Reflections on a thing called ‘Sachchar’

By Ekram Khawar

Rubbishing the Left’s belief to the contrary, The Indian Express, in a front page piece by Amitav Ranjan, reports on October 6, 2007, that the UPA Govt. ‘is rushing through a developmental scheme to improve the lot of minority communities’. It goes on to elaborate that “the Centrally-sponsored scheme with an initial grant of Rs. 120 crore in the current fiscal would try to fill identified development deficits through better infrastructure for schools, sanitation, housing, drinking water and electricity supply besides beneficiary oriented schemes for income generating opportunities”. One can not help but thank the Govt for its newfound concern for the Muslims, amidst the growing talk of mid term polls, even though the grotesqueness of the figure flies in your face; the paltry Rs. 120 crore meant for 90 high concentration districts towards attainment of the avowed objectives i.e. roughly Rs. 1.33 crore per district for schools, sanitation, housing, drinking water and electricity supply besides beneficiary oriented schemes for income generating opportunities; all rolled into one extended noisy fart called ‘concern for Muslims’. And that too coming as it does post “Sachchar Report” and in the 60th year of independence.

Almost at the same time and writing about the total exclusion of the Muslims from the electoral space now underway in Gujarat in the wake of impending Assembly elections, Vidya Subramaniam in The Hindu (dated October 09, 2007) writes about the “conducted” tour, in her own words, “of Tandalja and Vasna Road, two parallel streets only six metres apart. The first was a mostly Muslim Area, the second housed Hindus. The contrast wrenched the heart. Mounds of rotting garbage, dark, damp, crowded, homes and desolate young men standing in groups made the Muslim part instantly recognizable. The brightness of Vasna Road equally identified it as a Hindu Area. The divide is as much physical as mental – and as much in Vadodara as in other Gujarat cities”. May I add with your kind permission, ladies & gentlemen “as in the larger post-independent India please?

I had always read with contempt and derision, those reports of the Urdu press, alleging of systemic discrimination against the Muslim by the powers that be. The realization of how grievously wrong I was, had yet to come courtesy reports as above and a thing called Sachchar Report, which came to the conclusion that the Muslims during the last 60 years of an independent Indian existence have been relegated to a position worse than that of the scheduled castes, itself shameful in the larger social context. I am ashamed of my ignorance and misplaced optimism and expectations from the ruling dispensation, of course of the “secular” liberal congress. And if one has to judge the pudding by eating it, the Congress harvest has not been any less lethal than in the Modisque Gujarat.

Like many “Nationalist Muslims”, I had also hated the intransigence of the Muslim League, in the historical context, for it mindless “paranoia” of an antagonistic Hindu majority in an independent India and its relentless pursuit of divisive politics that led to partition. In fact, I believed all along, as they would have liked me to believe, that this magnificent country of ours was dismembered just out of an irrational fear. And I did believe it fervently! But it is difficult to go on believing other people’s beliefs after a thing called Sachhar Report and all the haggling going around with no action even remotely matching avowed protestations. One is left aghast with the subtlety of the process which so silently and discreetly renders a part of its citizenry to a status as abject as that of the Indian Muslims of today; not only to the chagrin of the affected populace but to the great imminent danger to the republic. And ironically, the Congress has all along been running the roost and supposedly indulging in Muslim Appeasement.

“ Huye tum dost jiske dushman uska aasman kyon ho!

(With a friend such as you, why should the heavens be hostile?)

Email: ekramkhawar@rediffmail.com

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