In a rather distorted piece, Yogendra Yadav, known for his body of work in the field of political science, has exercised intellectual overreach by saying the impending verdict on Ram Mandir along with some other crucial proposals will test secular politics in India. I was confounded when I read the headline and therefore decided to read the piece just to ensure it was not a clickbait. Viola! It wasn’t. The once upon a time political scientist actually said it in so many words!
On second thoughts, as someone who has had the opportunity to observe the inside workings of academia, I am not surprised that Yogendra Yadav believes that any verdict in favour of Hindus and Ram Mandir is not secular in nature. His intellectual chicanery does not end here. He is of the opinion that implementation of NRC along with laws such as Uniform Civil Code (UCC), a central Anti-Conversion Act (ACA) and Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) also deserve a ‘graded response’ and not a unanimous nod.
His stance reveals two basic infirmities in the idea of secularism that was propounded by Nehru and propagated by his party. One, any decision that is remotely inclined to favour the sentiments of the majority (not necessarily hurt the minority) is not secular. Two, the vision of India is limited to a debate where minority sentiment is the only colour on the canvas; every argument is either pro-minority or anti-minority. I vehemently differ with such views, primarily because just like the minorities, I too am a daughter of the soil and deserve to exercise my opinions and rights.
Ram Mandir: Hindu Assertion is not Muslim Humiliation
Any judgement in favour of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya should certainly not be seen as anti-minority for just one reason and Yogendra Yadav is wrong in doing so. Ayodhya is analogous to Mecca for Muslims. It has been established through ASI reports that there was a grand Hindu temple before it was demolished and subsequently a mosque was built on it. Like any other devout community, Hindus too espouse restoration of the temple, now that the country is free from any sort of authoritarianism or monarchy. A favourable judgement for Hindus does not mean one against the Muslim community, because it is only a section of motivated Muslims who are using the issue to spur sentiments. With minimal Muslim population in the area, there has never been an outcry for a mosque from the local minority community. Cry for a Ram Mandir, on the other hand, has been a common factor across a socio-cultural melange of the majority community, both in India and abroad.
Unfortunately, as a consequence of centuries of conditioning majority are led to believe that any assertion of their cultural practices or social norms is the humiliation of minorities. But this is false equivalence. India belongs to both the majority and minority communities. It doesn’t belong more to one and less to another. Ergo, there is no reason why the majority should be embarrassed about just being themselves.
Pro Minority vs Anti Minority for Yogendra Yadav
India is a diverse country that has been held together for aeons by the echo of “एकं सद्विप्रा बहुधा वदन्ति”. In such a land, how can one decide to paint the idea of secularism in one particular colour, and ostracise those attributes ascribed to the majority by calling them brute and anti-secular?
All three proposals, Uniform Civil Code (UCC), a central Anti-Conversion Act (ACA) and Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB), are being propagated as anti-minority by vested interests who reap dividends from social unrest, demographic imbalance, cross-border infiltration. On the contrary, all these three proposals strive to preserve the secular credentials of the country.
- UCC impacts, benefits and irons out discord across all communities. It is not leaning positively or adversely towards any particular group.
- An Anti-Conversion Act (ACA) will curb forceful conversions and evangelism seduced by money and material benefits. Like the UCC, it will apply across all religions, irrespective of the religion of the converted, before or after conversion. Any person crying foul and calling ACA anti-minority is suggesting inferences that will eventually leave the minority on a sticky wicket.
- CAB seeks to provide refuge to Hindus, Sikh, Buddhist, Jains, Parsi or Christians coming from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan and grant them citizenship of India. Once again, this Bill does no harm to the inherent minorities of India. Their rights remain undiluted.
Secularism in India has stood the test of time and a series of assaults over a long period of time. It is not at the mercy of a particular judgement. However, it is clear, that a lot of intellectual fraudsters and spurious analysts like Yogendra Yadav stands to be exposed, just by their sheer reactions in anticipation of a pro-Hindu verdict. It is time that propagandists masquerading as political scientists conceded, that it is the very nature of the majority believed to be secular. Spread over countless sects, Hinduism has always served as an umbrella for people across faiths, ideologies, sects and beliefs. While neo-secularism is a fragile concept, standing at the mercy of support of propaganda and doctrine of binaries, it is the inter-faith culture within the majority, that gives them the patience to accept and embrace.
Gunja Kapoor is a policy analyst based in New Delhi. She tweets at @gunjakapoor