Monday, April 6th, 2020

Status quoist Secularism And Hindu Citizenship

-  Sheodayal -


They had not consented for partition. They did not even know as to what was to be partitioned and why and how it would be done after all. But one morning they found themselves in another country, and their citizenship also had changed accordingly. From Sylhet and Chittagong to Peshawar and Karachi there was blood and ashes everywhere. Even then they were not ready to realize that their faith and religion had changed their country and citizenship, rather they had eventually lost the status and privilege of citizens. Instead they had become 'impious' subjects of a new 'pious nation' just created on the basis of religion. These original, indigenous inhabitants of the land of their forefathers started being subjected to perpetual insult, harassment, humiliation, deprivation and torture – women were the worst victims. Two options were left to them: conversion to Islam, or decampment. They dropped from 23 percent to 1.6 percent (Pakistan), and 30 percent to 9 percent (Bangladesh, erstwhile East Pakistan). It was indeed unbearable to continue to stay there but even more difficult to elope.  Some of them could come to perform the 'asthi visarjan' ritual of their dead relatives, in the holy rivers of India, and never went back to Pakistan for the sake of saving the dignity of their women and their faith.

But it was not so easy staying here either. They had to face a lot of hardship as non-citizens of this great nation, even though it was homeland of their forefathers, and according to Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru they too had the same rights over this land. Among them were mostly Hindus and Sikhs, but also Christians, Janis, Buddhists and Parsis. They had abandoned the citizenship (however under duress) that was thrown upon them on Aug 14, 1947, but their plight was not yet over. They were living here as non-citizens, bereft of any rights, and no civic amenities were available to them.

Indian citizenship was their right from any angle, and just to make it a reality, a provision was made in the citizenship law to grant Indian citizenship to the people belonging to Hindu, Sikh,  Jain, Buddhist, Christian and Parsies communities who took refuse in India to escape constant persecution as religious minorities perpetrated by majority community(Muslims) in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. This amendment meant for those who had entered into India till Dec 31, 2014. The same time doors remained open for those (Muslims) who were out of this group of six communities,. The process of granting citizenship to them has to continue as it is. This is all about Citizenship Amendment Act, 2020. Now how the word 'Muslim' could have found place with Hindu and others on this very ground: constant persecution of religious minorities, in the Act? Again, how and on what ground the citizenship of Indian Muslims is being lost or affected? What Shaheen Bagh revolutionaries want is that there should not be any discrimination between the persecutor and the persecuted. If you are not maintaining parity between them, you are doing injustice to Muslims (of the subcontinent!).  Their logic(!) is : either Muslims be allowed with Hindus or nobody should be granted citizenship. It is on this ground that this apprehension arises: 'whether they are frightened of losing Indian citizenship, or afraid of end of the possibility of India becoming an Islamic state someday?' Some people argue that the Shiites and Ahmadiyas are also persecuted because of their faith, hence why they are not included in the group of six? Here the point is that the Hindus and the other five had not ever demanded for Pakistan, but that is not the case with Shiites etc. who had fought for creation of Pakistan. If they face persecution in the country of their choice they should fight for their rights in Pakistan itself, no way they can claim Indian citizenship. If we look at today's Pakistan, there is unrest everywhere, in every province except Punjab. Sindhis , Balochs and Pashtuns are demanding independence, then should all these Pakistani citizens be granted Indian citizenship?  Of course no, never.

Is there a fear (or objection?) in considering, admitting or projecting Hindu as a suppressed, oppressed, persecuted community? You cannot sympathize with Hindu as a community, no matter how much and how badly it would have suffered in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan or anywhere else, even in India! 'Hindu' has been a prohibited, almost forbidden noun in the secular stream of politics in India. Some wise people do not even recognize Hindu as a community. They say that the word Hindu was first pronounced by the Arabs etc., then how could Hindu be a religion? Alas! Had Mohammad Ali Jinnah knew this, he would not have resorted to 'Direct Action' leading to a separate country for Muslims, thus India would have escaped one of the greatest tragedies in human history. It is interesting to see that nowadays blaming Hindus for partition is in vogue among the liberals. They claim that it was Vinayak Damodar Savarkar who had first talked about two-nation theory in 1937, even though, after the partition of Bengal in 1905 on communal basis the Muslim League was founded in the year 1906, the very next year in Dhaka. Moreover, was Savarkar the greatest leader of the freedom movement, or whether the entire Hindu community was following him that here he pronounced Two-Nation and there came the idea of Pakistan?

Deshratna Dr. Rajendra Prasad authored one of the most important books on partition – India Divided ( the intellectuals hardly refer to this book, why should they!).  With deep sense of history, insightfulness and great deal of diligence Rajen Babu has presented and discussed his views in great details (650 pages) chiefly about nationhood, nationalities, inter-community relationship including Hindu-Muslim relationship in historical perspective. He has also analyzed the geographical and cultural characteristics and peculiarities as well as the natural and human resources of the areas to be partitioned. Interestingly, in this book he has also discussed various schemes of partition, altogether seven. Apart from Jinnah's we usually remember Mohammad Iqbal in this regard.  Now let us have a look at these schemes : 'One Punjabi's( Major Liyaqat Ali) Confederacy of India  Scheme; Aligarh's Professor's (Prof. Syed Zafar Ul Hassan and Prof. Mohammad Afzal Hussein Qadri) Scheme; Choudhary Rahmat Ali's  Scheme (original propounder of the noun 'Pakistan' and it's idea,1933);  Dr.S.A.Latif's Scheme; Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan's Scheme;  Sir Abdullah Haroon Committees' Scheme; and after all the Muslim League's Lahore Conference in 1940 wherein a definite plan for Pakistan  and the decision to part with India came on surface. It is worthwhile to mention here that a decade ago Sir Iqbal in his presidential address in the Allahabad Conference of Muslim League in 1930 had opined –"..The religious ideal of Islam, therefore, is originally related to the social order which it has created.  The rejection of one will eventually involve the rejection of the other. Therefore the construction of a polity on national lines, if it means a displacement of the Islamic principle of solidarity, is simply unthinkable to a Muslim…The unity of an Indian nation, therefore, must be sought, not in negation, but in the mutual harmony and cooperation of many.. And it is on the discovery of unity in this direction that the fate of India as well as Asia depends…The units of Indian society are not territorial as in European countries…The principle of European democracy cannot be applied to India without recognizing the fact of communal groups. The Muslim demand for the creation of a Muslim India within India is fully justified…To my mind, a unitary form of government is simply unthinkable in self-governing India. What are called residuary powers must be left entirely, to self-governing states, the central Federal State exercising only those powers which are expressly vested in it by the free consent of federal states."

So it is abundantly clear that although Iqbal did not demand for a separate Muslim state without a 'Central Indian Authority', the two-nation theory was already in place. In the year 1933, a Punjabi young man Choudhary Rahmat Ali, an undergraduate of Cambridge, propounded the idea of establishing a separate Muslim state which he named as 'Pakistan', comprising Punjab, NWFP(Afghan province), Kashmir, Sind and Baluchistan. With passage of time and the fast changing circumstances this divisive idea attracted people belonging to minority (Muslim) community who mattered, including the young Muslims.

All these half truths and blatant lies are spread these times and no political party can claim monopoly over it.  But the real issue which is intended to be highlighted here is about publicizing a kind of 'Hindu-fear'. The question is, what is the basis of this perceived danger or threat from Hindus after all? In the last thousand years, have the Hindus ever resorted to 'conquer the world campaign', and in the process massacred millions of people and turned cities and human settlements into ashes? Have they ever produced Taimur Lang or Nadir shah or Abdali who erected minarets of human skulls, or piled up scores of human corpses right at the centre of a conquered city? Did any Hindu ruler put women and children on sale in a mandi? Or they ever had among them mass killers of the likes of Hitler, Stalin or Pol Pot? Then why this fear from Hindus? BJP has ruled for more than twelve years at centre, it has had governments in several states for decades. Has there been any violent campaign or offensive against the Muslims in order to establish Hindu Nijam? Do the Hindus have any Pan-Hindu vision? Here arises one more pertinent question: how many institutions, specially educational institutions of the magnitude of Nalanda,Vikramshila or Taxila could be established in between the period from twelfth century to eighteenth century? Moreover, whether Buddha, Mahavir, Nanak, Shankar, Kabir, Vedvyas, Valmiki, Manu, Yajnavalkya, Bharat Muni, Aryabhatta, Brahmagupt, Ashwaghosh, Kalidas and Abhinavgupt were born and brought up in the land of illiterate Hindus?  Whether Cholas, chalukyas, Satavahanas, Mauryas, Guptas, Paalas and Vardhanas were alien people who did not belong to Bharatvarsh? Whether the land of sagas and epics had been inhabited by morons?

Hindus are such a cursed community, howsoever they are oppressed, persecuted, you cannot show any sympathy for them, even as you are a Hindu.  And this is not a fact of past but truth of present too. It is the biggest achievement of secular politics in India. Under its influence, barring a few, by and large the writers including the one who is offering these lines, could dare to ignore the horrendous atrocities against the Kashmiri Hindus, the Pandits who were forced to flee the valley in a free, democratic India. It would have been an anti-secular act, a regressive step, had the cries and plights of the Pundits been highlighted or even mentioned by the custodian of conscience!  What to talk about the political parties.

There come different phases in democratic politics. This is a new phase in Indian politics while a kind of 'tectonic shift' has taken place. The very surface has changed over which the political parties have been playing the game of power politics over the years. A few intellectuals like Ansar Hussein Khan had imagined about this shift and subsequent political scenario even had made forecast about it. He was visualizing the future politics of India from distant nineties (Rediscovery of India, Orient Longman, 1996). We watched those 'Rathyatras' and Bhagwa flags with abhorrence keeping a gloomy picture of India's future in mind. We were even trying 'Mandal' to beat 'Kamandal'. Today the Mandal has immersed into Kamandal. You hurl abuses on Brahmins and 'Sawarnas' making them targets of the rest, but today the OBCs and the Dalits are the vanguards anr torchbearers of the Hindutva politics. It is their leadership all the way. What many consider as arrogance is in fact confidence of the leadership and that is not without ground. The leadership is well aware of the fact that the mass is behind it – clean and honest image, its connect with common man and culture is its USP. This is the reason that it does Notebandi and brings GST and gets vote in return. It is pursuing its short and long term agenda but at the same time opens bank account and pours money into it; builds homes and toilets, constructs roads, arranges and ensures 'bijli-batti', provides free gas connections, provides handsome health insurance coverage, and so on. It is this politics of mass base that the hook of Kashmir could be pulled out of the throat of the Indian nation. Why others couldn’t do this? A few hundred people would come out on streets and you perceived them as whole Kashmir and (deliberately) got frightened. The policies of the present government that touch and address the Muslim population has broken the secular status-quoism and resultant vicious cycle. Some issues were considered beyond solution – nothing could be done to Kashmir, there could not be any social or religious reform among the Muslims brought by law, no government can take steps to benefit the majority community directly even on valid grounds - but all these have been proved wrong and the horizon of politics in India has dramatically changed. And not any progressive and secular but a 'rightist' government has done the job in the name of 'narrow' idea of nationalism.

The anti-government boils and upsurge in the name of opposing citizenship law should be seen in the above context. As for now it would not be less important to understand and realize the historical background of the Hindu rise behind this nationalist stream. The nationalism propagated today has two-fold ramifications: first, it tends to reorganize the Hindus as an inclusive society; and secondly, when it comes to nationhood, it tries to embrace all small and big entities of India. As discussed above, it has the potential of impacting India's present and future profoundly.  At least in this sense, the country is surely witnessing a change.        


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About the Author
Sheodayal
Novelist, Poet, Essayist
 
A well known name in the contemporary Hindi fiction and non- fiction writing. Author, novelist ,poet, essayist and editor.  Literary work and articles published in Dharmayug, Samkalin Bhartiya Sahitya, Vagarth, Navneet, Poorvgrah, Sakshatkar, Akshara, India Today, Parikatha, Samved, Sablog, Pustak Varta, Dastavej, Hindustan, Jansatta, Prabhat Khabar etc..A few articles in English published in some journals and portals including The Citizen. The novel Ek Aur Duniya Hoti got translated into Marathi by eminent critique and translator Rekha Deshpandey and published by Sadhana Prakashan, Pune, 2019. Several poems, stories and articles have been translated into Marathi by famous poet and author Usha Mehta. Some other short stories and non-fictional pieces have Urdu translation too. Contributed to Jansatta on a regular basis since 2007 upto 2017.
 
Edited a development focused quarterly Vikas Sahyatri (Sahyatri) for fourteen years; editor, Bal Kilkari published by Kilkari Bihar Bal Bhavan, Patna.Books published : Ek Aur Duniya Hoti, Chhinte Pal Chhin ( novels); Munna Baindwale Ustad(a collection of short stories)Bihar ki Virasat, Bihar mein Andolan, Rajniti Aur Vikas, Rajniti Shashtra(1&2). Upcoming books : a collection of essays, and poems.
 
Contact - : 
A1/201, R.K.Villa, Mahesh Nagar, Patna–800024. M:9835263930, email : sheodayallekhan@gmail.com        
 
Disclaimer : The views expressed by the author in this feature are entirely her / his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of INVC NEWS.    

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Prof. B B Mandal , says on February 24, 2020, 6:47 PM

I have all appreciation for in-depth analysis of political situation before partition and the present situation. Regrettably a group of people supported by uprooted power hanger parties for their own interest have been misleading the people. I am sure that many of the so-called leaders and their henchmen have no idea of the Act passed by the Goverment. In spite of repeated assurance by the Govt., supporters of the Muslims in India want to defeat the govt. through votes. What they are doing is just for their existence. Thank you for such a nice write up on the issue. Dr B B Mandal