Do five crore scholarships to minority students lack rationalism?
Recently the Narendra Modi government, after assuming the office for second time, announced scholarships to five crore minority students, including 50 per cent girls. The scholarships will be provided for pre-matric, post-matric, and professional and technical course studies. The main reason of this scheme is to bring Muslim youths to the mainstream and eliminate poverty among them. This is the fact that the Muslim society has always been used as a vote bank by different political parties. And this has been the biggest tragedy for this community. India cannot grow by leaving one community suffering. Modernization in Muslim community is the most needed requirement. Education will bring awareness among them and through this their quality of life will improve, which will also help in minimizing their unprecedented population growth. It is hoped that this scheme will reap rich dividend.
However, against this backdrop, this scribe talked to renowned social activist and proponent of Kashmiri Pandits’ cause, Sushil Pandit on a variety of issues ranging from scholarship to minorities to resettlement of Kashmiri Pandits, seaparatists in the Valley. When asked how he does see this scholarship announcement, he said that he is quite surprised and a little upset. Though it is for all minorities, the largest minority in this country are Muslims. So, the symbolism of Eid probably was sought to be used to announce this as if a gift. In their hurry to do so, which is within almost a week of assuming the second term, the government didn’t even do the basic due diligence about the number of beneficiaries. A very basic calculation, if you do, the total number of all minorities are not more than 25 crore. Within that, to find five crore recipients or beneficiaries for the scholarship is impossible. It is a demographic impossibility. But in a hurry to make a big announcement, the government is embarrassing itself and all those who worked very hard for its success. And despite its unwillingness, the government is also indulging in blatant appeasement and this is painful and upsetting.
When asked whether, according to him, this is appeasement, he said that he feels this step is gross and very grotesque. It lacks finish and sophistication. The Congress-led UPA would at least appoint commissions, which would go into creating some kind of rational, do some number work, create logic for taking some steps like Sachar Commission. But this government felt no such need. It didn’t even do basic due diligence. It is way off the mark in terms of numbers, because it was in a hurry for the right optics and the right occasion. And only because there was Eid, only because this government just resumed its second inning, and it wanted to translate its ‘Sabka Vishwas’ into some kind of concrete action on the ground, it was so hasty and eager to make some earth-shaking announcement and hence this announcement.
In response that education will be helpful in tackling radicalization among Muslim youth, Sushil Pandit said that he would like to see a study where lack of education and terrorism show a very high correlation. “I can show you umpteen examples where highly educated have taken to terrorism with much stronger convictions. The killer of Daniel Pearl, Omar Saeed Sheikh grew up in the United Kingdom through their system of public school. He went to a world-renowned institution called London School of Economics and then he came to India and slaughtered a German tourist and went to Pakistan where he slaughtered Daniel Pearl. All big kingpins of terrorism–whether it was Osama Bin Laden or his successor Ayman al-Zawahiri–they were/are all very well educated. One was an engineer and another is a doctor. PhD students have taken to terror in Kashmir. There is no absolutely linkage. The head of ISIS is a doctorate in Islamic studies from one of the best universities of the region. So, this theory is bunkum. This theory is as bunkum as the slogan that we have to replace stones with laptops. And there is another polemical idea that there should be the Quran in one hand and a laptop in another. I wonder where this idioticy is coming from. It’s not lack of education or high education that feeds terrorism. It’s something else and as long as we rationalise the causes of terrorism with either lack of education or poverty or unemployment, we will be deceiving ourselves,” said Pandit.
When this scribe commented that poverty among Muslims is very high, so, this idea to provide scholarships might be to eliminate poverty also, Pandit emphasized that for every poor Muslim, he can show us a poorer Hindu. For every destitute in Muslim society, he can show us a larger destitute in Hindu society in larger numbers. “In western Odisha, the three KBK districts are incomparable in terms of poverty, in terms of lack of education, lack of infrastructure and lack of employability. What are we talking about? I think all these are invented reasons to justify a patently malicious decision,” he added.
Talking about resettlement of Kashmiri Pandits, when he was asked in the previous tenure, Modi government took an initiative of the separate colony for Kashmiri Pandits in the valley, however, the matter of resettlement of Pandits has still not been resolved, so, what his expectation from the government this time is, he said he has stopped having any expectation, because keeping an expectation leads to disappointment. He has decided to be a realist instead of being an incorrigible optimist. he would judge this government from what it does and what it says. And not merely some gesture, some body language. There must be a very objective way of looking at this government. We have seen many pious intentions in 5 years. When this government came to power in 2014, in the inaugural session of the Parliament, the government announced that rehabilitating Kashmiri Pandits and giving them justice would be the priority. “Three years later when we did an RTI, asking, does this government have policy or proposal for this promise? We were given a written reply that there is neither a policy nor a proposal pending with this government. It was part of their manifesto. It was the part of the speech of Dr Pranab Mukherjee in his inaugural address outlining the agenda of this government. Hansraj Ahir, the minister of state for home, in response to a question by a BJP MP Ashwani Kumar Chopra said on the floor of Parliament that Article 370 is not in our agenda. The minister responds for the entire government,” he pointed out.
Speaking about how should thegovernment deal with separatist, Pandit said that their funding and promotion of terror has been going on for three decades. Everyone in Kashmir knows that funding from abroad through Hawala is happening to sustain this jihad. It is a common knowledge. Two years back, a channel did a sting operation, where key leaders of Hurriyats admitted to this fact. They gave all the details of the funding and sources. One does not think that our intelligence agencies are so dumb that they didn’t know it before. The general public always knew, but they were always uncertain about this. But when this sting came, people saw Hurriyat leaders admitting to it. All the doubt and speculations laid to rest. As our intelligence agencies knew it earlier, so this time they were under pressure to do something about this. More so, because these intelligence agencies were providing them security. They were paying their hotel bills. Government of India through these intelligence agencies were buying their air tickets. They were treated like heads of state whenever they visited Pakistan High Commission. So, it became a little embarrassing and hence investigation and enquiry started. “But after two days, I was informed that ED has been deployed. I laughed and said ED comes under finance ministry and its job is to go after tax evaders. This is not a tax issue. This is waging war against India. Then I was informed that NIA is investigating. Intelligence agencies should have deployed decades ago as they already knew it. Now I suspect, this is being done only for the public consumption, which is why announcement are being made,” he maintained.
When asked why this was not happened earlier, he said that it is because the government of India and thosewho were to address the Kashmir issue never wanted to antagonise these people. The strategy was to win their hearts. They were unwilling to accept that this was jihad. They were unwilling to accept that what happened to Hindus of Kashmir was genocide. They treated us like the earthquake or flood victims, who need some relief material. So, all the cases of murders, rapes, massacres, burning of houses, looting of temples were not even tried. Not even one was prosecuted. Because they thought that if we deal them with the tough laws, we will alienate them. So, we should treat them like freedom fighters. And we should provide them facilities and try to win them over. So, trying to winning them over has led to murders and massacres being forgiven. Rapes and ethnic cleansing has been ignored. They have become icons and leader in their society. They have hundreds of crores worth of property. They have invested in farmhouses, shopping complexes and in flats and apartments in Dubai and all over the country. The Government of India has funded them instead of chocking them.
By Ravi Mishra