My take on ‘Lest we crawl’ by Fali Nariman

This is my take on the article ‘Lest we crawl’ in The Indian Express dated 25th March by Fali Nariman.
There are some contradictions in the article – on one side the legal luminary cautions us that the
‘task of preserving our non-sectarian Constitution is too important to be left to courts’. While agreeing to this, I have a problem with accepting the Constitution as ‘non-sectarian’; we have often glibly fallen upon the notion that to uphold the Constitution as is, is the bulwark of democracy.
In the same paper, there is a front line heading, ‘SC puts its foot down, rejects Govt plan to veto postings on security grounds’. So, shall we entrust the country’s internal security to the judiciary though we can’t entrust them with the task of preserving our non-sectarian Constitution?
Nariman has succinctly placed before the readers why we cannot leave the task of preserving our ‘non-sectarian Constitution’ to the courts by citing two instances. During the internal Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi, while nine of the High courts saved the day in protecting citizens’ freedom, they were over-ruled by a bench of the highest court which in a majority (4-1) decision expressed through Chief Justice A.N.Ray had glibly said that liberty was the gift of the law, and by the law it could be taken away. Hence we should be grateful to the judiciary who has gifted us with liberty and at whose fancy that gift can be taken away. Where does the Constitution and the non-sectarian constitution come? Liberty is conditional to the rule of the judiciary – that is how I understand Chief Justice Ray’s pronouncement. I fully agree with Fali Nariman in this context that we can’t entrust the judiciary with the task of preserving the ‘non-sectarian’ Constitution.
The other instance which Nariman cites is how when the municipal councilors of Bombay were detained under MISA, a writ petition was filed in the Bombay High Court which found it reasonable and allowed the detainees to vote. This was reported in the newspapers. The following day, the Solicitor General of Bharat appeared in the SC and orally asked the judges for a stay. This was granted which resulted in the Congress nominee for mayor getting elected. Had the detainees been permitted to vote, the Congress would have lost the mayoral election. This reminds one of Indira Gandhi’s call for a ‘committed judiciary’. And there it was.
What strikes me is the fact that the Congress, which now cries of Constitutional breakdown in the recent Manipur and Goa elections, has had its ‘Hand’ dirtied right from the beginning. Its history of breaking and bending the Constitution and the Judiciary to serve its own vested interest was not only habitual but even a way of functioning for that party. I wish Rahul Gandhi and his chelas would read, recollect their deceptive sordid history and stop throwing stones at others. Again, I fully endorse the stand of Fali Nariman-that the ‘non-sectarian’ Constitution cannot be entrusted to the judiciary.
 
My problem arises with the word ‘non-sectarian’ Constitution which the learned legal luminary had used. To me, an ordinary citizen with no legal background except some knowledge of social legislations, this is far from correct. The Constitution has not fallen from heaven. It was scripted by the leaders of those days whose perspective was different, whose experience was different and whose future world was limited; the ethos of the country, the aspirations were totally different. Their perspective too was limited..after all, they were not all-knowing and all-seeing politicians!
The Constitution is not something that should not be changed – amended – it has been amended hundreds of times to suit the politicians. If the Constitution is secular, what kind of secularism do we follow when we swear by it? First, the constitution drafters did not include the word ‘Secular’ – it was injected by Indira Gandhi with a purpose. 
I fail to understand and comprehend the kind of secularism the so called secularists preach and practise. If I am a good Christian, I am a secularist; but if one is a good Hindu, then one is communal. No matter what kind of secularism one adopts, one cannot overlook the other Fundamental Rights which calls for Equality. A glaring example – How can the inclusion of Minority Rights make the Constitution secular? Are the Minorities not Bharatiya citizens – why should they be given special rights to manage and administer their institutions in the name of religion? And in today’s world, many educational institutions are money spinning business enterprises. Do you need to use religion to confer such Rights? Is it not discriminatory? Then again, why are the Imams given salaries for performing their religious duties? Why are the Muslims allowed to be governed by the shariat and their personal laws? Is this secularism? How can there be meaningful and valid secularism when there is no acceptance of a Common Civil Code.
The bias of the media and so called secularists is unjust and discriminatory; negating Fundamental Rights, this cannot be over looked. For example, after the UP elections there seem to be a kind of heat generation by the ‘secularists’. What is going to become of Bharat if at this rate the Hindus are going to sweep into power across the country – this was their fear-mongering! It seems to me that the ‘secularists’ want the people to believe that the country is safe only in their hands, whereas this has been proved otherwise.
The secularists had only taken the country down the drain – they looted and swindled, cheated and betrayed the people. They had only their own vested interest, and towards that they craved for power. On the other hand, it is clear that the BJP’s one and only aim is to preserve the unity of the country – bring in development and enrich the prestige and glory of Bharat Mata. It is strange that all the Opposition parties think only they are capable of preserving the ‘secularism’ of the country. And one needs no explanation of the kind of secularism they have preached and upheld. Towards this they all unite.
But what a low level of politics these secularists practise, and their leaders indulge in. Look how they abuse the PM, a constitutionally elected leader of the nation. Mamata Begum calls the PM a devil, the upstart Kejriwal called him a psychopath, Mulayam Yadav said he is a goon, and of course the abuse and denigration of the PM started with Sonia Gandhi who called him ‘merchant of death’. The buffoon Rahul Gandhi accused him of ‘khoon ki dalali’; not to be left out, the convict who is on bail, Lalu Prasad Yadav, had the use of a helicopter to address a rally, only to abuse the PM.
What kind of secularists are these? What kind of secularism are they promising the nation that they will uphold? Stooping to this level, can the country be safe in their hands? The problem with them is that they are terribly afraid of Modi ji and hence resort to third degree hitting below the belt. But in the midst of all this, Modiji rose like a sphinx. He showed that though he was only a chaiwallah, he has class.
The country is fed up of these secularists and non-sectarians and see through their dirty games. Hence the cry that only they can uphold secularism  and be non-sectarians and non-communalists is a mirage – a farce and a deception. People are aware of this. On the whole, using secularism makes no sense. Why this bias against saffron, when there is no bias against green, white and blue? Saffron is a rich color and manifests sacrifice, energy and glory. Look at the way Yogi Adityanath has been dissected when he was elected CM of UP. Will he or will he not, was the litany. How his earlier utterances were analyzed. What about the Muslim leaders – for example, Owaisi? The TV channels call him for airing his opinion. Will the country be safe under persons like him? Will they uphold secularism?
 
What struck me was that even the jurist and senior advocate, Fali Nariman, has bought this aspect. ‘We are on the threshold of a Hindu state…We are moving –not towards the soft  Hindutva…… but the hard Hindutva of VD Savarkar and Hindu Rashtra (state), Hindu Jati (race), and Hindu Sanskirti (culture),’ he writes. My stumbling block is in this. Yes, the majority of the citizens are Hindus and thanks to their tolerance which is inbuilt in Hindutva, all world religions flourished here. So I cannot comprehend the ‘soft’ and the ‘hard’ Hindutva divide which jurist Nariman depicts.
Apart from it, one must also concede that the Constitution is no longer secular and non-sectarian – there is deep rooted bias and prejudice against the Hindus with rules and restrictions for them and none for the others. This is apparent when huge open spaces are used by the Muslims to congregate and to worship. The roads are blocked and five times daily the loud speakers blast the prayer and namaz. What if all the Hindu temples follow the same? Can you imagine the ruckus and the confusion it will create? During office time, Muslims can be exempted for prayers. This is the kind of secularism and non-sectarianism we follow! It is really laughable.
No country proclaims its secularism and non-sectarianism, nor has any country enshrined it in their respective constitutions. But we carry it on our sleeves. Is it not a historical fact that this country had only Hindu Dharma? That is the religion, rather a way of life, which sprung from the soil and the inspirations of the ancients? It has no ‘one and only’ God -it has your god and my God. It has only God. It is not an imported religion – it has no book and it has no frozen rules and regulations. It is definitely a way of life, there is no religion as tolerant as the Hindu religion. Tolerance is inbuilt within its ethos. This allowed its followers to embrace all people of different religions. Can this be said of other religions-Islam and Christianity?
Which country will tolerate its citizens’ refusal to sing the national anthem and go to court where the Courts give them the freedom to sing or not to sing the National anthem? Which country will tolerate its citizens to hoist other flags? Does Hindu religion impose fatwas? The Hindus have realized that they have been taken for a ride. They are no longer safe in their own country. Their freedom and liberties are restricted under the garb of ‘secularism ‘and non-sectarianism.
Why should the Hindu Pandits be driven away from their own homes and become refugees in their own homeland, while now even the Rohingyas have been allowed refuge in Jammu and Kashmir? Why has the SC’s order to push out all the illegal Bangladeshis not been implemented? On the other hand, they are given ration cards and allowed to remain because they become a vote bank.
It seems to have become a fashion for the so called secularists – artists, film persons and politicians – to deride Hindu Dharma and pamper the Muslims. It is only a vote catching gimmick, but it does hurt. Tax money of the Hindus are being poured in for development in Kashmir, in subsidizing Haj, funding madrasas, salaries for the imams, for poverty alleviating programs (while family planning is not adhered to by the Muslims) – these and more. But not a paisa will be touched from the mosques and churches money – is this secularism? The monies of the temples are managed by the Government – is this secularism and non-sectarianism? How much can one bend, and certainly the Hindus cannot be crawling any more.
This is the only country in the globe which is the birthplace of Hindu Dharma. Nobody objects if countries are referred to as Christian countries and Muslim countries, but the moment one says this is a Hindu country all hell breaks loose. Look how the Ram janmabhoomi is being viewed and fought over. It is a historical fact, nay truth, that this country had only temples from time immemorial – before the Muslim invasions and the entry of the Christians. Babri Masjid was a much later construction. Hundreds and thousands of temples were destroyed, and in their place, mosques were built. Mecca and Jerusalem are sacred to the Muslims and Christians – similarly, Ramjanmabhomi is sacred to the Hindus. Why is it so contentious for the Muslims to give it up and allow a temple to be built? 
So there should be no problem for true secularists in accepting the fact that this is a Hindu Rastra and there will be Hindu jati and Hindu sanskriti. How does it hurt others? Where can these then be followed- in Pakistan, in the Middle East countries, in Vatican and Italy? Tell me one single country where these can be upheld-it can be only one country and that is Bharat; why then grudge the Hindus and the people of this country their rights.
My take is that the Constitution is neither secular nor nonsectarian. Finally, there is no ‘soft’ Hindutva and ‘hard’ Hindutva – as Fali Nariman has cautioned. National patriotism cannot be sliced or diced, halved or pierced, kneaded ‘soft’ or ‘hard’. National Patriotism and Liberty are our birthrights – inherent within every true Bharatiya citizen. We shall not crawl henceforth to uphold this kind of non-sectarianism and secularism.   

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About the Author

Dr. Hilda Raja
Dr. Hilda Raja was a PG level professor at Stella Maris College, Chennai. Post retirement, she worked with many NGOs and as a Development Consultant. She was nominated on the Advisory Committe of the CBCI (Catholic Bishops Conference of India ) for three years. Having studied throughout in Minority Institutions and reared in a Christian ethos, she is fully convinced that the Hindu soul is secular and Hindu Dharma is totally misunderstood by other religions. For her, Bharat and all that it holds is sacred.
  • Yogesh Khandke

    Not well written, comes across as a rant – there are many holes in what Nariman said – for example on Hinduness – Savarkar’s definition of Hinduness and that of the courts isn’t different? Both make it independent of the method of upasana. Need a rebuttal that contests lies in Nariman’s fatuous argument

  • malavika

    A little disappointing article. Could have used a bit of editing

    There are glaring black-hole size errors in F Narimans logic.

    1. Constitution is not a Divine Book( given by a Semitic God), that cannot be changed. It has to change with times.

    2. MAjor flaw in our constitution is that, it does not guarantee ‘equality under law’. Hindus are discriminated and they do not even have a right to property. Hindu schools can be stolen by govt. Not Muslim or Christian. Revenues from Hindu temples is stolen by the govt, that have taken over Temples.

    3. Rampant nepotism in SC. His son an ordained Parsi priest is a SC justices. Most of Judiciary in SC is kith an kin of former SC Justices or close to Dynasty.