Right Wing Fanaticism be it Hindu or Muslim is a Threat to Society

India happens to be among the most communally sensitive countries in the world. Communal tensions, rioting and curfews are not new terms for Indian citizens who have become acquainted with warring in the name of religion. Combating communalism is one of the biggest challenges faced by India and for this purpose all communities need to come together and solve their internal feuds and conflicts. Right wing fanaticism be it Hindu, Muslim, Sikh or Christian is a threat to society.

People have every right to talk on behalf of the majority as well as the minority, it is their prerogative to toil for them but neither the majority groups nor the minority groups have the jurisdiction to torture or try to terminate the other faction. The very idea of converting India into a Hindu Rashtra or an Islamic state is contrary to the principle of secularism as enshrined in the Constitution. This era has to be the age of co-existence and tolerance where religious fanaticism is pushed from the forefront to the backburner and is eventually made defunct.

Religious fanaticism in India is a byproduct of a feeling of insecurity and disillusionment among both the communities of Hindus and Muslims. It all began with the Partition of India which was marred by bloodshed and violence. The Muslim community of India became impoverished and economically fractured only after a few years of independence. There were four primary reasons for the socio-economic downfall of the Muslims. The first one was the abolition of the Zamindari system. It broke the spine of wealthy Muslim Zamindars residing in North India especially in Uttar Pradesh. The second reason was the decline of Urdu as a language of communication. Urdu was no longer being used for official purposes or for transacting business. The language was discarded and it took a toll on the competence of working Muslims. The factors stated above led to a sort of backwardness among Muslims. Under the Imperial Government, Muslims used to get reservations in jobs but now there were no reservations. Muslims had lost the ability to compete because of their backwardness and hence they lost out on jobs. Fourthly, the worldwide anti-Islam bandwagon further dampened the spirit of the Mohammedan clan. Frequent communal tussles with Hindus worsened the situation. In the midst of all this, political players realized the impoverished state as well as the electoral significance of the Muslims of India. No substantial work was done to liberate them from the vicious circle of social and economic backwardness but dozens of promises were made to woo them and to get their votes. The ‘Muslim’ agenda soon began to dominate the national political scene of India.

Noting the increasing stress and attention being given to the Muslims, the Hindus started feeling insecure and began to consider themselves as ‘second class citizens’ belonging to the majority community. They could not understand as to why the Muslims were being given so much of importance. They considered Muslims as the ones responsible for brutalizing the Hindus during the Mughal rule and for the Partition of India. As per Hindus, their condition in the country was no better and was as pitiful as the state of Muslims. The grief of Hindus accelerated when pseudo-secular leaders dubbed all those chanting for empowerment of Hindus as communal. Some opportunist leaders with political interests realized this grievance of the Hindu community and took up their cause. Their agenda was more of anti-Muslim rather than being Pro-Hindu. They accused the Government of Muslim appeasement but the fact remains that there was no appeasement at all because had there been appeasement, the Muslims in India would not have been in such a sorry state today but the fact that there was too much of pious posturing in favour of Muslims cannot be denied and this is what made the Hindus feel insecure.

The community of Muslims fell from bad to worse days and was further ghettoized. Some young Muslim men became robbers and criminals as they could not get jobs. They went on an evil no holds barred rampage and further deteriorated ties between the two communities. Meanwhile some leaders manufactured the political hot potato of the Ayodhya movement which culminated into the demolition of the Babri Masjid and all of a sudden the BJP assumed prominence and went on to form the Central Government in the coming years. Some Hindus became so emotionally attached with the Ram Mandir issue and were so frustrated of pro-Muslim posturing that they started justifying the demolition of the Babri Mosque. Foreign countries, international organizations and NGO’s condemned the demolition and this further angered the Hindus. Anyhow for Muslims, the demolition of the Babri Masjid followed by rioting was like insult to the injury. Riots broke out all across the country and several innocent human beings lost their lives. By now the Muslims had realized that they had been marginalized.

Some notorious elements within the community earmarked this weak nerve of the Muslims and started a movement in the name of Muslim Resurgence and Islamic Backlash. Their movement was based on vendetta and not reconciliation. These people had vested interests which were those of accumulating power, wealth and dominance. Thus came into being Islamic Terrorism in India. After the demolition of the Babri Masjid, Muslims started fearing for their life and were hesitant to go over to Hindu areas and work with them. There were serial bomb blasts in Mumbai which were planned and conducted by a Muslim group. 257 lost their lives. The Muslims of India began to sympathize with these terrorists because these attacks somehow helped the Muslims in gathering back courage and now the message was clear, if Hindus can kill Muslims then Muslims can also indulge in return of favour. Muslims were so hateful of Hindus that now they started openly supporting Pakistan during Indo-Pak cricket ties. The Hindus saw this as anti-national and their viewpoint regarding Muslims was even more poisoned. Fanatic Hindus wanted all Muslims to be sent to Pakistan and also held the perception that each one of them happened to be terrorists. Religious constraints stopped the Muslims from reciting Vande Mataram and this gave Hindus another opportunity to question their nationalism notwithstanding the fact that in Islam, followers are not supposed to worship any other thing apart from God. The term Vande Matram means that, ‘I worship the Goddess’ & Islam doesn’t allow Muslims to make such claims. Both the communities were at fault and they were nurturing a great amount of fanaticism within themselves. While the Hindus justified the Babri Masjid demolition as necessary action in the name of Lord Ram, Muslims started justifying the serial bombing in Mumbai as retaliatory action to the Babri Masjid demolition and the riots which followed.

The chaos continued and so did the communal tensions. Whenever Muslims were killed in rioting by fanatic Hindus, Muslim terrorists would retort by means of bomb attacks. Soon Hindu fanatic groups which till now had resorted to mob violence, converted themselves into full fledged terror groups identical to the Muslim ones. While Muslims targeted crowded streets and temples, Hindus started targeting Mosques and other places. The truth is that India faces a threat from both fanatic Hindu and Muslim groups. On the national scene today, there is no political party advocating a uniform Islamic law for India but there is a hardcore Hindu party advocating the conversion of India into a Hindu Rashtra amd it is being actively supported by other saffron groups. This is the reason why Muslims are sympathized with abd are seen as a lot which has been overly oppressed and deviously discriminated. The Hindus also need to be consoled. Tyrannical Muslim rulers who invaded India during the yesteryears demolished some Hindu temples and slaughtered innocent Hindus. They forcibly converted some of them into Islam and even ridiculed their religious beliefs. The communalization process began prior to the Partition only when Muslim rulers behaved barbarically with Hindus. The British utilized this historical loophole to dismantle the ties between Hindus and Muslims. Past wrongdoings cannot be undone and so it is better for Hindus to forgive and forget their Muslim brethren. Hindus don’t hold Christians responsible for the oppression meted out towards them by the British and so they should not blame the current crop of Muslims for the mistreatment which they received from many Muslims rulers, looters and invaders like Mahmud of Ghazni and Nadir Shah. We need to defy the ideology of sick religious outfits to establish a peaceful India which is the penultimate ingredient for its success. Muslims sympathizing with terrorists are wrong and so are Hindus supporting the rioters who loot and kill Muslims. Muslims cheering for Pakistan during cricket matches is unjustified and so is the ideology of Hindu Rashtra which is actively supported by hardcore Hindus. If certain Muslim fanatics are providing safe havens to Muslim terrorists inside mosques then the Sangh Parivar and several Hindu ashrams are also shielding Hindu rioters. All these practices and perceptions are unjust and they need to be discarded.

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Women Face Greater Challenges at Workplaces than Men

In a world full of voyeuristic outlooks and perverted mindsets, it is not trouble-free to lead a woman’s indomitable struggle to make ends meet with the purpose of keeping body and soul together. Economic-self reliance is the initial footstep towards attaining a decent and dignified life. Employment opportunities or ‘jobs’ as the Oxford dictionary defines them, are what human beings delve for in this competitive world of mankind. Education is the doorway to employment and without acquiring the right kind of education, an individual cannot even aspire to get a pie of success, forget about touching the echelons of it.

 For most women the battle begins even before arriving at the battlefield. Women hailing from conservative households have to wage mini-jihads against many of the pseudo-culture preservers of their family. Women toil endlessly, persuade people and after displaying fierce stubbornness for years, eventually receive ‘education’. For men the journey is never this hard nor do they have to bulldoze their way past opprobrious family members by means of crusading. At the very outset, one can differentiate between the two distinct creations of God. After years of hard work and resilience, women step inside the world of ‘working men’ to defy the ‘stereotypical spouse’ mentality of the world regarding them, the perception that women are entitled to stay back at home and look after the children while the supposed ‘man’ of the house does his duty. Day in and day out, working women defy such now-almost defunct taboos and prove to the world how women are natural multi-taskers. If they can dominate the households, they can also dominate the workplaces. But a woman’s journey is full of roadblocks. Sex-obsessed bosses crave for nature’s wild creation and often harass women working with them. To climb the ladder of promotions, many women are made to compromise on their morality and hence used as pleasure seeking tools. In certain cases, in particular the ones related to harassment, women are overpowered into performing devious acts and while a woman may manage to arrive at justice after fighting a long war inside courts, her soul is half dead. We live in a democratic world whose principle plank is equality but even in this sort of a set-up, women continue to face repeated discriminations. Even after the enactment of scores of legislations, employers continue to underpay women. This practice is not confined to India but is prevalent even in places like the United States, a country which ushered the world into realizing women power.

All women take ‘leaves’ from their line of duty while being in a state of pregnancy. After giving birth to the child and after fully recuperating, women rejoin with renewed vigour. Had men been subjected to this kind of a thing, their professional career would have been over. Comfort lies in familiarity and that can occur only in continuance. It’s not easy to discharge your duties efficiently if you’re bound to take breaks because of nature-generated hurdles but women have shown the world what resurgence really is. Another conventional challenge arises when a woman reaches nearly the top of the barrel. Male patriarchs do their best to turn the tables on their female counterparts and women have to outdo serious critiques to take over the mantle of leadership. Organizations might be willing to employ women but they are highly reluctant and unwilling to have a woman at the helm of affairs. It is thus a hundred times more difficult for a woman to reach the zenith of success. The penultimate post of decision making continues to be the ‘monopoly of men’ but certain revolutionary women have managed to dismantle their ‘absolute hegemony’ in this sphere.

We must not dig deeper or delve longer to identify the additional hardships faced by women as the list is long, presumably never ending for many. From going back home late at night (which is a child’s play for a man) to defying conservative family members as mentioned earlier, the challenges which arise are by no means easy to handle and what can be taken for granted is the fact that only a woman by means of her calm composure and resoluteness can blast past them.  

Manmohan Breaks His Silence on Koodankulum Nuclear Reactor

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with Russian President Vladimir Putin

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with Russian President Vladimir Putin

Dr Manmohan Singh is a highly sombre politician who does not wage verbal blitzkriegs against his detractors (unlike his Congress colleagues in the Union Cabinet) but on the issue of the protests being held against the Koodankulum Nuclear Power Station in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, Dr Singh has come out with all guns blazing and has launched an unprecedented verbal tirade against the protestors by accusing them of being funded by American and Scandinavian NGO’s who are not appreciative of India’s growing energy needs and demands.

Dr Singh’s remarks have come at a time when India and the United States are further deepening their ties. Is Manmohan’s argument factually fallible or has he actually spoken out the truth? The comments are sure to raise a political stir in the coming few days but Manmohan’s benevolence towards Russia (The power station at Koodankulum is a Russian creation) might be seen by many policy makers in Washington as malevolence towards the United States. However by means of his outright comments, Manmohan has once again shown everyone that he is the person occupying the driver’s seat and is capable of taking tough decisions.

Delving into UP

As far as political significance is concerned, Uttar Pradesh tops the charts. The most populous state of India has the capacity as well as the ability to make or break the political fortunes of political outfits in India. History bears testimony to the fact that Uttar Pradesh has many a times single-handedly decided the fate of the Union Parliament of India. The State of UP sends as many as 80 members to the Lok Sabha and so the political leaders cannot afford to take UP lightly. The Assembly Elections in India are on and Uttar Pradesh along with four other states has gone to polls. The Uttar Pradesh Assembly has as many as 403 seats and the magic figure is 202+. Many analysts have labeled the 2012 Assembly Elections in UP as a sort of dress rehearsal for the 2014 General Elections. Such is the influence of this ‘mini-general election’ that each and every party has instructed its stalwarts to campaign endlessly to ensure its triumph in the state.

I see the 2012 UP Assembly Elections as a battle between the Congress’s Comprehensive Social Engineering, BSP’s Collective Caste Calculus, SP’s Socialistic Renaissance Avtar and the BJP’s Exclusive Developmental Politics. The Congress Party has been out of power in UP since 22 years. Congress party’s scion Rahul Gandhi has been working overtime in the region to orchestrate his party’s resurgence. Ever since Rahul has stepped into politics, he has concentrated on rebuilding the party’s strength in the crucial state of UP. Rahul has taken a big gamble by spearheading the Congress’s campaign in UP and if its fortunes remain the same, the prince is bound to face brickbats. The Congress’s campaign in UP has been based on what I call, ‘Comprehensive Social Engineering’. All these years Rahul has been consistently visiting Dalit homes and staying overnight with them just for the sake of luring the voters of that community. Rahul’s theatrics will surely help the Congress in tapping a significant portion of the Dalit votes. Rahul hasn’t confined himself to one community. He has been found fighting for the farmers in Bhatta Parsaul who alleged that their land was forcefully acquired by the State Government of BSP. The farmers allege that when they fought back, the State police lathi-charged them and even went on to victimize certain families by murdering men and raping women. Rahul scored a political masterstroke when he took up the issue of these farmers and brought it to the centre stage of Indian politics. Rahul toiled hard and eventually convinced the Union Cabinet to instruct the Union Poverty Alleviation Minister to draft a New Land Acquisition Bill which would provide the farmers with better and more reasonable acquisition rates for their land. This populist legislation is yet to be brought in front of the Union Parliament but it has surely won Rahul many admirers among the community of farmers. This initiative of Rahul will benefit the Congress Party electorally in UP and will consolidate the votes of farmers in their favour. The Central Government headed by the Congress has been undertaking quite a few populist measures. Sonia Gandhi led NAC’s pet Food Security Bill is one such example. The bill seeks to provide the right to food to all and would help the Congress Party in reaching out to the impoverished people and will help in winning the votes of people belonging to the lowest strata of the society which includes SC’s/ST’s. The Centre even sanctioned multi-crore packages for weavers and backward regions like Bundelkhand to woo different communities. The Congress didn’t restrict itself to the lower castes. FDI in Retail which unfortunately got stalled by the Opposition, aimed to eye the middle and the upper middle class educated people. The party strongly argued that the entry of foreign firms will not only provide the youth with job opportunities but will also ensure better rates for farmers who are bound to benefit because of organized retail. The two-faced argument was indicative of the fact that the Congress was trying to weave in the support of the rich as well as the poor. The Congress Party had promised minority quota to the minorities in its manifesto during the 2009 Lok Sabha polls but purposely enacted it prior to the UP elections with the intention of using it as an electoral tool to drum up political support among the minorities. But the Congress Party does face many apprehensions. It’s heading an unstable coalition at the Centre and scams like the 2G and CWG were huge setbacks for the Congress-led Government. The Anna Hazare Movement and the Lokpal Logjam further deteriorated the image of the Congress Government. Nowadays the UPA Government is being accused of thwarting federalism. The issue took to the top of the podium during the Lokpal Debate in Parliament and also during the recent controversy in connection to the National Counter Terrorism Centre. It’ll very difficult for the Congress to tame all these negative factors and come out with flying colours in UP.
 
The incumbent government in UP is that of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). The party headed by Mayawati secured a massive mandate during the last elections and this time around it is fighting to improve its tally further and to storm back to power. BSP has always projected itself as the party of the downtrodden and the socially backward but this time it’s indulging in something which it hasn’t done before. I call that a ‘collective caste calculus’. For the very first time the BSP is projecting itself as a party of the ‘sarva samaj’ and not just the ‘dalit samaj’. It’s undertaking a more encompassing campaign by means of initiatives like ‘Brahmin Jodo Abhiyan’ and is also talking of minority quota. Mayawati’s grip over the administration has been strong and she has been able to restore the rule of law in the land. She has managed to ensure the elimination of many dacoits and has successfully kept many criminals behind bars. Her colossal parks with her giant sized statues along with her mammoth security apparatus (which matches that of the American President) are viewed by many of her supporters as symbols of Dalit pride, a community which was historically discriminated and oppressed but has now finally emerged on the scene courtesy Behenji. Mayawati is an astute political strategist and she outscored other parties when she passed a resolution to divide the state of UP into four parts. Even though the plan didn’t get the green signal from the Home Ministry but still Mayawati managed to invoke among people what analysts call ‘regional loyalty’ and it might provide her with electoral benefits. Mayawati has bigger plans and intends to emerge as the single largest player on the national scene and consolidating further power in UP is the first step towards that. But coming back to power won’t be an easy ride for Mayawati. She has been accused of heading a corrupt cabinet. Her government is accused of many scams, the National Rural Health Mission scam being the biggest. The controversy is shrouded with mystery and has led to a series of murders. Mayawati’s BSP is also accused of misusing central funds for constructing parks and statues instead of utilizing it for developmental purposes. Mayawati has come under heavy criticism from her political compatriots for this but she remains undeterred.
 
The next contender is Mulayam Singh’s Samajwadi Party. Samajwadi Party has also undertaken a blitzkrieg campaign to woo the electorate. The party’s campaign is being led by Akhilesh Yadav. For the very first time the SP has altered a few of its trademark stances. The party in its manifesto has promised to distribute free laptops and has spoken in favour of promoting English education. The two announcements hold grave significance as SP has been traditionally opposed to Computers and English as they equated them with the evils of Colonialism and Imperialism. This new strategy has made me categorize the SP as a party in its ‘socialistic renaissance avtar’. The SP has even promised free public transport and electricity to the electorate. As far as freebies are concerned, there is no party capable of matching the SP. Apart from this the SP is banking upon the traditional votebank of Yadavs and Muslims. It has called the Congress’s minority quota a false promise and termed it as misleading. The SP has stated that all Muslims are ‘pichdas’ and promised to enact 18% reservation for all Muslims. I see this as a communal move taken with the intention of polarizing the Muslim vote. It’s true that a large number of Muslims are backward and they need educational and job quotas to free themselves from social and economic backwardness but I am unwilling to accept the fact that all Muslims are in need of quotas. This move might just prove counterproductive for the SP. The people of UP haven’t still forgotten the criminal rule under the SP regime and these handicaps will be tough to overcome.
 
The final serious contender is the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). BJP is relying upon its traditional votebank of Brahmins and it is also trying to tap in the OBC votes this time. The BJP has promised that it will scrap the Congress’s minority quota if voted to power at the Centre and has even said that it will think of increasing the share of OBC quota in UP. It has been projecting itself as the saviour of OBC’s and has left no stone unturned to woo the community. The desperation was on show when the BJP took in tainted BSP discard Kushwaha to please the OBC’s. By invoking the Ram Mandir issue in its manifesto, the BJP has once again successfully marketed itself as the upholder and protector of Hindu prestige and pride. The BJP is even trying to cash in on the Anna Movement and is making use of the anti-corruption mood in the country. The BJP has continuously claimed that it was due to the commendable role played by the BJP as a watchdog in the Union Parliament, that the people of India became acquainted with scams like the 2G and CWG. The BJP is trying its best to make use of the anti-incumbency wave at the Centre. BJP has been ruthless in its criticism of the Congress and has taken the party head-on on the issue of minority reservations. The BJP is quick to point out to the electorate the success of its governments in Bihar (with the JDU) and Gujarat. BJP has all along claimed to practice what it calls ‘exclusive developmental politics’. But the BJP still hasn’t been able to make a substantial impact. It’s been quick to question the minority quota but it’s not questioning its own majoritarianism. Communalism isn’t just about outright minority appeasement, it’s also about propagating absolute majoritarianism. In the state of Goa, a minority bastion, the BJP has fieled more than 20% Christian candidates, in Punjab (another minority stronghold) the BJP has gone for a pact with Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and has fielded quite a few Sikh candidates but in UP, a state of 200 million where there are as many as 4 crore Muslims, ten times the number of Muslims in countries like UAE, the BJP has found only one worthy Muslim candidate in its list of 403 candidates. The BJP’s evident anti-Muslim stand will affect its electoral fortunes and the party’s communal ideology will continue to haunt it in the UP elections.
 
It’s going to be a tough fight between the Congress, SP and BSP. These three parties will share 350 seats among themselves with each getting a minimum of 100 seats. Any one party out of these could emerge as the single largest party. The BSP will get the votes of the Dalits which will ensure respectable number of seats for it. Its votebank will remain consolidated. The Congress will eat up into the votebank of all parties. It will get a pie of Minority, Brahmin, OBC and Dalit votes but in no condition will the Congress get more than 40% votes of any of these communities. The Congress will be the biggest gainer in these elections. The SP will get a significant share of the votes of Yadav’s and Muslims and they will manage a century of seats for themselves. The BSP will lose over 100 seats and the BJP’s fortunes will also decline. BJP will not get more than 30 seats. Its traditional voters ie the Brahmins will be split between them and the Congress and the OBC’s wont vote for them as they expect. The remaining 20-25 seats will be wrapped by parties like the RLD, Peace Party, JD(U), first timer TMC and other independent candidates. Only the Congress-RLD and the SP will be in a situation to form the Government. No other coalition is possible. BSP might go past SP and Congress in terms of seats but it won’t be able to forge a winning alliance. Even the SP and the Congress can emerge as the single largest party. The numbers separating these three parties would be very less but the verdict from my side is out. The Congress-RLD combine along with the SP is going to form the government. There will be a power sharing deal which would include the SP joining the UPA at the Centre and split-Chief-Ministership in UP where both the Congress and the SP will have a leader of theirs as CM for a fixed period of time. 

Constitution & Amendment

The Constitution makers were not faultless messiahs, they too were fallible mortals and so we shouldn’t hesitate while amending key provisions of the Constitution in the interest of the society even if it changes its basic structure (too some extent).

The fact that the Constitution makers bestowed legislators with the liberty of amending the Constitution was in fact an admission of their limited knowledge and the perceived inability of the Constitution to deal with changing circumstances. I refrain from using the term ‘Constitutionalist’ because no Constitution is immaculate and devoid of grey areas or loopholes and so the question of standing by the Constitution under all circumstances doesn’t arise. We shouldn’t shy away from pointing out the limitations of our Constitution and asking for rectifications or additions in it. Remember that everything which Hitler did during the Nazi Regime in the Third Reich was legal as per the erstwhile law prevalent at that time.

There’s always a need to keep amending the Constitution for the sake of contemporary compatibility but unfortunately the Indian Constitution has become virtually non amendable since the late 80’s because to amend the Constitution, two-thirds majority is required in both the Houses of the Parliament and such a bill needs to be ratified by half of the State Legislatures if it relates to the principle of federalism. No ruling government commands such absolute majority or staggering support and so an amendment to the Constitution can be made only when there is a wide national consensus.