A fortnight ago Delhi High Court asked the central government over the basis on which the Sachar Committee was constituted. I have mentioned this on previous occasions too that similar to the British system of granting communal awards, the current UPA government has also sowed the seeds of communal divide and one such measure has been the Sachar Committee. We have been opposing it from the very beginning. In a way the court also while castigating the central government asked how was a survey conducted by keeping a particular community in focus and on what basis did the government decide to do so?
When one studies the details available on the recommendations of the Sachar Committee, a few interesting facts emerge that some of the members of the Committee went on to work beyond its terms of reference. In fact they even suggested that the delimitation of some constituencies should be undertaken in such a manner that the entire Muslim population of a district should come within a single electoral area. They went further to the extent of suggesting that all those Lok Sabha seats which have been reserved for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and in which the Muslim population is over 19 per cent, the reservation on such seats should be removed and in future also they should not be reserved. On this basis the Sachar Committee wanted 23 assembly seats each in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and 17 assembly seats in West Bengal that are reserved for the Scheduled Castes to be de-reserved. Was it the purview of the Sachar Committee to decide about delimitation or about the reserved seats for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes? All these efforts remind us about the political developments of pre-Independence days that went on to sow the foundations for Partition.
These indicate that the very basis of the formation of the Sachar Committee appears to be illegal. From the very beginning we have been saying that the Sachar Committee goes against the core spirit of the Constitution.
This is not the first instance where the courts have made the central government aware about its crossing the limits or in a common man'slanguage, the government has been castigated by the court.
Prior to this be it the misuse of office of Governor to usurp the people'smandate immediately after the Jharkhand elections or preventing a majority government from assuming office in Bihar; be it the attempt of reserving government jobs for Muslims in Andhra Pradesh or reserving seats for Muslims in Aligarh Muslim University, be it the issue of making changes in the Act of All India Institute of Medical Sciences or selecting an alternate route on the Sethusamundram Project, the UPA government at the Centre has had to face the irritation of the court on numerous occasions. However, it seems that just like an undisciplined person, the government too has become used to this.
When India'sConstitution was written in November 1949, then in the Preamble of the Constitution basically India was declared as a ?Sovereign, Democratic, Republic?. In context of the Preamble of the Constitution Dr Bhimrao Ambedar said that it should be considered as the soul of the Constitution and if there was to be any doubt regarding any Article then the decision should be taken after studying it with reference to the Preamble. Therefore, fundamentally there should have been no change to the Preamble of the Constitution since it reflected India'sbasic character and was an expression of the public sentiment at the time of Independence. Yet, in the decade of the 1970s through the 42nd Constitutional amendment, the words ?Secular? and ?Socialist? were added to the Preamble of the Constitution. And after this change the Preamble of India'sConstitution became ?Sovereign, Secular, Socialist, Democratic, Republic?. It is only after this change that widespread politics began over the word ?secular? which was publicised as ?dharmanirpekshta?. However, neither technically nor politically, the true meaning of the word ?secular? can ever be ?dharma-nirpekshta?. In the official Hindi translation of the Preamble of the Constitution published by the Ministry of Law & Justice, Government of India, which is also a public document, the meaning of the word ?secular? is written as ?panthnirpeksh?.
There is a big difference in being ?dharmanirpeksh? and ?panthnirpeksh?. Panth or sect symbolises devotion towards any specific belief, specific way of prayer and specific form of God, but dharma symbolises absolute and eternal values which can never change like laws of nature. For example, one can say dharma is like the earth or land while panth is like different paths built over it. Our mind can choose any path, change from one path to another, we can hold different views about the various paths but how can we ever get separated from the earth?
?Dharmapran nation? means a nation whose actual consciousness is imbibed in Dharma. India is a ?dharmapran? nation and this is evident from Amarnath in the extreme north to Sabarimala Temple in the extreme south, and in Haridwar, Nasik, Ujjain and Prayag where one can see Kumbh melas in perpetual occurrence.
India'snational emblem has three lions and carries the eternal message of ?Satyamev Jaytev? (Truth always triumphs) of the Mundkoupanishad. Truth signifies dharma and not a sect. India'snational flag has the Ashoka chakra in it. This chakra found in sarnath is dharmachakra and basically symbolises the cycle of dharma. In India'sParliament behind the seat of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha ?dharmachakra pravartanay? (for the propogation of the eternal cycle of dharma) is inscribed. Therefore, if dharma is present in the national emblem, national flag, and in the supreme seat of Parliament then how can the entire establishment of India be neutral to dharma or be dharmanirpeksh?
Probably by understanding these very sentiments, even in the Constitution the word panthnirpeksh was written. The use of the term dharmanirpeksh instead of panthnirpeksh is not only incorrect, unconstitutional, not only against all the national symbols of India but also against the very basis of the real and perpetual ethos of our great nation. The level of pervasion and confusion created in both politics and among the public by the inappropriate use of the word is unimaginable. This also hurts our identity and traditions. India has always been a panthnirpeksh or sect neutral country. Here from Shaivism, Vaishnavism, Shakht to Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism many sects have flourished. Throughout history there has never been any discrimination with anybody. However, India was never dharmanirpeksh, is not dharmanirpeksh and till its existence can never be dharmanirpeksh. To make this dharmapran nation into a dharma neutral nation is a deplorable attempt to destroy the actual consciousness of this great country. At least after 61 years of Independence we should try and come out of this colonial mindset. India needs to come out of the distorted Indianisation from the borrowed western thoughts because without appreciating our own identity and also by hurting our own identity India cannot become a proud and powerful nation of the 21st century.
The confusion created by dharmanirpeksh and panthnirpeksh cannot be removed only through an explanation. The only solution is to stop the use of the word dharmanirpeksh. That is why I say that in future we will never use the word dharmanirpeksh and the Government of India should also issue a directive prohibiting the constitutional use of the word dharma-nirpeksh so that from the Prime Minister to the common public no one constitutionally uses this term and this will prevent confusion and damage from taking place though its usage.
(Excerpted from the presidential address of BJP chief Rajnath Singh at the BJP National Executive in New Delhi on June 1.)