Let'saddress the issue from a standpoint as germane as it can get. To begin with, any preferential treatment to Muslim community as also reservation to Muslims on the caste basis is understandably, un-Islamic. It goes against the grain of the religion which does not at all permit caste-like boundaries.
Also, the step would hurt the very foundation of conversion in India from the Hindu-fold to Islam and other religions as well. The entire historic structure of Muslim existence (without doubt that it took place through proselytisation, forced or otherwise) would crumble if we accept the fact. It will amount to nothing but failure of their existence for the last several centuries as a separate identity, not to forget the logic of two-nation theory, which will have to stand on its head if we buy the UPA'scontentions.
Therefore, preferential treatment to Muslims will hurt fundamentalist Islamic theologians more than anyone else. How they will stand up to this stark reality remains to be seen.
Therefore, the debate over whether UPA government making budgetary allocation of 15 per cent for minority welfare amounts to communal budgeting or social budgeting is prima facie a false debate. If we focus on the real issue? reservation to Muslims?the issue of communal/social budgeting will crop up and fall under its own weight.
There is no need to wait for any technological leap for us to see through the fact that the measure is nothing but a political devise in the guise of stated departure in public economic policy. Whether the BJP has reacted cleverly enough or not is just an aside because the targeted constituency has never been the saffron party'svote bank in any case.
The present and clear danger, whether they admit it or not, is for the Left. And the scariest aspect of the divisive measure lies here?it will spark the race for no holds barred minority appeasement. Without doubt, the UPA has prempted the BJP and also its Left allies with one stroke of a pen.
The move also brings out in the open that general elections are nearer than what they seem.
There have not been major communal flare ups in the country. The number of riots have come down and the level of suspicion and animosity between Hindus and Muslims have, very few will disagree, also been brought down considerably. The chances, however, are that the reservation on religious grounds and forcing through Rs 4000 crore budgetary allocation in the name of development of the Muslims, will only help alienate the two communities. And the toil of good samaritans from both the religions, will be lost. Not to forget that it will pitch the poor of the two communities against each other. Rightly or wrongly, over 60 years of political education in democracy has made them all believe that everyone is fighting for the same pie. There is every threat of losing the close knit fabric of the country.
The dangers are real and they must be addressed before it too late.
In the name of espousing the cause of Muslims in India, the myopic measures would only end up hurting the cause of the Muslims in India. History, I?m afraid, will remember this as a great national disservice.
One of the foremost tasks of polity in any democratic set-up is institution building. But if the recently concluded National Development Council is any proof, contrary to its assigned dharma, the Manmohan Singh government has shown itself a wily executive treating a critical vision document that sets the tone and direction for national growth and development, as a tool for political appeasement.
It brings into sharp focus, a matter of raging debate since Independence?the dichotomy and conflict between the needs of the nation and the needs of political parties.
One also wonders whether the advisors of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi are the same as there is evident lack of maturity and historical understanding in what both of them do. There'sa catch for the Congress party in the entire issue. For a party that took nearly a decade to apologise over demolition of the disputed structure in Ayodhya under its rule in Delhi and even longer for 1984 anti-Sikh riots, does it come as an apology for what it could not do in the past. None but history is proof that the party spent the maximum time enjoying power at the Centre as well as in the states.
Also, one tends to ask whether the UPA considers Muslims in Jammu & Kashmir also to be minority. Or, the target beneficiary of the measure will be Hindu Kashmiri Pandits. The tragedy of losing their land in the valley is of course a cause that has failed to move the UPA.
Not to forget is asking whether Manmohan Singh belongs to minority community by virtue of being a Sikh or because his Election Commission certificate shows him as a resident of Assam.
The Pandora'sbox has just been opened. The sooner the lid is put back, the better it would be for the country.
?Destination India? appears to be the buzzword across the globe. By unveiling the Nano, Ratan Tata marked the country'sresolute will to succeed. By bringing policies as divisive as these, the UPA, especially the Congress has failed the nation. It distracts the focus of the youth from nation building to petty politicking. The move does good to none. Let there be a holistics approach to development, without any ill-will to any, and make everyone a stakeholder in the nation'sprosperity.
The road to development must be just and approachable by all. And to remind Manmohan Singh of what he himself quoted as the then Finance Minister of India?Caesar'swife should not only be honest but also appear to be honest.
Your government Mr Singh, doesn'tappear to be honest in the cause that it claims to espouse. Besides the merits of the issue, the timing is terribly wrong Mr Prime Minister. It is time you redeem your personal integrity in the eyes of the people of the country.
The move also has the potential to boomerang in the same way Sonia Gandhi's?merchant of death? speech did in the recent Gujarat elections. In the eyes of the voters at large, it was not Narendra Modi who was playing the communal card but the Congress. The Assembly election result is there for all to see.
Instead of garnering Muslim vote, the Congress may end up defeating its own political purpose. In any case, politics should not be just as the means and ploy to cling to power. It also is meant to unleash social equitability among the downtrodden and open the doors of equal opportunity for economic development to all.
It doesn'tneed a prophet to say that poverty has no religion at all.
(The writer is a senior journalist. He can be contacted at [email protected])