Monday, February 7, 2011

Multiculturalism




I was mulling over the topic of cultural intergration and coexistence when, bingo David Cameroon the British Prime minister strode in on the subject. The BBC in its morning news today gave out the speech Mr Cameroon gave in Munich. He criticised the “State multiculturalism” as he termed it. This was directed at radical elements and the causes of terror. 

"Frankly, we need a lot less of the passive tolerance of recent years and much more active, muscular liberalism," the prime minister said.
 Ministers should refuse to share platforms or engage with such groups, which should be denied access to public funds and barred from spreading their message in universities and prisons, he argued."Let's properly judge these organisations: Do they believe in universal human rights - including for women and people of other faiths? Do they believe in equality of all before the law? Do they believe in democracy and the right of people to elect their own government? Do they encourage integration or separatism? In the speech, Mr Cameron drew a clear distinction between Islam the religion and what he described as "Islamist extremism" - a political ideology he said attracted people who feel "rootless" within their own countries."We need to be clear: Islamist extremism and Islam are not the same thing," he said.

 Mr Cameroon said, it's important to stress that terrorism is not linked exclusively to any one religion or ethnic group." To its defenders, it is the principle that people of different faiths and traditions should be able to live side by side, without surrendering their identities. To its detractors, it is the notion that the state should sponsor cultural division, exempting minority groups from certain obligations of citizenship. Viewed this way, multiculturalism is seen as excusing behaviour that should never be tolerated in a civilised democracy.( Quote- David Cameroon The Guardian ).

Mr Cameroon has a point there and also he was treading into territory that is deftly avoided by politicians. The subject he dwelled is equally important to us, here in India. Look, what messy conventions and government sponsored nonsense the widely publicised Indian joke of cultural integration and coexistence – secularism in Indian parlance, has done to the fabric of the nation. It is the religious minorities holding the nation to ransom that has come about and at the same time providing fuel for the bigotry of the majority.

Where the government must not tread – in the realm of religion, successive governments have peppered. Public money is being provided for religious pilgrimages; Religious schools have been given a free run and everybody knows radicalisation is taught there; Literary works are banned on purported blasphemy and perceived offence (Salman Rushdie’s “SATANIC VERSES “and Nicholas Kanzanstika’s “LAST TEMPTATION”). Even civil laws are amended to suit religious and communal elements,( Shah Banao vs. Union of India, where the alimony, and maintenance,  rightfully eligible to the divorced wife was denied by invoking the anachronistic religious codes).And for turning back the clock in both the instances, we had a young Prime minister ( Rajeev Gandhi) in the fore front. What else are these if it is not the muscle flexing of the minority, aided by the government? The consequence, radical elements on the other side- the majority community engages in levelling the odds  Now in the final matter of things what has become of the multiculturalism?

What is ignored or forgotten is that vested interests among the minority do not want any improvement in the economic or social condition of the community, as development of the community will be detrimental to their interests. If penury and illiteracy got to be the necessary evil for subjugating and maintaining the level of deprivation economically and socially, let it be, so says the community leaders.

The recent High Court ruling dismissing a private petition seeking quashing of the Kerala State Finance Corporation (a government undertaking) engaging in the operation of an Islamic Bank is unfortunately a judgement in reversal. Let a private ownerships decide on engaging in opening Islamic Banking and seek the Reserve Bank's approval. What has a democratically elected 'government got to do with Islamic Banking? In any case in an open democracy why must we accept a religious practise in the public domain? This is not promoting multiculturalism but shamelessly wooing the minority vote bank and simultaneously succumbing to extreme pressures from religious outfits.

It is display of audacity that flexes the kind of violent demonstrations agisnst a caricature or invites fanatic diktats like fatwa for airing voice against gender discrimination , human rights,  criticism of literally interpreting and following religious texts, and the worst – the blasphemy laws. What certain minorities ensure not to see is that in a country like India, the UK, the USA or any other Western democracies religious and cultural minorities have a decent and respectable means of living. This is in contrast to the many other states in the Middle East and nearer home, where they, even though in the majority do not enjoy the decent, respectable life that any human being will cherish. It is indeed a sad irony!

When one lives in a country, hold citizenship of the country and enjoys the largesse of public funds, there are certain obligations that are to be met, and honoured. It is the duty of any right thinking system of government to ensure that the kid glove policy does not generate radical elements. It is a kind of state subsidised extremism that is growing  and we saw, glaringly for instance in the criminal act of chopping the limbs of the college professor.

4 comments:

deeps said...

thats India with its plus side and minus side

anilkurup said...

I cannot really do much if I sound harsh. But believe me , it is your insipid comment.
" that India with its plus and minus side".
Is it mere commerce to balance and see which side, the revenue or payments that is more?
How could you trivialise a serious and viral issue?

dr.antony said...

I will tell you another joke.
I was listening to a talk by our finance minister the other day. He is 'Dr' and wears the conventional beard of the communists,which covers up their Mongol appearance.
He said he would find resources for development from Islamic funds,because they don't charge interest !.Minority appeasing is a part of any government,regardless of parties.
In Germany, every Christian has to pay a tax to the government ( Church tax).It is deducted from the salary.I think the government should implement such regulations in our country as well.If the government funds pilgrimages, why not for all?

anilkurup said...

@ doc antony,
Do not give new tax ideas to the government, we are already saddled with quite a few.
Minority appeasing yes indeed is the vote winning trump of any government.