By Sunil Sharan
February 16, 2017
As India sped towards Independence in the thirties, a frightful prospect emerged before the country’s Muslims. Only about a fourth of the country was Muslim, and in a democracy, they would be outnumbered.
Jinnah, the Ali Brothers, and others argued that Muslims had been the masters of Hindus, and would not become subservient to them. Jinnah proposed Urdu as the sole national language to the Cripps Mission, a diktat that he repeated when Pakistan was born, and which ultimately led to the creation of Bangladesh.
Today, the population of the subcontinent’s Muslims is about 600 million. Some, mostly in Pakistan, are suggesting that the three nations–India, Pakistan, Bangladesh–should reunite. How feasible is this?
In a reunited India, Muslims would be about one-third of the population. Muslims tend to vote en bloc, so they could easily keep the Sangh Parivar out of power. The prime minister acknowledged as much in 2014 when he refused to entertain the idea of a reunified subcontinent. How ironic though that the very people who call out for an Akhand Bharat do not realize what it might have in store for them.
Hindus in India argue that Muslims here are doing fine since hardly any Muslim wants to migrate to Pakistan. Doing fine is one thing, and accepting your lot is another, although it is certainly true that many Hindus want to leave Pakistan for India. Charges levelled against Muslims are many, openly by the Sanghis, and surreptitiously, by many liberals.
One, Muslims procreate much more rapidly than Hindus and in fact, are aiding and abetting in the sub continental reunification project. Sanjay Gandhi made population control a dirty word, for Hindus and Muslims alike, and ever since then, no government will touch the hot potato. There seems evidence that Muslims grow more rapidly, but there is also reason to believe that the government sanitized Muslim growth figures in the latest census so as not cause a scare.
Second, Muslims are disloyal to India and loyal to Pakistan. During Indo-Pak cricket matches they support our neighbour. They have poor representation in the army, not because the army is communal, but because they themselves are, not wanting to engage fellow Muslims in battle.
If Pakistan was meant for Muslims, India consequently was meant for Hindus, so why do they not quit India for Pakistan? Didn’t the Hindus of Pakistan quit the country almost en masse in 1947?
And then there is forever the beef question. Would any layman be allowed to chomp pork in Pakistan? So why allow people to partake of beef in Hindu-majority India, an animal that Hindus hold so close to their heart?
There are of course many other issues. Triple Talaq, polygamy, and so on and so forth. The first counter to the Muslim question is why compare India with Pakistan. Per capita GDP wise they are still fairly similar, but Pakistan is an avowedly Islamic nation where the president, the prime minister and the army chief cannot but be a Muslim. India is a relatively secular nation where leaders can and do, emerge from any faith.
As far as enrolment in the Army is concerned, this is a tricky one. The Army could do much better by recruiting Muslims, but it is also engaged in a life-and-death struggle with country’s foes, principally Pakistan. People like the younger Owaisi brother, Zakir Naik and Imam Bukhari sow discord in the minds of the average Hindu with their Muslim supremacist rhetoric.
Grievances are there, Muslims bear the butt end of riots, but India is still a largely poor nation, and everyone has grievances. By and large, Muslims and Hindus get along quite well in town, country and village.
As far as beef is concerned, Hindus are largely unworried when Parsis, Christians and even other Hindus consume it but see red when Muslims do so. Secularism is enshrined in the preamble to the Constitution, its most important page. Cow protection is in the Directive Principles of State Policy.
In the Constituent Assembly, some Hindutva types wanted to impose a beef ban. But members from the Northeast stood up to protest. Beef was their staple diet. If banned, they would secede from the Union. So it was shoved under the Directive Principles, wherein lie most things that should not be attempted or at best, might be nice to have.
States banning beef under this cover may not be violating the letter of the Constitution, but certainly the spirit they are.
Nations evolve. In California and Texas, there is a fear amongst whites that what they won from Mexico in war, they will lose peacefully because of the fast-growing Hispanic population. But by discriminating against a minority, one only enhances its ghetto mentality and resentment.
If Jats, Marathas, and their like can demand OBC status, when, let’s be honest, they have never been disadvantaged in independent India, why does the state quibble in giving a small share of reservation to India’s poorest community, its Muslims? Do you want them to feel Indian or not?