Vande Mataram. Welcome, minorities. The helpless, disadvantaged, poor, famished, persecuted, religious minorities of India. Population-wise constituting nearly one-fifth of India, they qualify to be a minority in a country which, because of their sheer numerical strength, earns the solemn distinction of being the world’s second-largest home, after Indonesia, to a faith which knows no boundaries. And those belonging to, rather longing for, the faith zealously claim — or proclaim by firman or fatwa — to abjure violence that they perceive inherent in the Bankim Chandra Chatterjee-composed national song “Vande Mataram”. The logic: if they simply mutter it, it is tantamount to apostasy.
No wonder, the country is thankfully indebted to them for their humility not to reject the national anthem “Jana Gana Mana” as perfidious to their creed. Who knows, they may jettison it, tomorrow.
Probably, it is a matter of time before they so choose. A few years ago the same “minority clan” of India raised a hue and cry over the recitation of “Saraswati vandana” as a prologue to school prayers. And, the country’s “liberal class”, cutting across the barrier of colour and creed, lent its unqualified support to them, justifying the inclusion of such a religious intonation as repugnant to the secular spirit of the Constitution.
The volte-face by Union home minister P Chidambaram that “he was not present” when the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind adopted a resolution at its 30th general session at Deoband a couple of days ago, asking Muslims not to recite “Vande Mataram”, betrays a sense of vacillation, nervousness and indecision on the part of the country’s talking-tough-and-acting-firm home minister.
As a party person — Congressman — his stance of “not being present that moment” may be politically correct but as India’s “internal security” minister it simply does not hold water. More so, it comes at a time when such “Jamaats” hold the world to ransom by the insidious propagation of their bigotry in belief of the divine sort and a violently virulent streak of such an extremist school of thought has been wreaking unprecedented havoc on Indian society and nationhood.
If religious belief is in conflict, even remotely, with what defines nationhood, the latter expressly supersedes the former. Any edict by a religious minority — or for that matter any religion-based dispensation — if it generates or has the potential to generate a conflict of interest between what is mandated by the state or the statute and what the edict seeks to attain has to be treated as null and void.
Such “commands” do not carry the sanction of law and no immunity can be sought under the exclusivity of a “separate” personal law. Any personal law guaranteed by the Constitution for the protection of socio-religious rights of a section of the population is by no means a carte blanche for sowing the seeds of separatism. If it brooks disaffection, which in turn may lead to the fragmentation of a secular society, it ought to be dispensed with before it runs riot with the quasi-federal notion of the Indian state.
What assumes seriousness in the context of the turmoil the country is facing at present owing to the deviant nature and deviousness of a particular faith needs no reiteration. The flip to the fissiparous tendency by such edicts — emanating from the extremist Islamic school of thought as represented by institutions like Deoband — is of far-reaching consequences and seditious in nature.
Such tendencies, and actions that follow from them, if allowed to go unchecked by the state, will eventually reverberate — on religious fault lines — into a call for separatism from the Union of India.
Such an eventuality may seem to be far-fetched at the moment and dismissed as a figment of imagination but the Khalistan movement and Kashmiri separatism, too, germinated in a similar fashion until they near-consumed the whole nation. Better nip the evil in the bud. It is better late than never. The state must show it has the will to exercise the hard option in a similar vein as it has now woken up to the twin challenges of Naxalism and militancy
Written By : Ramesh Khazanchi
Original Source : Times Of India
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