The selective pampering has now extended to caste and creed lines.
I had the pleasure of talking to Mr Kalyanam, the last private secretary of Mahatma Gandhi a few months ago. He is a sprightly 95-year-old, lives in Chennai and goes about maintaining a garden on which he works at least eight hours a day. The talk veered to what Gandhi and Jinnah were thinking when they agreed to the idea of partition. I was shocked to hear from him that they were so simplistic—i.e. having got partition, the Hindus and Muslims would happily swap their lands and live happily ever after. Except for one or two instances, this did not happen.
India’s limbs were cut off and in a moment of muddied thinking (primarily on part of Nehru), Balochistan and North West Frontier Province were left to fend for themselves, only to be consumed by a greedy Pakistan.
ORIGINS OF NEHRUVIAN SECULARISM
The year was 1915. On the invitation of Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Gandhi returned to India. But some accounts say that the Jan Smuts government had tired of Gandhi and wanted to expel him from South Africa anyway. We will never know the real reason but suffice to say that the Mahatma was destined back to his land of birth when World War I was raging, pitting Germany, Turkey and Austria-Hungary against the United Kingdom, France and the United States (which joined only in 1917). But back to Gandhi and the Freedom Struggle.
OTTOMAN EMPIRE COLLAPSES
At the end of World War I, the Turkish Ottoman Empire collapsed. It also brought an end to the German, Russian and Austrian-Hungarian empires. The nobility was forced to fight with the common man in the trenches and this brought about a sense of equality and the concept of class took a severe beating across Europe.
The first wrong move, if it can be called that, by Gandhi was to support the collapsed Ottoman Empire to try and gain the support of the Sunni Muslims of India. He may have had the best intentions—he wanted to unite everyone against the British and also stop the recurring Hindu-Muslim violence. He leveraged the Khilafat movement, wherein Sunni Muslims in India, their leaders such as the sultans of princely states in India and Ali brothers championed the Turkish Caliph as a solidarity symbol of Sunni Islamic community (Ummah). The Muslims saw the Caliphate system as their means to support Islam and the Islamic law. Gandhi’s support to the Khilafat movement led to mixed results. It initially led to a strong Muslim support for Gandhi. However, the Hindu leaders including Rabindranath Tagore questioned Gandhi’s leadership because they were largely against recognising or supporting the Sunni Islamic Caliph in Turkey.
By this time, it must be remembered that passports establishing the nationality of citizens was in place in most countries so the loyalty to one’s country was being inculcated across the world. Further, Turkey itself was switching from a monarchy to a democracy under the leadership of Kamal Pasha. While the majority of the world appears to have embraced the citizenship of one’s own country as the first rule of loyalty, the mindset of Islamists still beats first for this idea of a Caliphate. You can hear the echoes of the same thing in some of ISIS’ declarations.
Gandhi’s endorsement of Khilafat had an unfortunate consequence—the Malabar Muslims (called Mapillahs) rose in violent revolt against their Hindu landowners in August 1921, in support of Khilafat. Tagore was proved right. By 1923, the Khilafat movement died down and with it the support of Muslims for Gandhi.
The only unfortunate residue of this was perhaps the feeling of entitlement for the minorities. It is important to realise that Nehruvian secularism is inspired from Gandhi’s ideas of how to treat the minorities. But Nehru took it to a whole new level in the 1950s.
HINDU CODE BILLS
The first general elections in the country in 1951-52 were fought by the Congress on the promise that it would bring a uniform Hindu code. And win they did. A single bill could not be passed due to stiff resistance, so Nehru broke them up into four bills, which finally passed in 1955-56. It must be kept in mind that the definition of a Hindu was someone who was not a Muslim, Parsi, Christian or a Jew. While these bills were far reaching in their scope and effect, a similar bill was not pursued for the significant minority, the Muslims, who continued to enjoy the privileges of essentially rules that dated back to the reign of Aurangazeb. An upcoming Hindu nationalist leader, Shyama Prasad Mookerjee (Mukhopadhyay) thundered in Parliament that Nehru would not dare to touch the Muslim community. Nehru may have thought that this gesture was needed to make the Muslims who stayed behind in India feel that they were “at home”. What a gesture it has turned out to be! Not only the Muslims but other minorities also have been pampered overtly and covertly.
This in my opinion was another critical factor in the mindset of the minorities—instead of being told in no uncertain terms that the law was the same for all, it opened the door for a minority to enjoy certain entitlements which the others did not. It must be borne in mind that under the Indian Constitution (Article 44 of Directive Principles) India was mandated to have a Uniform Civil Code.
SECULARISM REMOVED BY NEHRU, PUT BACK BY INDIRA
The word “secularism” was first proposed to be included in the Preamble of the Constitution of India, during a debate on 15 November 1948 by Prof K.T. Shah. Nehru, along with Dr B.R. Ambedkar, the chairman of the drafting committee, were the ones who were most opposed to the addition of this word, saying that “secularism” was already enshrined in the spirit of the Constitution and it was eventually dropped. But Indira Gandhi included it in the Constitution as part of the 42nd Amendment of the Constitution.
Why did she do that? After Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency, the 42nd Amendment was voted into the Constitution, giving Parliament unprecedented powers. Along the way, the word “secular” got added to the Preamble. India has been severely hurt by OneManItis (One-Man-itis) of its leaders. This is when the will of a single man/woman gets imposed on the whole country—never mind the consequences. From Gandhi forcing the Congress to accept Nehru as the Presumptive Prime Minister of a free India to the declaration of Direct Action Day by Mohammad Ali Jinnah who felt the dream of Pakistan slipping away, it has left deep scars on the nation.
Nehru overruled Patel, Rajaji and others several times during his reign as Prime Minister only to leave India deeper and deeper into a hole, a pit from which Modi is trying his best to pull it out.
The selective pampering has now extended to caste and creed lines and unless it is reversed quickly, will lead to anarchy. The whole nation must come together and start to unite. Unity is the need of the hour.