Genesis for communal clashes in India

Hindus in India got a raw deal in 1947 when both the limbs of the Indian subcontinent were chopped off to create a new Islamic Nation, Pakistan, with its wings one in the east and the other in the west. Ironically, present-day Muslims flaunt their claim on India despite 89.2% of their forefathers opting for a separate Islamic country in the 1946 Provincial elections. Whether it was a strategy or a lack of belief in their own Sharia Law is debatable, the fact they took a U-turn and preferred to stay back in a Hindu India is a reality. It’s a win-win situation for them as they got a separate account in Pakistan and a joint account in India with the rest of the Hindus.


Historical records tell us that prominent leaders cutting across ideologies from Savarkar to Ambedkar, Gandhi, and Sardar Patel agreed very early at the turn of the 20th century that two nations were living in India. 


While Savarkar endorsed the idea of a Hindu Rashtra, the latter felt that there was no need for Hindus to ask for a separate country on religious grounds as India is a Hindu country for eternity and follows a Sanathan philosophy of plurality, tolerance, and co-existence.  


When India won freedom it was a classic basket case with a burgeoning population, rampant illiteracy, extreme poverty, hunger, and a religious, cultural, and linguistic diversity that threatened the unity and stability of the country. While, Nehru, Patel, and Gandhi, succeeded in keeping the country united despite civil unrest due to several migration incidents in Punjab and West Bengal and while integrating more than 550 Princely states into India, Nehru blundered in decisions once these two leaders departed. In his anxiety not to displease a major chunk of society and stay in power, Nehru brought the Wakf Act of 1954 which was intended to provide better administration and supervision of Wakfs. Wakf is a type of charitable endowment in Islamic law where the ownership of a property is transferred to Allah and the property is permanently dedicated for religious or charitable purposes. This was the first incident of the appeasement policy of the Muslim minority.


Over the years appeasement politics became a regular phenomenon and successive governments adopted it to secure Muslim minority votes and stay in power. Later, amendments to this Act in 1995 and 2013 gave unprecedented powers to Muslim religious bodies and their heads, who became defacto Wakf owners and are today’s largest urban landlords after Indian railways and army. 


While the Muslim leadership, both religious and political flourished and became rich by grabbing more land using Wakf as a tool, their masses struggled for even basic needs for their survival; the arrest of Amanatullah Khan of AAP, last year in a case of corrupt practices in Delhi Wakf Board is one such example of a long list of corruption in the last little over five decades.


Communal violence in India declined in 2016; Uttar Pradesh tops the list -  India Today

As appeasement politics to woo Muslim minority vote banks percolated to individual states, there was a competition to provide them with certain reservations, subsidies for Haj or Umra, and other financial support for Madarsassas. This caused great heartburn amongst the majority community, but they remained silent for years. This silence was taken as a sign of weakness that emboldened the Muslim minority resulting in their domination in other social, cultural, and religious festival gatherings. As communal tensions and frequent violence with stone pelting incidents and set-on-fire public properties during Hindu festivals and processions became a regular feature after hate speeches delivered by the political and religious leaders after Friday prayers, the Hindu majority suffered in silence.  


The government of the day turned a blind eye to the looters and arsonists responsible for killings innocent people during Hindu processions and festivals; this further emboldened the Muslim minority to the dismay of Hindus. Unchecked foreign funding to create such communal tensions in India broadened the horizon leading to terrorist activities in the country. Every terror act in the country had a “Characteristic Trio”; a link to the minority community, a Pakistan connection, and local political protection.  


The scenario changed with the entry of the nationalist BJP led by Narendra Modi in 2014. “Enough is Enough” was the message very politely conveyed to all sections of Indian society including the political, religious, and arm-chair opinion-makers with leftist ideologies. The Modi government took a leaf out of Arthashastra and adopted the policy of saam, daam, dand, bhed ably implemented by the modern-day Kautliya, Amit Shah.  


Modi’s inclusive politics has hit the religious and political leadership of the Muslim minority very hard making them irrelevant to society. Today, Muslims constitute a large chunk of the beneficiaries of Pradhan MantriAwasYojna, PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana, and a dozen others. None of the schemes are directed at any particular community or are discriminative. Inclusive governance is the cornerstone of Modi’s statecraft. Besides, PM Modi has taken the popular mandate in both terms to unshackle Muslim women by freeing them from the curse of triple talaq and promoting an ecosystem for them to benefit from education. In Jammu and Kashmir, the Modi-led Government has taken the benefits of several schemes, besides reservation, to the socially marginalized sections, just by undoing Congress’ decades of politics of minority appeasement by abrogating Article 370. The list is unending.


The love of the masses and the popularity of Narendra Modi has unsettled these anti-Indian forces who want to somehow create violence in the country to defame the government. The recent violence in Manipur and Nuh (an 80% Muslim community region of Mewat) in Haryana are recent examples. The mirror shown by Modi to I.N.D.I.A, a conglomeration of 26 Opposition parties, in his marathon speech of more than two hours in Parliament on 10th August 2023 is a MUST watch to understand what the misrule and appeasement policy of the earlier governments had done damage to India. 


The country has to understand that appeasement or freebees politics is a very bad idea. The psyche of an appeaser is to feed a crocodile in the hope that it will eat him last. Though there are several global examples where appeasement politics have harmed people, two are given here. Many Israelis, who were indoctrinated to think that Arabs are noble savages, exotic and harmless people, learned their lessons hard after the Oslo Accords (1993) to appease them failed and ended in a wave of terrorism, which claimed more than 2000 Jewish lives. And, who can forget the American native Indians’ appeasement of the white people by offering their lands resulting in wiping out their race?  


Remember, if you appease a community, they automatically think that they are stronger than you and immediately make new demands. Today, we are fortunate that the country is governed by leaders who do not believe in appeasement politics of a particular community to garner votes. 

Let us all realize that appeasement is cowardice on steroids and inevitably results in bigger problems as it whets the appetite rather than satiates the hunger.  (The author is a former Chief Scientist at the NGRI, Hyderabad)