Much has been written about the recent Narendra Modi’s visit. The epoch-making visit is hailed by the real watchers of geo-politics and has been dumped by the political propagandists who often go around posing as neutral journalists. A shady character famous for releasing doctored video, as always, jumped into the fray to claim that Ms. Sabrina Siddiqui, the Pakistani-Origin American Journalist of Business Magazine, Wall Street Journal, who asked a dumb question to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was actually an Indian person, or at least and India loving person, with an illustrious background, linking her to Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. Indian media, as always, clueless and as if on a cue, latched on to the narrative that Ms Siddiqui is A- a journalist, so she should not be criticised for her public work as a journalist and B- She cheered for Indian Cricket team in some cricket match so she must be a patriot.
I have problem with both the points. As long as the attacks are on the substance and truth and are impersonal, anyone working in public sphere of life, must be willing to accept both bouquets and brickbats. Journalism is a business of opinion, and opinions are a business of perspective. That some mainstream channels and intellectuals who chose to stay silent about the illegal arrest of head of an Indian media channel, and of late on the arrest of a poor independent journalist from Bihar under draconian NSA, makes their position absolutely non-serious and their moral posturing on the matter of Sabrina Siddiqui totally preposterous.
Sabrina had asked the question which many Islamist lobbyist from Pakistan and some from India wanted US establishment to ask Modi. In an absolute defiance to the the fanatic faction of US intelligentsia, the US official establishment, rightly refused to be dragged into an invented oppression narrative. Ms. Sabrina and Mr. Obama, the ex-President, who is more like our Satyapal Malik, the ex-Governor appointed by Modi Government who turned rogue after being chucked out of power, were only two fig leafs they could gather. The Congress, one of whose disqualified MP from Wayanad, has made it into a habit of maligning Indian on foreign shores, had to make do with these two non-entities. Possibly Mr. Barack Obama was catering to the local audience in the ongoing debate on the next Democrat Presidential candidate. In any case, in one of the most successful US travel by any Indian Prime Minister in the history of India as been reduced by the Indian media into one sentence by Obama, claiming that not heeding to the oppression of minorities (no, he was not referring to minorities in general, rather was speaking about the second largest majority in India), may lead to breaking up of India. Ms. Sabrina asked Modi about the protection of rights of Muslims in India (not of Jews, Persians, Sikhs, Jains). It is a pity that neither of them could speak on facts.
For the first, Sabrina Siddiqui is not an Indian as claimed by Zubair, a man who claims, allegedly to not be a journalist, but Indian media never stops insisting that he is, indeed, a journalist. Indian media, who tried to mock the outrage by attempting to prove her as a patriotic Indian, dug out her ancestry, linking her to Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. Sir Syed was the first person in the history of modern India to speak of Two-Nation theory, at the time when Savarkar was a toddler. In the name of secularism, attempts have been made to project Sir Syed as a freedom fighter. The records however, clearly indicate that Sir Syed was an employee of East India Company in all his working years. He was given knighthood for standing with the British in 1857 war of Independence. Sabrina’s family chose India over Pakistan and her father became a Pakistani citizen, same as Jinnah or Bhuttos. About her pictures with Indian cricket Jersey which were floated to bolster the erroneous claim, it is common for the Pakistanis to support Indian team as long as Pakistan itself is not in the contest, secondly, Dawood Ibrahim, the noted gangster and wanted-terrorist for Mumbai blast was also a fan of Indian cricket. That, in itself, is no proof of Indian leaning.
Now coming to the question she asked- “India has long prided itself as the world’s largest democracy, but there are many human rights groups who say that your government has discriminated against religious minorities and sought to silence its critics,”
What is amazing that this preposterous line of questioning does not mention any data about how the Government has discriminated. The question is no different from the questions often Pakistani journalists raise at various forums to create an image of Muslims being under oppression in a Hindu-majority India. Some may say that even when Sabrina calls herself not as a Business Journalist or a Political Journalist, rather as a Muslim Journalist, her heart is bleeding not for Muslims, rather for all the minorities. As in the very next sentence, she clearly asks about what is Modi government doing to protect the rights of Muslims in India. Let us look at her charges.
The contention that Sabrina makes is true in one aspect. Indian constitution with various amendments done as politicians fell over one another post independence, makes Muslims a privileged class, with specials laws and privileges like Waqf act, Places of Worship Act. There have been attempts by Congress to claim that the Muslims have first rights to national resources and bringing in Communal Violence Bill which places the responsibility of any communal violence on Hindus, even when there be 72 Hindus charred to death in a train compartment by fanatics belonging to Ms Siddiqui’s religion.
All things notwithstanding, Hindus and Muslims do get along quite well in India, if we were to look at the kind of distrust and trouble which brews in the US on account of race and creed. Assuming for a minute, there exists some cause of friction between Hindus and Muslims, for instance, recent spate of Hindu beheadings, still the attempt to superimpose ‘Black Lives Matter’ to a fake ‘Muslim Lives Matter’ do not stand to the scrutiny. Here is a much respected Pew Report on whether or not Indian Muslims feel they are discriminated by the State.
As we see, 89% of Indian Muslims feel they are free to practice their religion. In fact, the community which feels least free as per survey are Sikhs and Jains. By the second line of Ms. Siddiqui’s question, one is very clear that she is not bothered about actual minorities, but only concerned about the world’s second largest majority religion, with around hundred countries under its official influence. A known fanatic, diligently exploiting faultlines, with a view of creating Muslim Supremacy in India, Arfa cobbled together humanitarian and unifying laws like Triple Talaq Laws to claim that Government is framing laws to oppress the Muslims. The fact is that this law restores the right to dignity for Muslim women as was envisaged by Supreme Court in Shah Bano verdict. The Congress at that time had overturned the verdict of the highest judiciary. As per Pew Survey, 56% of Muslims opposed Triple Talaq. The fanatic intellectuals, whose job is to create unrest and riots for poorer muslims to resort to violence on the fake slogans of ‘Islam is in danger’ while getting their beauty treatments in fancy saloons, clearly do not know which way the wind is blowing.
On the question of Muslim discrimination, the survey results are even more interesting. 21% of Indian Hindu adults think there is discrimination against Hindus and 24% of Indian Muslims think there is discrimination against Muslims. Also another interesting thing is that a higher percentage of BJP supporters think that a pluralistic society benefits the nation. However, this pluralistic idea is neither a product of BJP nor a product of Constitution, rather it is an inherent Hindu character feature which existed when persecuted Jews and Parsis found refuge in India, many centuries before Ambedkar and Constituent Assembly came up.
The whole point is that this narrative of Minority persecution and/or oppression is flawed. Stray incidents of crime do not define state policy, just as gun violence and crime against blacks in the US cannot be attributable to State Policy and Joe Biden cannot be held accountable to them. In terms of representation, Indian Parliament has 90% Hindus, and US Congress has 88% Christians. Unlike 19% Hindus who think India should be a Hindu Rashtra (https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/india/does-india-belong-to-only-hindus-nearly-75-of-hindus-say-no-csds-survey) as per CSDS Survey, while 45% of Americans agree that US should be a Christian country.
It is absolutely surprising that even a mention of the word Hindu Rashtra in a nation which was partitioned on that very premise and which has inherent Hindu protection minorities stitched into Hindu philosophy gets Ms. Siddiqui and her friends sitting in a nation where overwhelming population wants state to be Christian nation, up in arms. While much-maligned Manusmriti has been cause of concern to Islamist intellectuals from Islamic State of Pakistan and India like Sabrina and Arfa, 78% of Americans think that Bible should influence American laws.
Forget Sabrina, these points should concern even the out-of-job Satpal Mallik of US, Barack Hussain Obama, who has just discovered his conscience after bombing six muslim nations killing thousands, possibly as he is working out his way back into the White House as the First Gentleman to Michele Obama. So making right noises to his fake constituency of blacks is important, but the data staring at him tells that he needs to focus more on the US than on India. Maybe, growing some Hindu sensitivity in his polity, will help US become safer for Minorities and Blacks.
Human conflicts are an outcome of religious fanaticism, more so coming from the faiths which have fanaticism and military violence built into their histories. They should not be used as a political tool. More than that, citizens and media of a nation like India which is at the cusp of re-dicovering its destiny based on a sound, Hindu, intellectual culture of centuries, should not reduce themselves into turning into a tool.
To borrow from famous movie A Few Good Men, my message to Mr. Obama, Ms. Siddiqui and their cheerleaders from Muslim Nationalist Party, Indian National Congress in India is that
“We use words like Secularism, Tolerance, democracy. We use these words as backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as punchline.”
Unlike the fanatic terror state that Ms Sabrina came from to the state, and Mr Obama who became the President in a state where five of the six living US Presidents were slaveowners, India, in the Constituent Assembly had Muslim leaders like Tajamul Hussain from Patna, who dumped the concept of Minorityism and said- The British created Minorities. The British have gone and minorities gone with them. Remove the term minority from your dictionary. There is no minority in India.
Begam Aizaz Rasool from UP had said- It is necessary that the Muslims living in this country should give up separatist tendencies and throw their full weight in building up a truly secular state.
That is the difference between their founding fathers and our founding fathers. Unfortunately to please the West, we have imported western thought and in order to pursue fragmented fanatic vote bank, cultivated the same communal idea which runs contrary to every fabric of historic and cultural structure of India. Let us call out the crooked politics of the fanatics of Pakistan and politicians of the West. To the Arfa’s of the world who hide their fanatic fangs under the garb of victimhood, as we walk to equality for all, appeasement for none let us quote Sardar Patel, the most loved Congress leader at the time of independence, who famously said – A minority that can force partition on a country is not a minority at all. If you are a strong, well-knit and well-organised minority, why do you want to claim safeguards? Why do you want to claim privileges?
(Saket Suryesh, an author and columnist, is a popular presence on social media for his penetrating views, often disarming. A few of his books include “गंजहोंकीगोष्ठी”, “The Revolutionary Bismil” and “हिंदीकथासंग्रह – “एकस्वर, सहस्त्रप्रतिध्वनियाँ”)