Hamid Ansari’s Woes: Plight of Pluralism in India

Ram Puniyani
February 20, 2021

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India began as a plural democracy; respect for diversity was the core value. The provisions of safeguards for minorities were in built. These safeguards were formulated by the Constituent Assembly’s committee on Minorities headed by Sardar Patel. Seven decades down the lines where do we stand in matters of security and economic welfare of the religious minorities. Most of the inquiry commission reports related to communal violence, the scholarly works on communal violence by the likes of Paul Brass, Asghar Ali Engineer and recently from Yale University give a very painful picture of the communal violence, showing that the Muslims minorities in particular and lately Christian Minorities have suffered adversely. Sachar Committee Report (2006) showed the economic marginalization of Muslim minorities.

The events of last few decades and more so of last six years show the rising intimidation, marginalization and increasing fear among this community. The lynchings in the name of cow-beef and the harassment around love jihad have brought to fore the type of problems our country is facing on the scale of democratic freedoms. This was most clearly demonstrated when the large section of media with full support of the ruling dispensation coined the terms  like ‘Corona bomb’ and ‘Corona Jihad’ in the wake  of rise of Covid. To add salt to the wound, the present Government initiated NRC in Assam on the grounds that over 50 Lakh Bangladeshi’s have infiltrated into India particularly in Assam. When the final count came only 19 odd lakh people were found without proper citizenship papers out of which 12.5 Lakhs were Hindus!

Undeterred by this the ruling Government brought in Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in which the persecuted communities in neighboring countries are entitled for citizenship barring the Muslims. The trap was clear that those people who were without papers and were Hindus will get the citizenship through the back door while millions of Muslims without proper papers will be disenfranchised from citizenship to be shunted to detention centers.

It was in this background that our ex-Vice President Hamdi Ansari wrote his memoirs “By a Many Happy Accident: Recollections of a Life”. In discussions and interviews by different channels around the release of the book he voiced some of the concerns. He tried to emphasize that our citizenship is not based on religion. As most of the comments on his book and also on his life revolved around his being a Muslim, he underlined the fact that in his diplomatic and political life Muslim ness did not matter, what mattered was professional competence. As such this sums up his career which spanned over four decades and served the country in a very honorable way.

That apart the communal elements constantly targeted him for his being Muslim. In one of the republic day parade (2015), when army saluted as Jan Gan Man, national anthem was sung. A picture was circulated to create misconception that Ansari did not salute when the anthem was being sung. In this picture President is seen saluting along with him Prime Minster Narendra Modi and defense Minster are also saluting. Ansari stands still and picture highlights his not saluting. The criticism of his not saluting tricolor was propagated. At such an occasion only President, who is Commander-in-Chief of army salutes. No one is supposed to salute at that time. What Ansari did was as per the protocol, while those who saluted with President did not follow the guidelines laid down!

When Ansari retired in his farewell speech the Prime Minster took a dig. “. “A big part of your working life was in West Asia... in the same atmosphere and debate... after retirement, it was minority’s commission or AMU... that was your circumference,”

In the response to release of his book the communal forces again are uttering that India gave you so many top positions and your are disgruntled! You can very well leave the country and stay in the one where you feel at home. These types of comments show the mindset of the sectarian nationalists who see the citizens only in their religion’s identity. Ansari is not talking of his personal unhappiness. Being a thorough democrat and Indian nationalist, he is trying to draw our attention to declining ethos of our country. Since the identity issues, the emotive issues like Ram Temple, Cow-beef, Ghar Wapasi and Love jihad have taken the front stage our democratic foundations are being eroded to no end.

Similarly he points that with current Government the word secularism has gone into eclipse, it has disappeared from Governments dictionary. One can argue that even earlier the practice of secularism was on a weak wicket, e.g. the responses to Shah Bano Judgment did go contra to the values of secularism. Numerous reasons can be attributed to the weakness in practice of secularism. Still at most levels it had honorable place. What was missing was the astute sense of implementing it in the complex scenario where intense propaganda against protective clauses for minorities was projected as ‘minority appeasement’. Now there is not even an iota of consideration that as a secular state Prime Minster should not inaugurate a religious place of worship or issues like violence in the name Cow-Beef should not enjoy impunity. There is not even smallest consideration that in CAA how we can bar granting of citizenship to people of particular religion.

Ansari points out, “Overall, the very fact that Indian-ness of any citizen being questioned is a disturbing thought,’ and “enhanced apprehensions of insecurity amongst segments of our citizen body, particularly Dalits, Muslims and Christians” and the “illiberal form of nationalism that promotes intolerance”.

The critics of pluralism and diversity assert that what is prevailing is the genuine secularism as it has balanced the earlier tilt towards minorities. They also try to equate few other killings as lynching’s, to show that there no insecurity for dalits and minorities as such. Ansari’s observations need to be taken seriously and course correction of our democracy needs to be undertaken.

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News Network
February 17,2021

Mysuru, Feb 17: It will put an end to the concept of appointing guest lecturers if the Chief Minister approves for the appointment of 8000 lecturers, for whom the demand has been already submitted, Deputy Chief Minister Dr.C.N.Ashwatha Narayana, who also holds higher education portfolio, said on Wednesday.

Speaking to the media after visiting government first grade women’s college here, he said, the demand has been submitted to the Chief Minister who also holds the department of finance in the pre budget meeting.

The appointment of lecturers on a permanent basis would help to maintain quality of teaching which is one of the primary objectives of the national education policy, he opined.

So far only 2% of the budget allocation was being given to the higher education and it has been urged to increase it 3.5% for which the chief has responded in positive, he said.

All the guest lecturers who worked in the last academic year are being continued for this year also and their demands including hike in payment, regularization of their services will be reviewed, he added.

He assured a fund of each 2 crore rupees for government first grade college and woman’s college located in the town.

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Agencies
February 11,2021

Image result for Lebanon's Hariri and France's Macron discuss Lebanon crisis

Lebanon, Feb 11: Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad Al Hariri on Wednesday dined with French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss the crisis in Lebanon and the difficulties in forming a new government, according to Hariri’s Twitter account.

“Presidents Hariri and Macron discussed the internal Lebanese difficulties that hinder the formation of the government and the possible ways to overcome them,” the Twitter post said, adding that the two men had discussed French efforts to resolve the crisis over a two-hour dinner.

Macron has been spearheading international efforts to rescue the former French protectorate from its deepest crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war. Macron is trying to use Paris’ historical influence in Lebanon to persuade squabbling politicians to adopt a roadmap and form a new government to root out corruption, a prerequisite for international donors including the IMF to unlock billions of dollars in aid.

However, those efforts have so far failed.

Highlighting some of that frustration, the French presidency did not include the dinner on Macron’s public agenda keeping the meeting private. Officials had declined to comment earlier in the day on whether the two men would even meet.

Hariri, a former prime minister, was given the task of forming a government after Mustapha Adib resigned in September. He is so far struggling to cobble together a cabinet to share power with all Lebanese parties, including Iran-aligned Hezbollah.

Paris was not initially keen for Hariri to take up the role, having previously failed to implement reforms, French officials have said. But given the lack of progress in forming a credible government, Macron did not oppose the nomination.

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Agencies
February 16,2021

Bengaluru, Feb 16: A day after his statement on Below Poverty Line ration cardholders sparked a row, Karnataka Food and Civil Supplies Minister Umesh Katti on Tuesday made a U-turn, saying there were no definite parameters for BPL and APL card holders over availing benefits. The minister emphasised that the BJP government in Karnataka headed by B S Yediyurappa was pro-poor and was committed to distributing more BPL cards.

It will continue to give free foodgrains such as Ragi, corn and rice, he added. Having come under attack from the Congress and the JD(S), Katti told reporters here there were no definite parameters for BPL and APL (Above Poverty Line) and there was no need for anyone to worry as the government has not issued any statement in this regard.

Retracting from his previous statement, the minister said, "I had only shared the information from Delhi with media. Neither those parameters (motorcycle, TV, fridge and land) were mine, nor the Chief Minister has given any such orders. I am not an irresponsible minister." However, he did not elaborate.

Stating that his statement did not pertain to the BPL cardholders, he said further confusion on the matter was uncalled for.

"I have not issued any order without consulting the Chief Minister. BPLs are BPLs and APLs are APLs," he said.

Katti had on Monday said in Belagavi that those owning components such as motorcycle, TV, fridge and five acres of land are not entitled to hold a BPL card and they have to surrender them to the government by March 31, or else the government will take action.

The opposition Congress and the JD(S) had come down heavily on Katti and the BJP government calling it anti-poor and anti-people. 

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