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Book on Minorities Commission released
‘Tahirism’ lauded as a phenomenon
By S Ubaidur Rahman

Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan (seated), Justice Venkatachaliah releasing the book, Mr SMH Burney, Dr Tahir Mahmood and Mr Abhishek Singhvi

Former chairman of the National Minorities Commission Dr Tahir Mahmood's book, Minorities Commission: minor role in major affairs, was released on 1 May in a jam-packed India International Centre conference room in New Delhi by chairman of Constitution Review Commission and former chief justice of India Mr Justice MN Venkatachaliah.

Dr Tahir Mahmood's integrity and his efforts have been equally praised and criticized by people. Bureaucrats and politicians have been much critical of him during his tenure as he went on to give teeth to the Minorities Commission, but ordinary people took this legal luminary as their messiah as they saw in him a ray of hope for getting justice. And he was up to their expectations. He started from the scratch and uplifted the Commission to a level where other commissions envied its perfect functioning.

The book that made headlines even before its publication and was reviewed even before it was printed, was referred to by the chairman of the Constitution Review Commission as a great contribution to legal literature on such a delicate issue. The former chief justice called the book ‘an honest evaluation’ of the Minorities Commission and added that the book is an ‘analytical and painful study’ of the minority issues in the country. The author calls a spade a spade and does not care for the consequences, the former chief justice added, dubbing the author's unique style as 'Tahirism.' Praising the publishers, the former chief justice said that the publishers deserve our greatest accolade for bringing out such a beautiful publication in such a beautiful shape. Printing is excellent, he added.

Justice Jaspal Singh, Justice Venkatachaliah speaking about the book after release, Mr Burney

Former Delhi High Court judge Justice Jaspal Singh poured admiration for the significant contribution of Dr Tahir Mahmood to the Minorities Commission during his tenure. Justice Singh said that after reading the book one really feels sad, for it reveals that the advisory, consultative and reconciliatory role of the Commission under its parliamentary charter was constantly ignored by successive governments. He said that, 'It was indeed very heartening information to me, a retired judge, that this commission too has not lagged behind the National Human Rights Commission, in providing post-retirement posh jobs to the judges. What a laudable achievement indeed. But then what was this professor who has spent a lifetime in teaching jurisprudence and writing books and research papers doing here? And what business had he to try to enthuse life into this lifeless Commission? Rightly as he revealed in the book, attempts were made to first tame him and on failing in that, to remove him. Unfortunately the attempts failed' Justice Jaspal Singh observed.

Prof. Mahmood, Mrs Shiela Dixit and Mr Singhvi

Dr Abhishek Singhvi, a former additional solicitor general of India, also praised the former chairman of the Minorities Commission and said that he has set a maxim for his predecessors to follow and it will indeed be very difficult for anyone to emulate him. Dr Singhvi added that this book is comprehensive reading of minorities issue in the country and it will be of great help to the government and the Commission in the days to come.

Former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, during whose tenure Mahmood was appointed as chairman of the Minorities Commission, was not able to attend the meeting due to a road accident in Kerala. He said in his message that it was I who, as a prime minister of India, had a chance, rather a privilege, to place the National Commission for Minorities in the hands of a scholar of repute like Tahir Mahmood, and his performance had soon showed that I had reasons to be proud of my choice. 'He has done well now to produce a study of the Commission and I am sure, it will be of great interest to all those who are concerned with minority rights in India and in their monitoring by the Commission', the former premier said.

Mrs. Sheila Dikshit, the chief minister of Delhi, also praised the author for his significant contribution to minority affairs in the country. She also said that she was a great fan of Dr Mahmood and was impressed by the work done by the Commission during his term.

Dr Tahir Mahmood said in his address that the presence here this evening of so many eminent lawmen, statesmen, mediamen and of course laymen, exhibits the nation's commitment and concern for the equality of all its citizens. To translate this commitment and concern into ground reality is a national obligation towards which goal each citizen has to do her or his bid.

Dr Zafarul Islam Khan, head of Pharos Media, publishers of the book, received appreciation from all quarters including the author and all the luminaries. He spoke on the occasion and said that Dr Tahir Mahmood has left his imprint on our country as a law teacher and expert, author and as chairman of the Minorities Commission. Dr Khan hoped that the publication will play a role in guiding our national policies towards a very important segment of our society, the religious and cultural minorities which include Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsees, Anglo-Indians and several other groups which need special care and attention in a democratic society in order to keep them within the mainstream and help them develop at an equal pace with the majority.

part of the audience - seated at extreme left is the Libyan Ambassador Dr Nouri Al-fitouri and standing extreme left is Mr Khalid Al-Razni, information attache of the Kuwait Embassy

The book release function was attended by a galaxy of social, political and legal luminaries including former governor of Haryana Mr SMH Burney, Arif Muhammad Khan, Syed Shahabuddin, Dr Ausaf Ali, Libyan Ambassador Dr Nouri Al-Fitouri and diplomats from various countries besides many sitting and retired judges of the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court.

Tahir Mahmood also addressed a crowded press conference at the end of the book release ceremony.

Photos: Ahmad Rahmani q

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