Editorial

EDITORIAL

Victory of Narendra Modi vis-à-vis saffron surge

As per customary norms, felicitations are pouring in for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi who has secured another five-year term after winning a landslide general election victory, in which his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has won 303 seats of the 543-seat parliament. The main opposition alliance, headed by Rahul Gandhi’s Congress party, has admitted defeat in the vote that had been widely viewed as a referendum on the prime minister’s Hindutva vision and RSS policy. Let Mr. Modi truly be a premier of 200 milion Muslims, Shikhs, Christians and other minority groups including the mainstream Hindus of India.
Mr. Modi should make a soul-searching why Bangladeshis cannot forget the wounds in their hearts of shooting down a poor girl named Miss Felani Khatun, a 15-year-old Bangladeshi girl, was shot and killed by India’s Border Security Force (BSF) on 7 January 2011 by Indian BSF personnel, who had killed hundreds of such Bangladeshis. Dhaka wants legitimate share of the Teesta River water as co-riparian state. As regards Farrakka Barrage, why cattle carts and other vehicles should ply under the Hardinge Bridge in absence of water in the Padma River from late October onwards in the dry season?
Two years ago apprehension about forming a Hindu rastra was expressed by Justice (retd) Rajinder Sachar, who headed the Sachar Committee which studied the socio-economic and educational status of Muslims in India. A champion of civil liberties for decades, the 93-year-old former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court spoke to M I Khan in Patna about today’s India.
According to the Sachar Committee report, at the end of the (this) century, the population of Muslims will consolidate at 18 to 19 per cent approximately. Even in this scenario, the population of Hindus will remain at about 80 per cent. The latest figures have revealed that Muslims have a lower birth rate than others including Hindus in the last decade. [Vide https:/ /www.rediff.com /news/interview/ in-2019-rss-will-declare-india-a-hindu-rashtra/20170417.htm; April 17, 2017.]
A day after the Hindu nationalist prime minister, Narendra Modi, claimed a landslide election victory, some in the congregation were anxious about whether this new country had a place for them. “These days, it isn’t safe for us here any more,” said Haji Shezhad Khan, the chairman of a local Muslim activist group, sitting in a courtyard a few metres from the mosque. For many Indian Muslims – whose population of about 200 million would comprise the seventh-largest country on earth – Modi’s emphatic re-election has been an isolating experience. The country’s most acrimonious election campaign in recent history was studded with references to unauthorised migrants from Bangladesh as “termites”, the nomination to parliament of a Hindu accused of terrorism and a debate over whether Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin – who killed the founding father for supposedly cowing to Muslim demands – was in fact a patriot.
[Vide Michael Safi: “India’s Muslims quiver in the new dawn of an emboldened Narendra Modi” The Guardian 26 May 2019]
Under Modi, Government bodies began rewriting history books, lopping out sections on Muslim rulers, changing official place names to Hindu from Muslim, and more aggressively contesting holy sites. They also began pushing extremist Hindu priorities, including an effort to locate a mystical river that features prominently in Hindu scriptures. Critics called it pseudoscience and said the search was akin to using public dollars to study mermaids. The consensus among Indian activists and liberal political analysts is that their society, under Mr. Modi, has become more toxically divided between Hindus and Muslims, between upper and lower castes, between men and women.
[Vide Jeffrey Gettleman, Kai Schultz, Suhasini Raj and Hari Kumar: “Under Modi, a Hindu Nationalist Surge Has Further Divided India”; New York Times, April 11, 2019]
It is time for Indian leaders to re-read authentic history. “Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (first Prime Minister) had said India can get freedom only if Hindus and Muslims fight together for the Independence,” Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said on the occasion of Quit India Movement’s 75th anniversary.[Vide ‘Hindu-Muslim unity made Quit India Movement successful’; IANS August 9, 2017,]
Islam appeared upon the scene with a simple formula of faith, well-defined dogmas and rites, and democratic theories of social organisation. It produced a tremendous effect, and, before the first quarter of the 9th century was over, the last of the Cheraman Perumal Kings of Malabar who reigned at Kodungallur had become a convert to the new religion and was given a new name — Abdur Rahman Samri. …The traditions enshrined in the Keralolpatti and the legends of the Muslim inhabitants, the evidence of inscriptions and of Muslim historians and travellers and the continuity of Arab commerce with India from early times all lead to one conclusion, that the Muslims appeared on the Indian coast not long after the death of the Prophet of Islam and swiftly gained a status of privilege and influence among the Hindu rulers of Malabar.. [Vide ‘Influence Of Islam On Indian Culture’ by Prof. Tara Chand, D.Phil (Oxon.) Principal, Kayastha University College, Allahabad, India, published in 1936]
Mughal Emperor Akbar, being a great lover of Indian literature and culture, has the credit of having translations done of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata into Persian to make them popular amongst Persian-knowing people, especially Muslims. By his liberal patronage, he promoted national integration and brought unification of the country winning the hearts of the Hindu masses. [Vide Jalal Uddin, The Milli Gazette, 16 – 30 November 2011.]
In Dhaka poet and journalist Krishna Chandra Majumder (1834-1907) published his renowned collection of didactic and motivational poems ‘Sadbhabashatak’ in 1861, which was inspired by eminent Persian poets, Hafiz and Sadi.
Some 30 km away from Dhaka, at Panchdona in Narsingdi District in Bangladesh was born Bengali religious scholar and translator Bhai Girish Chandra Sen (1835-1910). He was the first translator of the Holy Qur’an into Bengali language in 1886.
Let Modiji make history as a secular leader ensuring communal harmony.

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