Thursday, 10 August 2017

Unbecoming of a Constitutional authority

  


What did you do educate, enlighten, help and empower poor of your community?

For good 10 years Mr Hamid Ansari occupied the high office of the Vice President of India, an honour given in the past only to Dr. S.  Radhakrishnan (Vice President from 1952 to 1962), though unlike Dr. Radhakrishnan, he could not get elevated to the highest constitutional position in the country. Even then, at the end of the long tenure, he was expected to say something positive about various reforms and progress made by the country and India’s standing in the world today. If he feared that any nice word for the more the Modi government would displease his mentors, he would have at least advised MPs to maintain decorum in the Parliament and let the democratic institution function smoothly.
 

If he was feeling concerned about lapses in some areas, he was expected to speak for the whole of India, for all Indians. Unfortunately, he chose the occasion to express his concern about the community to which he belongs. That is unbecoming of a constitutional authority of a secular country. True, most of the questions posed by the interviewer, journalist Karan Thapar, were about Muslims but Mr Ansari should not have fallen in the trap.

  
His defenders may  say that he has said many things positive. For example, he said that “India is a plural country for centuries, not for seventy years, has lived in a certain ambience of acceptance.” But in the same breath he says that the “ambience of acceptance  is now under threat.”

His supporters may say that he has rightly described the incidents of lynching and ‘ghar wapsi’ and killings of rationalists as “breakdown of the ability of the authorities at different levels in different places to be able to enforce what should be normal law enforcing work and over all the very fact that Indianness of any citizen being questioned is a disturbing thought.” But his statement that these incidents mean “breakdown of Indian values” give the impression that it is happening on a wider scale only against Muslims throughout the country which is not the fact.

Let us have a look at some of his observations and why some of his observations are highly simplistic while others are objectionable.

On Kashmir problem

Mr Ansari has said that “The (Kashmir) problem is and has always been primarily a political problem. And it has to be addressed politically. 

It sounds very nice that the problem should be addressed politically but has Mr Ansari, the former career diplomat, any magic formula to solve the problem politically? For Pakistan and separatists of Kashmir, the only solution is complete separation from India. For India, Kashmir is an integral part of the country. Where is the meeting point for political solution? Forget BJP, will the Congress agree to the demand of Pakistan and separatists? Mr Ansari ignores the fact that whatever the origin of the Kashmir problem, today it is no longer just a political problem. With almost every day terrorists coming from outside or grown internally  killing innocent citizens, it has become a battleground.

About stone-pelters in Kashmir

Mr Ansari has stated that “…when young boys and girls come out on to the streets and throw stones day after day, week after week, month after month, it’s something to worry about because they are our children, they are our citizens.”  

Mr Ansari is right that the young boys and girls of Kashmir  are citizens of India including Kashmir. Unfortunately, the boys and girls of the rest of India are citizens of India minus Kashmir. He is right that when these young boys and girls of Kashmir are coming out “on the streets and throwing the stones day after day… It is something to worry about..” But does he not know who are behind them? Does he not know who are paying them for throwing stones on the jawans who are there to protect them from the militants? The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has established that the separatists are getting funds through legal channels from Pakistan and that they use part of the illegal money to hire young boys and girls to throw stones and prevent the security forces from doing their duty of saving the state from militants. Separatist movement in Kashmir has become a full-fledged industry which has made the Hurriyat and other separatist leaders filthy rich. They have acquired benami properties worth hundreds of crores NIA has already nabbed some of them. They have also illegally occupied houses from which the Kashmiri pundits were forcibly thrown out.

Mr Ansari should have given some credit to the security forces that they are doing their duty of protecting the state of Kashmir despite so much physical risk and insult from own countrymen.

On tolerance and insecurity among Muslims

According to Mr Ansari “…from all I hear from different quarters… there is a feeling of unease, a sense of insecurity is creeping in,”

Dr Subramaniam Swamy has rightly replied that because of terrorists there is feeling of fear and insecurity among the Hindus too. In fact, most of the world is facing threat from the radical Islam which is trying to spread its hold at any cost. The intelligence agencies of the country have nabbed several Indian Muslim youths who have been indoctrinated by radical Islam and have become threat to their own country. Mr Ansari has not said a word about this threat. He has not said a word about the Hindus who were hounded in West Bengal and Mamata Banerjee did not allow her critics to enter the area.

In Kashmir, common Muslims as well as Hindus are feeling insecure but the separatists do not want the security forces to keep the area safe and remove fear from the minds of the people, Hindus as well as Muslims.

Does Mr Ansari not know that in Kerala, CPM and RSS have been engaged in bloody war for decades and that way back in 1969 an FIR named the present Chief Minister as one of the persons suspected to have murdered an RSS worker? The state has been ruled either by CPM led front or Congress led front.

The secularists are worried about demands for ‘ghar wapsi’, lynching of Muslims by mobs, cow vigilants. But the Hindus are also victims of mob lynching by the Hindu criminals. Cow vigilants who take law into their hands are criminals but so are those who are illegally sending cows to butchers in Bangladesh. Mr Ansari should have condemned all these criminal activities. Criminals are criminals. Please do not ask their religion or caste before condemning them.  Mr Ansari should have also condemned forcible expulsion of pundits from Kashmir and suggested measures for bringing them back.

Mr Ansari missed the opportunity to advise his community people to stay away from radical Islam.

Regarding court orders on ‘Jana Gana Mana’ and ‘Vande Mataram’

Mr Ansari thinks that these court orders reflect a sense of insecurity. Why should it reflect a sense of insecurity? If the Hindus and Muslims have no objection to singing ‘Jana Gana Mana Adhinayak, Jai Hey Bharat Bhagya Vidhata’ which was originally composed by Ravindra Nath Tagore in praise of George V, the Emperor of India, what is the justification of objection to singing ‘Vande Mataram’? You are ready to call someone ‘Bharat Bhagya Vidhata’ but not ready to sing ‘Vande Mataram’ at any cost. This is nothing but hypocrisy. Neither of the two songs have anything to do with religion. If the orthodox radical Muslim leaders have any objection, it is only their rigidity and their refusal to be part of the plural culture. They take pleasure in identifying Yoga also with Hindu religion which is absolutely wrong.

Mr Ansari and his supporters must realise that India is a secular country because it is a Hindu majority country. Most of the Hindus and Muslims have no problem with each other. Only some leaders who thrive on misleading people have problems. It is rather unfortunate that Mr Ansari should should also have problem. By making such unwarranted remarks, he has aligned himself with Muslim leaders like Azam Khan, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, Asaduddin Owaisi and Hurriyat leaders. He has also strengthened the hands of leaders of political parties like Samajwadi Party, Trinamul Congress and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) who pretend to be secularist because it pays them politically as well as financially.

We do not know Mr Ansari’s future plan but let us hope he will do something positive to solve Kashmir problem, ensure communal harmony and tolerance of an elected government which is not acceptable to its detractors. 

Devendra Narain

August 10, 2017