Our work speaks louder than words, says the Minister for Minority Affairs in the Narendra Modi government; says that the Modi government is working with the mantra of ‘development with dignity’ and ‘empowerment without appeasement’.

 

New Delhi: Union Minister for Minority Affairs  and  Deputy Leader of the Rajya Sabha, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi is among the prominent faces of the Bharatiya Janata Party fielded by the party to counter political narratives, controversies and reach out to opposition leaders in times of crisis. Naqvi, who has been the vice president of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha and a national spokesperson, is the only member in the present Narendra Modi Cabinet who was a member of the 1998 Atal Behari Vajpayee Cabinet. He spoke to The Sunday Guardian on the domestic and international criticism that the government is being subjected to over its “anti-Muslim approach”, communal riots, use of bulldozers and other similar issues.

Q: Incidents of communal violence have seen an increasing trend in recent times. Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, West Bengal have seen such incidents where FIR against practitioners of Hindu and Muslim faiths have been filed for indulging in riots. How worried are you over these developments?

A: Not a single major communal riot has taken place in India since 2014. There were some conspiracies to give a communal colour to criminal incidents. During the governments of so-called “champions of pseudo secularism”, the country had witnessed Maliana riots or Bhiwandi riots or Meerut riots or other more than 5,000 major riots where curfew used to be imposed for several months and even for several years. Not a single such major riot has taken place in the country since the Modi government has come to power. Some fringe elements, who are unable to digest the peace and prosperity in the country, try to disturb India’s inclusive culture and commitment. But such elements will not succeed in their nefarious designs. Strict action will be taken against those who try to disturb harmony in the society.

Q: Communal sensitivity and law and order are among the most important criteria that are looked at by foreign investors and conglomerates before investing in any country. Do you agree with the assessment that failure to curb such communal violence in the country will hit India’s effort to achieve the target of $5 trillion economy?

A: The “Modi bashing brigade” has been constantly trying to defame Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Good Governance” and India as a part of their conspiracy engineering since 2014. Sometimes they write letters, sometimes they raise the bogey of intolerance and Islamophobia. But they have failed to point out even a single incident of discrimination against any community under the Modi government. While on the one hand, Prime Minister Modi has become an “icon” of inclusive empowerment of the deprived and downtrodden in India, on the other hand, he has been accepted as a “ray of hope” for peace across the world. Today, the entire world is looking at PM Modi as a “trouble-shooter leader”. The efficient role played by him and India during the Covid-19 and the Ukraine crises has been lauded by the entire world. India is moving towards becoming a $5 trillion economy. The Indian economy has achieved several milestones under his effective and dynamic leadership. Despite the global economic crisis, India achieved the historic goods export target of US$400 billion in March 2022. There are some nefarious elements who are unable to digest these glorious achievements of India.

Q: Observers say that while India should be focused on job creation, increasing its economic powers, its political parties are more worried about topics like azan, Hanuman chalisa, hijab and similar communal topics which generate little towards increasing the country’s might. As it is the party in power at the Centre, is it not a bigger responsibility of the BJP to ensure that such issues are not allowed to become big?

A: See, the Modi government is working with the mantra of “Development with Dignity” and “Empowerment without Appeasement”. We will never allow any “destructive agenda” to dominate our “development agenda”. The “defeated and frustrated political players” are raising such non-issues. As far as the hijab issue is concerned, I must say that some people gave “communal colour” to decisions on dress code, discipline, and decorum of institutions.
Both the seen and unseen hands have been exposed behind the “Hijab Horror Hungama”. This was nothing but a conspiracy to put a “Talibani Tala” (lock) on “Taleem” (education) and “Tarakki” (progress) of Muslim girls. India is the only country in the world where followers of all the religions live together, enjoying complete religious freedom and constitutional rights. Some people are in the habit of misusing every issue for their “prejudiced political purpose”. These are the people engaged in communal conspiracy, wearing a cloak of secularism.

Q: A prominent section among international media, organisations and government bodies have expressed their concern over the “increasing intolerance” against the Muslims in India. How would you, as one of the most senior ministers of this government, like to respond to these concerns?

A: The “Bharat Bashing Brigade” is unable to digest “Reform, Perform and Transform” and India’s inclusive progress under PM Modi’s able leadership. India doesn’t need any certificate. Our works speak louder than the words. Brotherhood, communal harmony, tolerance are in the DNA of India. “Unity in Diversity” is the strength of India. Almost all followers of all the religions of the world live peacefully in our country. Socio-economic-educational, constitutional, religious rights of every section including the Minorities are absolutely protected in India.
Out of every 10 Muslims living in the world, one Muslim lives in India. There are more than 3 lakh active mosques in India, there is an equal number of other places of worship of Muslim community. There are more than 50 thousand madrasas and more than 50 thousand minority educational institutions. Similarly, there are thousands of churches, gurudwaras, Buddhist monasteries, worship places for Jains and Parsis in India. Besides, minority communities are also equally being benefited from all other educational institutions and facilities in the country. Those people or organisations who try to teach India on the issue of the minorities, should first see the difference between India and Pakistan after the Partition.
Minorities’ population in Pakistan, which was about 23% of the total population during Partition, has now been reduced to even below 3%. While in India, the minorities’ population, which was about 9% of the total population during the Partition, has now increased to over 22%.

Q: A recent trend has been observed in which bulldozers are being used to demolish properties of alleged accused which goes against the basic tenet of the law—“innocent until proven guilty by the court”. Such instances of instant justice have been seen in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and recently in Delhi. Don’t you think such extra constitutional steps hurt the image of the government?

A: Please tell me one thing, can anyone allow illegal encroachments on government properties or public properties? I am sure that no government can accept illegal encroachments. See, some people are in the habit of painting every incident in communal colour. These vested interests are trying to create confusion. Some people became used to creating confusion in the name of human rights to create an atmosphere of fear. I will advise them that “provoking should not be a priority but spreading peace should be.”

Q: It is a documented fact that under the present government, the welfare of the minorities, through your ministry, has seen an unprecedented push since May 2014. Yet this story and narrative, that should have ideally been marketed globally, is something that very few, including your own Cabinet colleagues, talk about. Will it be correct to say that the work done by your ministry needs to be given more public attention within and outside India?

A: Several works and reforms have been done by the Modi government for socio-economic-educational empowerment of every section of the society including the minorities. The Modi government has worked tirelessly with the commitment to “Decision with Delivery” to ensure socio-economic-educational empowerment of all the sections. The government has provided scholarships to 5 crore 20 lakh minority students in the last 8 years. This has resulted in significant decline in school drop-out rate especially among Muslim girls. The school drop-out rate among Muslim girls, which was earlier 70%, has now reduced to about 30%.
Our government has provided skill development training and employment and self-employment opportunities to around 21 lakh 50 thousand people through various skill development and employment oriented programmes such as “Hunar Haat”, “Seekho aur Kamao”, “Nai Manzil”, “Nai Roushni”, “Ustad”, “Garib Nawaz Self-Employment Scheme” etc., in the last 8 years. The policy of “Back up to Brilliance” has shown results on the ground level. The percentage of minority communities in Central Government jobs, which was below 5% before 2014; has now been increased to more than 10%.
“PM VIKAS-Pradhanmantri Virasat Ka Samvardhan” scheme that started from 1 April 2022, will prove to be a milestone towards socio-economic-educational empowerment and employment oriented skill development of the needy. Along with other sections of society, the minorities have also been significantly benefited through welfare schemes of the Modi government.
More than 2 crore 31 lakh poor people have been provided houses across the country during the last 8 years and 31% beneficiaries are minorities. 12 crore farmers have been given benefits of “Kisan Samman Nidhi” in which 33% beneficiaries are needy farmers belonging to the minority communities. More than 9 crore women have been given free gas connections under “Ujjwala Yojana” and 37% beneficiaries are women from minority communities. 34 crore people have been provided easy loans under “Mudra Yojana” for employment and employment opportunities and 35.6% of these beneficiaries are from minority communities. More than 11 crore 12 lakh toilets have been constructed under “Swachh Bharat Mission” across the country and 22% of beneficiaries are minorities. Besides, 22-37% beneficiaries of other schemes such as “Jan Dhan Yojana”, “Ayushman Bharat”, “Har Ghar Jal Yojana”, electrification of villages are from minority communities.

Q: In continuation of my previous question, what is the one achievement that you are very happy about when it comes to the work done by your ministry?

A: Every welfare scheme of the Minority Affairs Ministry has been able to ensure happiness in eyes and prosperity in the life of every section belonging to all the six notified minority communities. Personally, I believe that Hunar Haat is the greatest achievement of the ministry as it has alone provided employment and self-employment opportunities to about 10 lakh artisans and craftsmen from all sections. These beneficiaries include 50% women from every section of society. “Hunar Haat” is a “perfect and phenomenal paradigm” of “unity in diversity” and “Sarvdharm Sambhav”. It has proved to be an effective campaign of “Encouragement to Expertise”, “Backup to Brilliance” and “Market to Marvels”. “Hunar Haat” is a “Credible Brand” and “Perfect Platform” for “Protection, Preservation, Promotion” of indigenous traditional arts and crafts of India.