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MODI EFFECT: Triple Talaq and the Muslims in India

  • Dr Saad S. Khan
  • Jan, 2018
  • 507
  • Regional

Indian constitution proclaims it to be secular country, yet it is ruled by Narindra Modi, better known by his nom de guerre "Butcher of Gujrat" for his role, or absence of it, during the 2002 Gujrat massacre of Muslims

The Supreme Court of India declared triple divorce invalid as a way for dissolution of Muslim marriages in India. The issue had become a battle of Genders in the Indian Muslim community. The verdict was a victory of women rights activists and a step towards greater gender equality, a defeat for Mullah-ism and for misogynist elements, and an affirmation that a secular State cannot enforce a uniform civil code over its varied religious communities.

Indian constitution proclaims it to be secular country, yet it is ruled by Narindra Modi, better known by his nom de guerre “Butcher of Gujrat” for his role, or absence of it, during the 2002 Gujrat massacre of Muslims. As the Chief Minister of Gujrat, a province both Gandhi Ji and Mohammad Ali Jinnah came from, worst communal bloodshed took place under his nose. If he was not directly involved in the commission, his acts of omission in looking the other way, made him culpable of these atrocities. Modi’s ascension as the Prime Minister, in spite of this unenviable record, must have been an aberration, had it not been for a global wave of right wing reactionary politics in multitude of electoral democracies.

If the strongest democracy of United States could vote Trump in, and the oldest democracy in the Great Britain could vote itself out of the European Union (the proverbial Brexit); it must not surprise anyone if the biggest democracy, India, voted Modi to lead it. In time, Modi made sure that two other top offices of India were also filled in by his nominees. On 25 July 2017, Ram Nath Kovind, a former national spokesman of BJP, became the President of India, and exactly ten days later, Vankaiah Naidu, a former President of BJP, got elected as the Vice President. Although these elections might have strengthened the parochial party interests of Modi’s BJP but how much they have withered India’s secular credentials remains to be seen.

For much of the time since independence, there was an unwritten political understanding within India that one of the three top offices of President, Vice President and Prime Minister would be held by a minority community (Muslim or a Sikh). Four Muslims and a Sikh have held the positions of the President of India. Amongst the Muslims, Dr Zakir Hussain, Mr Fakhruddin Ali Ahmad, and Dr APJ Abdul Kalam rose to the office of President of India on a regular basis while Justice (Retd) Hidayatuallah became Acting President of India twice. Two of these Presidents, Dr Zakir Hussain and Mr Hidayatullah, also served earlier as Vice President of India for five years each. Similarly, Mohammad Hamid Ansari served this positon twice for ten consecutive years, till Aug 2017. Thus, Vice Presidency of India was held by Muslim personalities for twenty years. While Giani Zail Singh has been the only Sikh President of India who served a single term. Mr Manmohan Singh served as Prime Minister of India for ten years (2004-14).

If we add the terms of Presidents, Vice Presidents and Prime Ministers from Muslim/Sikh communities, they held the positions cumulatively for 50 of the past 55 years. Filling these top posts with hardline right wing BJP stalwarts in the present charged atmosphere may have repercussions for the stability of India for times to come.

For those who know the Muslim face of India only through the Bollywood screen and the great Khans (Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan and Yousaf Khan, a.k.a Dilip Kumar etc), it may be a surprise to note that besides Presidents and Vice Presidents, four of India’s Chief Justices (Muhmmad Hidayatullah, Aziz Mubashir Ahmadi, Mirza Hamidulla Beg and Altamas Kabir) were Muslims. And so were many of the Military Commanders including Air Chief Marshal I.H. Latif, former Indian Air Chief, Air Marshal Jaffar Zaheer, and some top guns in army such as Lt Gen Jameel Mehmud, Lt Gen Sami Khan and Lt Gen Syed Ata Husnain. Add to the list, many top bureaucrats like Cabinet Secretary Zafar Saifullah and Foreign Secretary Salman Haider who were also Muslims. The only two billionaires from South Asia, listed by Forbes magazine, are both Indian and both Muslims: namely, Azim Premji and Yousaf Hamied. How much of Muslim influence is going to change under Modi? Yes, Modi may victimize Muslims when it comes to hand-picking public offices where the Prime Minister’s say is supreme, such as top judges, top Generals and top level bureaucrats. But what can he do with heart-throb heroes who rule the silver screen or the business tycoons who are Muslims? Pretty much nothing.

“When Statistics...

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