Dr MK Bhat
I was highly amused by the Supreme Court directive of November 21, 2013 to UP Government regarding compensation to all the victims of Muzzafar Nagar. This directive was issued after the notification of Uttar Pradesh Government dated October 26, 2013 for providing Rs.90 crore as financial aid to the Muslim families affected by the riots. The Government in the first place has failed to stop the recurrence of such events and added salt to the injury by taking a biased route for solution, with an eye on vote-bank. This divisive approach further develops hatred and seems against rational thinking because victims cannot be differentiated on the bases of religion, caste or economic status. It makes one to think that if these are the credentials of secularists in India, then God knows what is communalism?
The discussion on secularism will get hot day by day until 2014 because it serves the purpose of both the protagonists and antagonists of secularism. Political parties are getting polarised on this context. The antagonists propagate that it leads to minority appeasement/majority bashing. The minorities have turned synonym for Muslims as they comprise a sizeable portion of the total population and is felt that they vote amass. The protagonists project themselves as the saviours of minority which otherwise will be at the receiving end. They try to take every step to gain their attention. Although the hard fact is that no major change has taken place in the living standard of minorities in the last sixty years despite much hype by the secularists.
Secularism is a western concept applied for the political use by Charles Brad laugh and Holyoake in mid 19th century. It caters to two different interpretations (1) State is separate from religion (2) A neutral stand towards religions. The first debars religion from the affairs of the state while as the second treats all religions as equal. The Indian concept of secularism is based on equal status to all religions. It means that India is not anti religious or irreligious. It is based on Dharma rather than any particular religion.
Causes for secularism
Secularism got prominence in India on two planks firstly from the Partition of the country on religious considerations. This put a heavy impact on the thinking of people on the both sides of the boarder. Religions were treated as the sole mark of identification. Safeguarding the interests of minorities might have been a priority for rulers at that time but latter on it was misused to get minority votes and its significance got confined to votes alone. Secondly the migration of elite Muslims to Pakistan, lead masses left behind in the hands of conservative theologians who always created threat perception in them. The clergy became a bigger threat to them than the majority because they mostly acted as the touts of political parties. The vote politics compelled people to bow to the narrow ends of the politicians .The creation of Muslim law board restricted the changes in Muslim personal law thereby cemented the fear psychosis in them by restricting new ideas within the community.
Protection by law
The recent spurt in this direction is Communal Violence Bill when there are enough laws to protect the rights of minorities in India. Article 25 holds that every person is guaranteed to the freedom of conscience and freedom to profess, propagate his own religion. Article 26 maintains that every religion denomination has a right to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes, to manage their own affairs in matters of religion, to own and acquire movable and immovable property and to administer such property in accordance with law. The Directive Principles also provide equality for all. Article 15 holds that the state shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth etc. Article 16 (2) states that no citizen shall on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them be ineligible for holding any office under the state.
The protection by law will lead nowhere unless politics does not change its mode of vote polarisation on religious grounds. The law executers may get punished under communal violence bill but what about law makers who remain on hooks to propagate such things for their own interests. A section of press which acts in a polarised manner too is a party to this mania. Communalism is an attitudinal problem and can never be solved by laws rather and the more stress on this subject is leading to reactions from other side.