Secularism means reservation for minority
By Shachi Rairikar
Actress-turned-activist Shabana Azmi finds the opposition to the reservation for Muslim students in the Aligarh Muslim University from certain sections ?unfortunate?, saying the move was aimed at benefiting deserving students.
?This step will ultimately benefit 2000 deserving students,? she said. Reservation for deserving students? An intellectual person like Ms. Azmi is expected to understand that reservations are meant to provide an opportunity to the weaker students. If the students are really ?deserving?, they should not need any reservation. Deserving students should be open to face competition and it should make no difference whether this competition comes from Hindu students or Muslim students.
She told reporters: ?It is unfortunate that it has been given a communal colour. It should not have had any political ramification.? Ms. Azmi fails to realise that the issue has not been ?given? a ?communal colour?, it ?is? very much ?communal?. Secularism implies equal treatment to all irrespective of religious identity. Any discrimination made on the basis of religion is communal and reservation in education on the basis of religion is no exception to this basic rule.
It is unfortunate that educated, progressive, so-called secular Muslims like Ms. Azmi and her husband Javed Akhtar, who have been doing lip service to secularism and fighting against both Hindu and Muslim communalism, have always vigourously protected Muslims against Hindu communalism but have failed to show the same enthusiasm when it comes to the protection of Hindus against Muslim communalism.
While Shabana Azmi finds Gadar, a film based on the backdrop of the Partition, showing Pakistan in poor light, ?provocative?, positioning ?Muslims as the other?, no concern is felt or expressed about a film on Gujarat riots showing Hindus as communal. Is Ms. Azmi'sconcern limited to the portrayal of the Muslims?
While their hearts bleed for the victims of the Best Bakery, they don'tfeel the same pain when Hindus are burnt alive by Muslims in the Radhabai Chawl in Mumbai. When the 58 karsevaks were burnt alive in Godhra, these liberal ?secularists?, who are otherwise eager to hog the limelight, did not even care to condemn it. Their efforts to take up the cause of the Hindus burnt in the Godhra carnage appears to be only for the purpose of countering the allegations of favouring Muslims.
When asked about Kashmir, Ms. Azmi feels that what is happening in Kashmir is really ?extremely complicated?, that there has been a systematic attempt at ?communalising the Kashmir issue and making it into a Hindu/Muslim case?, that we have to understand that the Kashmiri people have a ?right to live in their own homeland?, that there is a ?very strong movement? in Kashmir itself where people want independence and that there have been ?excesses of the state?. While her sympathies seem to be with the separatist movement, no serious effort has been seen to be made from her side for the rehabilitation of the 3.5 lakh Kashmiri Hindus who have been so injudiciously driven away from their homeland.
While she finds Gadar, a film based on the backdrop of the Partition, showing Pakistan in poor light, ?provocative?, positioning ?Muslims as the other?, no concern is felt or expressed about a film on Gujarat riots showing Hindus as communal. Is Ms. Azmi'sconcern limited to the portrayal of the Muslims?
Ms. Azmi has often been reported to be upset that ?every single incident of violence that happens is immediately ascribed to the Islamic terrorists? but she fails to even adequately condemn the loss of innocent lives that fall prey to this brand of terrorism.
Ms. Azmi has been telling the world more about Islam, that it resides in many countries around the world, that it is not a monolith, that it takes on the culture of the country in which it resides. In some places it is moderate, it is reformist, it is intolerant, it is various things, but we cannot just have one opinion of it. What she does not tell is that the popular perception of fanatic Islam is owing to the way it is practiced in majority of Muslim countries. Out of 57 nations in the Organisation of Islamic Conference, not a single country is a democracy.
A country which has faced vivisection on the basis of religion has every right to be cautious. A people who have been back-stabbed in the past cannot be blamed if they are skeptical in the future? once bitten twice shy. In fact, prudence demands that we be vigilant. We have been blackmailed by Muslim communalism once and have paid a heavy price for it. We cannot afford to make the same mistake again.