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Why there is nothing like Minority Appeasement!
Wednesday February 5, 2014 0:10 AM, Shahidur Rashid Talukdar,

If some people think that minorities are enjoying "minority appeasements" doled out by the central and state government(s), they need to wake up. Because, there is nothing like minority appeasement - as the affirmative actions aimed at benefiting the minorities are just compensation toward what they have already lost in terms of their lives, livelihoods, places to live, and their right to live a dignified life! The affirmative actions are the state's response to injustice and lack of equity in the society, and not appeasement.

The affirmative and remedial actions, which are unscrupulously labeled as "minority appeasements", arise mainly because of two reasons: Communal Riots and Denial of Justice. In almost all the communal riots in India, in the recent past, mostly the minorities - be it Muslims, Sikhs, Christians - are the sufferers. In an overwhelming majority of the cases of communal violence, it is the Muslims who have suffered. As of now hundreds of thousands of Muslims are now displaced all over India. The Gujarat riots (2002), in which about 2000 Muslims lost their lives, and an estimated 150,000 people were displaced during the violence. In Assam, in 2012, in the Bodo-Muslim communal riots, 77 people had died and over 400,000 people were taking shelter in 270 relief camps. In the recent communal riots in Muzaffarnagar (UP) in 2013, the violence claimed 43 lives and injured 93, and displaced over 50,000 people. Most of these victims are minorities.

The violence often accompanied incidents gang-rapes of the minority women. So lives, livelihoods, houses, and human dignity, all are lost. Who suffers the most: almost exclusively, it is the minorities that suffer. This does not mean the members of the majority community are immune from communal riots. People from every community suffers from riots. But the members of majority community are seldom displaced. Thus their sufferings are less in extent and their rehabilitation becomes relatively easier. But as the minority community gets uprooted from its native place, losing their identity, these people become completely vulnerable. This puts the lives of younger generation from such displaced communities in permanent danger due to poverty, insecurity, and above all - lack of access to education.

Thus most of the measures toward the rehabilitation of those who suffered from these communal riots are supposed to benefits the minorities. How can, then, any political party, section of media, or a section population, call it minority appeasement? Is it not a civic and human right of the victim of communal riots to be compensated for their loss from the riots? Alleging such rehabilitative measures as "minority appeasement" is not just despicable, it is inhuman. And those who make these allegations are clearly the most nefarious of people.

Another question often arises as to why minorities need to be given reservation, or any kind of affirmative action, at all? The reason is, once again, that it is a compensation against what they lose because of denial of their rights. In order to uplift the quality lives of the poor and the oppressed, the affirmative actions are ensured for them. The Presidential Order of 1950, though, on the one hand, benefits those it designates as the Scheduled Castes (SC) but on the other hand, discriminates against the minorities in the sense that even the poorest and marginalized minorities are not entitled to the SC reservations unless they are from Hindu, Buddhist, or Sikh community.

For instance, Paragraph 3 of the Order prevents Dalit (marginalized) Christians and Dalit (marginalized) Muslims from being given the status of SCs, denying them the right to affirmative action from the government. A section of the Christians though get Scheduled Tribes reservations but Muslims hardly get any of these reservation. So Muslims as a religious community, suffer due to a systemic discrimination. As a result of the affirmative action given to SC/ST communities, their poverty is gradually declining and they are getting mainstreamed. However, Muslims don't get these reservations, so the poor and marginalized Muslims, are not getting enough opportunities to getting mainstreamed. Therefore, any measure towards Reservation for Minorities is by no means a "special favor", it just a compensation towards the deprivation caused by the Presidential Order.

Other than that, taking initiatives to uplift the down-trodden is a duty of a welfare state. It is not a special favor, and certainly not an appeasement. Thus, remedial-rehabilitation measures and affirmative actions aimed at improving the quality of lives of minorities, are not "appeasement". These are their civic and human rights. So, to sum up, there is nothing like minority appeasement!

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