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OpinionsModi's historic win shows India is rising above caste and communal politics

Modi’s historic win shows India is rising above caste and communal politics


Modi's historic win shows is rising above caste and communal politics

Minhaz Merchant

Two years ago, the Indian Express frontpaged Yakub Memon's hanging with this headline: “And They hanged Yakub Memon.”

Who were “They”? Clearly the heartless State and the amorphous Indian who thought Memon (a terrorist convicted by the Supreme Court, after several years of hearings, witness testimonies, forensic evidence and repeated appeals, for his role in the 1993 Mumbai serial terror attack which killed 257 people) was guilty as charged.

The headline and the story that followed implied that the State had erred grievously. Memon was a victim, not a terrorist.

“They” were the majority. The “others”, who defended Memon, even forcing an unprecedented post-midnight Supreme Court hearing to appeal against Memon's hanging, were the conscientious minority: many of them routinely defend Maoists, call for 's independence from India and contest Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of a “New India” following his historic Uttar Pradesh election victory.

The defenders of Memon form a disparate cabal: high-minded public intellectuals with ideas mired in the Fabian 1930s; Left-leaning NGOs who outrage selectively, rarely standing up, for example, for the rights of Kashmiri pandits; Islamist clerics who issue fatwas against Muslim women's long battle to outlaw the medieval practice of triple talaq; and journalists who have long fed off crumbs of Lutyens' Delhi tables.

It is this hoary cabal that is most devastated by Modi's rout of the Samajwadi Party (SP), the Congress and the BSP in Uttar Pradesh.

Just as they did not read the public anger against Yakub Memon, this cabal has misread Modi for three years.

But what of Modi himself?

After his historic victory in Uttar Pradesh, he spoke on Sunday, March 12, of a “new India”, of an inclusive society and being a government for all, not just for those who voted for the BJP.

And yet there is not a single Muslim from the BJP in UP's new state Assembly. But then it's only when such religious distinctions are consigned to history that UP and India will be truly secular.

In a modern society only merit, not religion, caste, gender or lineage, should matter.

Hindu hyper-nationalism, too, needs to be damped down. Building a Ram temple based on the long-pending Supreme Court verdict is fine. Establishing a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is fine.

Fighting alongside Muslim women to outlaw triple talaq is fine.

What isn't fine is scaremongering about Muslims in India becoming the largest majority in the world. A recent research report on this has been mangled in its interpretation.

Social media has gone viral with “statistics” claiming that by 2040 Hindus will be a minority in India.

Here are the facts:

According to the 2011 Indian Census, Muslims comprise 17.22 crore of India's 121-crore population. Christians constitute 2.78 crore and Hindus 96.62 crore.

The rest are Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and others.

In 2040 India's population, according to credible global and Indian projections, is estimated to be 150 crore.

It will have the following break-up: Hindus: 114 crore; Muslims: 28 crore; Christians: 3 crore; the rest: 5 crore.

This assumes a net Hindu birth rate-death rate differential of 1 per cent (2 per cent birth rate minus 1 per cent death rate) and a double net Muslim birth rate-death rate differential of 2 per cent (3 per cent birth rate minus 1 per cent death rate).

Despite the scaremongering, and Muslims' much higher birth rate, 28 crore Muslims will still comprise only 18.50 per cent of India's population of 150 crore in 2040 while 114 crore Hindus (excluding Jains) will constitute 76 per cent and 3 crore Christians 2 per cent.

However, if Muslim levels improve by 2040, birth rates in the community will fall.

The number of Muslims in 2040 too could decline from an estimated 28 crore to around 26 crore – 17 per cent of India's total population in 2040.

Those who circulate false projections of Muslim population ratios by 2040 to alarm Hindus are promoting communalism by fear, not secularism – real secularism seeks to integrate, not segregate.

Modi has understood this as his “New India” speech clearly demonstrated. Many of his followers have not.

Modi is already looking at 2022, independent India's 75th anniversary, sending a subliminal message that the 2019 Lok Sabha election is a done deal.

It isn't of course.

Two years is an eternity in politics. The BJP's massive mandate in Uttar Pradesh is a double-edged sword.

If its state government doesn't perform on law and order, jobs, power, infrastructure, and rural distress, it will have no one but itself to blame. 2019 will suddenly look more challenging than it does today.

Apart from the communal SP and Congress who have made a career of appeasing but not empowering Muslims, the biggest losers in the UP election were large sections of the mainstream media.

Ground reportage predicting a BJP rout due to demonetisation was inaccurate and biased. Some famous bylines will find it hard to recover what is left of their reputations.

Credibility is the only currency a journalist has. Once lost, it never comes back.

Courtesy: dailyo

The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.


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