Appeasement of any kind, by definition, involves a sacrifice of principles being an act of weakness, cowardice and self-deception. It has ceased to be a peaceful settlement of disputes and has now become a sinister trend where unwarranted concessions are granted at the exepense of the deserving ones.
The history teaches us that the appeasement of Adolf Hitler'sGermany by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain'sgovernment in the late 1930 never worked. Appeasement is required only when nations or communities are at war. This is not the case in India. The two communities are living cordially in our country and a feeling of relative deprivation amongst Muslims is being manufactured and engineered deliberately at the cost of national oneness. This is not to say that the lot of muslims should not be ameliorated but not as a member of any particular religious denomination. They deserve a better treatment as an Indian.
When they are seen as a part of the poor and exploited category, a more scientific and rational methodology of improving their conditions can be devised. But by emphasising religious identities?that too of only one community?we are, in fact, emphasising dissimilation. Such attempts are foolhardy and fraught with dangers. This is a strategy of accommodation inciting separatism. They fail to understand that the normality of the normal India is the most efficient protection against any threat posed by poverty and deprivation.
Appeasement is only a way to avoid rational analysis and a matter of shirking reality. Do we have a religious choice in the matters of awarding tenders? Or for that matter in helping out the people suffering from natural calamities? The Forms sent by Sachar Committee ask for the H-M division of contractors or the beneficieries in relief operations. They ask for the H-M division of Self Help Groups (SHGs) and Trusts as if the collectivities and not the individuals follow religions. At its core, the psychology of such appeasement involves the profound misjudgement on the part of UPA government.
Appeasement is when you negotiate a truce with enemy. But Muslims are not our enemy. They are our bretheren, living with us since centuries and in 1947, choosing to continue living with us. Sachar-type attempt is essentially a political rant to cover up the incompetence of the Congress regime.
Sachar Committee seeks the details of only last five years preceding UPA regime. Why did it not seek these details right from 1947 so that Muslims could come to know of the delusions they were made to live in by the Congress.
I still remember Shri M.R. Masani'swords: ?The conception of a nation does not permit the existence of perpetual or permanent minorities. …. On both sides an effort should be made to get closer and become one corporate nation, a homogenous nation?. When you propose to take affirmative action based on religion, you should also have moral courage of pointing fingers on what is wrong with that religion.
A religious discourse of development should lead to religious introspection, a merciless surgery of the forces of bigotry. When you refrain from doing this and yet carry on affirmative action on religious lines, you are undoubtedly indulging in appeasement. A case for affirmative action amongst Muslims punctures the balloon of Muslim brotherhood which was blown in a way so as to denigrate Hindus for the inherent inequities in their religion. When Muslims have so far been professing equality, how come they have backward classes? Conversions have been promoted and encouraged against Hindus on the promise of ?equality?. And now we listen to the demands raised by Dalit Christians. Was not that an overzealous simplification of the complex realities of deprivation Indian people face when Hinduism was condemned for its discriminatory nature. Was religion anywhere inhibiting the progress of a genuine Valmiki? But the continuance of Hindu-bashing and the advocacy of affirmative action for Muslims are flourishing together, without understanding the basic contradiction.
Our Hon?ble Prime Minister calls the untouchability as akin to ?aparthied?. How would he react if the sanctions against India are imposed by the international community on the basis of his ?confession?? An ammunition being supplied to anti-India lobbies working overtime in UN right by an authority no less than PM himself. With Sachar, the complacency of the religions other than Hinduism should come to an end. Those who were so assiduously propogating the myth of Brahminism being the root of all evils, should now feel apologetic and repentant.
A national English daily recently carried a lead news-story on Himachal Pradesh Government'sban on religious conversion. While the story ridiculed the Congress, it also made a mention of the BJP and BJP ruled-state governments in a familiar manner. However, nowhere did it aver as to what necessitates this type of legislations and why on earth the people of any particular religious community treading the righteous path need to fear such laws?
The context of appeasement, particularly Muslim appeasement policy, is a gruelling question on the same ground; and it has often been presented in a tilted manner. Unfortunately, a section of the media has been part of this game. If an impartial assessment were to be made, rising above ideological commitments, then one wonders whether there is a positive answer as to what extent it has benefitted the people in whose name such measures are taken?
The fact is that we have failed to rightly diagnose the disease and have been applying wrong remedies, which only go to aggravate the disease. A new bogey in the form of Sachar Committee has been raised and proffered as a panacea, which is nothing but continuation of the same wrong approach.
The present is rooted in the past. Hence, a lesson is supposed to be learnt from history. The attempt of the Andhra Pradesh Government to grant reservation in government jobs to Muslims on religious basis preceded the presentation of the Sachar Committee report. This attempt was made in an utter disregard to the Constitution of the country, which was foiled by the active intervention of the judiciary. It is amazing to me that those who are shaking the very roots of this assimilative country by indulging in appeasement of a particular community proudly claim to be secular and on the other hand those who talk of all Indians including Muslims are branded as communal. The way the Sachar Committee sought to know the status of Muslims in the army and the information from states development departments with regard to this minority community drew flak from enlightened Muslims like Amir Khan and Javed Akhtar. A section of the Muslim intelligentsia has begun to see through this game of appeasement. And there are good indications about other related subjects as well. In Bhopal some Muslim youths released Urdu translation of Vandemataram questioning the objection to singing the National Song? There is no denying the fact that socio-economic condition of a large section of Muslim community is not good. But the same is the case with other religious communities. Therefore, what can be the objection in saying that the poor have the first right on country'sresources. But when it is said that Muslims have the first claim over the resources, then it sounds a cruel joke on the poor of other communities. Such policy statements only create rifts in the country and are clearly ?a Nithari of votes?.
There are historical reasons for backwardness of Muslims. In 1885 when Lord William Henry Cavendish Bentinck set up India'sfirst medical college at Kolkata, there was a crowd of admission seekers from other communities while at the same time Muslims were holding demonstrations against the college. This attitude has pushed back the Muslims in medical science. Even today many Muslim leaders believe that religious education should be preferred to modern technical education; and what the Muslim clergy has been saying for centuries should be accepted as correct. Of course, there are certain prejudices in other communities as well. The need of the hour is to change this attitude and mindset.
Maulana Waheeduddin has written in ?Indian Muslims Need for a Positive Outlook?- ?So far the tendency of Muslims has been that they have been holding their prejudices and discrimination against them responsible for their problems; and have been wasting most of their time and energy in condemning the enemies which existed only in their imaginations. I only mean to say that now it is high time they changed their way of thinking and applied themselves to the task of self-reconstruction whole heartedly.? In my opinion this is the right and honest analysis of the problems of Muslims.
As far as Madhya Pradesh is concerned, the level of education among Muslims is better in comparison to other communities. This fact has come to light in an independent study according to which Madhya Pradesh leads the states where the education level of Muslims is better. Madhya Pradesh Government has made significant efforts to ensure benefit of schemes to the poor of all sections of society. These include Vivekanand Group Insurance Scheme, Kanyadan Yojana, Vijayaraje Janani Suraksha Yojana, distribution of free bi-cycles to school girls, to name a few. These efforts would continue with redoubled vigour.
The best example of our country'ssecular credentials is the highest offices of the country. The President, the Prime Minister and the Vice Chairman of the Planning Commission, all belong to minority communities. The three most important persons of Indian polity come from minorities. If these great ones today divide the country'sresources on religious lines, it will be such a sad and sordid wastage of a historic opportunity?almost a betrayal of a trust which they happened to get from all communities, including the majority. Their appeasement policies whould only put into question a glorious tradition and enviable heritage of this great country.
(The author is the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh.)