Disclaimer: If you are a person who gets easily offended, please close the tab. The following are my personal views. Do not get worked up, as a blog is always a forum for healthy discussion. I’m a centrist and have always written on both sides. I’m not pro or anti any party or ideology. This is not an attack on a particular religious community or communities.
During the affair of Partition, the two conflicting and contradicting communities had to make a decision, whether to live this side of the border or that side. Hindus had it easy. Even though several Hindus held their own land and did not travel to the supposed Hindustan, majority of them had a consensus that the Islamic State of Pakistan is not going to be their residential address.
The tough job was of the political leaders and fighters who had to convince the Muslim Community to not leave for Pakistan. They did a fairly good job. It was assured to them that they will get full freedom to practice their faith in whatever way they want to. While all this was happening, a Hindu Civil Code was tabled in the Constituent Assembly to codify the personal laws of the Hindus, the majority.
We didn’t tamper with the minority community’s religious traditions. Although Sikhs were recognized as Hindus in the eyes of law, yet they were allowed to carry on their own traditions including the right to possess kirpaan and kanga in public.
My question is: What did the minority do for us?
I mean they don’t have a binding obligation to do something for this country. But they did have an implied duty to be tolerant towards the nation and be open to any developmental change in the future.
But they failed, repeatedly.
In November 1966, Indira Nehru Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, carved out a separate state of Punjab, as a move to award the numerous Sikhs who relentlessly fought in the Indo-Pak War of 1965 and brought us victory. The carving of the state was an old request of the Sikhs. It was overlooked and neglected by the leaders earlier on the reason that there is a high risk of Separatist movement if a state is dedicated. I guess they weren’t wrong.
Eventually, the Khalistan movement did start out and when the government helped and tried to save the sovereignty and integrity of the nation, the minority community backfired as a result of which we lost our then Prime Minister, the Iron Lady.
It’s not over yet. The pro-Khalistan protests still go on. It was recently when Sikhs protested in front of UN against Indian Constitution and for a Sikh referendum.
The practices of Muslims weren’t touched even slightly at the time of Independence. When, after 30 years of Partition, the time finally came for the Muslim minority to embrace a reformative and progressive judgment they expressed their discontentment and hatred with the utmost vigour. The protest against Shah Bano judgment lead to the passing of Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act.
Even now, after 70 years of Independence, the community is not ready to accept change. Uniform Civil Code would be a dream sequence if it is not forcefully imposed. The Maulvis shamelessly acquire prime time screens and advocate for practices like Triple Talaaq and Burqa wearing.
A country with over 80 percent Hindu population allows Azaan to be forced upon themselves by loudspeakers. We have diverted roads/paths for Muharram celebrations and Sikh religious rallies.
Every country has a duty to address the issues of minorities, and time and again India did prove to be capable of it.
The population of Muslims grew from close to 9 percent in 1951 to around 14 percent in 2011. Rise of 5 percent in population is not a sign of development or progress. The Muslim community is the least educated religious community in India. According to the census, 42.7% of Muslims are illiterate. Only 2.75 percent Muslims are graduates or have studied further.
The government provides free primary education, it subsidizes education fee in government colleges and Universities (err.. JNU!). There are plenty of scholarship openings. Some state governments even provide reservations to religious minorities. What, therefore, makes them anti-progress?
Even when it’s within their religion, it’s for their betterment only and, consecutively, the nation’s.
In a democracy, the majority decides the shift of the wind in politics. But in India, we have always treated minority equally and kept them at the same pedestal as that of the majority.
It’s high time the minority fulfills its duties towards the nation. Unlike in countries having a rule of a certain religious majority, we do not impose the religious practices of one on another. Our governments did not differentiate between religions while making policies for advancement.
Can we not expect the religious minorities to be a little tolerant and open to change?
(Feature Image source: The Dawn)