Thus the followers and admirers of Gandhi and Nehru in the Hindu society continue to follow the direction of appeasement of Muslims and suppression of Hindus to this day. Frustrated by failures of their efforts to integrate Muslims with the national mainstream and also to a create their vote-bank in their favour, the present-day legatees of Gandhi and Nehru seem to have now decided to make all out efforts to woo them. Hence the spates of moves described above.
We have thus two categories of Hindus that subscribe to the appeasement policy, Nehruvian and Gandhian. They are so categorised only to show that, though, like that of Gandhi and Nehru, their approach to the Muslim problem is the same and though their efforts are destined to do harm to the genuine interests of both Hindus and Muslims, their orientations behind their approach are diametrically different from each other. Furthermore the differences in their orientations from those of their mentors are also so great that it can be said that the Gandhians are more Gandhian than Gandhi and the Nehruvians are more Nehruvian than Nehru. Fro Gandhi was at least aware, as he once admitted, that the Muslim was a bully and the Hindu a coward, thought he did nothing to change their character. The present-day Gandhians do not seem to be aware of this but, like Gandhi, they are deeply believing soft Hindus. They are against taking any harsh step against their younger brother, the Muslim and believe that their method of persuasion, helping and tolerance will some day and somehow change the Muslim into an altogether different man. Gandhi also thought likewise. ?There is no metal,? he once asserted, ?which does not melt if sufficient heat is applied to it.? Very true indeed; but Gandhi himself failed to apply sufficient heat to melt the metallic heart of Jinnah. There is, therefore, no possibility of small Gandhians succeeding where the greater one failed. On the other hand they are only worsening the situation as is already apparent.
The same with the Nehruvians! Nehru was at least aware of the greatness of the ancient Hindu culture and civilisation, which he considered to common heritage of Hindus and Muslims and openly said that he was proud of them before a Muslim audience at the Aligarh Muslim University. The present-day Nehruvians, however, do not recognize the greatness of ancient Hindu culture and civilisation. For them ancient Hindus were primitive, caste-ridden bunch of communities, full of myths, fictions and meaningless ritualism. For them Lord Ram did not exist and the Ram-Sethu is a mere fiction! They affirm that the Aryans came to India from outside because the western historians had said so and totally ignore the recent evidence that challenges that theory. The Hindu culture, according to them, is Brahmanical culture even when it is well known that the greatest contributors to it were non-Brahmin by birth; such as Valmiki, the author of the Ramayana; Vyasa, the author of the Mahabharata and Krishna, the Yadav preceptor of the essence of Hinduism?the Bhagwat-Geeta. According to them the painting by Muslim painters of Hindu goddesses in the nude should be tolerated as expression of freedom of art, while any criticism of prophet Muhammed or his cartoon should be condemned as hurting the religious sentiments of the Muslims. The burning of the train at Godhra should be explained away as a fluky event but its aftermath should be dubbed as pre-planned massacre of Muslims by Hindus! If an attack by Muslim terrorist takes place, it should be dismissed as an act of an individual and no aspersions should be passed against Jehadi Islam or Muslim community although no terrorist act is possible without some support from the local community; and at the same time Hindus should be sternly asked to keep quiet and not get provoked. But if any attack by a Hindu takes place, it should be condemned in the strongest possible terms and the whole Hindu community should be warned of its dire consequences!
The present Congress-led UPA government at the centre does not dare to take any action against the madarsas?the breeding grounds of fundamentalism and terrorism?even to the extent the Pakistan government has taken against the madarsas in that country, for fear of hurting the susceptibilities of Muslims. On the other hand, it wants to help them by providing them with modern gadgets like computers in the hope that they would help modernize their curriculum. But the greater possibility is that they would only bring out modern educated terrorists!
The burden of all the submissions made so far is that the policy of appeasement, well-meant thought it has been, has not only completely failed to achieve its honest purpose, but has become a counter-productive. Every installment of concessions is treated as a stepping stone for demanding more concession with the result that the Muslim minority of India today enjoys more concessions and privileges than what are available to the majority Hindu community and it is still not satisfied. It always puts on an aggrieved party'sface and demands more and more privileges which are used to reinforce exclusiveness and separate identity away from the national mainstream. If the same trend continues, the day is not far off when the numerous Muslim?dominated districts?and there are 20 Muslim?majority districts and another 38 districts with substantial 25 to 50 per cent of Muslim population, according to Sachar Committee?will demand autonomy, thereby converting themselves into so many mini-Pakistans!
It is now crystal?clear that the policy of appeasement has been fully tried and found miserably wanting. A serious review to the policy is necessary in the true interest of Hindus, Muslim and the nation as a whole.
It must first be recognised that all Muslims are not fundamentalist, fanatic or communal. Only their present leadership, consisting mostly of Mullas and Maulawis, is. Even its obscurantist demands such as in the Shah Bano case or in the opposition to Common Civil Code, are gracelessly met by the followers of the appeasement policy. This creates an impression in the mind of the Muslim masses that the power of the Mullas, Moulawis and other fundamentalists is so great that they can bring the appeaser Government and the Hindus supporting it, to their knees. This strengthens their leadership over the Muslim masses, which accounts for their remaining backward. There are many moderate Muslims and their number is also steadily growing. Many of them do extremely well in life. They regard India as their birthplace where they have to live and die. They are nationalist in outlook and accept that, like that of Indonesian Muslims, their culture is basically Hindu. They are very good Muslims, believing and following the high principles of deeni Islam, They do not regard terrorism is any part of Islam. They know that the same blood flows in the veins of Hindus and Muslims and understand the need for brotherly living.
These moderate Muslims are fairly modern in outlook and feel the need of some reform in Islam. They are eager to Lead the Muslim masses in that direction but find themselves helpless in the matter. The Gandhians and Nehruvians and their governments neglect them and the Muslim masses reject them as they appear impotent to help them as the Mullas and Maulawis seem to do. If they dare to speak out, they run the risk of being beaten up by the fundamentalists on the one hand and complete frustration with the masses on the other. This is the fruit of the appeasement policy!
Hamid Dalwi, founder of the Muslim Satya Shodhak Samaj in Maharashtra, was a great reformist Muslim leader who yearned and strove hard for all his life to bring about nationalist change in the psyche of ordinary Muslims; but he failed miserably. In utter disgust he wrote in his Marathi book on Muslim communalism that the Muslims would not change unless they were made to face a choice only between change and death! This was obviously a counsel of despair and probably Dalwai did not mean it. But nevertheless there is some grain of truth in it. After the Bangladesh war, for example, the psyche of Muslim masses in India received a big blow and they were inclined to change. The Hindus also regained their resurgent mood after about a thousand years of depression. But the softness shown by Indira Gandhi in the Simla Agreement blacked out the new enlightenment of both Hindus and Muslims and pushed them back into their old dark psyche. The events of Ayodhya and Godhra have the same story to tell. Without going into the justifiability or otherwise of these events, it can be said that they were bolts from the blue both for Hindu and Muslim stereotypes. They gave a call of a wakening to Hindus and Muslims both. Quite a few Muslim thinkers and reformers expressed the view after these event that before these events Muslim masses refused to listen to their pleas for reform but after the event they were found to be inclined to listen to them. But this change did not last long. The hue and cry raised by Nehruvian and Gandhian Hindus shouted down the feeble voice of enlightenment and reestablished the Mullas and Maulavis on their shaking throne.
Referring to the post-Ayodhya upheaval in India, the internationally recognised intellectual and Nobel Laureate, V.S. Naipaul, remarked, ?What is happening in India is a new historical awakening?Today it seems to me that Indians are becoming alive to their history? What is happening in India is a mighty creative process.? A Nehruvians intellectual journalist was aghast at these remarks of Naipaul. How can a western educated intellectual like Naipaul think like this, he thought and again interviewed Naipaul to ensure correct reporting of his view. Naipaul reiterated the same view with greater emphasis and the poor intellectual fell flat! But he did not consider it necessary to review his own view in the light of what Naipaul had said. The same Naipaul, a keen observer of the Indian scene, once remarked that there were no intellectuals in India. It is not difficult to find out whom he referred to!
Thus, India is back to the square one! How to solve this riddle? Certainly not by practising more appeasement as the present UPA government seems to do.
There is only one way out and that is to encourage moderate Muslims to take up the leadership of Muslim masses. The importance of moderate Muslims is recognised even in Pakistan and they consider bringing the moderates to the forefront of national life as key to solving their multifarious problems. In India, unfortunately, this awareness is lacking. The moderate Indian Muslims, though more or less shining in all other areas, are a miserable lot politically. They are eager to lead and will succeed in reforming the Muslim community provided the Nehruvian and Gandhian ruling class listens to the voice of moderate Muslims and not that of the fundamentalists and communal-minded Muslims.
It will come as an unbelievable revelation to the Gandhian and Nehruvian classes that, of all the people, it is the Sangh Parivar, particularly the RSS, BJP and BMS, that make conscious efforts to develop contacts and mutual understanding with moderate Muslims. They are in the BJP and the BMS in fairly large numbers and some of them even attend the RSS shakhas also. Nationalist Muslims thinkers are invited to participate in the high-level Think-tank meeting of the RSS also. A special cell of the RSS under the leadership of Shri Indresh Kumar, an RSS pracharak, holds and addresses meetings of moderate Muslims where mutual problems are frankly discussed. They are invited to address Muslim masses in their mosques also. The motto of the Sangh Pariwar is higher than that of the Gandhians and Nehruvians?, viz.; ?equal regard for all religions?. Instead Sangh believes in ?equal respect for all religions?. Their approach is not of appeasement, but of ?justice to all and appeasement of none?. Many Muslims find this approach more reliable than shelling out tall promises, which generally remained, unfulfilled or half-fulfilled. This reflects in the steady growth of Muslim votes in elections also. Let the Gandhians and Nehruvians think and rethink and avoid repetition of history.
(The author retired as Professor of Political Science, Elphinstone College, Mumbai and was the Director of State, Institute of Administrative Careers, Government of Maharashtra, Mumbai. He can be contacted at 113, Shivaji Nagar, Nagpur-440 010.)