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MONTHLY    *    Vol 13-11 No:155    *   NOVEMBER 1999/ SHABAN 1419H


More Muslims Elected This Time
Statisation of Religion
I Have a Solution for J&K : Karan Singh
Call to Promote Religious Tolerance

13th General Elections :
More Muslims Elected This Time

By A.B. Masoud

New Delhi: The Muslim representation in the 542 - member Lok Sabha went up from 29 to 31 in the 13th General Elections in the country, the three state assemblies of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra also registered modesty increase in the number of Muslim MLAs. The trend has been seen as an indication of the downslide of the communal divide which had assumed a major electoral focus in the previous elections. The most notable increase has come from Maharashtra where 13 Muslims have been elected to the state assembly touching the highest number on par with the seventh assembly in 1980. The assembly has 288 seats and Muslims constitute 12 per cent of the electorate but their representation in the assembly has never gone beyond 13.

In Maharashtra, 8 Muslim legislators are from the Congress (I) while 2 each belong to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Samajwadi Party and one from the Shiv Sena. Though most Muslim legislators have been elected from Mumbai, Muslims were also elected from western Maharashtra, Marathwada and Vidarbha.

Among those elected on Congress ticket include Dr. Syed Ahmed (Nagpara), Ziauddin Siddiqui (Bandra), Naseem Arif Khan (Kurla), Syed Suhail Ashraf (Trombay), Momin Abdur Rashid Tahir (Bhiwandi), Shaikh Rashid (Malegaon), Anees Ahmad (Nagpur) and Abdul Hafeez Dhature (Miraj).

The Muslim legislators elected on NCP ticket are Syed Saleem (Beed) and Hasan Musharraf (Kagal) while Bashir Musa Patel (Umerkhadi) and Nawab Malik (Nehru Nagar) of Samajwadi Party were elected, Sabir Shaikh (Ambernath) was re-elected on Shiv Sena ticket.

Most surprising result came from Malegaon where senior Janata Dal (Secular) leader and state unit president Nihal Ahmad lost to Congress nominee Shaikh Rashid while Hari Shankar Mahale of his party won the seat for Lok Sabha. Mr. Mahale is the lone member of JD (S) in the present Lok Sabha.

Though the representation has seen an upward swing, at least seven Muslims lost due to vertical split in the Congress (I) party in the state.

The dissolved assembly had nine Muslim legislators out of them only four could make it this time. The state has not returned any Muslim to the Lok Sabha though three prominent Muslims, Abdul Rehman Antulay. Prof. Javed Khan and Abdul Majeed Memon were in the fray.

Andhra Pradesh assembly too saw an upward swing in Muslim representation. Eleven Muslims were elected in the recently concluded elections out of which four are from the Majlis Ittihadul Muslimeen (MIM), four from ruling TDP and three from the Congress. All the four MIM legislators were elected from their traditional stronghold old Hyderabad city. They include MIM chief Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi’s two sons Asaduddin Owasi (Charminar) and Akbaruddin Owasi (Chandernarayan Gutta). Other two MIM legislators are Mumtaz Ahmed Khan (Yakootpora) and Syed Sajjad (Karvan).

S.Khalil Pasha (Cuddapah), a former minister, S.M.Ziauddin (Guntoor), Yusuf Ali (Kamareddy) and Mohammad Farooq were elected on the TDP ticket. Significantly two TDP nominees M.Ziauddin and Yusif Ali defeated Muslim nominees fielded by the Congress. This is being seen as continued loyalty of Muslims to the TDP, despite their alliance with the BJP.

The successful Muslim candidates of the Congress are Jalil Khan (Vijawada East), Yusuf Sultan (Khamam) and Fariddudin (Zaheerabad).

The dissolved assembly had 10 Muslim members, while the highest number were elected to the assembly in 1972, when the number was 13.

Karnataka : 13 Muslims in Assembly, 3 for Lok Sabha

By a Staff Writer

Bangalore : Thirteen Muslims were elected to the 224 - member Karnataka Assembly this time, up from six in the dissolved assembly. Among the 28 MPs, Muslims account for 3, Christians 2 and Jains one.

The highest representation for Muslims in assembly was during 1978 when 18 were elected, proportional representation should mean 27 MLA in the 224-member assembly.

Former Railway Minister C.K.Jaffer Shariff retained his Bangalore North Lok Sabha seat while Prof. I.G. Sanadi was elected for the second time from Dharwar South. Gulbarga elected advocate and district Congress president Iqbal Ahmad Saradgi. This is highest representation of Muslim from Karnataka in the Lok Sabha so far.

Among the 13 MLAs, prominent ones are R. Roshan Baig and Qamarul Islam (both deserted Janata Dal before elections). They won from Jayamahal and Gulbarga. 80-year old Azeez Sait won from Narasimharaja seat in Mysore. Two Congressmen were elected from South Canara district. Siraj Sheikh won for the first time from Kudligi seat in Bellary district. He defeated M.N. Nabi of Congress (S). Jabbar Khan Honnali won from Hubli Urban. Among the 13, 12 are from Congress while one represents Congress (S). The Kolar seat was lost due to straight contest between two Muslim candidates.

It is estimated that nearly 80 per cent Muslims cast their votes in favour of Congress (I), disenchanted as they were from rift and split within the Janata Dal. The Muslims responded en masse to the call from Khadimane Mulk O Millat (KMM) and the Karnataka Muslim Muttahada Mahaz (KMMM) which had in a pre-planned exercise identified the winnable secular candidates regardless of their faith and community. According to KMM sources 93 per cent of its identified candidates emerged successful in Assembly elections. It had identified 193 candidates (total seats 224). Of these 116 won and 57 took the second place. According to a KMM spokesman, the KMM had pursued the objective of not only helping secular candidates win but also get them second place where success of communal party candidates could not be thwarted. Among the 193 candidates identified by it, 163 belonged to the Congress (I), 25 to Janata Dal (S) and 8 independents and others.


Interview with Prof. T.K.Oommen :
Statisation of Religion

Yoginder Sikand

Professor T.K. Oommen

Hindutva tries to barter Equality for Identity Professor T.K. Oommen, well-known sociologist, former President of the International Sociological Association and author of numerous books on Indian society, teaches at the Centre for the Study of Social Systems, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Here he talks to Yoginder Sikand about issues related to religion and communalism.

Question: You have devoted many of your writings to issues related to communalism, violence and ethnicity. Recent decades have witnessed a marked refashioning of religion in India, particularly Hinduism, for violent ends, about which you have written extensively. How do you explain this? How do you see the phenomenon of Hindutva?

Ans: I see Hindutva as an effort to redefine and use Hinduism for political purposes. The distinction between the church and the state has never been really applicable in Hinduism as it has been in the West. True, the distinction between the Brahmin priest and the Kshatriya king id always exist, and the king was seen as an agent to enforce the dharma as defined by the rajguru. But conceptually, the two-priest and king, church and state-were distinguished from each other. Hindutva aims at doing away with this old division of labour by trying to fuse the church and the state. However, because Hinduism has no church as Christianity does, the process leads to what I call the ‘statisation of religion’.

Question: How does the monolithic agenda of Hindutva relate to the tremendous diversity that lies under the category of ‘Hinduism”?

Ans: Traditionally, what is now called ‘Hinduism’ accommodated an enormous amount of diversity within it. ‘Hinduism’ does not have a single text or a single founder. This diversity is therefore very much built into the very nature of ‘Hinduism’. It envisages several different paths to salvation, and in this it is in marked contrast to the Semitic religions. This theological diversity was in a crucial sense a reflection of the great diversity on the social plane, in the form of the amazing number of caste groups. But these castes were arranged in a rigidly hierarchical order based on the so-called ‘purity’ and ‘pollution’ principle. This, of course, created a tremendous amount of tension within ‘Hinduism’.

Today, all this diversity is being sought to be erased, with all the talk about ‘one nation, one culture, one people’. Now, this is enormously complicating as there is no single ‘Hindu language’, no single ‘Hindu lifestyle’. or, for that matter, dress or architectural style or music. There is, in fact, nothing that we can say in the singular about the cultural patterns of the ‘Hindus’. Although there are certain common ‘Hindu’ beliefs, at the level of everyday life there is almost nothing which is uniform for all ‘Hindus’. In other words, to talk about one single ‘Hindu community’ is extremely misleading.

As for the concept of ‘Hindus’ as ‘one people’, if the suggestion is of one physical type, then again this is not true, because racially, too, the ‘Hindus’ do differ among themselves. There was a time when one could talk of ‘Hindus’ as people who inhabit one territory-Hindustan and this is actually how the very term ‘Hindu’ was invented. But even that is not true any more. After all, Nepal is a ‘Hindu’ country, and so the moment you talk of ‘one nation, one culture, one people’, the first item on your agenda would probably be to annex Nepal. There is a lot of imperialism involved there!

But the problem does not stop here. Today, ‘Hindus’ are to be found all over the world, in Africa, in Europe and in America. They have adopted the citizenship of several countries, so how can they be claimed under the notion of ‘one people’? Insofar as they subscribe to certain common beliefs they could be called ‘Hindus’, but there is no warrant in believing that they are Indians. They are citizens of different countries, and at best one can say that they are people of Indian origin. So, the ‘Hindu’ Diaspora has further complicated this notion of the ‘Hindus’ as ‘one nation, one culture, one people’. Hindutva seeks to brush all this aside, arguing for a monolithic ‘Hindu’ identity. I call this ‘project homogenisation’ and I see it as the real bane of Indian society and polity today. But I do not think this project can really work in the long run, because while religion is certainly an important social force to reckon with to bring people together, people have several other, equally important, identities which lie above and below the layer of religion and which cannot be ignored.

Question: How does the notion of social justice come into all of this?

Ans: Citizenship is an instrument of equality, whereas cultural nationalism is an instrument of identity. Hindutva is trying to barter equality for identity. The Hindutva notion of ‘one nation, one culture, one people’ tells you that if you all assimilate, turn Hindus, become like us, you will be treated equally, otherwise not. This is the bargain that is being held out, but what Sikhs, Muslims, Christians and others are saying is, ‘No, we want to retain our own identities and at the same time we want our equality’.

Question: The argument seems to be that Muslims and Christians are somehow ‘less Indian’ because they follow religions of non-Indic origin?

Ans: In Hindutva discourse, Muslims and Christians are branded as ‘foreigners’, but this is really paradoxical because most Indian Muslims and Christians are of ‘low’ caste origin, and the so-called ‘low’ castes are original inhabitants of this country. On the other hand, the Aryan ancestors of the so-called ‘upper’ castes came to India from elsewhere. The argument seems to be that as the Aryans came here 3000 years ago they are ‘natives’, but as Islam came here only 1200 years ago it is completely ‘alien’! Call this the logic of the unreserved railway compartment. The person who pushes himself in first and dumps his luggage on the seat gets to occupy it all by himself for the rest of the journey.

Question: What about the issue_caste_in the discourse of Hindutva?

Ans: In this regard, it is instructive to see the ways in which the term ‘Hindus’ are those who inhabit India. This is like saying that Europeans are those who inhabit Europe, a definition where considerations of religion and language recede into the background, and territoriality comes to the fore. But the fact of common homeland does not necessarily do away with people’s specificities and multiple identities.

The second definition of ‘Hindu’ is that ‘Hindus’ are those who follow religions of Indic origin. This is really a political project, cutting out and marginalising as it does people who follow faiths of non-Indic origin. Politically, it is a profitable thing, and this is done by annexing other groups such as the Sikhs, the Buddhists and the Jains. This is what I call ‘Hindu expansionism’, which is not acceptable to these religious groups.

The third definition of ‘Hindu’ is closely linked to Brahminism. Under this definition, the term ‘Hindu’ refers, at best, to the so-called twice born ‘upper’ castes from the Hindi-speaking belt of the Indo-Gangetic belt, the so-called ‘Aryan Hindus’. They are seen as the core of the ‘Hindu’ people. But this definition is, of course, politically unviable, given the realities on the ground. After all this category is only a very small minority of the total Indian population. Thus, this definition of ‘Hindu’ is not generally invoked openly, but when it comes to distribution of patronage and reward, it is this definition of ‘Hindu’ that seems to be the working principle. It would be very interesting to see how many top positions have been given to which castes of which regions ever since the BJP came to power. For political reasons there may have been some efforts at making a balance, but I am sure the favoured groups would certainly be the Hindi-speaking ‘upper’ castes, and among them, of course, the Brahmins.

The point I am making is that for political reasons the Hindutva camp works with the second definition of ‘Hindu’ that I have talked about, because if the third definition is openly invoked it would be problematic for then the population involved would be relatively very small, and that would pose major problems in a political democracy where numbers count at election time. But, and this is important to remember, the third definition of ‘Hindu’ is very often the working, though unannounced, definition. So, the Dalits and the Other Backward Classes are cleverly sought to be ‘Hinduised’, but when it comes to the question of social justice for these groups the Hindutva camp is remarkably impervious.

Question: Do you see any way in which religious resources can be used in the struggle against communalism and fascism in India today?

Ans: Historically, India has known considerable tolerance between followers of different religious traditions, but have been relegated into the background over the years, and need to be revived. The need for inter-religious dialogue, too, cannot be underestimated, because we all suffer from considerable cultural illiteracy about the religions of ‘others’. The ‘other’ is a constructed category, but it is based largely on ignorance and prejudice. It exists in our imagination, and we attribute many things to it, including several that have no basis in reality. So, inter-religious dialogue is a must to do away with these distorted images.

For inter-religious dialogue to succeed, I think, it is necessary to ‘catch them young’. It needs to start among children, when they are at the school stage. If right from childhood you are taught that there are good things in other religions, that will have a lasting impact on your thinking. At the moment, we all start with negativism, which is based on our own ignorance.

Question: What do you have to say about the recent attacks by Hindutva forces on Christians in various parts of India?

Ans: I think this has much to do with the fact that some Christians are deeply involved in the struggles of marginalised and oppressed peoples, and this has invited the wrath of vested interests. This is precisely what happened in the Dangs, in Gujarat. There, the Catholics set up several schools for the tribal, and the tribal students there were doing very well. Further, awakening of the tribal regarding social injustices was not to the liking of the local elite. They could not, of course, attack the Christians on the grounds that they were converting the tribals in a major way, so then went about attacking them. As the British way, call a dog mad and then shoot.

Question: Are you suggesting that religious conversions have nothing to do with the violence?

Ans: What I am suggesting is that it is wrong to think that it is Christians alone who are engaged in conversions. Look at the fate of Buddhism, it was once the dominant religion in India, but over the centuries, most buddhists were converted to Hinduism, and yet you have all this talk about Hindu religious tolerance. The assumption that Hinduism is a non-proselytising religion is completely untrue. It is a ‘proselytising’ religion, although its mode of conversion is different. Thus, when Dalits and tribals undergo a process of what is called Sanskritisation-assuming ‘upper’ caste Hindu customs and norms they are, in effect, converting to Hinduism. Strictly speaking, the Dalits and the tribal are not ‘Hindus’. Throughout the British period upto 1931, the census had a separate category variously called ‘primitive’, ‘tribal’ or ‘animistic’ religion, into which many tribal and even Dalits were put. But, with the 1951 census, the first after independence, that category disappeared from the government records and all tribal and Dalits who had not embraced Islam, Christianity or Buddhism were automatically considered by the Indian state to be ‘Hindus’. So, by the mere stroke of a pen the state converted millions of Dalits and tribal to ‘Hinduism’. I have said somewhere in my writings that the greatest proselytiser in India has been the Indian state.

On the other hand, there is no consensus among the Christians in India on the issue of conversion. The Indian Christians are not a homogenous community. They represent all the diversity within India and the Christian world as well. All the two hundred or more Christian denominations in the world are present in India as well, so there is no single view about conversion. On the one extreme is the Catholic Church, to which some half of the Indian Christian population belongs, which has very clearly shifted its focus from conversion to working with communities, particularly the marginalised. So conversion is no longer part of its agenda, though if people want to convert on their own accord they can be accepted into Christianity. On the other hand, you have this large number of small evangelical groups which are really aggressive, not physically but verbally and in terms of the images they use. They employ the language of war and they believe that salvation for all lies in conversion to Christianity. Between these two extremes of abandoning conversion as a project and latching on to it intensely there are others who may be called moderates who say that they will work with communities and if people approach them for conversion they will not deny it to them.


I Have a Solution for J&K :
Karan Singh


Dr. Karan Singh, Former Sadre Riyasat says Shimla Accord has failed to solve the problem of the disputed state of J&K

New Delhi: The scion of Dogra dynasty that ruled Jammu and Kashmir for over 100-years here called for an early settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir problem in order to end insecurity in the region and in the minds of the people of the “disputed” state. Dr. Karan Singh stunned the audience here revealing that his father and last ruler of the State Maharaja Hari Singh was forced to opt for India and did not accede according to his choice. He also claimed that he had a definite formula for the resumption of the Kashmir problem but refused to divulge.

Speaking at a function here, Dr. Singh, who recently unsuccessfully contested Lok Saha polls against Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee lashed out at those repeatedly vouching for Shimla Agreement. “The Agreement has not served people. For last 25 years leaders in India and Pakistan have been fooling us that they will settle Kashmir in accordance with the Shimla accord. But, it has just turned out a washing machine, in which people are getting churned,” said Dr. Karan Singh, also a former Sadre-Riyasat.

He urged leaders in India as well as Pakistan to exhibit statesmanship and show will to solve the five-decade old problem. Singh asked leaders to move beyond their reiteration of commitment to Shimla Agreement and mitigate the sufferings of people. Dr. Singh, who is also a learned Hindu scholar, claimed that he has a solution for the imbroglio, but would spell it out only if the rulers have will to settle the issue for ever. “I am the only person who can come out with the solution for Jammu and Kashmir problem. But, one should have will to implement. I am not going to divulg it now publicly.”

He observed that historians in India and Pakistan have heavily erred while judging his father’s actions. They have misunderstood and blamed him for being indecisive without understanding the circumstances in which he was operating. He was ruling a state with more than 85 per cent Muslim population and thus had more choices before him. Former Yuraj (Prince) also said that his father did not opt for India by his choice but was forced to accede with India. “Babuji was still considering the options when Pakistan backed tribal raiders invaded Kashmir.”

Dr. Singh also spewed venom against rulers in New Delhi, blaming them for not according due regard to his father. He lamented that the rulers in New Delhi while “parroting their standard line about Kashmir being the integral part of India”, did not ever consider to honour the main architect of the accession. “Not even a postal stamp was issued in the memory of late Maharaja Hari Singh,” he said. Maharaja, he said, was the only competent authority to decide the future of the state.


Call to Promote Religious Tolerance

Retd. Justice Nottor Srinivas Roa Releasing the book
Retd. Justice Nottor Srinivas Roa Releasing the book
"Islam Mathi Paradharma Sahishrutae"
from Right Mr. Mohd. Iqbal Mulla, President Jamaat-e-Islami Hind Karnataka,
Mr. Ibrahim Sayeed, Chairman Shanti Prakashana,
Mr. Seshnarayan Bangalore, Dr. M.J. Inamdar, Bijapur.

In a multilingual and multicultural nation like India, it is necessary to promote mutual trust and lone in order to make peace prevail. Former chief justice of Karnataka, justice Mittur Srinivasa Rao applauded the services rendered in this regard by Shanthi Prakashna, which brings out Islamic literature in Kannada. Speaking in the decennary celebrations of the Prakashna in the city recently, justice Rao appealed to the Kannadigas to support this noble service which enriches the Kannada language too. He released a book titled “Islam Mathu Paradharma Sahishruta (Islam and Religious Tolerance)

Speaking on this occasion Mr. Shesha Narayana, a renowned Kannada novelist emphasised on removing the mistrust and misunderstandings among different communities. He condemned the hatred being spread by some narrow minded organisations in the country.

Mr. Rao said though the services of Shanthi Prakashna are good, but are not enough seeing the volume of ill feelings prevailing in the society. Mr. Md. Iqbal Mulla, President, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Karnataka, released an audio cassette of Quranic recitation with Kannada translation.

The decennary celebration under the topic “Harmony through literature, was presided over by Shanthi Prakashna’s chairman Mr. Ibarheem Sayeed, Dr. M.J. Inamdar, a renowned eye specialist from Bijapur also spoke.


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