By Md. Raees Ahamed, M.A. English, Pune
India is a country of religions. There exist multifarious reli¬gious groups in the country but, in spite of this the constitution stands for secular state of India and declares India as a “Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic.” There is no state-recognized church or religion. Several fundamental rights guarantee a freedom of worship and religion as well as outlaw discrimination on the ground of religion. No one is disabled to hold any office on the ground of religion. There is only one electoral roll on which are borne the names of all those who are qualified to vote under the law. In the words of Chief Justice Gajendragadkar—”The essential basis of the Indian constitution is that all citizens are equal and this basic equality (guaranteed by Art. 14) obviously proclaims that the religion of a citizen is entirely irrelevant in the matter of his funda¬mental rights.
The state does not owe loyalty to any particular reli¬gion as suck; it is not irreligious or anti-religion; it gives equal freedom for all religions and holds that the religion of the citizen has nothing to do in the matter of socio-economic problems Thai is the essential characteristic of secularism which is writ large in all the provisions of the Indian Constitution”, and further “though the Indian Constitution is secular and does not interfere with religious freedom, it does not allow religion to impinge, adversely on the secular lights of citizens or the power of the state to regulate socio-economic relations.”
One bad effect of second world war for the freedom of India was that after 1945 people knew more about the Nazi and their policy towards German minorities Jews. Now India was about to get freedom. Indian Muslim leaders where having talks with the Congress leaders about the rights of minorities in India after freedom. So basically there was no word like Pakistan. It was just for the rights of minorities i.e. Muslims in free India. In early1990s the demolition of Ayodhya Mosque is one of the biggest show of power to the minority. Is there any difference between Hindu and Muslim God? Secondly there was no historical proof that Hindu God Rama was really born on that particular place (the Mosque area). It is possible that at the time of construction of that Mosque there was a Temple.
My mother used to tell me a true story about her father, a person who offered all 5 prayers “Namaz” in a day. They were on their way to a village near Ayodhya the city of Temples in mid 1950’s In Ayodhaya he was looking for a clean place for his mid day prayers. He could not find a clean place so he went to a Temple Priest in Ayodhya and asked him if he (my grand father) could offer his prayers (Muslim Prayer in a Hindu Temple!!) in the Temple complex. The good thing about this Temple priest was that he said “we both pray for the same one God you my Muslim friend (to my grand father) call him “Allah” and I as a Hindu Priest ” Bhagwan”.
The Priest allowed my grand father to go for his Muslim prayers “Namaz” in the Temple complex. I find both my grand father and the Priest who understood the real sense of all religion: TO POLISH YOUR CHARECTOR!!! Unfortunately we do not see such things any more even today. There is no tolerance any more not only in India but all over the world including Germany. Now I am sure that British rulers who ruled India for almost 200 years while using the policy of divide and rule policy played an important role in creating more differences between both Indian parties. Second important aspect is that the minorities were not even asked through referendum if they really want two nations. I think that Lord Mountbatten hoped to rule India longer through his divide and rule policy. There is one point which I could not understand about we Indians. There is a word “Angrez” which means English. So after more than 50 years of freedom all Europeans/Americans are called “Angrez” by Rickshaw/Taxi drivers. They run after these tourist in expectation of getting more money. This I understand but why do many rich Indians give more importance to “Gora Angrez”. white skinned persons. I do not understand. One Hindu friend of mine said we are still mentally slaves of English Rulers. His argument was that late 19th century most of the statues of Indian Gods/Goddess which had dark colours changed to white or bright colours. Today any girl in India if she has dark complexion will have very hard to find right partner.
WHY? US pop singer sings a song “it makes no difference if you are BLACK OR WHITE” I have heard that this person gets his skin bleached to get brighter. The Muslim invaders, Muslim rulers like Sher Shah Suri and the Mughals ruled India but with a big difference to the English rulers. Most of these rulers became part of India. They did not send raw products to their home country and again sold the final products to the Indians what the British rulers did. Second most important fact is that English rulers NEVER became part of India or Indian society. Still we Indians treat “Angrez” better than the Muslims who became Indian and gave many good things too. The majority of Indian Muslims are born after 1947. They do not know how things were during/before freedom. So if some radical groups in India hate them.
I want to ask them one thing. These radical Indian groups should say that all young Germans of these days are Nazi’s. Which is also not true. Any Indian Muslim if he says he is pro Pakistan I would recommend him to leave India and go to Pakistan and that too for ever. Politicians on BOTH SIDES MADE MISTAKES and both do not accept this fact. Muslim women haven been the subject of considerable debate in India, chiefly around the conflicting claims of personal law, identity, and gender : Existing literature on Indian women in general ignores Muslim women, considers their status a product of personal lawas, and assumes sameness both in status and in forms of oppression. Based on recent empirical work, the essays in this volume present the diversity of Muslim women’s lives in all its complexity. They analyze patterns of employment and the low participation of Muslim women in the labour marker; explore gender differentials in educational attainment and its links to other aspects of social inequality; and examine the influence of religious and other factors on the access of Muslim women to property and work. The volume further explores constraints on educational advancement and draws out linkage between rights and empowerment. While recognizing the validity of community identity and discourse, the contributors emphasize the force of material and social circumstances in shaping the lives of Muslim women. They reiterate that there exists no ‘fixed identity’ for Muslim women–rather that it is contingent and contextually determined.
For India, secularism is a practical proposition. If India had accepted Jinnah’s suggestion and decided herself a Hindu State as Pakistan declared itself Muslim State, the position of 6 Crore Muslims, would have been untenable. They would have remained a rebellious minority, unwilling to join the national mainstream. A Hindu India would have had no claim on Kashmir, which has 90 per cent Muslim population.
In that case, our relations with Muslim unifies like Iran, Saudi Arabia, U.A.R., Jordan and the rest of the Muslim world would have been much worse than they are now. Even as it is, these countries have been riding with. Pakistan over Kashmir and in all its war against India, even though India has consistently supported the cause of the Arabs against Israel. India would have gained nothing by inviting the hostility of these oil-rich Arab nations. In our secular states, the Hindu though constituting 83.51% of the population has no special rights and the privileges and Muslims and others have no disabilities. All are equal in the eyes of law. Any discrimination on the basis of caste or creed is illegal.
There is a difference between Gandhiji’s concept of secularism and that of Mr. Nehru. In Gandhiji’s view, secularism stands for equal respects for all religions. At his prayer meetings, holy texts were recited from Gita, Quran, Zend Avesta, Granth Sahib and Bible, According to him, all religions are equally true and each scripture is worthy of respect. Nehru’s idea of secularism was equal indifference to all religion and bothering about none of them. Under this ideology he wrote a special article in our constitution, banning religious instruction in any educational institution maintained by government. Such secularism, which means the rejection of all religions, is contrary to our culture and tradition and can do harm instead of good. This way equates religion with communalism, fanaticism; narrow-mindedness, anti scientific outlook and blind super¬stition. In a vast country like India in order to provide equality and unity among its citizens, as there is a wide difference between the minority and the majority special rights should be endowed to minorities so that they can develop their personality to the maximum. In accordance to this view various articles in our constitutions and acts are being enshrined, so, that these minorities can compete majority. Among these articles article 30(1) and National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions Act, 2004 provides minorities to establish, administer educational institutes and to affiliate themselves to central universities. But various lacunas are being observed since the birth of these rights and acts. It has been observed that these articles and acts are unable to clear various facet like – (1) Is there any right to create educational institutes for minorities and if so under which provision? (2) In order to determine the existence of a religious or linguistic minority in relation to article 30, what is to be the unit, the State or the country as a whole? (3) To what extent can the rights of aided private minority institutions to administer be regulated? Still answers to these questions are illusionary and ambiguous in nature. Even National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions Act, 2004 defines a minority institute as “a college or institution (other than a university) established or maintained by a person or group of persons from amongst the minorities.” Thus, just on account of the minority identity of the management, an institute is to be accorded the minority status, irrespective of whether or not that particular institute is serving the interests of the minority community in its entirety.
It is a well known fact that majority of the institutes established in the name of minorities are not serving the real interests of the minorities, especially those of the socially and economically underprivileged sections. Students are admitted on the basis of their money power and not on the basis of their merit or minority identity. That will further fasten this process and will serve the interests of the economic minority instead of the religious and linguistic minorities. So, in order to make these articles and acts free from ambiguity and illusionary nature help from Court should be taken in a view to remove this ambiguity. It is very important as development, equality, unity of our country relies on these articles and acts.
Books referred –
(1) Prof. M.P Jain, Indian Constitutional Law, Wadhwa Publisher Nagpur, 5th edition reprint 2006.
(2) Dr. J.N. Pandey, Constitutional Law of India, Central Law Agency, 43rd edition 2006.
(3) P.M. Bakshi, The Constitution Law of India, Universal Law Publishing Company, 8th edition.
(2) http://www.sabrang.com/cc/archive/2005/sep05/edu3.html – 14k
(3) http://www.hinduonnet.com/2002/12/17/stories/2002121700891000.htm – 20k