What has bias against minorities cost India?

Mushtaque Madni
Editor, Usool, Pune

It was during one of the parliamentary sessions that former defence minister, George Fernandes, when criticized by a Congress leader, blatantly said that he had concrete proofs that there was an unwritten command to the ministries by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi not to appoint Muslims in sensitive positions. Ministries did oblige more than needed and Muslims were denied opportunities in government jobs. Even Army, which is said to be most secular and independent of government interference, has had strict reservations regarding the appointment of Muslim officers at top levels. A few instances of high-ranking Muslim officers don’t negate Indian Army’s communal and sectarian leanings.

However, on their part, Muslims never needed someone to inform them of any of such command, for they had been practically witnessing the all round bias and discrimination against the entire community since Independence.

It may sound disturbing to some gullible patriots that basically, despite its tall claims, India happens to be a country of bias, paradoxes and sheer double standards. Those who pride themselves as worshippers of women, had been for centuries burning innocent widows in the name of ‘sacred’ Sati. Statistics suggest that even today every single year more than twenty five thousand young brides are burnt alive because the poor ladies failed to satisfy their in laws’ lust for dowry. Discrimination against scheduled castes and scheduled tribes had been institutionalised from time immemorial and no one seemed to raise an eyebrow against this psychological holocaust.

As for Muslims, they surely learnt to live with the institutionalised bias that was aptly testified by the government-appointed committee under Justice Sachar. Be it in government jobs, mainstream educational institutions or even purchasing of a flat in a cosmopolitan colony, Muslims had been systematically reduced to the level of untouchables and Dalits. What Sachar Committee or even intellectuals from the majority community failed to fathom is the irrecoverable loss the nation had to suffer because of this bias.

In India, Muslims today constitute around 180 millions, thrice the population of an European country. This massive population was literally sidelined and prevented from contributing creatively towards the building and development of the nation. Not to mention the prejudiced attitude of the so-called mainstream media which in the beginning enthusiastically reported the arrest of Muslim youth in blast cases but when the tables were turned by Hemant Karkare, it showed little or no interest in exposing Hindu terror groups that were being trained at Akanksha Resort at Sinhgadh, Pune and Bhonsla Military Schools at Nasik and Nagpur.

The same media left no stones unturned to campaign and bring to limelight the book written by Vinita Kamte, wife of slain IPS officer Ashok Kamte. But when former IG Maharashtra Police, SM Mushrif’s book “Who Killed Karkare?” hit the stands, media conveniently went into a state of coma. In this bandwagon, Bollywood, known for its secular culture, did not shy away from making films like “Qurban”, “My name is Khan”, “Kabul Express”, etc. based on supposedly Muslim terrorists. But never did it make an attempt to make films on Hindu terrorists, a hard reality that was staring into the eyes of the naysayers.

What could have been India’s possible economic, political and democratic strength and position in the world scenario, had 180 million Muslims been made an integral part of the government machinery and given opportunities to explore their talent and intellect. Probably, it may have been at par with China which enjoys veto power that equates it with USA while India is still struggling for a permanent membership of sorts of the Security Council. What point is there comparing giant India with tiny Pakistan and cheering?

It is not yet too late if India, in true and real terms, wants to stand tall and confident with big powers. It must absorb Muslims and other systematically suppressed minorities and make them an integral part of the Indian government and society. Do I sound too utopian? Nuzhat Manikpuri’s apposite couplet articulates the present state of India:

Daaman-e-ummeed pe tika hai wajood mera / Vagarna is mulk ka toh Khuda hi aasra (My existence hinges on a glimmer of hope/ Otherwise, only god can save this country).

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 November 2011 on page no. 2

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