It’s by now a settled fact that the UPA government, at the instance of the Rajindar Sachar committee, tried to seek a Muslim headcount in the armed forces. The unprecedented opposition though has the government resorting to speaking with a forked tongue now. On the one hand, it denies the entire move while on the other it rationalises the exercise in the name of "secularism".
The idea of ‘dividing’ the armed forces on communal lines was inspired by a book, Khaki and Ethnic Violence in India by Omar Khalidi, a professor of Hyderabadi origin who teaches architectural history at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Excerpts from the book were part of IUML president G.M. Banatwala’s memorandum to the Sachar committee. Khalidi had also advocated, in an interview with The Times of India, a reorganisation of the districts in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Assam to create "compact Muslim zones" where their culture and rights could be "safeguarded". In other words, he’s playing ‘Pied Piper’ Allama Iqbal to a future Jinnah (ironically, he even has a Muslim League president by his side). It’s no surprise then that he suggests increasing the Muslim presence in the forces—it stems from the same mindset of Islamist consolidation.
I cannot agree with Vinod Mehta when he says that Vajpayee’s personality is no match for "the Byzantine complexity of contemporary Indian reality where class, caste, ethnic and religious loyalties change every 200 kilometres" (Outlook, May 24). If that were the case, would anyone qualify, considering the failure of almost all media pundits and modern psephologists to catch the undercurrent of resentment (or is it apprehension?) against the government of the day. The same which the analysts said (post-results) has expressed itself in the rout of the NDA government.
Now if the Indian reality is so complex, how did you jump to the conclusion that it’s a question of governments losing elections rather than the opposition winning it? What makes you say the BJP choosing to focus on Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin was a mistake? The complexity lies in the fact that there is no single explanation for the kind of results we have seen. What rationale can explain the incumbent government winning in Orissa but losing in Kerala? The TDP government in Andhra loses and the Congress wins but in neighbouring Karnataka it is the turn of the Congress regime to lose with the BJP emerging as the largest party, though short of a majority?
How did relations between Hindus and Muslims evolve over the centuries following Mohammad bin Qasim’s invasion of Sind in 711 AD? Did the invaders have just imperial motives? Were they interested only in India’s phenomenal wealth, and not in bringing the vanquished under the flag of Islam by sword? These are questions that are important for understanding what led to the creation of Pakistan, and the complex relationship between Hindus and Muslims in the subcontinent.
The Hindu-Muslim relationship is a complicated one, with interwoven layers of cooperation and confrontation. The secularists, which include communists of various hues, have repeatedly tried to simplify the phenomenon. In the process, the communists supported Jinnah’s demand for a theocratic Pakistan and have twisted history by selectively picking incidents and details to paint a rosy picture of Hindu-Muslim relations before the advent of the British.