AP reservations for Muslims
Let'slearn from history
By S.R. Ramanujan
Certainly no nation should live in its history because no nation can afford to be stagnant. An important trait of nature is ?change? and a nation has to keep pace with changing times. This does not mean that a nation should forget history. On the contrary it has to learn from history. Otherwise, its future history will be full of chaos and confusion. When the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy announces that his government would consider providing political reservations for Muslims, either he doesn'tunderstand history or doesn'tcare to learn from history or is least concerned about the undesirable consequences of such a decision.
The AP government'sdecision to extend 5 per cent reservation for Muslims in education and jobs is having a spiraling effect. The Nationalist Congress Party general secretary Akhtar Rizvi wants a similar facility to be given to the Muslims in Maharashtra. A Muslim group in Bihar is demanding 20 per cent reservations in educational institutions and government jobs along the lines of AP government decision. Another Muslim organization wants Article 341 to be amended to include dalit Muslims in the SC category. The Hyderabad MP and their apparent of Sultan Salahuddin Owaissi, Asaduddin Owaissi wants the 5 per cent reservation to be extended to the entire country, because he perhaps looks at it from a national perspective being a Member of the Lok Sabha. Not to be left out, Brahmana Seva Sangha Samakya (never heard of this outfit till now) demands that the government should extend to Brahmins also a similar reservation in education, employment and political posts on par with Muslims.
We don'tneed a BC Commission, appointed by the AP government, to tell us that there are a good number of educationally and economically backward Muslims in the country or in the state. It is a reality and none should crib about affirmative action. But quota is not the answer for social and historical reasons. Had a survey been done at the national level on the geographical location of such backward Muslims, we would have got certain facts that have been swept under the carpet so far by vested interests in the community. The backwardness is mostly prevalent among those regions that were under Muslim rulers prior to the integration of princely states, whether it is Bhopal, Old Delhi, Ahmedabad or Hyderabad. Take the case of Telengana districts including Hyderabad old city under the Nizam rule and compare it with the rest of the State. Even today Muslims in the old city of Hyderabad are reluctant to learn Telugu. How can they compete for a job in the rest of the State? Muslim leaders cornered all the benefits guaranteed under the Constitution in terms of minority educational institutions. Instead of using those institutions for eradicating the educational backwardness of Muslims, they started selling the seats for non-Muslim candidates and thus pushing the deserving Muslims further into educational backwardness. Either they went to Madarasas or drifted without even elementary education. That is the reason you find average Muslim literacy at 17.7 per cent while the state average is 44 per cent. The literates among Muslim women are just 4 per cent. These are the figures now being quoted to establish educational backwardness of Muslims.
AP government'sdecision to extend 5 per cent reservation for Muslims in education and jobs is having a spiraling effect. The Nationalist Congress Party general secretary Akhtar Rizvi wants a similar facility to be given to the Muslims in Maharashtra.
The moot question is how will the 5 per cent quote help in improving the literacy level among Muslim women from 4 per cent to atleast 40 per cent. We need a multi-pronged approach to uplift the Muslim masses in terms of education which will automatically lead to economic prosperity. First, they must be weaned away from the communal clutches of their leadership. Second, the government must do its best to create awareness among the backward Muslims about the importance of education. Third, encourage institutions floated by Muslims who have no political interests. Fourth, ensure that no non-Muslims are admitted into such institutions for a price. 5 per cent quota will only help Muslim political leaders to flaunt it before their followers and the ruling party to garner their votes. This is the short term effect.
The long term effect is going to be catastrophic. Leave alone the demand for similar quota from other states. What is going to cause a body blow to the nation is the demand for political reservations. Now that Muslims have been brought under ?E? category of backward classes, so goes the demand, they should also be considered for reserved seats in the local body elections to be held shortly in the state. It is in this context, chief minister Dr Reddy told a delegation of Muslim women that political quota for Muslims was under consideration of the government. To predict what would be the consequences of such a decision, one has to go back to history.
Thanks to L.K. Advani, people have started dusting the history books from the shelves for a fresh look at pre-Independence history. Whatever the interpretations of Gandhiji's support to the Khilafat movement and Jinnah'sopposition to it, whatever the reasons for the rejection of Nehru'sConstitution and agreement on the Lucknow Pact, one thing is clear which cannot be disputed by any historian. That is, the provision for separate electorates and reservation for Muslims sowed the seed for Partition of the country.
Even today Muslims in the old city of Hyderabad are reluctant to learn Telugu. How can they compete for a job in the rest of the State? Muslim leaders cornered all the benefits guaranteed under the Constitution in terms of minority educational institutions.
What is the genesis for such political exclusivism? It was in 1906 a 35-member delegation of Muslims met in Simla to demand proportionate representation for Muslims. Though this demand was not immediately conceded, it acted as a catalyst for separate electorate for Muslims. Jinnah supported the movement for separate electorate and the Congress too accepted it in the Lucknow Pact. And the rest is history. Sri Aurobindo commented on this development thus: ?What has created the Hindu-Muslim split was not Swadeshi, but the acceptance of the communal principle by the Congress. The recognition of that communal principle at Lucknow made them permanently a separate political entity in India which ought never to have happened?.
What Dr Rajasekara Reddy is trying to do now is to further consolidate this division and to create more tension between castes and communities leading to disastrous consequences to the unity and integrity of the nation. It is disastrous for a nation if it fails to learn from its history.