Saturday, November 14, 2009

Vande Mataram and Rise of Religiosity
By Mubasshir Mushtaq

Jamiat Ulema has breathed a fresh leash of life into a decaying body called Sangh Parivar. The legitimate and illegitimate babies of the Sangh Parivar, who were on a deathbed, have suddenly discovered the art of resurrection and are on a revival path – thanks to Jamiat’s endorsement of an old fatwa of Darul Uloom Deoband against singing of the controversial song Vande Mataram. It’s akin to activating the dying cells of BJP! One doesn’t intend to question the validity of fatwa since it has already been settled by Darul Uloom. The subsequent endorsement by Jamiat and its timing are questionable since the matter has been decided by Supreme Court and it’s not mandatory. Also the issue of Vande Mataram was not at all being discussed!

Before we discuss the historical significance of Vande Mataram; three important issues must be made clear. First, the song is completely Un-Islamic. One may not agree with the second issue but many Muslims believe that Jamiat has always been the stooge of Congress. And thirdly the sound health of ‘Hindutva forces’ is a pre-requisite condition for the so-called secular parties to entice Muslim community on emotional issues, so that it may forget its legitimate demands and throw them into oblivion. The strengthening of Hindutva forces means that Muslims will be likely to go with the so-called ‘secular’ parties. This creates a conducive environment and greater prospects for secular parties to capture Muslim votes through false slogan of ‘secularism’.

One may recall that a few years ago, it was Arjun Singh, the then HRD Minister, who declared that the centenary of Vande Mataram would be celebrated with its singing in all institutions. Muslims reacted aggressively giving an opportunity to Hindutva forces to spew venom against the community. Arjun Singh later withdrew the circular and emerged a secular figure in the eyes of the Muslims! The purpose, perhaps, was served: to divert community’s attention from its main problems!

The unholy nexus between ‘Hindutva forces’ and the ‘fictitious secularism’ is the most effective instrument since independence to deceive Muslims.

Indian Muslims must understand the fact that Vande Mataram is more than a hundred year old-trap.

The controversial song Vande Mataram occurs in Bankimchandra Chatterjee’s novel Anand Math which was published in 1882. The song was originally written in 1876. Bhavananda, the hero of the novel plans an armed struggle against Muslims of Bengal. While reciting the song, he meets Mahendra. When Mahendra asks the meaning the song, Bhavananda replies, “Our religion is gone, our caste is gone, our honour is gone. Can the Hindus preserve their Hinduism unless these drunken Nereys (a term of contempt for Muslims) are driven away?” When Mahendra is not convinced, he is taken to temple and shown four-armed Vishu, with two decapitated and bloody heads in front. The priest tells Mahendra, “She is the Mother. We are her children Say ‘Bande Mataram’. The same procedure is repeated at the temple of Kali and Durga. Others have been portrayed as saying, “Will the day come when we shall break mosques and build temples on their sites”? The land of Bengal has been identified with a Hindu deity. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that Vande Mataram is a religious homage rather than national tribute to ‘Mother India.’

Nirad C. Chaudhuri describes the times in which the song was written. “The historical romances of Bankim Chatterjee and Ramesh Chandra Dutt glorified Hindu rebellion against Muslim rule and showed the Muslims in a correspondingly poor light. Chatterjee was positively and fiercely anti-Muslim. We were eager readers of these romances and we readily absorbed their spirit.”

Congress Working Committee which met on October 26, 1937 decided that the first two stanzas out of five will be sung (The last three stanzas have got religious connotation and therefore considered controversial). The first two stanzas began to be sung in some provinces and gradually it became associated with India’s freedom struggle. Commenting on this noted jurist and writer A.G. Noorani wrote in 1999, “’National’ songs do not need political surgery; the songs which do, do not win national acceptance.”

A.G. Noorani has termed Vande Mataram as “unconstitutional” citing Article 28 (1) and (3) of the Constitution which read:

(1) No religious instruction shall be provided in any educational institution wholly maintained out of state funds.
(3) No person attending any educational institution recognised by the State or receiving aid out of State funds shall be required to take part in any religious instruction that may be imparted in such institution or to attend any religious worship that may be conducted in such institution or in any premises attached thereto unless such person or, if such person is a minor, his guardian has given his consent thereto.

Should a particular religion play any role in a secular democracy like India? The question is obviously rhetorical. The deadly mixture of majority religion with India’s democratic framework has acquired frightening proportions.

Why do public servants break coconuts inaugurating new buildings? Why are religious mantras recited in the presence of bearers of public office? Why do judges invoke goddess Saraswati inaugurating a new court building? What has goddess Saraswati’s picture got to do with Indian judiciary? All this has happened recently at the inauguration of new court building in Malegaon in the presence of Chief Justice of Bombay High Court.

All this injures the spirit of world’s longest Constitution whose preamble contains words “sovereign socialist secular democratic republic.” It is the duty of judiciary and law enforcement agencies to check potent mixture of religion and public life.

Since singing Vande Mataram is not compulsory, Supreme Court must take suo moto cognizance of Bal Thackeray’s utterance that those who refuse to sing it, their tongues must be chopped off. Thackeray’s statement amounts to contempt of court. KG Balakrishanan, Chief Justice of India, must intervene to reassure that India does not believe and practice jungle law.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Crime: the Swine flu of politics

Crime: the Swine flu of politics
By Mubasshir Mustaq

Now that the electoral dust has settled down in Maharashtra, its time we carefully studied each of our representatives with a magnifying glass of honesty. Each one of them is our elected representative and therefore in a democratic parlance our mirror-image. The image which emerges is a collective reflection of us, the voters. It may be beautiful, ugly, twisted and in some cases a camouflage to delude ordinary individuals but nobody can deny the fact that we, the voters, are responsible for that image. Narendra Modi has presided over the genocide of innocent Muslims in Gujarat but he remains a democratic symbol and representative and therefore a mirror-image of Gujaratis. This paradox of democracy is like a bitter pill which each one of us has to swallow it.

We must have celebrated the hat-trick of “clean” and “secular” Congress-NCP alliance. Many of us would have been relieved that voters rejected “communal” and “filthy” saffron brigade. But there is one factor which cuts through all party lines – criminal record of elected members of legislative assembly. Not many would have noted this phenomenon. And those who are aware of this societal reality may not care about it. Or perhaps it makes little difference in their lives.

According to the data compiled by National Election Watch, an NGO working for electoral reforms, Maharashtra leads the list of largest number of legislators with criminal cases pending against them followed by Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh. Out of 288, 143 MLAs have a criminal background or some criminal case is pending against them. Almost half of our representatives come from a criminal background or done some nefarious activity which entitled them to enroll themselves in the muster roll reserved for criminals. The magical figure of 145 is required to form government in Maharashtra. What will happen if all the MLAs with criminal cases pending against them come together to cobble up an alliance and manage to get support of two more MLAs? Will Maharashtra government be led by criminal-like-creatures? This assumption should never come true but the number of 143 is a collective blot on our conscience. It’s a blot on the very idea of democracy because there is no law in India which bars persons with criminal cases from contesting elections. This democratic flaw has enabled some criminals win an election right from inside the jail!

Shiv Sena has 31 MLAs with criminal cases pending against them, the highest from a single party. Congress and BJP are on the second position with 26 MLAs each. NCP is ranked third with 24 MLAs. Then there are 36 successful candidates who are either independents or from other regional parties and have criminal cases pending against them, according to National Election Watch data.

India’s democratic framework is such that crime and politics have always been intertwined. Money and muscle power are supposed to be the first steps in climbing up the political ladder. This political trend does not necessarily apply to all because this election has produced the candidates who have won against the might of money and muscle power. But there can be no denying that fact that use of money and muscle power lead to criminal cases.

The 143 tainted MLAs are dirtying Maharashtra’s political pond. Each one of us is responsible for this criminal contamination. Each one of us is guilty for injecting the criminal blood which is polluting the entire Maharashtra. Each one of us owes a responsibility to wipe out this swine flu which is slowly eating us without our realisation.

Perhaps judiciary can play an important role in the operation cleanup. If not, we can’t expect much from our legislators! Legislators of all hues – green, red and saffron – will come together to save themselves! Therefore, a people’s movement seems to be the last and the most practical option.

Is Mr. Ashok Chavan listening?