This is the season for harvesting votes; we have elections to 5 state assemblies coming up in the next few months. Little wonder that there are two articles in Highly Toxic oops Hindustan Times in one day. While I did deal with Mr. Vohra’s article last evening, now it is time to turn my attention to the next one
“A dream gone sour” by Harsh Mander March 06, 2011.
It would be in fairness of things to let me unequivocally state violence of any and every kind is abhorrent and nothing can ever justify taking another human life for any cause. This idea of violence gets repugnant when educated individuals in various guises seek to reignite or prevent the healing process for reasons which have visible electoral benefits for the party they surreptitiously represent.
We are going to be reading many articles in the coming months on this very issue in the Hindustan Times, yes the authors will be familiar names who have made this their primary source of livelihood. Mr. Mander is not a journalist, he writes columns for The Hindu and Hindustan Times, and he has chosen to write on this topic, so it would be proper that we first familiarize ourselves with this gentleman.
Who is Mr.Harsh Mander ? He is a social worker, writer. He is Special Commissioner to the Supreme Court of India to advise it in the Right to Food case on hunger and state responsibility, and Director of the Centre for Equity Studies. Visiting Professor at IIM, Ahmedabad on poverty and governance. He worked formerly in the Indian Administrative Service in Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh for almost two decades. Last but not the least he is member of National Advisory Council. Yes the very same one headed by Mrs.Sonia Gandhi.
Now that we have the background information on the author as also his article, without wasting anymore time let us get down to analyzing the contents. This piece is deficient in credibility, for the simple reason the author is part of NAC therefore his leaning towards Congress is known hence he cannot be expected to deliver an unbiased reasoned account. The article has appeared in Hindustan Times which is known for frequently publishing works which aid congress directly.
Congress needs the services of others to reignite the Secular Vs Communal debate, since it was roundly thrashed in the Bihar elections, despite its persistent efforts this debate did not take center stage. States being governed by BJP/NDA are recording unprecedented progress, congress has only corruption to present, to the people of this country as evidence of it rule at the center and states.
The temptation for a rebuttal on every point raised is overwhelming though not desirable as it would be making the post very long to hold attention of the readers. Author is an ex IAS and is well versed with the laws of the land, one fails to understand why he has not initiated perjury proceedings against those witnesses who have been found hostile or retracting their statements. It is easy to make allegations without evidence on hand and that is what Mr. Mander is indulging in, permitting his imagination a fanciful flight about the plight of Muslims in Gujarat debunking the findings of Sachar Committee which has explicitly stated that Muslims in Gujarat enjoy better economic status than in the rest of the country. Gujarat and Mr. Narendra Modi must be vilified regardless which state goes to polls. This is standard operating procedure for congress, its cronies in media and professed intellectuals.
Ethnic groups world over tend to live in clusters, Muslims living together in Gujarat is not a unique phenomenon, it is found all over the country, though this state of affair is not desirable it is a fact for which Gujarat or the state government cannot be faulted. “I encounter such unhealed suffering among survivors of mass communal violence in Nellie of 1983, Delhi of 1984 and Gujarat of 2002." Pray why has the author not focused on events of Nellie it is 28years since it happened, why nothing on 1984 which saw the worst Genocide of innocent Sikhs in Delhi 3000 killed in 3 days, justified by the then Prime Minister as “When a big tree falls earth trembles.” It is 27 years and justice for the victims is no where in sight. Why has the author not taken up the issue of nearly half a million Kashmiri Pandits living as refugees in their own country for past 22 years, as victims of ethnic cleansing? No sir your article is motivated and deserves to be trashed.
“He (Mr.Narendra Modi) is celebrated by virtually every national corporate heavyweight for the rapid economic growth and ‘efficient’ administration offered by his stewardship of Gujarat. Yet, he refuses to apologise for the crimes of the dark months of 2002 and the complicity of his state administration.” This enduring affection that congress, congress friendly media and Mr. Mander are displaying for an apology for 2002 is bewildering, one fails to understand how an apology would mitigate what has happened in 2002.
The example before us is of the statement of the then Prime Minister in 1984 who justified mass murder of innocents Indians and friendly media underplays the event terming it as Anti Sikh riot, the term itself is misleading. Mr. Mander is member of an extra constitutional body which has no sanction from our constitution. He who enjoy benefits by virtue of being a member of NAC! Hence any comment on the constitutional obligations by the author can only evoke mirth and laughter.
Secularism in India
The Preamble to the Constitution of India declares that India is a secular state. The original preamble did not mention the word "secular". It was added later by 42nd amendment in 1976. The term secularism in politics refers to the governmental practice of indifference towards religion. Though such bifurcation is not totally possible, still, secular politics attempt to prevent religious philosophies or bodies from influencing governmental policies. The philosophy that the Indian constitution upholds is a kind of secular humanism made relevant through a historical development of the ideology within the context of religious pluralism in India.
Indian concept of secularism takes is colour from Article 15 (Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth), Article 25 (Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion), and Article 26 (Freedom to manage religious affairs). These are among the list of Fundamental Rights of citizens. It is interesting to note that Indian Constitution merely states the behaviour of the State in terms of what it will not do (i.e. not discriminate based on religion). It does not say that the State has or has not a religion. It does not say whether State can or cannot participate in religion. It does not say whether State can or cannot spend public money on religious activities.
Even so, India recognizes laws based on religion. Hindus, Muslims, and Christians are governed by their own religious laws. Thus, India does not really fit into any text book definition of Secularism. It has, in fact, created its own brand of Secularism. Indeed, Supreme Court of India observed the same thing in the case of Aruna Roy vs. Union of India (SC AIR 2002), when it said Indian Secularism means ”sarva dhrama samabhav” and not “sarva dharma abhav” ( meaning, "equal feeling for all religions" and not "no feeling for any religion").
This concept of secularism which was to serve as a tool, has been converted into a double edged weapon by congress, while on one end it instill a sense of persecution and fear psychosis among the minorities, on the other end it accuse the majority community of being communal, thereby has been reaping rich electoral dividends. Law of diminishing returns has now afflicted this instrument, yet the import has not fully been registered by congress. Otherwise such individuals would not be encouraged to pen article so grossly biased.
I wonder if Mr. Mander would ever be troubled by his conscience for having published an article of this nature when he could have selected many others including Bhopal Gas tragedy of 1984, guess it would not serve the interest of his political paymasters hence it had to be Gujarat and Narendra Modi. How else could he harvest votes for Congress if the society was not polarized? Indeed a sad commentary on the author who claims to be a Director Centre for Equity Studies.
I welcome a debate and discussion on this…As always, please keep your tone civil, your language polite…no sweeping generalisations please and no personal abuse. Thank you.