal vendetta. No place of worship of whatever description should be vandalised. Unfortunately riotous mobs have indulged in such sacrilege at various times and places in post independence India. No section of society is blameless. But assiduously propagated report by Parivar spokesmen of systematic destruction of Hindu shrines by Muslims in Kashmir during the period between 1989 and December 6, 1992 have been shown to be unfounded. It is however a fact that at Ayodhya itself Parivar storm-troopers destroyed the Ram Chabutra and Sita-ki-Rasoi adjacent to the  and burnt or damaged several mosques and idgahs in the town. They are also alleged to have switched or removed some of the idols at these places on December 6, 1992. Were these acts of picty?

 

5. Statement: Why should Muslims be regionally separate as in Jammu & Kashmir and not be "fully integrated" with India. Article 370 breed separatism. Illustratively, other Indians are precluded from purchasing property in J & K.

 

Response: Jammu and Kashmir is fully integrated with India. Integration is not covered by Article 370 but by Article l of the Constitution which defines the territorial extent of the Union as listed in Schedule l. Article 370 defines Centre-State relations. Any special dispensation provided therein merely represents an agreed constitutional procedure which was embodied in the Instrument of Accession signed by the rulers of all the erstwhile 600 odd princely states, Jaipur, Mysore and Indore et al as much as J & K. This is the outcome of a solemn contract or treaty. It is another matter that all other States voluntarily decided to adopt the Indian Constitution. This could not happen in J & K partly on account of the on-going war with Pakistan and the internationalisation of the Kashmir dispute.

 

There are special provisions pertaining to several other States in Articles 371 A to H of the Constitution as well as in the Fifth and Sixth Schedules pertaining to tribal areas and the Northeast tribal states. There is an Inner Line Regulation governing travel by Indians to many northern frontier areas outside J & K. There used to be Part A, B, C And D States at one time. Now there remain only States and Union Territories. Lepchas and Bhotias enjoy weighted representation in the Sikkim legislature. No income tax is levied from Scheduled Tribes in any of the Northeastern States. Each of these provisions has evolved out of special circumstances.

 

The notion that Article 370 has encouraged separatism in fanciful. Though no equivalent Article applies to Punjab, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Nagaland, Mizoram or Tripura, there have been separatist movements in these States at various times.

 

It is true that none other than J&K subjects can purchase property in the State. But this has nothing to do with Article 370 and is a product of an administrative fiat promulgated long years ago by the Maharaja. The same restriction applies to outsiders purchasing property in Himachal Pradesh which was until recently under BJP rule. Many laws preclude alienation of tribal lands.

 

6. Statement: The carving out of Mallappuram as a Muslim-majority district in Kerala some years ago has created a mini-Pakistan.

Response: A number of new districts have been made since Independence and continue to be created, sometimes for the better administration of backward areas. Mallapuram is one such district. It does have a Muslim majority perhaps, but this is no different from the "gerrymandering" of district boundaries through the establishment of new units to satisfy various caste or tribal or other special interest groups. Some of this regrettably happens to pander to vote banks. But why single out Mallapuram when similar examples can be cited. What is sought to be proved?

7. Statement : Muslims engender separateness by clinging to their own personal law. They are unwilling to accept a uniform civil code as enjoined in Article 44, a Directive Principle.

Response: The fact is that all communities follow their own personal laws within the framework of the Constitution. A uniform civil code is an ideal towards which the country must indeed work. But there is nothing to suggest that "uniform" in this context necessarily means "common" in terms of being a single, unvarying statute as opposed to uniformity in the matter of principles. Article 13 in fact defines "law" as including, among other things, "custom or usage" having the force of law within Indian territory. This could well apply to personal laws, though such an interpretation has yet to be definitively tested. In any event, an optional uniform civil code would be appropriate. There are vital gaps in several personal laws. Reform must move in the direction of securing gender equity. No community other than the Hindus, for example, have an adoption law in India. This is manifestly absurd. Such gap-filling apart, a civil code is also necessary to meet the requirements of inter- community marriages.

Interestingly, Goa has a uniform civil code, a legacy of Portuguese rule.

The Sangh Parivar makes much of Muslim reluctance to accept a uniform civil code. The Shah Bano case is cited. Here Muslim insistence on resiling from an already established uniform criminal code is said to have led the Government to legislate the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act.

This was indeed a most controversial decision, but no different in principle from what happened in 1976 when the Government again breached established uniformity, this time in the civil code. This it did by amending the Special Marriage Act to provide that Hindu couples marrying under that dispensation would be entitled to be governed for purposes of inheritance by the Hindu Succession Act or their personal law rather than by the Indian Succession Act. In both cases, uniformity was sacrificed.

Again, although the so-called Sharda Act prescribes the age of marriage for women as 18, the law recognises marriages below this age as the Act does not invalidate the marriage but only penalises the parents. Despite this, Hindu child betrothals are common and are annually celebrated with great festivity in Rajasthan.

Practices such as sati, bride burnings associated with dowry, female foeticide and dedication of girls as devadasis continue to prevail in certain parts of the country and are even defended as traditional customs. There are, of course, strong movements against them and it would be totally wrong to make their scattered and diminishing observance reason to denigrate Hindu society.

The central and most compelling principle favouring a uniform civil code is gender justice. In the Hindu Guardianship Act for example it is the father who is designated the natural guardian. There is a male bias in most personal laws.

A particular dispensation enjoyed only by Hindus, and which entails a measure of pecuniary benefit at that, is the assessment of certain categories of Hindus as members of Hindu Undivided Families. The country's tax laws recognise three categories of assesses: individuals, corporate bodies and HUFs. There were about 2,00,000 HUF assesses in 1989-90 who collectively paid a tax of around Rs. 255 crores. Since an individual is entitled to split his income and show part of it as belonging to a HUF, this reduces the element of progression in the tax rate thus providing the beneficiary a tax shelter.

 

8. Statement: The "pseudo-secularists" are guilty of "minorityism". Look at the Shah Bano case.

Response : The Shah Bano case is repeatedly mentioned as a crass example pandering to the Muslim vote bank. The mirror image case of the Special Marriage Act amendment favouring Hindu couples has already been cited. This apart, Article 290A of the Constitution uniquely provides that payments to certain Devaswom funds shall be charged to the consolidated fund of the States of Kerala and Tamil Nadu for the maintenance of Hindu temples and shrines. No one has ever grudged these provisions as they form part of the settlements arrived at the time of the integration of the former princely states.

 

Again, in law, Hindu deities are held to be juristic personalities who may own property under land reform laws. Many temples thereby own considerable estates.

In many parts of the country the Vishwakarma festival is celebrated annually when artisans and workmen decorate and worship their tools and machines even in public sector factories. It would be churlish for anybody to cavit at this charming custom.

 

9. Statement : Minorityism confers an exclusive benefit on all others at the cost of the Hindus.

Response: This is untenable. The compass of the term "minority" is not properly understood. It is noteworthy that in the Constituent Assembly, Muslim and Christian spokesmen voluntarily gave up the right to political reservations which they had hitherto enjoyed and which the majority community was willing to accord them in the future. What survived therefore was only protection for religious and linguistic minorities for educational and cultural purposes at both national and State levels. Thereby, where can Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Parsees are national minorities, Hindus are entitled to recognition as a minority in, say, Punjab. Indeed, by Judgements of the Courts, Arya Samajists are recognised as a linguistic minority in Punjab even within the Hindu fold. They run DAV schools in many parts of the country. Likewise, the Supreme Court has ruled the Brahmo Samaj to be a minority based on religion in Bihar (Dipender Nath v Bihar); the Calcutta High Court has decreed Jains to be a minority in West Bengal and as such entitled to the benefits conferred by Articles 29 and 30 (Sree Jain Swetamber Terapanthi Vidyalaya v State). The Supreme Court has in factruled that a minority may be determined by reference to the entire population of a State (Kerala Education Bill, 1957). Hindus too therefore may enjoy minority status in certain circumstances.

 

10. Statement : Why should minorities alone be permitted to run educational institutions of their choice?

Response : Article 29 says that "any section of citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same". Article 30 in turn provides that "all minorities, whether based on religion or language shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice". But the Supreme Court has laid down that enrolment of minority children must not exceed 50 per cent of the total.

 

Minorities have a right to administer their own institutions, but this precludes maladministration or dilution of standards which are set by secular authorities. Likewise, all linguistic minorities are entitled to be taught their mother tongue if there are 40 or so children in a school speaking that language. They must be taught in the medium of their mother tongue if the concentration of that linguistic minority exceeds a certain proportion in the district/city. Thus, there is no special concession in this regard for Urdu schools; and Urdu is not a "Muslim language" as some members of the Parivar seem to believe.

 

11. Statement : The BJP demands that the Minorities Commission be scrapped and replaced by a Human Rights Commission.

Response : This demand is diluted by the universality of the term "minority". However, it is another matter whether having a Human Rights Commission which also safeguards minority rights would not be desirable and convenient since minority rights are human rights under international law. One reason for separate institutions could be that a single body might be too unwieldy. Human rights cover the rights of women and Scheduled Castes and Tribes who are given special recognition under the Constitution. The country already has separate Commissions for Scheduled Castes and Tribes, Women and Linguistic Minorities in addition to a Minorities Conımission.

 

12. Statement : But why should Salman Rushdie's "Satanic Verses" have been banned?

Response: The book was in fact not allowed to be imported under the Sea Customs Act. Many will concede that banning books is not at all desirable as this smacks of censorship and curtails freedom of thought. All fundamental rights are, however, subject to health, morality and the maintenance of public order. Moreover, this is not the first book (or film) to have been banned. There are other cases in India where bans have been imposed in order to protect the sensibilities of other communities, including Hindus. However, the subsequent fall out of the Rushdie affair in Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi following an innocuous statement by the pro-Vice Chancellor, Prof. Mashirul Hassan, like the agitation over the Shah Bano case, does provide grist to critics of Muslim Indians.

 

13. Statement : The Muslims do not practice family planning and are polygamous. On account of their higher birth rate they will soon change the demographic composition of the country.

Response : This is quite untrue. Muslims do practise family planning and there is no scriptural injunction against it in Islam. Certainly within India, there is proven evidence of increasing resort to family planning by Muslims as much as by other communities.

 

It would be best to let the figures speak for themselves. Hindus constitute 82.35% of the population and Muslims 11.73%. The mean age of marriage of both communities is almost the same, whether in urban or rural areas. The general marital fertility rate of Muslims is higher than that of Hindus, but there has been a generally declining trend in both rural and urban Mastim fertility. At 1981 growth rates it would take Muslims 316 years or more to outstrip Hindus in number. But with population stabilising in another few decades, such a prospect is totally out of the question and Hindus are unlikely ever to constitute less than around 80 per cent of India's population.

The impression about polygamous marriages is quite baseles. On the contrary, a sample survey undertaken by the Registrar-General in 1961 showed that Hindus were more polygamous (5.80%) than Muslims (5.73%). That apart, with a sex ratio adverse to women, large scale polygamy is not possible and would, if at all, result in a decline in Muslim fertility rates.

More striking evidence of the falsity of the Parivae's population thesis is available in the fact that J&K, a Muslim majority State, had in 1989-90 a lower birth rate (31.4 per 1000) than UP (36.5), Madhya Pradesh (36.4), Bihar (34.8), and Rajasthan (33.4) all of which constitute the BJP heartland.

 

The real reason for high fertility rates are low socio-economic achievements in terms of education and literacy, health, nutrition, and the status of women. These are the problems to attack. And they are universal problems and not sectarian concerns.

 

14. Statement : But what about Muslim in-migration from Bangladesh which is altering the demographic balance in many parts of India?

Response : Bangladeshi migration into India is an old phenomenon pre-dating partition, though the numbers of such migrants cited by the BJP (going up to 15 million) are exaggerated. This is distress (and not communal) migration of a kind witnessed within India itself and to Lanka in the 1950s from the drought prone districts of Southern Tamilnadu. Such illicit immigration is also to be seen in movements of Hispanics from Mexico to the United States. It is wrong to look on Bangladeshi Muslims as "infiltrators" and Hindu migrants as "refuge".

Such in-migration for whatever reason does impose a burden and constitutes a problem for India. The answer lies in policing the border more closely and detecting and repatriating illicit immigrants through due process of law. To use the incidence of Bangladeshi infiltration to hound genuine Indian Bengali Muslims would be outrageous.

The truth is that illicit immigration takes place with the encouragement and support officials, political parties and vested interests who use these migrants as sweated labour and enroll them as voters at election time to create vote banks.

 

15. Statement : The Muslim population is also increasing as a result of conversions, aided by West Asian money. Witness Meenakshipuram in Tamilnadu in 1981. And was not the right to propagation of religion included in the Constitution at the insistence of Christians and Muslims?

Response : Aticle25 does indeed permit "freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion". The "propagation" aspect was debated in the Constituent Assembly. But it was pointed out that propagation was in any case inherent in the fundamental right to "freedom of speech and expression" (Article 19(1)a) and that including the word "propagation" in Article 25 conferred no additional right.

In any case, the right to propagation is universal and available to Hindus as much as to any other community or denomination. And that right has reportedly been exercised by Hindu bodies as well to convert or reconvert tribals, Muslims and Christians in different parts of the country, including Meenakshipuram. The Statesman (April 10, 1992) documented one such case in a cluster of Muslim villages in Hathras district, UP. The reporter, Vidya Subramaniam, found BJP and RSS involvement.

Conversion by force, fraud or inducement is barred and the rights conferred by Article 25 are specifically made subject to "public order, morality and health" and to all other fundamental rights.

The age of mass conversions is over, especially in a plural, multi-denominational society. Such events may yet take place, but they will obviously be subject to the most searching scrutiny.

 

16. Statement : The Parivar decries "appeasement" of the Muslims.

Response : Appeasement must mean either political or economic pampering. What are the facts?

 

The Muslims renounced political reservation in 1949. Their representation in the legislatures, administrative and other services and the armed forces is well below their population ratio. True, distinguished Muslims have risen to the highest positions in the land in every field. While this is important symbolically, it cannot compensate for the general level of under-representation.

The argument that Muslims are a vote bank and vote as a group is by no means proven or no more true than such an assertion in relation to any other group, caste or community.

As far as socio-economic indices are concerned, Muslims clearly emerge as a grossly underprivileged community in terms of literacy, higher education, employment or economic achievement. The community may itself be partly responsible for its educational backwardness; but the state and society have also a responsibility to discharge. There is no question whatsoever of "appeasement". The position with regard to housing, special upliftment or area programmes, etc., also shows no conscious effort to benefit Muslims as such, let alone appease them. The charge is frivolous.

 

17. Statement : Muslims must join the mainstream which, in this case, must mean obliterating their identity and culture.

Response : "Minstream" is a dangerous word and betrays the arrogance of the centre towards the periphery, whether territorially or culturally (as measured by numbers). We are all part of the mainstream and there is no reason for anyone to invite or command anyone else to join it. Eliminate the peripheries and the mainstream shrinks.

 

Conclusion

The responses made above are not intended to denigrate or criticise the majority community but to place the Parivar's lop-sided logic in perspective and to expose its hollow, sectarian hate campaign. Its sermons are testimony to dangerously divisive and perverse attitudes. It is the Parivar that needs to be told: "Think Indian, Be Indian".

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