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Paradox
Perverted Communalism
Aug 2011

Salient points made by Shri Pavan K. Varma, (Mail Today, 12 June, 2011)  and the response there to :

      1 That Secularism is enshrined as a fundamental article of our Constitution.

Secularism   is a term applied to the system of   social ethic associated with the name of G.J. Holyoake (Principles of  Secularism by Holyoake, 1885 ) The term secularism is derived from the word, secular.  The word is understood in two senses : One, as a long term tendency; two, meaning not religious or spiritual or sacred.  We are considering the term in the latter sense, that is, in the sense of not being religious. The secular state had its origin in the West. The rise of Christianity led to discord between the Church and the State. From the beginning, the Christianity recognized the basic duality:  The temporal and the spiritual. It is best expressed in the well known phrase: Render therefore unto Caesar  the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's. The first great step towards the freedom of religion was taken with the issue of the Edict of Milan(312 AD ) which said  : Liberty of worship shall not be denied to any, but that the mind and will of every individual shall be free to manage divine affairs  according to his own choice.  In America, an attempt was made at complete separation between the Church and the State.  The American Constitution contains no reference to God. Article VI of the Constitution  says that no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office  or public trust under the United States.  The first amendment to the Constitution  carried out in 1791 made the position quite explicit. It reads : Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Later in 1802, President Jefferson wrote  : I contemplate with sovereign reverence that Act of the American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise  thereof, thus building a wall of separation between the Church and the State.

Stasi Report on Secularism

Bernard Stasi report which was submitted to the French Government  in December, 2003  is the latest thesis on what is a secular State.  The report was the backgrounder for  the  Secular law which was passed by the French National Assembly in March, 2004.  The Report defines Secularism through three essential principles  :  a)   freedom of conscience, b)   equality in law for spiritual and religious belief  ;  and  c)  neutrality of political power.

The French insistence on secularism or the absolute separation of the Church from the state goes back to 1905 when in December that year a Republican Law was passed by the National Assembly. Its  Article 1 assured the liberty of conscience. It guaranteed the free exercise of religious belief. The only restriction was decreed in the interest of public order.  Article 2 states that the Republic does not recognize either salaries paid or subsidies granted to any religious group. The  Stasi report has stated that Islam is believed to be incompatible with secularism. This was the provocation to the investigation carried out by Bernard Stasi and the subsequent passing of legislation. These  provisions not only ensure the  neutrality of political authority but also the freedom of conscience  and belief as well as equality before the law. The Stasi Report has emphasized Secularism as a cornerstone of a democracy.

Is India a Secular State?

Till the passage of the 42nd  amendment  (1976 )  to the Constitution of India, the word Secular was not used in the document.

The Preamble  to the Constitution inter-alia states :

We the people of India, having resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign, Socialist Secular democratic republic to secure to all its citizens�. Though the Preamble is not enforceable  in a court of law, the importance of the Preamble has been pointed out  on several occasions by the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India .  Secularism in India  means that the State protects  all religions  equally and it does not uphold any religion as a state religion.  Articles 25-28 envisage freedom of conscience and free professions, practice and propagation of religion.  At the same time, according to Article 27 the state will not compel any citizen to pay any taxes for the promotion or maintenance of any particular religion or religious institution'  no religious instruction shall be provided in any educational institution wholly provided by the state funds. 

Violence of the  Word by the Deed

In actual fact, the  Government of India have not at all practiced secularism as would be observed from a few examples given below :

Article 44 : This Article envisages that there would be a uniform civil code for all citizens of India.  The article was based on the assumption that there is no necessary connection between religion and personal law.  In keeping with this perception,   the Special Marriage Act was passed in 1954.  This was followed by changes in the personal laws of the Hindus. No corresponding change, however, was brought about in the Muslim personal law.  In this context, Justice  M. C. Chagla and Justice M. U. Beg have observed : 

Justice M.C. Chagla : That Article 44 is a mandatory provision binding on the government.    The Constitution was enacted for the whole country and it is binding on the whole country and every section and community must  accept its provisions and directives .

                            Justice M. H. Beg : Questions of personal law, such as marriage and succession are not matters of religion,  It would be against reason to urge that a rule of succession, which is just for a Hindu or a  Sikh family could be unjust in another family because they profess a different religion (Quoted in Introduction to the Constitution of India by Brij Kishore Sharma) 

(b)  Hajj Subsidy : About a thousand crore has been provided in the Central Budget for 2011-12 for  being given as subsidy to those Muslims who wish to go on pilgrimage to Mecca/Medina. No such subsidy is provided to Christians to visit Jerusalem or to Hindus who visit pilgrimage centers in the North or South India.  This is the kind of secularism that India practices today !

(c)  Darul  Qazas : In a number of States shariah courts are functioning.  This amounts to an assault on the majesty of the Hon'ble  Supreme Court of India.

(d)  Ministry for Minority Affairs : In the 200 years of British rule, there was no Ministry of Minority Affairs.  The Congress led UPA government set up this Ministry.  It was set up on the demand of the Muslims who had overwhelmingly voted for Congress  in  2004 election. It

      needs to be mentioned in this connections that it is the same minority which had voted en masse  for the creation of Pakistan in 1945-46 election.

(e)  Muslim Minority Concentration Districts : Under this, programmes/schemes are being implemented for Muslims. This is another step taken by the Congress to disintegrate the  country.  In what way are Muslims more deserving of Government help than the poor Hindus spread across the length and breadth of India.

(f)  Muslim Universities : There is a well organized campaign on the part of Muslim leaders to set up Muslim Universities in different corners of India.   It has been reported in the  in the Press that the Government of India have agreed to the setting up of Muslim Universities in Bihar, Rajasthan and Karnataka.  The Opposition leaders belonging to the BJP have not said a word against the communalization of education in the country.  No less a person than Sir Aga Khan in his autobiography has written that the state of Pakistan was born in the Aligarh Muslim University. Is it the intention of Hindu leaders to balkanize India into a series of Darul Islam?  What is happening is that it is the Hindu tax payer who ultimately pays for the running of these communal institutions.  Is it not another form of jizya which was a regular feature of Muslim rule in India for centuries?  In effect, there is an Islamic state functioning within the confines of Indian Republic.

(2)  That Jawaharlal Nehru wrote the following : We have a Muslim minority who are so large in number that they cannot, even if they want to, go anywhere else. That is the basic fact about which there can be no argument.

The above statement is a complete distortion of facts.  Quaid-e-Azam Jinnah had offered a permanent solution to Indian Muslim issue. The more we look back at the last 60 years, the more we would realize how expensive it has been to ignore the wisdom of Jinnah. If Gandhi and Nehru had only listened to him there would have been no problem of Kashmir or over population and terrorism could have been dealt with more effectively. Above all, Hindus left behind (in Pakistan) would not be suffering as they are being persecuted at present. As recorded in volume IX of The Transfer of Power 1942 - 47 edited by Dr. Nicholas Mansergh, Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge and Mr. Penderal Moon, on page 75, Mr. Jinnah had made a forceful reference to the exchange of populations to be considered seriously. Jinnah had also made direct request to Viceroy Wavell for an exchange, as stated on page 322 of The Transfer of Power in India by V.P. Menon. Furthermore, eight Muslim League leaders including Jinnah, had asked for exchange of population during 1946-47. The most drastic statement was of Sir Feroz Khan Noon, later became Prime Minister of Pakistan, who threatened to re-enact murderous orgies of Chengez Khan and Halaqu Khan if non-Muslims took up an obstructive attitude against population exchange.  The other six leaders who supported the same proposal were Mohammad Ismail of Madras, Shaukat Hayat Khan, Raja Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Ismail Chundrigar, Pir Ilahi Bux and Nawab of  Mamdot.  Facsimiles of the speeches made by League Leaders which appeared in the Dawn (1946-47) are given on the preceding page.

Jinnah had also told the Cabinet Mission in 1946 that Hindus and Muslims left behind in Pakistan and Hindustan respectively after the exchange would be treated as reciprocal hostages. This, according to him, would be the best guarantee of safety and security of minorities in the two countries.

The fact of the matter is that both Gandhi and Nehru had spent their entire political life in proving that Muslim League did not represent the Muslims of the sub-continent and Jinnah was not their unquestioned leader.

This is what Leonard Mosley, an eminent author, in his book The Last Days of the British Raj (1961) says about Nehru: Now (1946) he was President (of the Congress Party) he showed his real feelings. The way his mind was working at this time would tend to suggest that even this late in the day, he had no real conception of the power of Mr. Jinnah and the enormous influence which he had built up as leader of the Muslim community. His contempt for Jinnah was ill-conceived (the contempt was reciprocal) and his dislike of the aims and intentions of the Muslim League was such that he seriously underestimated its strength.

Another British writer on the creation of Pakistan observes : Jinnah, having an unrivalled reputation among the Muslims for political integrity and parliamentary skill, was the obvious leader who guided rather than caused the movement towards Pakistan between 1937 and 1940.  If there had been no Jinnah, it still seems probable that there would have been a Pakistan.(The Making of Pakistan by Richard Symonds).

This is what N.V. Gadgil, a Cabinet Minister in Nehru's first Cabinet has recorded in his book Government From Inside : I have already described how systematically Pakistan drove out its Hindus and how they encouraged Bengali Muslims to enter and occupy some areas in Assam. The Indian Government took no notice of them.  On the other hand, Nehru was greatly annoyed when once Vallabhbhai suggested mutual exchange of Hindu and Muslim population and a proportional division of land between India and Pakistan.

All in all, it can be said that it is Nehru's arrogance and contempt for Jinnah that had come in the way of exchange of populations between Hindustan and Pakistan.

3.   That Mahatma Gandhi was a convincing spokesman for communal harmony.

4.   That Mahatma also knew the essential tenets of other religions.

Since the above two points are inter-related these are not being dealt with separately. There is no doubt about the fact that the Mahatma was a convincing spokesman for communal harmony and he had the basic knowledge about religions. What is not understood is the fact that despite having the requisite knowledge he went on ceaselessly imposing his viewpoint on the Muslims.  Muslim leaders on more than one occasion had made it clear that for them religion comes first and everything else later.  Given below are a few examples :

(a)  Mahatma Gandhi, as the sole representative of the Congress Party had attended the second session of the Round Table Conference held at London in September 1931. He was member of the two sub-committees - Committee on Federal Structure and Committee on Minorities. In the presence of the British Prime Minister, Sir Ramsay MacDonald, Muslim leaders had told the conference that Gandhi's Congress did ;not represent Muslims. In Gandhi's own words : It is with deep sorrow and deeper humiliation that I have to announce utter failure to secure an agreed ;solution of the communal question.

(b)  At the conference, Gandhi was asked about the reasons for continuing discord between the Hindus and Muslims. He answered  This quarrel is not old. I dare to say it is coeval with the British advent. With this answer, Gandhi had turned the Medieval history of India - the Muslim period of history -  upside down. Hindu-Muslim riots are still common even after 60 years of Independence. This is happening because Gandhi and Nehru had not agreed to the exchange of population between Pakistan and Hindustan. 

(c)  Maulana Mohammad Ali, a great friend of Gandhi, had attended the first session of the Round Table Conference held in 1930.  At this conference, he had said : Make no mistake about the quarrels between Hindus and Mussalmans, they are founded only on the fear of domination. He went on to observe : I belong to two circles of equal size but which are not concentric.  One is India and the other is the Muslim world. We are not nationalists but supra nationalists. (Quoted from The Constitutional Problem In India by Sir R. Coupland, OUP, London, 1944)

(d)  At the All India Muslim Conference held in Bombay in April, 1930, Maulana Muhammad Ali declared that the Muslims did not want British domination and also did not want Hindu domination, and that they could not join Mr. Gandhi's movement because its aim was not to achieve independence for India but to make the 70 million Muslims of India dependent on the Hindu Mahasabha (The Indian Muslims by M. Mujeeb, George Allen &  Unlin, London).

(e)  The Ulema objected to any form of cultural and social assimilation, even till first decades of the twentieth century, the more strict among them would wash their hands if they had by chance greeted an Englishman or a Hindu with a handshake.  Maulwi Abdul Bari of Firangi Mahal Lucknow, objected to Mahatma Gandhi wearing a dhoti that did not cover his knees (ibid).

(f)  In 1924, the same Mohammad Ali had made this thundering statement at Aligarh and Ajmer :  However pure Mr. Gandhi's character may be, he must appear to me from the point of view of religion inferior to any Mussalman, even though he be without character.� Sometime later at Lucknow, he eloquently accepted the above statement attributed to him by saying : �Yes, according to my religion and creed, I do hold an adulterous and a fallen Mussalman to be better than Mr. Gandhi.� (Indian Muslims by Ram Gopal, Asia Publishing House, New York).

Despite this humiliation Gandhi went on appeasing the Muslims. Eventually Gandhi had failed to convince the Muslims and they were successful in dividing the country in 1947.

Comments.

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