INDIA is, perhaps, the lone country where new faiths were assimilated, could be absorbed or at least accommodated, with the result, the Parsis and all the invaders, prior to Mughals, got fully assimilated with the Hindus. Yet, one has to concede that it was possible because the very followers of these faiths were equally accommodative as the Hindus. Their religious faiths never asserted their supremacy. On the contrary, the fundamentalist trends among the Muslims are world known. They should not be treated of a recent origin. Despite concerted efforts, put in by Hindu saints and Muslim Sufis, in the past to assimilate Hindu and Muslim concepts, these did not bear fruit, because of obscuration, and an urge to maintain a separate identity of their own. Their psyche of physical and mental superiority, percolating from not so distant ruling class, more or less, remained intact after the advent of British Raj. A self-righteous psychology and closed ethos made it impossible to co-exist with the Hindu and other religions peacefully and with dignity. Rather, the British rulers used this psyche as a stimulation to disturb the equilibrium, which was taking some form among the Hindus and the Muslims, during their rule in India. The purpose of Britishers, of course, was to divide and rule. The so-called liberal Muslim leaders, including Sir Syed Ahmed, Dr Iqbal and M.A. Jinnah, ultimately took refuge under the shadow of religious dogmas, to achieve their political aim. The Partition of India was the end product. On the other side, the Hindu leaders from Dayanand Saraswati to Gandhiji tried hard to reform Hindu religion and further broaden its outlook to assimilate it with Muslim thought and perception. But, these stalwarts too failed to stem the mental rot, set in on account of fanatic approach of Muslim leadership, both political and religious. The exception could be the Muslim leaders like the late Rafi Ahmed Kidwai and Justice M.C. Chagla.
The communal obsession and infection subsided somewhat after the unfortunate Partition of the country, because of, perhaps, guilt conscience of Indian Muslims, who though clamoured vociferously for Pakistan, they were forced to remain in India by circumstances beyond their control or wish. However, the appeasement policy of successive Delhi regimes, led by Congress since Independence to consolidate their vote bank, coupled with the self-alienated Hindu intellectuals, out of intense antipathy towards Hindu ethos and culture, with a leaning towards western thought and upbringing, patronized the Muslims to earn the label of large-hearted and broad-minded liberals, progressive and secularists to the core. This support rekindled the dying embers of fanatic and chauvinistic fires ingrained in them. Instead of converting the guilt conscience of the Muslim into a resurgent spirit of nationalism, by imparting proper education and making them understand the importance of their true role in the changed circumstances, and thereby paving the way for building a shattered nation into a cohesive united force, the selfish leaders of the ruling class, especially the Congress led by Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, indulged in, and are still spearheading the move to placate Muslims and to keep them always at daggers drawn with Hindus to maintain the superiority of their community. However, a common Muslim is not fanatic, but its leadership, couched with self-aggrandisement, class distinction and political chicanery, is bent upon keeping the fires of hatred and repugnance burning, in the process, sowing the seeds of continuous discontentment, and creating a vicious atmosphere, which could lead to another bifurcation of the country on the basis of religious bigotry.
Accordingly, it may not be out of place to stress that there is a dire need to go in for openness, persuasion, goodwill and forbearance, especially with receptiveness and tolerant heritage of Hindus. This is the only positive and correct approach, which is the need of the hour to resolve all the issues relating to both the Muslims and the Hindus, by maintaining cordial relations and creating a spirit of brotherhood, by avoiding mistrust. All the patriotic Indian citizens, irrespective of caste, creed and religion, including the Muslims too, should realise that even a Hindu, though secular to the core, may become antagonistic towards them, if their theologians and political patrons and sharks generate deliberate disdain and hatred in their minds about the majority community, by their malevolent propaganda, behaviour and actions. The sane Muslim must concede that their community is so much used to appeasement and pampered by the present and the past regimes, more vigorously by the existing UPA government, that it has failed to comprehend that sops offered by these secular parties and governments, do not help in fulfilling their ambitions and only serve their short-term interests.
The solution of Muslim poverty and backwardness lies in their own hands, and not in the hands of so-called secular parties, leaders and concocted reports, like the Sachar report, which only offers false promises to win their votes. In case, true, sound and impartial confidence is built among the Muslims, it shall break the shackles of bigotism, cobweb, spun around them by their fundamentalists, clerics and short-sighted leaders, and to a greater extent, by the crooked politicians, who have forced the community to live in isolation and become a mere tool and pawn in their hands, to be used only at the time of voting, to win elections, and to forget them after the victory, for a period of another five years. In reality, the seeds of friction discontent, created by the above evil elements, must be shun, to keep the community in the national mainstream.
(The author is an I.E.S. (retd.) and can be contacted at C-517, Yojana Vihar, Delhi-110 092.)
It may not be out of place to stress that there is a dire need to go in for openness, persuasion, goodwill and forbearance, especially with receptiveness and tolerant heritage of Hindus.