Asking Manmohan Singh the right questions

The onward march of communal socialism

The UPA’s most unfortunate strategy of earmarking government expenditure along community lines continues apace. The latest in this juggernaut is the Prime Minister’s 15-point programme for the welfare of minorities. It contains, among other things, measures to allocate greater resources for the teaching of Urdu, for modernising Madrasa education, for quotas in the rural employment guarantee programmes, preferential bank loans, government jobs and why, even a quota for upgrading of slums. That’s not just an assault on good economic sense. It’s a naked assault on secularism.

Prevention and control of communal riots is an excellent policy goal. But it is a national policy goal. To place it as a ‘minority welfare measure’ is not only an affront to justice. It is counterproductive to the cause of communal harmony, as earmarking justice—in the same style as jobs, loans and slum upgrading—will deepen the suspicion that it won’t be even-handed.

One person challenged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on this patently anti-secular socialist policy:

“The New 15-Point Programme that focuses on earmarking certain outlays of various developmental schemes and programmes of the Government of India amongst the eligible beneficiaries, based on their minority status, should be reviewed in the interest of maintaining the social fabric of the nation.”

“Such discrimination, amongst the eligible beneficiaries, for flow of funds based on minority status, will not help the cause in taking people of India together on the path of development,” he said.

(He asked) the Prime Minister how was “religion important” for a government strategy on inclusive growth.

Wondering “what has gone wrong in the previous plans” that such an approach should be adopted, (he) said “poverty has no religion” and only poverty should determine allocations in the Plan. [IE]

That person was Chief Minister Narendra Modi of Gujarat. The prime minister waffled in response. And Montek Singh Ahluwalia, the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, didn’t even realise the irony of what he said in defence of the 15-point programme:

Ahluwalia later said “one of the instruments being used is to make special efforts to focus on districts where there is high concentration of minorities” and these programmes “do not involve discrimination in favour of minorities as such.” [IE]

What’s the difference, Montek?

15 thoughts on “Asking Manmohan Singh the right questions”

  1. Its not minority appeasement or muslim appeasement or any glorified democratic principle, its plain and simple Jaziya.

  2. Irony is that such respected people are trying to justify something which people can just see right through. Now if you ask any common man like me to come forward and donate for a just cause. I am sure he will have check with his caste and religion first.

  3. Good post Nitin. I had read the same in another community, but had never realized the articulate response of Modi.

  4. I think Montek is trying to differentiate between fairness on a national level, which this policy is not, and at the district level, which he is trying to project it as. In either case, it sounds so much like the policies during the Raj… off the top of my head, separate electorates comes pretty close to this one.

    So much for “inclusive growth”.

  5. Tks for taking a clear stand on the issue.

    Nowadays, it is difficult to agree with Modi on any issue and still be on talking terms with folk in certain charmed (cocooned) circles in Dilli and Mumbai, I hear.

    Also, seems like this rush of minority welfare programs could signal an impending loksabha election, anyone?

  6. I don’t think our constitution allows this type of differenciation between communities based on religion.I remember last year Ahdra High Court disallowed 5% reservation for Muslims for this reason.

  7. Sudhir,

    As I pointed out in a comment in Niket Kaisare’s blog, what should be most worrying is that in a roomful of chief ministers only one man, Narendra Modi, raised these objections. Now those who dislike Modi might have reasonable grounds for doing so. But what is more worrying is those who swear by secularism are doing nothing to prevent its slaughter.

  8. The main reason our country can’t prosper is pulling religion to their benifit. I can see only one minority(unfortunately it is a lot) .. that is poor and the needed(THIS HAS GOT NOTHING TO DO WITH RELIGION……..)The government should be laying this for the people who are in poverty..who needs atleast the basic education and basic living stand….

  9. Nitin said, “But what is more worrying is those who swear by secularism are doing nothing to prevent its slaughter.”


    That depends on their definition of secularism, which generally means bending over backwards to create that perception of equality though in practice it actually ends up favouring one community over the other, encouraging the divides that we are getting to see.

  10. l see nothing wrong with this policy and if Modi is opposing it it makes even more worthwhile to support the PM

  11. >>I don’t think our constitution allows this type of differenciation between communities based on religion.I remember last year Ahdra High Court disallowed 5% reservation for Muslims for this reason.>>

    Two comments,

    A) It is unlikely that this religious budget quota will be actually implemented. As M.J.Akbar has eloquently put it in a recent column, “Muslims are the item-girl for the congress”. Come elections, out of nowhere, with no relevance to the screenplay, a raunchy number just to whet the appetite of the fans. The item-girl number ends as abrupty as the it starts – once the elections end.

    B) If it is implemented in earnest, it will be even more dangerous. Political entrepreneurs will then arise who will promise similar separate budgeting for Vanniyar areas, Dalit Christian areas, Gujjar areas and so on.

    In the ensuing mayhem, Dalits, the one and only group in my opinion who have a case for social justice in the form of quotas – are forgotten. They become video footage for NGOs.

    Modi is right on the money.

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