Push For Equality, majority appeasement too is a problem

Modi also slams triple talaq –  TOI Editorials | Edit Page, |TOI, October 26, 2016

(Note: Finally even the PM has come out strongly against triple talaq stressing that constitutional guarantees of gender equality and freedom of choice should be protected first before particular practices, often shameful, of certain religious communities. For far too long the Muslim community in India has been dominated by diktats from the clergy. Religious practices based on tradition, can’t and should not be allowed to override the Constitution. Political parties often went soft on this practice to garner their votes, which must stop.

Besides many Muslim countries like Pakistan. Bangladesh, Turkey and Turkmenistan literally prohibit triple talaq and polygamy. The weakness in the BJP position is that it is not equally strong when it comes to dealing with Hindu practices of female feticide, demand for constructin of Ram Tempe, beef ban, protecting gau rakshaks etc. Modi will be accused of double speak and double standard, if  he fails to deal as strongly with these wrong Hindu practices as with  wrong Muslim traditions. Which will James Kottorweigh more with Modi: enforcing constitutional guarantees or election victory through appeasement of the majority community?In a secular state like India there should be no place for majority or minority appeasement and vote banks politcsl  james kottoor, editor)

Marking a first in the political history of India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi publicly opposed the practice of triple talaq in the Muslim community. Addressing a ‘maha parivartan’ rally in Bundelkhand, Modi asserted that government had a responsibility to protect the constitutional rights of Muslim women from practices that degrade their status in society. This comes after government’s recent opposition to triple talaq and polygamy among Muslims in the Supreme Court. It’s welcome that government has based its position on constitutional principles such as gender equality and secularism. Religious practices, no matter how intrinsically linked to tradition, can’t override the Constitution.

Plus, for far too long the Muslim community in India has been dominated by diktat from the clergy. And this happened because the country’s political leadership progressively ceded space to Muslim orthodoxy in the hope of reaping political dividends. This in turn has marginalised modern Muslim voices and relegated Muslim women to second-class status. Consider also that several Muslim-majority countries prohibit practices such as triple talaq and polygamy – Pakistan and Bangladesh don’t allow triple talaq while polygamy is prohibited in countries like Turkey and Turkmenistan.

That said, the Modi government can’t be selective in its approach. While Modi himself did try to balance his criticism of triple talaq by also condemning female foeticide prevalent among Hindus, this isn’t an exact comparison – though a major social problem, female foeticide isn’t a religious issue. If the aim is to strive for a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) BJP must also revise its majoritarian positions on a gamut of issues, such as the beef ban being championed by several of its state governments, or building a Ram temple on the site of the demolished Babri Masjid. Similarly, not cracking down hard on self-proclaimed gau rakshaks who go around dispensing their brand of vigilante justice, targeting mostly Muslims and Dalits, goes against the very spirit of a uniform code of governance if not a UCC.

For a common civil code needs to be based on secular considerations, not defer to the religious sentiments of one community while reading out constitutional principles to another. Majority appeasement is as much of a problem as minority appeasement. In practice, this will make resistance to a UCC difficult to overcome and even BJP will lack the appetite for it.

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2 Responses

  1. ISAAC GOMES says:

    Ban on beef eating or construction of Rama Temple are State issues.  One tends to forget that law and order is a state matter.  Therefore it is for the State to maintain law and order and not the Centre's.  There is no point in blaming the NDA Government or BJP for the ban on beef eating in some  states and the proposal to build Ram Temple in Ayodhya, UP.  The respective state governments have all the power to take stern action against the perpetrators who try to fan the fire of communal violence by pressing for such absurd demands. State Governments cannot wash their hands off by blaming the NDA or BJP Government.  If one were to believe that Modiji's government is responsible for the ban on beef eating, it has had no impact on Bengal because Mamata's government and her police machinery did not allow any communcal disharmony.

    So onus is on the state governments. 

  2. ISAAC GOMES says:

    Mr Modi has at least boldly spoken against the malpractice of Triple Talaq. No other political or relligious leader had the guts to do so for so many years.  Let us praise Modiji for his courage and hope he holds his conviction steadfastly and helps the Supreme Court to ban it for good.

    In common civil matters like marriage, separation, divorce, maintenance and inheritance which affect the lives of all irrespective of religion, there should be one and  only one civil law. Even the women's groups from all religions are supporting this. Let us not waste further time in the name of more deliberations and consensus. There cannot be any consensus when vested interests are involved.  No country like the USA, UK, Germany, France, Turkey and other muslim countries waited for consensus before they passed Uniform Civil Code (UCC).


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