Secularism & Indian Muslims
Our Constitution has two cardinal policies, viz., (1) non-alignment in foreign policy and (2) secularism on the home front. It was our first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who was mainly responsible for the incorporation of these policies. It was done, without any doubt, to enhance the prestige of India abroad. The billion dollar question is: has this helped and is this helping the Muslim minority community? The answer, to my mind, is no. Hindus constitute the majority and naturally they are the major element in the body politic. Hence, it is but natural that whatever be the form of Government, the Government is bound to tend to reflect the majority opinion. It is possible under such a secular set-up, for any Muslim to rise up to the highest office but on that count can it be taken that the occupier of the lofty position is in a position to help his fellow co-religionists? No. He or she can’t.
Assuming for argument’s sake that the secular form of Government is an ideal one, it will be one only if and when masses imbibe the true spirit of secularism. The Hindu majority community is yet to imbibe the spirit of secularism completely and so it is not yet full-fledged secular-minded.
Secularism is yet to mature and blossom in India. The linguistic division of the various parts of the country was a terrible blow to secularism. When Muslims declared that it will be impossible to adjust themselves in an undivided India, their assertion was condemned. But when Maharashtrians and Gujaratis could not adjust themselves, the Andhras and the Tamilians et. al., no objection is raised, Rather their demand for the bifurcation of the state is hailed. Likewise, Punjab was divided into Punjab and Haryana.
Be that what it may, none can deny that the Muslim minority community in India is a section which has given an excellent account of itself. It does nothing which goes against the interests of the country. Muslims never demand any special rights. All that they want is that they should be allowed to live without fear keeping their heads high. Their plea has been and is: “Don’t give us anything special because we are Muslims but don’t refuse anything because we are Muslims.”
If secularism can ensure this, well and good, else it is high time the form of Government is changed to one in which the minorities get their due share even without their asking.