'Educate, Organise and Agitate': History Turns a Page
Citizenship on religious basis is fatal to the Republic of India
Establishment of Republic of India on January 26 1950, was historic and constituted an event of global significance. While in our neighbourhood and other parts of the world Republics were founded on the basis of religion we, the people of India, chose to opt for a sovereign and democratic republic without religion defining its identity.
Along with uncompromising features of sovereignty and democracy we opted for socialist and secular dimensions.
Even though these two words were incorporated in the Constitution in 1976 these are of abiding significance for India and flowed as much from the attributes of our ancient civilization base of acceptance and toleration as the vision of our leadership shaped during the freedom struggle.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi stressed on neutrality of the State towards religion in 1930 when he drafted the resolution on Fundamental Rights for the Indian National Congress for its adoption in the Karachi session.
Now secularism has been held to be the basic structure of the Constitution by the Supreme Court in its historic Bommai judgement delivered by a 9 judge bench.
The "Jana Gana" which Rabindranath Tagore invoked in our national anthem remain supreme and the mandate and might is there at the root of our Republic.
This secular fabric needs to be strengthened.
The danger to it has come from the philosophy and outlook of many political parties and their actions. Opening of Babri Masjid for constructing a temple and its demolition pose grave danger to our Republic. The danger is getting compounded day by day.
The march of the Republic in many sectors has been impressive. In several others it is very disappointing. The single most danger is that inequality has been increasing with the marginalising of people who are made victims of exploitation. When the Constitution was adopted on November 26, 1949 Dr. Ambedkar very rightly said that "On 26th January 1950 we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality. ... How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life? We will do so by putting our political democracy in peril."
In fact on this anniversary of our Republic the contradictions pointed out by Ambedkar have been multiplied and have assumed proportions of a crisis . It is extremely important to salvage the Republic. In the name of cultural nationalism the creative nationalism fashioned during freedom struggle is being endangered. Minorities are living in perpetual fear and anxiety about their life and liberty. Other deprived sections of society are being targeted on the basis of food they eat and the caste or tribe they belong to. Market economy is reducing everything to the level of commodities . Value of health and education and many vital aspects of our life is determined by market and corporates.
This is very dangerous. The danger has been compounded by reducing the idea of citizenship to a few denominations. The recent citizenship amendment Bill passed by Lok Sabha prescribes that Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Christians and Sikhs coming from other countries to India would be conferred citizenship. It excludes Muslims.
Such exclusive approach to deal with the idea of citizenship of India is going to be fatal to the idea of the Republic of India.
Recently 30,000 people came to the streets of Mizoram against the citizenship amendment Bill and shouted “hello China”, “bye bye India”. The protestors wanted to boycott Republic Day and cautioned if the Citizenship Amendment Bill is taken to the logical conclusion then the Mizo youth would pick up arms and launch an armed struggle. Such violent thoughts accompanied by divisive tendencies strike at the very root of the Republic.
Let us be mindful of the fact that Mizoram is a peaceful State of our Republic and what we are witnessing is symptomatic of restlessness in large parts of India . Such disapproval of Republic of India by a section of Indians does not augur well for India. We need to salvage this great Republic.
What is required is a statecraft based on reconciliation and accommodation and not confrontation. The State adopting a confrontational approach would endanger the Republic. Only Jana Gana can do it. Ambedkar's slogan "Educate, Organise and Agitate " has to be followed to deepen public reasoning and democracy to empower people to use constitutional method for reducing inequality and contradictions pointed out by Dr. Ambedkar.
Long live the Indian Republic.