17 August 2012
Qafile guzarte gaye, Hindustan banta gaya”
News has come that 18,000 North East people have fled from Bangalore, Pune, etc. due to fear psychosis and feeling of insecurity. This is a disgrace to our nation.
This is not an isolated incident. North East people are often insulted, humiliated, looked down upon, and discriminated against, and called ‘Chinks’ because of the Mongoloid features of many of them. This is shameful. I am reminded of Voltaire’s famous statement ‘Ecrasez L’infame’ (crush the infamy) which is the dictum we should follow.
Unfortunately the mindset of many people in the plains of India is that North East people with Mongoloid features are not really Indians but foreigners. Hence we have to explain what is India?
I have in my article ‘What is India’, explained that India is broadly a country of immigrants, like North America. Almost 92-93% people living in India today are descendants of immigrants, and not the original inhabitants. The original inhabitants of India, as it is now established, are neither the Aryans nor the Dravidians, but the pre-Dravidian tribals or Adivasis e.g. Bhils, Gonds, Santhals, Todas, etc., who were driven into the forests by many our ancestors and treated very badly. They are now only about 7 to 8% of our population. The rest of us are descendants of immigrants, as explained in my judgment in Kailas V State of Maharashtra (2011) 1 S.C.C. 793.
People migrated into India (mainly from the North West, but also to some extent from the North East) because people migrate from uncomfortable to comfortable areas. Before the Industrial Revolution there were agricultural societies everywhere, and India was a paradise for agriculture, having level land, fertile soil, plenty of water, etc. Hence for thousands of years people have been coming into India.
This theory, that India is broadly a country of immigrants, explains the tremendous diversity of India -- so many castes, religions, languages, ethnic groups, etc. Somebody is tall, someone short, somebody fair, someone dark, others brown (of all shades), someone with Caucasian features, someone Mongoloid, someone Negroid, etc.
We may compare India with China. China has a population of 130 crores as compared with our 120 crores, and China has more than twice our land area. But there is broad (though not absolute) homogeneity in China. All Chinese have Mongoloid features, they have one common written script called Mandarin (though spoken dialects are different), and 95% Chinese belong to one ethnic group called the Han.
In contrast, India has tremendous diversity, and that is why the only policy which will keep our country united and take us to the path of prosperity is secularism and giving equal respect to people of all communities, region, language, race etc. This was the policy of the great Emperor Akbar who gave equal respect to all communities and proclaimed the doctrine of suleh-e-kul i.e. universal toleration of all religions, at a time when Europeans were often massacring each other in the name of religion (see in this connection my judgment in Hinsa Virodhak Sangh Vs. Mirzapur Moti Kuresh Jamaat, available online) . It is because of this wise policy of Akbar that the Mughal Empire lasted so long. This policy was continued by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and his colleagues who enacted a Constitution giving equal respect to all Indians.
I am deeply distressed when I see violation of this Constitutional policy by some people. For example, the bhoomiputra (son of the soil) theory propounded by some people in Maharashtra is totally unconstitutional. The people who say that non-Maharashtrians like South Indians, U.P.ites, Biharis, etc should get out of Maharashtra because they are not bhumiputra forget that in that case 95% Maharashtrians will also have to get out of Maharashtra because the real sons of the soil in Maharashtra are the Bhils and other tribals in Maharashtra who are only 5% of the population of Maharashtra.
Moreover, Article 19(1) (e) of the Indian Constitution says that all Indian are entitled to reside and settle anywhere in India. If non-Maharashtrians are made to leave Maharashtra then Maharashtraians in Delhi, U.P., Punjab, etc will also have to go back to Maharashtra. This will be fatal for the unity of our country.
I therefore request all patriotic people in India to understand our country, and see through the nefarious designs of the mischievous elements who want to break up our country.
People of the North East are as much Indians as people of U.P., Bihar, and other States. Any insult to them or their harassment or discrimination is a national crime, and the perpetrators of such crimes should be severely punished.
Justice Markandey Katju is the Chairman, Press Council of India. He was formerly a Judge of the Supreme Court of India.