Does India deserve Hamid Ansari’s insinuations?

A partisan diatribe by the outgoing Vice President of India does not make the office of the VP proud

Few questions to Hamid Ansari
Few questions to Hamid Ansari

Indians across the spectrum are grappling with the salvos fired on Indian democracy by outgoing vice president Hamid Ansari in a farewell interview with Rajya Sabha television (August 9) and at the 25th annual convocation of the National Law School of India University in Bengaluru (August 7, 2017). Both are viewed as a formidable denunciation of the present regime.

The diatribe is obviously aimed at the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The Rajya Sabha TV fell under Ansari’s sole jurisdiction for a decade as Vice President of India and Chairman, Rajya Sabha. Suffice to say the channel was notoriously ‘tolerant’ and ‘secular’, and this anti-Hindu character escalated algebraically after Narendra Modi led the National Democratic Alliance to power in May 2014.

While Ansari did not name any political party or individual in the interview, he spoke of the culture of growing intolerance. He said there was a feeling of unease and insecurity among Muslims as the “ambience of acceptance” was under threat. Specific mention was made of incidents of cow vigilantism, lynching, ‘ghar wapsi’, killings of rationalists, comments of some leaders regarding the minority community, etc.

A partisan diatribe by the outgoing Vice President of India does not make the office of the VP proud
A point-by-point rebuttal of Ansari, the outgoing VP of India

The diatribe is obviously aimed at the Bharatiya Janata Party. However, in fairness, the murders of rationalists in different parts of the country must have personal motives (like property) and cannot be made into a political football. Ghar Wapsi is a legitimate right of Hindus in the face of rampant conversions, and the tragic incidents of cow vigilantism (condemned by the Prime Minister and UP Chief Minister) have moved the spotlight away from the murders of cattle owners by the beef mafia.

While there will always be problems in a nation of India’s size and diversity, it is worth recalling Saudi Arabian columnist, Khalaf Al-Harbi who in May 2015 described India as “the most tolerant nation” on earth, where despite a phenomenal diversity of faiths and languages, “people live in peace and harmony”. Al-Harbi admitted envy “because I come from a part of the world which has one religion and one language and yet there is killing everywhere”, while “India remains the oldest and most important school to teach tolerance and peaceful co-existence regardless of the religious, social, political or ethnic differences”.

How deep is India’s civilisational embrace of diversity? Muslim scholars (former minister Arif Mohammad Khan and columnist Tarek Fatah) hold that after the defeat at Karbala (681 A.D.) and massacre of the Prophet’s grandson Hussain and his tiny army, some ladies of the family fled to India and were protected by Raja Dahir of Sindh. It is said that Mohammad bin Qasim came to India to find and wipe them out. Some survivors of Karbala were taken to the court of Caliph Yazid ibn Muawiyah where, after initial ill-treatment, they were given protection. Little is known of what happened to them subsequently.

Ventilating long-held grievances, Ansari lambasts the Supreme Court for judgments that ‘credible critics’ consider detrimental to secular democracy, specifically its decision of December 11, 1995.

Over the centuries, India has provided shelter to Jews who fled after the destruction of the Temple of Solomon in A.D. 70; the Parsi community; the Baha’i community; the Tibetan community including the Dalai Lama and the Karmapa; and permits Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin (a Swedish citizen) to reside here.

Yet, at Bengaluru, in the presence of Chief Justice of India, Jagdish Singh Khehar, and scores of legal alumni, the Vice President pointed fingers at India’s pluralism and secularism. Citing lifelong interest in political philosophy, he quoted John Locke, ‘wherever law ends, tyranny begins’. Observing that the State is prohibited to patronize any particular religion as State religion and is enjoined to observe neutrality, he said, “programmes or principles evolved by political parties based on religion amount to recognizing religion as a part of the political governance which the Constitution expressly prohibits”.

This is a scandalous insinuation and Ansari should have cited evidence. One glaring example that comes to mind is the rising subsidy for Hajj to Saudi Arabia, but he obviously didn’t mean that. Nor has he frowned upon the Hajj panel demanding Rs 25,000 crore to buy planes to make travel for pilgrims more comfortable. The Koran says that once in a lifetime Hajj is mandatory for those who can afford it; politically extracted subsidies hardly meet this criterion.

Ventilating long-held grievances, Ansari lambasts the Supreme Court for judgments that ‘credible critics’ consider detrimental to secular democracy, specifically its decision of December 11, 1995. This refers to the apex Court’s dismissal of a petition to annul Manohar Joshi’s election on grounds of unacceptable speeches by Manohar Joshi, Bal Thackeray, Chhagan Bhujbal and Pramod Nawalkar, on 24 February 1990, at Mumbai’s Shivaji Park. Quite an elephantine memory!

Ansari speaks of national integration not amounting to assimilation or homogenization (read integration). Apostles of Muslim exclusivism dread both and abhor the growing desire of ordinary Muslims to break out of enforced mental ghettos. His well-researched speech is full of citations from known Hindu-baiters and proponents of an exclusive Muslim identity in India.

His real concern is the declining presence of Muslims in state assemblies and Parliament, as Indians began to revolt against the zero calorie diet of secularism, minority-ism and socialism.

The Vice President alluded to a gap between ‘equality before the law’ and ‘equal protection of the law’ but failed to note the horrendous persecution of Hindus in West Bengal and Kerala, from where heart-breaking stories surface every day.

Speaking of representation, he said that 61 per cent of MPs elected in 2014 received less than 50 per cent of the votes polled. This is an unfair argument which aims at pushing India into an endless cycle of elections per constituency when increasing numbers of citizens are voting in each election and the popular will in constituency and state is quite explicit. Beneficiaries of the dying Nehruvian establishment, however, are hell-bent upon derailing a settled process that began to give diminishing returns from the time Chief Election Commissioner T.N. Seshan began ensuring that each citizen could cast his/her vote without fear.

His real concern is the declining presence of Muslims in state assemblies and Parliament, as Indians began to revolt against the zero calorie diet of secularism, minority-ism and socialism. Mentioning the failure to reintroduce the Women’s Reservation Bill of 2009 (passed under his watch in the Rajya Sabha, but not taken up in Lok Sabha), he broadly hinted at the need for minority (read Muslim) reservation, pointedly stating that the number of Muslim MPs today stands at 23. Other minority communities are not mentioned at all.

Ansari claims that Scheduled Castes, Muslims, and Christians have a sense of enhanced insecurity as the process of emotional integration has faltered. Ironically, he does not see the contradiction with his own rejection of assimilation and homogenization.

He mentions the growing distress in the farm sector in different States, the persistence of Naxalite insurgencies, re-emergence of language-related identity questions, seeming indifference to excesses against weaker sections, and the unsettled claims of local nationalisms. It would be very unfortunate if the last point indicates support to the separatist drive in Jammu and Kashmir.

Taking a dig at “hyper-nationalism”, he warns against a trend towards sanctification of military might, citing George Washington’s admonition against ‘overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty.’ Again, one wonders if he means that the Indian Army should allow hostile forces to walk all over the nation and not protect the citizenry.

He concludes, “the version of nationalism that places cultural commitments at its core is usually perceived as the most conservative and illiberal form of nationalism. It promotes intolerance and arrogant patriotism”. A rather nasty jab from someone supposedly upholding Constitutional values for one long decade.

We need not dignify this with a response. India was a vibrant and united (not uniform) civilization for millennia before it became a nation-state in 1947, and cultural commitments will always constitute the core of its nationhood. Both the Shia and Sunni sects of Islam are today retreating from fundamentalist-driven confrontations on this score. We must not disturb this flow of modern history.

It bears stating Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s farewell speech in the Rajya Sabha on August 10, wherein he hinted at Hamid Ansari revealing a purely Muslim identity while stepping down from the peaks of public life in India, and said that the “Congressman for decades” would henceforth feel more liberated in exerting his political identity, was mild and restrained, as befits his stature.

Ansari’s wisest contribution to public life was his decision, as chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, to uphold St Stephens College’s decision to reserve seats for Scheduled Caste Christians. As Vice President of India, he could have urged all minority institutions to care for economically weaker members of their respective communities. But he preferred to follow Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s insistence on pushing this burden on ordinary Hindu families, and even now, has not seen fit to take up the issue in the interests of justice and fair play.

Sandhya Jain
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Sandhya Jain

Sandhya Jain is a writer of political and contemporary affairs. A post graduate in Political Science from the University of Delhi, she is a student of the myriad facets of Indian civilisation. Her published works include Adi Deo Arya Devata. A Panoramic View of Tribal-Hindu Cultural Interface, Rupa, 2004; and Evangelical Intrusions. Tripura: A Case Study, Rupa, 2009. She has contributed to other publications, including a chapter on Jain Dharma in “Why I am a Believer: Personal Reflections on Nine World Religions,” ed. Arvind Sharma, Penguin India, 2009.
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33 COMMENTS

  1. It makes no sense to condemn nationalism that “places cultural commitments at its core”. What is nationalism without a cultural identity? Mere racism or national egotism…This shows the lack of reflection in this critique which reminds one of Ambedkar’s assessment of hte problems of Muslms who place their religion and its political role above everything else and tend to ignore all other issues and communities.

  2. India would have been tolerant to him had he been given some position in continuity. All snakes bred by fake family are getting exposed by themselves.

  3. OUR HINDUS LEADERS SHIP IS WEAK AND POOR. WE DON’T IDENTIFY PROBLEMS NOR WE FIND SOLUTIONS.
    HINDUS HAVE NO NAMED ENEMY OUR LEADERS NEVER SPEAK ABOUT ENEMY.
    WE FOUGHT GOT RID OF INVADERS ,ISLAM AND BRITISH CHRISTIANS.
    OUR FOOLISH LEADERS KNOW OUR ENEMY HAS CONVERTED MANY POOR , UNEDUCATED HINDUS TO THEIR FOLD AS THEIR FOOT SOLDIERS AFTER THEY LEFT .
    HOW COME WE STILL GIVE THEM LIBERTY TO VOTE AND GOVT JOBS. THESE CONVERTS SHOULD BE CONSIDERED TRAITORS AND ANTI NATIONALS NOT NATIONALIST .
    TIME TO DEFINE A NATIONAL SYMBOLS PEOPLE HINDU MAJORITY HAS TO DO THIS DO NOT COUNT ON PRESENT LEADERSHIP.
    YOU GET WHAT YOU WANT UNLESS YOU ASK YOU GET NOTHING .

    • Dear Arish
      Please do not use ALL CAPS as it is not easy to read. Also, it is considered rude as all caps are used on Internet / email to shout at other people. You may use capital letters for words you want to emphasise, or capitalise those particular words. But not the complete text – it hurts the eyes.
      Thanks.

  4. If Ansari feels insecure in India it’s better he goes to Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Qatar. His statement is very unfair. Next time if he spews venom, we must retaliate in the same manner

  5. Now that he does not hold any Govt positions- sickulars and Lutyens will invite him to talk in public forums and this thug will continue spitting venom on present Govt

    • He is the product of Muslim Congress propaganda machine imposed by the Muslim Sonia Gandhi and Ahmed Patel and P Chidambaram. they want to perpetuate the Mughal dynasty in India. I think their days are coming soon behind bars.

  6. It is like one Swims in a pool for four decades, enjoys all its privileges and then just before leaving the swimming pool relieves himself of all the dirt squirting it to our country men. That’s what ex-VP Hamid Ansari has done. He has insulted the whole nation by his interview just before demiting the office.

  7. What Ansari did was “spitting up into the air while lying on his back”. All the stinking spit promptly landed on his own face. He could have made a dignified exit and saved this ignominy.

  8. All this is out of frustration. Let’s not take the speech seriously. Instead, resolve to protect the core of our nationhood which is nothing but a pan Indian culture and a philosophy beyond Ansari’s reach.

  9. excellent article exposing the former VP of India…. what is karan thaper well known modi hater doing in RS TV …. that is mind boggling

  10. excellent article exposing ex-VP of India I have different question in mind is Karan Thaper well known Modi hater handling RS TV….that it self is mind boggling …..

  11. You may agree or disagree with some comments of Hamid Ansari but he did not say a word against the Hindus and by the way what right RSS’s followers have to call themselves as the defenders of Hindus or Hinduism? They are the VICTIMS of an alien view of life propounded by Hitler- Fascism is their creed; Gandhi called them as fascist and he paid the price for it.

  12. Avtar Chauhan:WoW! How much is too much? Going beyond the Horizon (if possible!) is anybody’s flight of mind in identifying & being subjective simultaneously! The highly skilled & great essayist has proved beyond any doubt of her in-depth study of the subject in question. Amazingly superb & pointedly accurate akin the parallel Rail Lines for the smoothing running; failing which a derailment, leading to a colossal loss of men & material remains beyond imagination: provided it’s reasonably loaded & selectively occupied by the needy travellers! All said & told by the master writer, one remains at its wits in accepting the version in full! An unbiased & detached writer is fully credited for each & every notation herein, in denouncing the’worthy’ Ex VP’s mindset to its very hilt! One needs time to remain afloat to the onslaught of the untimely Tide, is a matter of IQ level of a person on the street! Full & unedited Marks to the gutsy writer in exposing the hidden agenda of the high personage over here! KUDOS is the only & the most appropriate diction reserved for the seasoned anecdotist of the supreme order!

  13. It is unfortunate that for ten years we could not find a better person amongst us to occupy the VPs post and this narrow minded Muslim with no respect for national anthem was allowed to continue spending crores of tax payers money on foreign tour with no any benefit to the country.
    God save the country from the Congress party

    • he was Congress,the secular champions, choice. It is unfortunate that every muslim at the top,first enjoys the post shamelessly and then after enjoying he shows his colour. Azaruddin, who was Captain of Indian Cricket team for 11 years, when replaced said that because of muslim he was removed.had he guts and concern for muslim community, he should have resigned and fought for causes of muslims,if at he was felling that the muslims are feeling insecure.

    • Good point
      Modi’s foreign trips are ridiculed by MSM. But this guy Anari quietly traveled to many countries on tax payers money – did nothing to the country other than spitting venom

  14. One wishes the ex-VP of India reads this article – the Editor can mail it if he has the VP’s email id – and, one hopefully wishes he would post his response, which he will not, most certainly, because, he will have nothing to counter these valid points, brilliantly brought out in this very readable article

  15. One wishes the ex-VP of India gets to read this brilliantly written analytical article, and, hopefully, he replies to it, now that he is a free citizen of India, which he will dare not, for sure

  16. Fitting analysis of the ex-VP’s speeches. One wishes he gets to read this brilliantly written article

  17. Without commenting on the validity or otherwise of criticisms of Ansari, I would like to correct the all -pervasive contemporary belief that having more or less Hindus or Muslims in Parliament; or more or less men or women in Parliament for that matter; has anything whatsoever to do with democracy.

    What Indians believe to be democracy is in fact representationalism. We need to address reality here. It matters little if one is appointed to power or is elected, having assumed power over others it is only a matter of time before corruption sets in. As Lord Acton noted: “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. There are no exceptions, and democracy evolved as a means of excluding accumulation of power and, therefore, corruption.

    However, very powerful people wish to prevent democracy and so spend billions in the media to confuse the people and diffuse focus on the entire purpose of government… which is to protect the people from exploitation and repression. No representative will seriously do this.

    The ancient Greeks described democracy as “government by the many, not by the few.”Thomas Paine (The Rights of Man) made the source of power crystal clear: “All authority resides in the people”. When the Rothschild alliance of bankers tried to control America, Abram Lincoln moved to end any confusion with his Gettysburg Address, upholding: “Government of the people, by the people and for the people”. This lyrical definition should have ended the confusion forever yet the banker elite tirelessly continues to promulgate its distortion of representationalism. And successfully. There are no democracies today.

    It is genuine democracy when an informed electorate formulates policy, which is then implemented by government. Note I excluded parliament here. Parliament replaces democracy, which was the British Empire’s final insult to India. You kicked out the British only to install a British-style bastion from which the elite can rule; closely connected to the rulers of Britain and America. And yet in 1776 America also kicked out the British, only to create what is in effect a monarchy in all but name.

    India will be a democracy when its total population is well informed about domestic issues, and then addresses these issues locally or nationally as required. This will reflect what every deep thinker recognizes sooner or later: 99% of wisdom, knowledge and integrity exists outside of Government, not within it. Moreover, any 1000 people have more knowledge and experience than any supposed leader. As Acton also observed, “There are no great leaders, only bad men, and they write the histories.

    So… Ansari was always just another illicit hijacker of democracy, along with all those he purports to attack.

  18. Superb article exposing the former VP of India. Many knew he was always a wolf in sheep’s clothing, unabashedly quaffing the perks of office. Good riddance one more marginal self has left office

  19. Kudos Sandhya ji. His stay in the number two constitutional position for a decade by itself is an ample proof of tolerance of the Indian society. To sum up: Good riddance of the bad stuff. Om shantih, shantih shantih Om.

  20. Brilliant,is all that i can say. After having enjoyed all the comforts ,international travels,with a spend thrift wife, It is indeed sad on the part on the part of the person who held such a high office to castigate our motherland the way he did at Bangalore particularly having a mafia Don for a brother at his bidding and beck and call to serve her ladyship and the coterie to whom he is deeply obliged. The root of this evil is Sonia and her ilk as anybody could have made out from her reading of a so called speech in Parliament on the eve of Quit India day celebrations. Mother India’s saviour has arrived and nothing can stop our mother from total recovery.

    Let us sacrifice for the sake of our mother and undergo hardships even at this age.

  21. As always, incisive piece by Sandhya ji. Ansari is a pathetic case of bureaucrat without political sails, ISIS will not even look at his CV.

    • Exactly! Who gives a – – – – what he thinks. NaMo in his farewell speech to ex-VP has given an excellent reply. A person with little bit of sense would creep under a rock for the rest of his life and not come out. (Note in his speech how he stresses on ex- VP’s dynastic background and his IFS experience only to Middle Eastern countries.

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