Confidence Building has to be Mutual
If they really have come honestly to the conclusion that in the changed conditions of this country, it is in the interest of all to lay down real and genuine foundations of a secular State, then nothing is better for the minorities than to trust the good-sense and sense of fairness of the majority, and to place confidence in them. So also it is for us who happen to be in a majority to think about what the minorities feel, and how we in their position would feel if we were treated in the manner in which they are treated. But in the long run, it would be in the interest of all to forget that there is anything like majority or minority in this country and that in India there is only one community.”
–– Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Constituent Assembly Debates on May 25, 1949 Part I
Apparently, in response to the call by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of ‘Sabka Vishwas’ (Confidence of All sections of the society), some Muslim leaders have written an open letter appreciating the PM’s initiative with a rider—show some more ‘Confidence Building Measures’ (CBMs). Though there is an absence of consensus about this initiative within the Muslim community, as many pessimists who have raised red flags, one has to look at this entire expectation of CBMs at the community level rather than just the State or Government level.
It is not that the Modi Government did not try to reach out to all sections in the first term. There is no single scheme that was introduced could be termed as discriminatory against any caste or community. On the contrary, the transparent delivery mechanism led to the reaching out the benefits to the needy sections. All sections of the so-called minority do not view even the contentious issue of the increased budget of minority scholarship similarly. So the problem lies somewhere else, and it is beyond mere economic or educational benefits.
The entire division of majority and minority is based on the flawed considerations and is a pure creation of the colonial rulers. Barring Muslims and to some extent Christians, no religious community feel insecure or threatened in Bharat. The so-called majority have many sects, and still, they share a common world view of acceptance and respect for all. The mindset of being erstwhile rulers and the fundamental belief that our ‘Truth’ revealed by certain Prophet or Book is the only and ultimate truth, and everyone has to follow the same are at the root of insecurities. The guarantee of Spiritual Democracy given by the larger Hindu tradition is at the core of Bharat. What the so-called minorities have to negotiate with is this larger question of accepting all ways can be true.
The second level of problem that emerges among the so-called minorities is from the sense of history that is developed by the politics of secularism. Is Shivaji or Rana Pratap revered just because they were from the so-called majority community or their heroic status is to do with their struggle for freedom of common masses? Can one justify the atrocities perpetrated by certain rulers whether Khilji or Gazhani just because they were from so-called Minorities and deny space for some judicious and patriotic historical figures in history books, as most of the communist historians did, just because they are from the so-called majority community?
The same problem persists with contemporary issues. Recently, we have seen many incidences where every criminal incident, including heinous crimes like child rapes, is getting communalised. Do we need to bring in religion either of a perpetrator or a victim in the case of a heinous crime? There are many people from the so-called majority who raise the voice against such criminal mindsets, how many of the so-called minorities, especially Muslims have raised voice against the brutal rapes during the pious month of Ramzan? How many columns could we see against the attack on the resident doctors in West Bengal?
Judging any act, whether historical or contemporary, on the parameters of right or wrong/just or unjust/people centric or anti-people is the key and evolving this parameter of judging acts or personalities based on righteousness will be the biggest confidence building measure between the communities.
No one wants tensions among the communities and no one should justify any violence on any ground. Generosity and acceptance of the so-called majority should not be considered as a weakness and insecurities, real or artificial, of the so-called minorities should not be allowed to create fear-psychosis for vote-bank politics. Then only we can realise the goal envisioned by our Constitution makers to emerge as a ‘one community’ of Bharat.