Monday, May 14, 2007

The Myth of Muslim Appeasement

Time to Reflect: Are Muslims really 'appeased?'
Well, here we are again
down by Paddy's ravaged fence
reflecting in the murky waters
from which we are about to drink.
it sickened us once, remember?
left us lying in our beds
comatose almost
aware of pain and nothing more
we longed for death's largess.
that wish denied
we struggled up in feverish state
astep, astep with phantom shapes
and fell at last upon the bank.
looking down ourselves look back
likenesses wrinkled by the wind
then lips to mirrored lips we drink
till no water's there
nor images, nor we.

(Alberto Ceras)

Yes, I have been appeased. The mischievous phrase of ‘Muslim appeasement’ has been literally bombarding my ears ever since I was born. Constant repetition has turned into the bedrock of solid belief. Belief breeds guilt and guilt takes you on a journey of shame. The silence of self-proclaimed secularists over this charade conveys that they too have been administered the injection of ‘Muslim appeasement’ into their veins!

The term ‘Muslim appeasement’ was coined for the very first time in 1888. Many orthodox Hindu historians term the 4th Congress session of 1888 in Allahabad (under the chairmanship of Badruddin Hussain Tyabji) as the birthplace of ‘Muslim appeasement’ although the resolution passed in the session was not at all communal in nature. It simply declared that ‘the Congress shall not discuss any fresh subject or pass any fresh resolution which the Hindu or Mohammedan delegates as a body oppose unanimously or nearly unanimously’.

One need not be a sage to interpret the sagacity of the above resolution. It was purely based on the fundamental premise of unity but yet the biased historians with a communal bent of mind interpret it as though only the Muslims have been given the veto power!

Can a building with a hollow base withstand the vicissitudes of time?

Common sense kills the theory in its conception.

Proponents of this theory also maintain that Mahatma Gandhi was the chief ‘maulana’ of Muslim appeasement and Nehru, acted as his obedient ‘mulaazim’. Gandhi's absolute support to Khilafat Movement of 1921 spearheaded by Ali Brothers is cited as the best example of Muslim appeasement in the pre-Independent India. Gandhi’s assassination by a Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse was possibly the first reaction of the majoritarian nationalism against the ‘perceived’ appeasement of Muslims.

Even Nehru’s broad humanism and practice of secularism did not go well with the communalists. His genuine concern for the protection and rights of minorities by way of constitutional guarantees enshrined in Article 29 (protection of interests of minorities) and Article 30 (right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions) of the Indian Constitution is also looked at as a classic case of ‘Muslim appeasement’.

The contentious issue of Haj subsidy is also put forward to prove the theory of Muslim appeasement. (Now that the Supreme Court in its interim order has granted subsidy not only to the Muslims going for the Haj, but also to the Hindus going for pilgrimage to Mansarovar, the controversy can put to the rest for the time-being). The total amount of Haj subsidy is always exaggerated. Last year, government reportedly spent 450 crore, but the figure quoted in some newspaper reports was more than 2 billion rupees!

The smooth functioning of Darul Qazas (Islamic Courts) in matters relating to marriage, divorce, succession, etc. has caused severe stomachaches to the communalists. They are of the view that these courts function as a ‘parallel judiciary’ alongside the Indian judiciary. This assumption is based on a mentality devoid of taking anything positive. The numbers of backlog cases are so overwhelming in courts that, according to one estimate, it will take at least 300 years to dispose them off! Interestingly, Bombay High Court has recently encouraged out-of-court settlements by initiating Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) method.

Doesn't ADR fall under the purview of ‘parallel judiciary’? And if not, why apply a different yardstick to the Darul Qazas?

Muslims have also been ‘appeased’ by way of commissions, reports and documentations. From William Hunter (1870) to Rajinder Sachar (2006) the conclusion of each and every commissioned study was almost the same: there are “serious imbalances and inequities in respect of the representation of Muslims in all public employments, top priority should be given to the adoption of measures to rectify this situation”.

In 1998-99, National Commission for Minorities (NCM) submitted a report in which it was specifically recommended that “in all public employment under central government there must be at least 15 per cent representation of the minorities with a break-up of 10 per cent for the Muslims and five per cent for the other minorities taken together; and this should be ensured by adopting suitable measures and issuing mandatory guidelines to all governments, public-sector undertakings and concerned recruiting authorities”.

There was a long silence of almost 7 years until a bureaucrat-turned-Prime Minister decided to show his ‘concern’ for the Muslim minority in the form of Sachar Committee report. Alas his ‘concern’ did not translate into enough cash in the Union Budget of 2007-08. In a letter dated November 24, 2006, the Prime Minister’s Office directed to the finance ministry that “wherever possible, 15 per cent of targets and funds be earmarked for the minorities in the schemes included in the Prime Minster’s 15-point programme”.

What happened? A lot of nothing.

Finance Ministry completely ignored the directive.

The Budget is the mirror of any ruling government. The health of any government is not measured by the amount of promises it makes but by the quantum of delivery. Budget clearly reflects the true intentions of the ruling class. A lot was promised to the Muslim community in the light of the Sachar Committee report. But sadly government has merely paid a lip service.

Union Budget (2007-08) was a major disappointment for Muslims. Government's duplicity was a class apart. After acknowledging that only a ‘modest’ contribution of Rs 16.47 crore was made to the equity of the National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation (NMDFC), Finance Minister (FM) continued, “following the Sachar Committee report, NMDFC would be required to expand its reach and intensify its efforts”. So a paltry sum of Rs 63 crore was added to its share capital. And Rs 108 crore was allotted to the districts with a concentration of minorities. FM did not mention the actual number of those districts to avoid the embarrassment. There are a total of 155 such districts. You need not be a mathematician to figure out that only bureaucratic leftovers will be bestowed to the minorities depending on the benevolence of bureaucrats.

Did you notice something? Get used to read between the lines:

Out of the Union government's total expenditure of Rs 680,521 crore, the total allocation for minorities (it includes Sikhs and Christians too) is less than Rs 320 crore. The total number of minorities in India is 200 million (Muslims 150m, Sikhs and Christians 50m).

Rs 320 crore for 200 million people? Can you sense some discomfort here?

While Rs. 3,271 crore was allotted to only Scheduled Castes and Tribes. Does that mean the ‘appeasement’ of Scheduled Castes and Tribes?

We, Muslims, have always been appeased on paper and not in practice. The so-called secularists love to beat the Muslims by the stick of ‘appeasement’, but nobody debates Muslim appeasement-on-paper versus Muslim appeasement-in-practice.

The ‘committee’ culture (which has become a political trend) to find out the socio-economic plight of Muslims must be stopped forthright. Documentation in the form of reports and commissions has become our destiny. Muslims have been stuck in this static phase for decades. We must rise from the deep reverie of indifference. It’s high time that we, as a community, invoke the word implementation in the world’s largest democracy.

1 comment:

zen said...

First of all, I am not a "Hindutwa guy" and am a Muslim myself. Your post mostly consists of biased arguments. Regardless of who coined the term "Muslim appeasement", one has to agree that there have been attempts by all political parties, including BJP to give special privileges to Muslims(in both words and deeds), in the hope that this would calm the Muslim anger and would help in integration.

A secular government is supposed to keep equal distance from all religions - then why should it subidise Hajj and Madrasas?

SC/ST have been historically treated as sub-humans under the caste system and they deserve some concessions. But Muslims who ruled subcontinent don't deserve any such mercy. In any case, reservation is aimed at gradual and systematic upliftment - if that is not happening even after 60 years, one can only blame the incompetency of Muslims. You see many Christians/Jains/Parsis in top position, though they are very small minority. How can you blame "Hindu fascists" for not even being able to read or write ones own name in Urdu? Did Hindus prevent Muslims from attending schools? I had lived in a Muslim dominated ghetto in Bangalore(Neelasandra) for a while. There were so many mosques on every corner, but no single public toilet. One could see even teenage children taking a dump on the street. Was it the Hindus who prevented them from building a public facility?

Islamic Pakistan got much more direct US aid than any other country, except Israel? Why is it still a hellhole in terms of human development? Muslims in India enjoys much more civil liberties than our Islamic neighbour. This is the reason why Darul Qazas are phobic for most people. What Darul Qazas can produce is polygamy, honour killing and child marriages(remember Imrana case?)

As long as Muslims don't give up this utopian obsession with trying to recreate 6th century Arab village life in whichever place they live, they won't progress, no matter how many crores the government spents.