The shallow secularism of Nitish Kumar is a farce

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by Daredevil, Apr 15, 2013.

  1. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

    Apr 5, 2009
    Likes Received:
    It is perfectly all right for Nitish Kumar to nurse his own ambitions for Prime Ministership. He is equally within his rights to demand that Narendra Modi should not be the BJP's PM candidate. The BJP may or may not oblige (for that is its right), but then Kumar is free to look at his options, including a pullout. What is completely out of place is making this hypocritical demand in the name of secularism.

    Yesterday, Nitish Kumar made his famous “topi aur tilak” reference - one representing Muslims and the other Hindus. The Indian Express quotes him as saying: “Sometimes you will have to wear a cap, sometimes you will have to sport a tilak." The obvious innuendo is to Modi's reported unwillingness to wear the Muslim skull cap offered to him by a minority delegation to his 2011 “Sadhbhavna” fasts.

    ]Nitish Kumar. Reuters. The “topi-tilak” reference is a pathetic one. That in the 66th year of independence we cannot think of secularism as anything above “symbolism” is ominous. It implies that Muslims are more concerned about someone pretending to wear a “topi” than more substantive issues. In our entire existence as an independent nation, our “secular” leaders have been doing nothing but this: pretend to help the minorities while actually doing nothing on the ground for them. They have been running a protection racket for the minorities, and Kumar now joins the crowd.

    The joke, in fact, is on Kumar. The Hindi expression “kisiko topi pehnana” means making a fool of somebody. This is exactly what our secularists have been doing - fooling the Muslim minorities by promising them everything but good education, better jobs and integration into the mainstream.

    Consider all the implications of the “topi-tilak” metaphor and how it is actually demeaning to secularism.

    One, even if secularism is about symbolism, surely it cannot be one-sided. How many minority leaders have been sporting the “tilak”? Have we seen Omar Abdullah with a “tilak” or even a Mayawati with one? Which Kerala minority leader is into any kind of symbolic wooing? In fact, the strength of the Kerala model is the “salad bowl” approach of the political parties there, where each community keeps its own symbols, and joins together in a coalition. Is it only the so-called Hindu leader who has to prove his secular credentials by wearing a topi?

    Two, if identity is a matter of personal choice, as Amartya Sen keeps reminding us, why is it important for Modi to prove a point by wearing a skull-cap? Assuming he does wear a skull-cap, does that make him instantly secular? Why is he not entitled to decide his own identity? Why should he pretend to be a multi-identity person hypocritically, never mind his personal convictions?

    Three, secularism is about not being bigoted, and about not discriminating against any community in official policy (among other things). If Nitish Kumar's definition is valid, then we should consider the French to be communal for they have banned every religious symbol from public life - no crosses, no headscarves, no turbans even for Sikhs. We should even call the Irish communal, for they managed to apply their own religion-influenced anti-abortion law on a pregnant Indian immigrant and killed her.

    Four, is Nitish Kumar's secularism only skin deep? He may not like Modi, but surely he is close to LK Advani, who is the original creator of the Hindutva wave which ended with the Babri demolition. Nitish even flagged off Advani's anti-corruption yatra. So what is this selective targeting of “communal” Modi about beyond a clash of political ambitions?

    Five, in India we define bigotry too narrowly to include only Hindu communalism. Caste-based communalism is not considered, unless this is to target upper caste bigotry. Thus, a Congress party can ally with parties that are purely Muslim - Indian Union Muslim League, Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen - and not be called communal. A Samajwadi Party can align with all kinds of mullahs and base its vote on Yadavs, but it is not communal. The DMK can oppress Dalits in Tamil Nadu, but it will not be called communal. Every party in the Kerala coalition represents a separate community - Muslims, Christians, Nairs, Ezhavas - but it is not a communal coalition. The CPI(M) can kill Muslims in Nandigram, but it is not communal. Nitish Kumar has validated this kind of nonsense.

    There are many more things objectionable about Kumar's speech, including his references to Modi's authoritarian tendencies. He said: “Nobody should think that the country can be run by force...”.

    This is not to claim Modi isn't an authoritarian leader. But the boot is also on the other foot. Nitish Kumar himself is being accused of running a one-man show. The irrepressible Markandeya Katju of the Press Council accused Kumar of stamping out press freedom in Bihar. And a recent Indian Express story on Nitish Kumar's Bihar suggests that his own party leaders are upset at the excess power now wielded by bureaucrats - which is typical of strong, authoritarian rulers who enforce governance through a direct wielding of power. Janata Dal (United) leaders are critical of “afsarshahi.”

    The truth is, in India individuals wield more power than institutions, and this phenomenon runs across parties and is not limited to Modi. Consider these names and check if they are symbols of inner party democracy: J Jayalalithaa, Mamata Banerjee, Sonia Gandhi, Prakash Karat, Naveen Patnaik, M Karunanidhi, Mayawati, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Raj and Uddhav Thackeray (earlier Bal Thackeray).

    Clearly, Nitish Kumar's selective secularism is a product of ambition, political calculation and circumstance. It is going to do nothing to strengthen Indian secularism. It will, if anything, make a bigger mockery of it.

    The shallow secularism of Nitish Kumar is a farce | Firstpost
    WMD likes this.
  3. rock127

    rock127 Maulana Rockullah Senior Member

    Aug 12, 2009
    Likes Received:
    Nitish is becoming a drama queen and on par with Mulla Mulayam by his idiotic comments.

    A bit of success has gone over his head and we can see his fake secularism.

Share This Page