In the not too-distant past, our former colonial rulers, both the British and the Muslims, had consistently followed the strategy enshrined in the Roman maxim, divide et impera, to tighten their political stranglehold over India. The Mughals successfully divided the Hindus and induced many warriors of the Rajput community and powerful landlords to break ranks with their brethren and join the alien conquerors for leading campaigns in several parts of the country against Hindu rulers who refused to surrender to the Mughals and stood up for protection of their dharma and their people.
Similarly the British were able to create a class of ‘toadies’ (whom they disparagingly called ‘natives’), for utilising their services as pillars of support for the British empire. Surprisingly the Congress Party, which at one time swore by the unity of the Indian people, has gone far beyond what the British and the Mughals did. It has strategised a far worse policy of ‘divide and destroy’ by recourse to the politics of minorityism.
Improving upon what V.P. Singh did in the year 1990 to create fissures in the Hindu society by implementing the recommendations of Mandal Commission, the Congress led UPA has embarked on a devious programme of minority appeasement in flagrant violation of the Constitution. The sole aim of the ruling political dispensation is to strengthen their Muslim and Christian votebank by dividing the Hindus and thereby destroy the unity of the majority community. The appointment of Sachar Committee in gross violation of Article 15 of the Constitution and hasty implementation of its recommendations was a classic example of votebank politics. After winning the general election 2009, courtesy Sachar Report, now comes another bombshell, the Ranganath Misra Report, which has made the following discriminatory and divisive recommendations :
i) That 15 per cent seats in all non-minority educational institutions should be reserved for religious and linguistic minorities across the country.
ii) That there should be ten per cent reservations for Muslims and five per cent for other minorities in government posts in all cadres and grades, both at the centre as well as in the states. It further says that in case there are not enough Muslim candidates to fill the 10 per cent quota, the vacancies should be offered to other minorities and expressly stipulates that in no case should any reserved seat go to the candidates belonging to the majority community (read Hindus).
iii) That all concessions in the eligibility criteria for government jobs provided to the scheduled caste and scheduled tribe candidates should be extended to the scheduled caste and scheduled tribe members of minority communities. In other words, a Muslim or a Christian convert from scheduled castes and scheduled tribes should be entitled to share the reservation benefit out of the share of jobs presently reserved for the SC and ST candidates professing Hindu religion.
iv) That in all welfare schemes launched by the government like the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (i.e., under the NREG Act), or Prime Minister’s Rozgar Yojana, or the Grameen Rozgar Yojana, there should be 10 per cent reservation for the Muslims and 5 per cent for other minorities.
The Committee has recommended that for the purpose of identifying backward classes there should be absolutely no distinction between the majority community and the minorities. While making a recommendation for reserving 15 per cent jobs for Muslims and other minorities a suggestion has been made to drop the qualifying clause of ‘socially and educationally’ backward communities laid down in Article 16(4) of the Constitution. Surely Justice Ranganath Misra could not be ignorant of the fact that in literacy the Muslims have a higher percentage than Hindus in as many as 11 states and that in more than one dozen States even the Muslim women have a higher percentage of literacy than the Hindu women. Yet by ignoring this truth, the Committee proclaims that the Muslims who are the largest minority at the national level with a countrywide presence are educationally the most backward, which is a lie!
The Committee knew that it was not possible to make such discriminatory recommendations within the framework of Article 16(4) of the Constitution. It therefore chose to suggest waiver of the qualifying poviso of social and educational backwardness for appeasing the Muslims.
Surprisingly these recommendations for reservations have been made without evolving any rational criteria for assessing the so-called backwardness of the Muslims or the Christians, nor was any attempt made to compare their Human Development Indices with those of the majority community. The inconvertible truth is that in four globally recognised Human Development Indicators, namely, Infant Mortality, Child Mortality, Degree of Urbanisation and Life Expectancy at Birth, the Muslims and the Christians are better placed than the Hindus. Had the Committee tried to evolve a rational data-based criterion, it would have found that it is the Hindus who are more disadvantaged than the Muslims. According to a seminar paper presented by Shri Sanjay Kumar on September 2, 2006, at the prestigious Indian Institute of Public Administration (based on a survey conducted by the Centre for Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi, in 2004), there was “hardly any difference in the level of economic prosperity among people from the two communities.”1 The research of Shri Sanjay Kumar further established that at the national level “the proportion of those who would fall in very poor class is more among the Hindus compared to the Muslims.”2 These conclusions were subsequently confirmed by another survey by Rajesh Shukla, a Senior Fellow of the NCAER (National Council of Applied Economic Research), which was based on a sample of nearly 63,000 households spread over 1,976 villages (250 districts) and 2,2255 urban wards (342 towns), published in the Economic Times, New Delhi, on April 5, 2007. The newspaper report proclaimed, “Forget all half-baked opinions, you may have heard on the economic status of religious communities in India. Truth be told, at the national level, Hindus and Muslims are closer than you thought as far as average household income, expenditure, savings and even ownership of select consumer goods go.”3 The NCAER survey further revealed that on an average a Muslim household, at the national level, spent more than its Hindu counterpart, the quantum of annual expenditure being Rs. 40,327 for the Muslims as against Rs. 40,009 for the Hindus.4 The survey revealed that both Sikhs and Christians were way ahead of Hindus. The average Sikh household spent a whopping Rs. 60,475 per annum, while the average Christian household expenditure per annum was Rs. 45,291.5 The NCAER survey confirmed that at the national level, Hindu and Muslim households virtually mirror each other on ownership of a host of products, e.g., cars, two-wheelers, refrigerators, etc.6 The only oddity was the ownership of television, with Hindu ownership at 62.8 percent and Muslim ownership at 54 percent. Could it be due to the diktats of anti-television Mullahs ? Your guess is as good as mine.
The foregoing facts, based on data-supported empirical findings of two surveys fly in the face of the falsehood peddled by Ranganath Misra Report. In any case, it is patently preposterous to claim that Muslims are the most disadvantaged community. In fact, the boot is on the other leg. It is the Hindu community which is in a more disadvantaged position.
Prima facie Justice Ranganath Misra believes that every member of a minority community is a super citizen entitled to preferential treatment vis a vis the majority community, even if he or she is educationally and economically much better off than the poorest of the poor Hindus. In doing so Justice Misra is only echoing the sentiments of the Prime Minister who had famously declared in December 2006 that Muslims shall have the first claim on resources of the country. The unmistakable intention of the Ranganath Misra Commission is to reduce the Hindus to the status of ‘third class’ citizens in their ancient motherland and make them the hewers of wood and drawers of water – as indeed they were during the Muslim rule.
Without evolving any criteria for determining the so-called backwardness of any community, the Committee has arbitrarily classified all religious and linguistic minorities as backward and wants them to be brought under the umbrella of ‘OBC’ (other backward classes). It has used the same trick of trade which was honed by Justice Sachar for defining the Muslims as the most backward community despite their being better placed in four globally recognised Human Development Indicators. It is simple common sense that any community which is distinctly better placed than the Hindus in four important human development indices cannot be classified as ‘backward’. Today the poorest of the poor community in India is the hapless Hindu majority which is being ignored and marginalized by the Congress Party for garnering votes of the Muslims and other minorities.
Unfortunately in 2007, the Hindu leaders failed to rise to the occasion because none of them cared to read the voluminous report, cleverly written by Justice Sachar. It is a pity that the parliamentarians representing the Hindus could not even detect a highly questionable subtle fraud, foisted by the then Minister for Minority Affairs, A R Antulay, at the time of presenting the Action Taken Report on Sachar Report in the Lok Sabha on August 31, 2007. The Minister, after admitting in paragraphs 1 and 3 that Sachar Committee had been constituted specifically to look into the social, economic and educational status of the Muslim community, suddenly shifted focus in sub-paras (i) and (ii) of the ATR to the need for improving the condition of all minorities – rather than confining himself only to the Muslims, as he should have done. It is a matter of record that Sachar Committee did not examine the socio-economic and educational status of any other minority community, except the Muslims, nor was it authorized to do so in terms of the Notification issued on March 9, 2005. This clever stratagem of including all minorities in the ATR was devised by the Minister to overcome the serious constitutionl flaw inherent in the appointment of a Committee by the P.M., solely for one single religious community. This was a major contradiction between the Sachar Report and the Action Taken Report. It is a pity that the deception-laden ATR was never objected to and the bait offered by Antulay was swallowed hook, line and sinker by members of the opposition claiming to look after interests of the majority community.
The end result was that the Congress-led UPA had a virtual walk-over in the general election held in the year 2009 by appeasing the Muslim community through use of Sachar Report. After tasting blood, the UPA are now working overtime to implement another monstrosity called Ranganath Misra Report. The hidden agenda of the UPA is to use this report for further dividing and destroying the Hindu society, which constitutes the core strength of the Indian civilization. After hasty implementation of the infamous Sachar Report, another death blow is now sought to be delivered to Hindu unity. This dangerously clever strategy will surely further consolidate the minority votes in favour of the Congress Party and its allies, unless the Hindu leadership wakes up and decides to meet the challenge in a resolute and gutsy manner.
Before concluding, it would be appropriate to highlight the questionable conduct of Justice Ranganath Misra while inquiring into the anti-Sikh riots of 1984. So coloured was his partisan posture during the proceedings as one-man Judicial Commission that the Citizens Justice Committee, representing the Sikh cause, was forced to withdraw from the proceedings at an advanced stage. It was alleged that the learned judge virtually tried to conduct the proceedings in camera, thereby betraying his anxiety to give a clean chit to the Rajiv Gandhi government and save some culpable leaders of the Congress Party. He had even disallowed the Citizens Justice Committee to cross examine the government functionaries in authority during the riots. The report of such a judge cannot be expected to be truthful and equitable and deserves to be thrown into the wastepaper basket. It may be recalled that to ascertain the truth about the culpability of certain Congress leaders in anti-Sikh riots of 1984, another Inquiry Commission under Justice Nanavati had to be appointed later on.
1. Sanjay Kumar, Fellow, Centre For Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Social and Economic Status and Popular Perception of Muslims in India, a Seminar Paper presented on Sept. 2, 2006, at the Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi.
3. Shailesh Dobhal and Bhanu Pande, TNN, The Economic Times, New Delhi, April 5, 2007.
(The writer is a retired DGP and has written a number of books on national security.)