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We are living in interesting times. A comical debate about the intolerance of Hindus, initiated by a cabal supported by the Congress Party, is raging across the country. A number of communalists, masquerading as secularists, have been railing against the Narendra Modi-led government, painting it as intolerant. Some Bollywood stars like Aamir Khan and Shahrukh Khan have joined the mob of protestors. Even well-known musician, AR Rahman, jumped into the flawed debate.
Worldwide, Hindus are known as a tolerant and pacifist community. Taking undue advantage of Hindu tolerance, the UPA government led by Ms Sonia Gandhi and Dr Manmohan Singh practiced blatant discrimination against them on several occasions during their decade-long rule. Yet no secular-communalist protested nor raised his/her voice against discrimination against the majority community.
To set the record straight, some notable instances of intolerance against Hindus in the decade long UPA regime may be recounted, in no particular order.
On December 9, 2006, came Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's famously infamous statement that Muslims and minorities would have the first claim on the nation's resources, which virtually condemned the Hindu majority to the status of second class citizens. By some quirk, the statement was made on the birthday of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi!
In 2011, the then Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde announced that a Muslim IPS officer was being appointed as Director, Intelligence Bureau, which involved three competent IPS officers being superseded without justification. No secular busybody or shrill media anchor ever dared ask the Sonia Gandhi-Manmohan Singh dyarchy why the careers of V Rajagopal, RN Gupta and Yashovardhan Azad were sabotaged.
In 2013, a Lt. Governor was to be appointed in Delhi. An RTI inquiry by Subhash Agarwal revealed that a panel was proposed in a Home Ministry note on 5th October, 2012, viz., SY Quraishi, former Chief Election Commissioner; Salauddin Ahmed, former Chief Secretary of Rajasthan; Anwar Ahsan Ahmed, former Secretary, Border Management in the Ministry of Home Affairs; Shamim Banu, former Additional Chief Secretary, Karnataka; and GS Kang, former Chief Secretary of Bihar.
Obviously, it was pre-decided that only a person from one community would be appointed as Lt. Governor of Delhi. Interestingly, one of the retired officers on the panel had faced a CBI investigation. Finally, the post went to Najeeb Jung, a former Vice Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia, who had organized a demonstration alleging that the Batla House shootout of September 19, 2008, was a fake encounter staged by Delhi Police against the Indian Mujahideen.
Ms Leela Samson was appointed chief of Kalakshetra, Sangeet Natak Academi and Censor Board by the UPA, possibly solely on account of proximity to Ms Sonia Gandhi. She had reputedly been a dance teacher to Priyanka Vadra. During her tenure, she worked zealously to erase the Hindu identity of Kalakshetra by removing Hindu symbols and icons like Lord Ganesha, besides getting embroiled in corruption (the cases are on-going). She cleared Aamir Khan's controversial movie 'PK' despite the film containing highly objectionable scenes casting slurs on the Hindu faith. As an aside, one may mention that 'pk' is the internet handle for Pakistan, just as 'in' is for India.
Discrimination against poorest Hindus
By using the Sachar Committee's flawed and fabricated findings, former Union Minister of Minorities Affairs, Salman Khursheed, deprived the unlettered daughters and sons of nearly 34 crore Hindus living below the poverty line, mostly in rural areas. The very conception of the committee was a grave constitutional impropriety. The task assigned to Justice Sachar had in 1992 been entrusted by Parliament to the National Minorities Commission by enacting a special law called The Minorities Commission Act, 1992. It assigned all responsibility for protection of the rights of minorities and ensuring their welfare to the Minorities Commission. Thus, Dr Manmohan Singh's act of constituting a High Level Committee in March 2005, by executive fiat, for one religious minority, was patently unconstitutional and bad in law. The worst aspect of the sinister move was that Justice Sachar, being well versed in law, did not advise the Prime Minister of this blatant violation of the Constitution.
For decades, a bogey has been propagated that Muslims are economically and educationally more disadvantaged than Hindus. This falsehood is used by the vote bank lobby to bestow disproportionate benefits and concessions, including nearly 20 million scholarships and concessional educational loans exclusively on Muslims and four other minorities. During Salman Khursheed's press conference on May 29, 2012, it was revealed that not a single scholarship was given to the daughter or son of the poorest Hindu. Nor were cheaper educational or entrepreneurial loans advanced to any Hindu poor, while funds worth several lakh crores were advanced to the children of five minorities (Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Parsis and Sikhs).
Religion-based strategy of discrimination
This strategy of religion-based discrimination followed the divisive vote bank policy enunciated in the Prime Minister's notorious "Muslims First" policy. It deprives crores of poor Hindus in rural India and urban jhuggies of any share in the 20 million scholarships awarded to five minorities, including four economically and educationally well placed communities (Christians, Parsis, Buddhists and Sikhs).
The data pertaining to infant and child mortality, degree of urbanization, life expectancy at birth, available in the public domain proves that Hindus, not Muslims, are the most disadvantaged religious group. Only in the matter of Literacy, Hindus with 65.1% literacy are marginally ahead of Muslims who average 59.1%. Yet, Justice Sachar did not have the courage to point out that the single factor responsible for lower Muslim literacy average was the lower ratio of literacy among Muslim women (50.1%), lower by 3.6% than the national average of female literacy at 53.7%. Justice Sachar also disregarded the diktats of Muslim religious leaders restricting education of girls beyond a certain age and insistence on the veil.
Plight of Hindus living below poverty line
Unfortunately, the most vocal Hindus, including spiritual gurus, tele-media analysts, self-anointed intellectuals and political leaders, belong to the prosperous or well-to-do middle class. They are remained indifferent to the pathetic economic condition of the poorest families, especially those trapped in terminally-ill rural areas. This allowed the children of 34-35 crore (340 million) poorest Hindu families to be denied a rightful share in 20 million scholarships in order to promote the 'exclusive development' of five minority communities. And this was done in the garb of 'inclusive development'! This ongoing discriminatory policy was launched by the then Prime Minister with great fanfare in June 2006, as part of the Prime Minister's New 15 Point Programme for Welfare of Minorities.
Falsehood publicised in Sachar Report
Justice Sachar deliberately refused to consider the documented fact that according to the National Family Health Surveys Nos. 1 (1992-93) and 2 (1998-1999), Muslims were better placed than Hindus in four major human development indices, namely Infant Mortality, Child Mortality, degree of Urbanisation, and Life Expectancy at Birth. Despite admitting this important fact (pages 37-38), Sachar took recourse to suppressio veri, suggestio falsi by attributing it to the specious argument that it could be due to better child feeding practices prevalent among Muslims. Instead of candidly admitting that Muslims were better fed and had access to better medical care, he decided to weave the yarn of 'better child feeding' practices among Muslims.
Another instance of suppressio veri, suggestio falsi is the description of the plight of Muslim women (page 13, Chapter 2): "Everything beyond the walls of the ghetto is seen as unsafe and hostile – markets, roads, lanes and public transport, schools and hospitals, Police Stations and government offices." Can any Indian honestly believe that Muslim women are treated so shabbily in India? Many more instances of fudging facts and propagating falsehoods can be cited; they are omitted for want of space.
Rebuttals galore of Justice Sachar's Report
The first well-documented rebuttal of the flawed findings of Justice Sachar came on Sept. 2, 2006, when a paper was circulated by Prof. Sanjay Kumar of the Centre of the Study of Developing Studies, New Delhi, in a seminar at the Indian Institute of Public Administration. The research showed that there was hardly any difference in the economic and educational status of Hindus and Muslims. Prof Sanjay Kumar's research, based on a survey by the CSDS in 2004, showed that the proportion of 'the very poor' Indians was higher among Hindus (31%) than among Muslims (24%).
Mysteriously, this important finding based on a survey was ignored by Justice Sachar despite a clear directive in the Prime Minister's Notification dated March 9, 2005 to the High Level Committee to "obtain relevant information from Departments /agencies of the Central & State Governments and also conduct an intensive literature survey to identify the published data, articles, and research on relative social, economic and educational status of Muslims in India at the State, regional and district levels" to address problems faced by Muslims.
Prof. Sanjay Kumar's research paper highlighting these important findings was duly sent to Justice Sachar by our think tank, Patriots' Forum, with a formal request for an audience. Both were ignored.
The second rebuttal of Justice Sachar's findings came in October 2010 when the National Health Survey-3 (2005-2006) revealed a quantum jump of 5.4 years (from 62.6 years) in the life expectancy of Muslims within a short span of 7 years, i.e., between 1998 and 2005. The inordinate delay in releasing these findings helped facilitate the implementation of Sachar Committee's recommendations favouring the Muslim community.
The third rebuttal of Justice Sachar's facts was made by Rajesh Shukla, Senior Fellow, National Council of Applied Economic Research, in the Economic Times, New Delhi, on April 5, 2007. Dr Shukla reconfirmed that there was hardly any difference in the economic status of Hindus and Muslims. His survey also disclosed that the Sikh community were 'the Sardars in Prosperity,' with Christians close behind them.
The fourth rebuttal of Justice Sachar's findings came on February 24, 2011, in the reply to a Parliament Question answered by Vincent H. Pala, Minister of State for Minorities, in the Lok Sabha, admitting that the Centre had no data pertaining to the number of persons living below the poverty line according to religious denomination. If as late as the year 2011, the government had no data about the number of Muslims and Hindus living below the poverty line, why were the fudged findings of Justice Sachar accepted and implemented several years ago?
The fifth demolition of the Sachar Committee came on October 24-25, 2011, when in a seminar jointly organized by the United Nations Development Programme and India's Planning Commission, at Claridge's Hotel, two scholars from Jawaharlal Nehru University (Sukhdeo Thorat and Amaresh Pandey) presented a research paper reconfirming that there had been far greater poverty reduction among Muslims than among Hindus between 2004-2005 to 2009-2010.
Despite such research-based rebuttals of the Sachar Report, the discrimination against the poorest Hindu children living below the poverty line continues. According to a half page advertisement published in The Pioneer, New Delhi, on Feb. 15, 2014, "over Rs. 1,95,000 crore of bank credit was showered on 5 minorities". In contrast, not one rupee of bank credit reached the 34 crore Hindus living below the poverty line. The former Prime Minister owes the nation an explanation for this sad state of affairs caused by his government during a decade in office.
The author is a retired Inspector General of Police, Arunachal Pradesh
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