By M Rafiqul Awal, New Age Islam
20 August 2015
It's time we replace the mediocre
"leaders" who have been projecting Muslims of India as
"Minority" and subjecting them to begging for a few crumbs in a
system of democracy, based on a powerful foundation of Secularism.
Powerful, because the Constitution of
Secular India does NOT provide any avenue for progress on the basis of
Religion, as is warranted by the very definition of Secularism. If Religion had
been the qualification for Rights to Progress, then India would be reduced to a
Failed State, like Pakistan has turned into one.
Yet India set course on a path of political
stability, economic prosperity and technological leadership - all made possible
because of the Powerful Nation Building Engine that Secularism is, shall remain
so, for Secularism frees Man's mind from suffering haemorrhage due to
conflicting engagements among the peoples, irrespective of whether the society
is pluralistic or composed of a single religion.
Even if a single religion? Certainly, and
you do not need to go further for incontrovertible proof thereof. From Pakistan
to the countries in the Middle East, then all the way to the edge of Atlantic
Ocean, Islam is the single religion. But where are they, in regards to general
peace, Human Rights, political correctness and stability, socio-economic
development, contribution and leadership in science and technology?
To compare apple to apple, let us turn back
our attention to Pakistan.
India and Pakistan started at the same
time, from the same shared destiny after gaining Independence from two
centuries of British Rule.
Actually India had much more disadvantages
than Pakistan, for Pakistan had several powerful leads over India on 15 August
1947. Let us make a list of extraordinary advantages that Pakistan started
(1) Duration of Slavery:
Pakistan was under slavery for only about
two centuries. Indian was under Slavery since 1096 when Afghanistan's Mahmud
Ghazani started ravaging and looting India, for a record 18 times, leaving
northern India plundered and reduced to ashes. Then came Mohammad Ghauri, this
time settle in India, and after him the subjugation continued, under various
Sultanates, than the Moguls, and ultimately the British.
Size of Educated Middle Class (EMC), the Driver of Social Engineering:
Pakistan received the best and almost all
Muslim EMC that emigrated to Pakistan almost overnight, en masse. Before this
cross-border transfer, Pakistan (we are talking about West Pakistan here) had
its own fair share of EMC, mainly from the Punjab and Sindh. The power of that
EMC is understandable when we factor in the influence of MA Jinnah (Sindhi) and
Liaquat Ali Khan (Punjabi) in determining the Destiny of India during
Independence; their collective EMC Power took away one-third of India's land.
Do not dilute the argument saying that the British "did it!" as per
its "conspiracy" to keep Independent India bleeding and thus
dependent upon "Aids" from the Commonwealth in return for the
economic status quo that was set in favour of Great Britain during the two
hundred year long British Raj. This lame excuse does not hold water anymore,
because our past ignorance is now replaced by the knowledge of historical data
that are increasingly flowing to us all, owing to the Information Technology.
(3) Support of the Muslim World, and the
United States of America:
I will just end with this third point,
which is self explanatory and should suffice to any person of rationale
thinking that Pakistan had overwhelming advantage when it set out to shape its
As we can see now, Pakistan in fact ruined
its Destiny, "screwed itself up" if I may borrow a contemporary
And India had none to stand by it. It was
surrounded by seas on three sides, and world's poorest and only
"Hindu" country in the world - Nepal, which still remains the poorest
country in the world.
Thus the sad story of Pakistan in one hand
and Nepal on the other testifies that Religion as the "model" for
mechanism to rise and develop can't but fetch ruin at the end of the day. Do we
need to see what went wrong with the other countries west of Pakistan?
Back to India
India, despite the disadvantaged position
that she started with, tackled poverty by the horns: investing in a massive
program of education, where citizens of All religions could participate
harmoniously and collectively because the foundation was on a powerful base of
I keep on referring to Secularism with the
qualifier "powerful" because Secularism fosters in Man freedom from
any notion of hatred and repulsion that emanates from sense of one's religion.
By limiting religion within one's personal space only, which serves as the
source of morality in as much as bone marrow is the blood's source of
oxygen-bearing red particles, India's version of Secularism put the best of
brains from all religions work together.
Thus we had Pundit Nehru, Mawlana Azad,
Sardar Patel, and BR Ambedkar - all from different religions, sit together at
the helms of government, producing one miracle after another: first, the
brilliant Constitution of India, then the Reorganization of the States of
India, then the Abolition of oppressive Zamindary system of Land Management,
Women's empowerment through education and employment, to name a few.
In the forefront of science, technology and
medicine, we see one genius after another from various religious backgrounds:
Homi Jahangir Bhava (Parsi), Bikram Sarabhai (Hindu), APJ Abdul Kalam (Muslim)
to name a few.
For one last time, allow me to bring back
Pakistan on the dissection table.
Pakistan was declared an
"Islamic" country, and with over 95% of her population being Muslims,
the very focus on religion turned people's minds working on intra-religious
denominational differences, with the inescapable drive for supremacy. That
probably happened faster than usual because the Founding Fathers of Pakistan
already raised the minds of their peoples on a staple diet of communalism,
albeit against the Hindus, for well over a decade since 1935 when the British
Govt started the first step to let Indians participate in governance. Thus the
outcome after Independence was horrendous for Pakistan.
First the Hall of Governance became the
venue of the notorious "Palace Conspiracy" for power mongering,
instead of becoming the factory to forge a Constitution (as in India),
assassination of its first Prime Minister, followed by military martial law
administration, continuation of the centuries old usurping Zamindari system,
and a host of national problems that are bound to crop when democracy gives way
to military autocracy.... Pakistanis fleeing the country for a better place to
live often crack a joke that goes like this:
"The proof that Allah exists lies in
the fact Pakistan is still hanging on as one country* in spite of its thousand
(*Well, I heard the joke in a Pakistani
party in USA in late 1980s when East Pakistan was lost, whew!)
Back to Indian Muslims as
"Minority": No Sir, Minority is NOT our Identity, Period!
Once more, the Power of Secularism in the
air that we breathe in India produced a miracle, when the Founding Fathers of
India sat together again, this time to devise an instrument that would change
the Mind of India, from one of a Slave - slave to the British, to one of a
Master - master of its own Destiny.
So they picked up three best enlightened
and most educated mind for the Herculean Task. Please read about them at:
-- Sir Sayyid Fazal Ali (Urdu-speaking
Muslim from Bihar),
-- Kallavam Panikkar (Christian school
educated Hindu from Kerala), and
-- H.N. Kunzru (Brahmin Pandit from Kashmir).
With the power of a Commission vested in
them in 1953, they worked arduously for three years and presented with a
formula that would set Indian a path of progress that would bring from being
the 2nd poorest country in 1947 to the 3rd strongest economy in 2013 - after
the USA and Japan!
And that formula was based on the Power of
That the recognition of Linguistic Majority
to reconstruct states of India would transform the Mind of the People from that
of a Slave to one of a Master.
While Secularism kept the Right to Religion
within personal space, to serve as the beacon of moral power within us in the
wisdom of our respective religions, it kept religions from fighting with one
another to mutual attrition! Thus Secularism in India kept on giving handsome
dividends for collective development and prosperity from Day One. (One only
hopes that the Departure of Nehruvian Wisdom and the advent of crass Militant
Hindutva in India's Body-politic will not turn the wheel of progress in reverse!!)
In contrast to West Pakistan where religion
as a driver for the country's Identity ruined the country to become a Failed
State, the People of East Pakistan took their Mother Language as the Identity
for progress. West Pakistan's Religion-based government did not hesitate to
slaughter 3 million innocent citizens of East Pakistan, who professed the SAME
Faith, to crush the latter's indomitable spirit to Master its Destiny on the
alter of Mother Language based Identity. It was then that Secular India came to
rescue East Pakistan on the latter's progression to its Bangla Mother Language
based Nation State, Bangladesh, while the rest of the "civilized"
world kept looking at the genocide!
Today, after rising from ashes since her
birth in 1971, Bangladesh has developed fast enough to surpass many states of
India, including Assam, in terms of Human Development Index (HDI).
It is surprising that after 15 August 1947,
Muslims of India didn't project their Language Identity (Urdu, Bangla) to
benefit from the spirit of the famous recommendation by the 1953 Commission
headed by Sir Sayyid Fazal Ali, which was dressed as an Act of the Parliament
of India for immediate application: The "Reorganization of States of India
Act 1956" (RSA 1956).
The majority people in Lower and Central
Assam has remained behind, at the same level when they started in 1947. Why did
they miss the Bus - RSA 1956 that most
Linguistic Majority area used?
Simply because these majority people were
labelled as "MINORITY", on the basis of, yes, you have sensed it,
Hence the Clarion Call. Refuse to wear the
cloak of Religious Minority and don a new one Linguistic Majority, or at least
feel just that you CAN do better by calling you Equal in Shaping the Destiny of
Let them hear it in Assam.
Let them hear it in Bihar, UP...and
wherever there is a backward region with a Linguistic Majority under a Wrong
Label of Religious Minority.
M Rafiqul Awal, Ph.D. is an Ex Kerr-McGee Professor of Petroleum
Engineering, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, USA.