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Are Minority commissions in India stifling the right to speech of the majority?
July 30, 2011Posted by on
Recently Subramanium Swamy opined on how Hindus should respond to the Islamic terrorism. He gave quite radical solutions, and quiet right wing ones but most of them are common sense. Except probably the following:
We need a collective mindset as Hindus to stand against the Islamic terrorist. The Muslims of India can join us if they genuinely feel for the Hindu. That they do I will not believe unless they acknowledge with pride that though they may be Muslims, their ancestors were Hindus. If any Muslim acknowledges his or her Hindu legacy, then we Hindus can accept him or her as a part of the Brihad Hindu Samaj (greater Hindu society) which is Hindustan. India that is Bharat that is Hindustan is a nation of Hindus and others whose ancestors were Hindus. Others, who refuse to acknowledge this, or those foreigners who become Indian citizens by registration, can remain in India but should not have voting rights (which means they cannot be elected representatives).
This takes the organizing of an anti-terrorist society to a somewhat xenophobic level. But then, xenophobia isn’t exactly an anathema to counter terrorism which is what the article is about. In fact the only nation that has had some success against Islamic terrorism (Israel) wouldn’t had gone far in that direction if xenophobia wasn’t at work.
State Minorities Commission vice chairman Abraham Mathai wrote a letter to Mumbai police chief Arup Patnaik, urging him to initiate criminal charges against Swamy:
The extreme xenophobic right-wing thoughts expressed in it are quite disturbing and the article is socially irresponsible and completely anti-Islamic. It is also alarming that Dr Swamy is trying to incite Islamophobia using his freedom of expression to propagate hate through stereotyping …
Swamy, a politician, obviously wrote for his political ends. But outburst by the Minority representative here seems politically motivated to me. Swamy’s article isn’t “extremely xenophobic” by any standards. It is a contemplation on how the Hindu majority should organize itself when the state has failed to protect its interests… something that is again kind of obvious. And Swamy’s statement does have some merit: What is the difficulty in publicly acknowledging that Muslims of India have had Hindu ancestors? Is the obvious truth that difficult for majority of our religious minorities? If so, can we really expect any genuine contribution from the religious minorities in national harmony? If they are not expected to act in Indian interest why should they be allowed to become members of Parliament?
Mathai explains further:
As a matter of fact, the Muslim community has as much stake as any in the progress, security and wellbeing of India as a nation. Dr Swamy’s bizarre solution is converting Muslims into Hindus …
Did we miss something here? Even Swamy’s most radical solution (duly quoted above) isn’t hinting at anything like a conversion. An acknowledgment that my ancestors were theists does not make me religious or pious: I still remain atheist. This acknowledgement is the only thing being asked.
What is then the hoopla about? Does Mr. Mathai have an agenda at hand? We do not know it yet. Mr. Mathai is not much of a public figure. In fact, this letter to the Commissioner of Police has probably given him the most attention in his life yet.