The genesis of the word ?appeasement? is very interesting, and worth a mention. It is synonymous with failure. The British Government under Neville Chamberlain signed the historical Munich Agreement better known as the Peace of our time deal on September 29, 1938 to appease Adolf Hitler and encourage him to move Eastward, resulted in strengthening his resolve to attack the western world. Unfortunately, the intellectual rife Congress Party has successively been amnesiac about this fact for nearly 50 years now. Every time it has been in power, it has brought this in as a panacea for all the ills that face India. Justice Rajender Sachar'sreport is the latest in this series of such blunders.
It is noteworthy that the very first line of Justice Sachar'sreport talks about commitment of the Indian Constitution to the concept of equality of citizens. In the same breath, the report has brought to the fore certain facts that necessitate a closer look and some application of mind about the process of development over the years. A hue and cry has followed seeking to secure special rights for Muslims as the report has purportedly established that the Muslims are a marginalised community in India. The reliance is completely on a series of data and statistics that the report has used on. It is needless to mention that there are three types of lies?lies, damn lies, and statistics had been variously attributed to Benjamin Disraeli, Alfred Marshall, Mark Twain and many others.
I take two ?startling facts? that the report states?only one per cent of Muslim farmers own hand pumps for irrigation and just 2.7 per cent are in place among district judges. A certain television channel pitched in with audience research figures recently to my Government that they had the highest viewership amongst the 19 to 25 year old left handed tennis players in B and C class cities in India. The two examples of data collected are factually correct and yet do not convey a lot. In fact the television channels? is perhaps more precise. Farmers as a class be very loosely defined and open to being selectively interpreted. And then why choose district judges?
For a civilization that is a few thousand years old and has survived the trials and tribulations of the British policy of divide and rule, there has probably never been a more unabashed attempt to divide its people. Even security of the country and the edifice of an impartial judiciary are not spared by the said report. In short, not just the cornerstones, but the entire fabric of our national unity has been blotted for a few hundred votes here and there. The worse is yet to come should the Honourable Prime Minister choose to try and implement the recommendations that Justice Sachar makes in his wisdom. The damage inflicted will be irreversible and irremediable.
One option is to look at the historical reasons that have marginalised the Muslims if Justice Sachar is to be believed. Communal budgeting and a communal based reservation system are amongst the wisely ?must haves? and fashionable demands based on the Sachar Committee. Politics has never been so shameless in India, nor perhaps anywhere in the world. To cite an analogy, this is just like a father setting aside a portion of his income and meals for his daughters under the pretext of gender. What this by default implies is that the father is unable to make the ends meet for his home, nor does he have any other way to endear his daughters. Admittedly, making a choice between ones own children is not what parenting is all about. The situation of the Congress is in many ways akin to the father in the analogy.
The Congress Party and the UPA Government are at a total loss of what the root of the problem is. They have no clue on the way forward even if they believe in all the statistics doled out by the report. The vision is myopic and the path ahead dusty. Yet again, they are missing the woods for the trees. And, above all sacrificing national unity for petty electoral gains that they hope to achieve from appeasement polity.
India and her conscious citizenry, particularly from the minority communities, know better and will see through the evil designs.
(The writer is Minister, Urban Development, Government of Orissa.)