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OffStumped For All Things Right of Center, Bringing a Right of Centre Reality Check to Indian Politics, News Media Reporting and Opinion now in Hindi अब आप के लिये हिंदी मे.
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reiterated on Wednesday that Muslims have not got an equal share of the country’s development results. Brushing aside BJP`s charge of Muslim appeasement, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday said his Government was committed to removing inequities for Muslims. Manmohan Singh went a step further when he became the first leader in India to compare the condition of low-caste Hindus with that of black South Africans by calling Untouchability like Aparthei while addressing a “Dalit-minority international conference” organized by Cabinet colleague Ram Vilas Paswan. The principal opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, BJP termed the comparison as ‘unfortunate and denigrating to India’s reputation abroad’. Defending the Prime Minister’s remarks Congress Spokeperson Abhishek Singhvi ‘The Congress and the UPA government led by it do not believe in adopting a ostrich-like approach of ignoring the reality. Unless we admit the malady, we cannot find the cure. The prime minister’s admission to this fact is basically the expression of the government’s resolve to uplift the plight of the Dalits and minorities in the country.

As the Communal Socialist Prime Minister attempts to restitch the dalit-muslim component of the KHAM equation, Offstumped takes a hard look at the “reality” the Prime Minister was referring to.

First before getting into whether untouchability is like apartheid one must note the relative origins of the two words. Offstumped did an extensive search of news archives dating as far back as 1851. The earliest usage of the word untouchability in the media appears in 1921. A similar search on Apartheid reveals that the earliest usage occurs in 1950. In either of these earliest usages of these words there is no ambiguity in what they were to mean. The 1950 Time Magazine article, one of the first where apartheid appears, was very clear on where the word originated (South Africa) and what it mean, racial segregation or separation of races. The 1921 New York Times article, one of the earliest where untouchability appears quoted Gandhi that Alchoholism and Untouchability must vanish from India.

So before we embark on a scholarly debate on the nuances and subtleties of what untouchability and apartheid mean, it should be obvious to the most uninformed that untouchability by virtue of having being defined 30 years before the word apartheid even appeared in the lexicon, by the Father of the Nation cannot and should not be likened to apartheid even by the widest stretch of its meaning.

So given this is the case why did Manmohan Singh do what he did. Let us look at his track record here. Rewind a few months back to the heated debate on OBC Reservations. All of a sudden you saw the Prime Minister and his socialist friends like Yogendra Yadav suddenly tout the phrase “Affirmative Action” instead of Reservations. Offstumped had then pointed out http://o3.indiatimes.com/yossarin/archive/2006/06/04/749757.aspx how idiotic it was to compare Reservations an Indian concept framed in the late 1940s with Affirmative Actions a phrase lock stock and barrel borrowed from the United States with no relevance outside the American Political and Legal Context.  Now rewind to 2005 when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gave his famed or rather maligned address in Oxford praising British Rule in India, Offstumped had then pointed http://o3.indiatimes.com/yossarin/archive/2005/07/10/170397.aspx out how Manmohan Singh suffered from the Stockholm Syndrome.

So folks this tendency of the Prime Minister to ignore the Indian Origins of Issues or Concepts and to hold their distant Foreign Cousins in high regard is not new and it reflects deep down the kind of individual he is for all his academic accomplishments.

So with his untouchability is like apartheid comment Manmohan has ended up lending credibility to a very dangerous and potentially destabilizing ideology. That India is comprised of multiple races and that some of these races have been discriminated against. By bringing in Affirmative Action and Apartheid into the Indian Political Debate, Manmohan Singh has accomplished what 3 centuries of British Rule, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan could not. Manufacture Racism in India. The Prime Minister ought to be ashamed for having gone where the Mahatma did not. Gandhi who lived in South Africa and suffered racism there did not give a racial color to untouchability but Manmohan Singh did just that with a twist of words to make a political point.

The Congress attempts to give a racial twist to untouchability and seeking to stitch an artificial coalition with Muslims takes Communal Socialism to new heights. By inventing fictitious racism and giving it a communal socialist twist the Manmohan Singh Sonia Gandhi lead Congress has shown us what kind of political bigotry to expect in 2007 in the run up to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections. That they have to resort to such fiction to shore up their non-existent political fortunes is indeed a pity for the grand old party of India.

Offstumped Bottomline: Why is untouchability not like apartheid ? The answer is quite straightforward. After the 1994 transfer of power by the De Klerk Government to Nelson Mandela, Apartheid had disappeared from the international lexicon until 2006. In fact the last reported usage of the word apartheid in International Media is in 1995. Apartheid unambiguously referred to Racial Segregation and its usage ended with the ended or segregation in South Africa. By seeking to ressurect its usage Manmohan Singh demonstrated deep political bigotry and has insulted Mahatma Gandhi’s trials and tribulations in South Africa.

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