Preferential treatment to minorities is fostering a sense of disenchantment with ‘secularism’ among Hindus, it is time to stop

Senior Counsel Rajiv Dhawan, arguing in favour of Babri Masjid at Ram Janambhoomi, made an argument that reveals the institutionalized minority appeasement in the country. He said (reported by Bar and Bench), “Parents give more attention to a weak child so as to enable him/her to be stronger. Same is the case with preferential treatment to minorities.” The intriguing thing about the argument is that Mr Dhawan is not merely asserting that minorities in the country have rights guaranteed to them by the Constitution that Hindus don’t but that such is how it should be. The preferential treatment accorded to minority communities is in direct violation of the equality between religions that the Constitution claims to profess.

The said comments made in the Court during an argument in favour of Babri Masjid is particularly revealing. The advocate attempts to divert attention from the facts of the case and makes an appeal to sentimentality to influence the esteemed Judges of the Court to rule in favour of the Masjid. The argument is no longer based on hard facts, it is basically reduced to, “The minorities must be protected! They are weak!” Rajiv Dhawan must be reminded that the minorities do not perceive themselves as weak, Akbaruddin Owaisi might take offence at that suggestion considering the pretence of bravado he had displayed at one particular gathering years ago. Apart from Owaisi, there are regular instances of clerics issuing threats to the central government. Who exactly is Mr Dhawan trying to fool with his patronizing remarks?

The burden of communal harmony is always strapped on the back of the majority community. It is revealed most clearly in the mindset of Nehru who asserted that majority communalism is more dangerous than minority communalism. It is a historical fact that scores of Hindu Temples were demolished by the Islamic invaders. Since we gave up our claims to significant portions of our ancient lands and made peace with the partition of our nation, the least that Muslims in India could do is return the sites of our most treasured Temples to us as a goodwill gesture and efforts towards rebuilding the faith between the two communities. Instead, due to the misguided policies of Nehru, the radicalism within the minority community was allowed to fester and run rampant and the fissures between the two communities never really healed. Ram Janambhoomi should have been returned to Hindus right after partition as a gesture of reparation for the partition of the country and the numerous Temples that have been destroyed over the centuries. But instead, the wound was allowed to fester and that led to the violent demolition of the Masjid in 1992.

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Manmohan Singh, the former Prime Minister, went to the extent of asserting that Muslims must have the first right over resources in this country. Consider for a moment how a Hindu, who still has memories from the partition or has heard of the brutal atrocities perpetrated against Hindus during the period from his parents or grandparents, ought to feel regarding the statement. According to him, Hindus have paid disproportionately already as a consequence of the conflict, how much more is to be expected of them? The feeling of disenchantment with the notion of secularism in the country will only grow if secular parties continue to hold such opinions and it does not help in sustaining an environment of communal harmony at all.

Minorities in this country do enjoy special privileges and preferential treatment. A true secularist will abhor such disparity between citizens on the basis of their religion and yet, secularists in India advocate that it is the ideal state of affairs and those who demand equal rights for every citizen regardless of their religion are branded communal. Minorities in the country enjoy the right to manage their own religious institutions without the interference of the State. Hindus, on the other hand, have their Temples taken away from their control by the Secular state where bureaucrats often loot the treasuries of the Temple, illegal encroachment of Temple lands is rampant and even non-Hindus are made appointees in the management of the Temple affairs. In matters of education as well, minorities are granted exemption from the RTE while Hindu-run schools have to compulsorily adhere to the law making them unable to compete effectively in the brimming private education sector.

The fissure between the two communities is becoming increasingly apparent and unlike what liberals would want us to believe, it is the institutionalized minority appeasement in the country guaranteed by the very Constitution that is to be blamed, aided by the secessionist and fundamentalist sections of the minority community. There is no reason why governments should continue with minority-specific scholarships or other such minority only benefits. The disgruntlement within the majority community will only continue to grow if such endeavours are not brought to a halt. A lasting preferential treatment to the minority community in question was already provided decades ago in the form of a separate country. In the interest of equity and communal harmony, such preferential treatment should be immediately done away with and reparations made to the majority community to foster a bond of communal harmony.

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