At the risk of being called a communalist, I must agree that any country that claims to be a modern, secular democracy must secularize and unify its legal system, and take power over women’s lives away, once and for all, from
medievalist institutions like Darul-Uloom.
Thus spake Salman Rushdie, husband of Padma Laxmi (almost tempted, for no good reason, to embed her picture here)—a man whose secondary achievements include having won the Booker of Bookers and of being acknowledged as one of the most influential writers of the last century.
The italics are mine. And that is because Salman Rushdie articulates the insecurity any unbiased commentator feels when talking about the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) —that of being dubbed a ‘communalist’ .
That’s something I personally never get. Securalism means being agnostic to all religions—-“in front of the state all religions are equal”. Right? And people who follow this ideal are called secularists? Right ?
Then why do secularists in India support the Haj subsidy, the rights of Muslims to have the privilege of being tried by their own religious courts (as opposed to a “secular” court) , the rights of Muslims to have a medieval Muslim education (one of its tenets being that Muslims owe allegiance to the Ummah and not to the Kafir concept of India) with this radical education, dispensed through Madrasas, being funded by the same people who bankroll terror all over the world?
And yet at the same time oppose Saraswati Bandana in public functions, RSS sakhas dispensing Hindu-nationalist education and funding bodies who pour money into Hindu charities. It’s not just “oppose” as in passive opposition— it means going to Capitol Hill to fulminate against the saffron dollar while remaining silent on the petro-stained dollars that rumble in, in far greater magnitude, to fund religious Islamic seminaries in India.
With respect to UCC, there is some history. Gandhi and by extention the Congress’s main counterpoint to the two nation theory was that Muslims in India would enjoy the same privileges they would get if they stayed in an Islamic state. Ergo there was no need to have a separate homeland for Muslims. And while princely states have been dissolved (contravening assurances given to rulers during independence), the Indian nation still believes that it has an obligation to provide Indian Muslims with special privileges as a kind of “bribe” for not going over to the other side.
Anyone who speaks to the contrary is dubbed a communalist. Speak out against Madrasas and you are a saffron person. Speak out for religious quotas in educational institutions, you are a fundamentalist. Not however if the religious community in question is Islam—-in that case, you can support religion-based quotas and still remain secular. Case in point, Shabana Azmi.
Reading a “liberal” (secular) blog on the recent London bombings, I was astonished to discern sympathy for the Islamic fundamentalists who masterminded this heinous attack—–the logic being that by its illegal invasion of Iraq and the humiliation of prisoners at Abu-Ghareb and by the reported desecration of the Koran, the Western powers “asked for it”. Acccording to these people, Americans make the mistake of believing that history started on 9/11—- in other words, America’s support for Israel is reason enough why a janitor working the 88th floor of WTC deserved to die.
Yet these same liberals will anoint Narendra Modi as the Hitler of the modern world for essentially mirroring their own arguments as justification of the Gujrat riots. What Mr Modi said was that the riots were a spontaneous reaction to the burning of Hindus in a train at Godhra—–now replace “riots” with the “bombings in London ” and “burning of Hindus in a train at Godhra” with “Abu Ghareb”. And you have got a perfect valid “secular” argument.
Now this is what I have to say.
Haj subsidy–get rid of it.
Muslim/Parsee/Christian/../ personal law–no place in secular India.
Madrasas—fine. Just as long as the students get taught science, mathematics and love for the country. But Hindu Shakhas would, by that token, also be fine.
No form of terrorism is justifiable. And neither are pre-emptive strikes.
That was my stand. (Sounding like an Allstate agent) What’s yours?