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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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The Y.S. Rajshekhar Reddy lead Congress government in Andhra Pradesh is all set to introduce an ordinance to implement reservation for Muslims within days. The reservation being pegged at 4 percent would enable a large number of Muslims in the state to get the benefit of quota. But this time the quota is meant for backward Muslim communities and not for Muslim community as a whole. In 2004 too the AP government had issued an order to provide reservation for Muslims in Job and educational institutions. But the order was stayed by courts. The quota for Muslims this time is per se not for the whole community and is going to be meant for backward caste Muslims alone. The quota unlike last time would exclude upper caste Muslims like Bohras, Khojas, Mughals, Pathans and Syyeds. Recently six leading Islamic seminaries in Hyderabad issued a fatwa saying that Muslims cannot be given reservation on castes basis as this was un Islamic act. They said that Islam is against division among Muslims on the basis of caste and that the only thing that could distinguish one Muslim from the other was taqwa, piety.

Offstumped examines the Constitutional Debates to highlight how Muslim Reservations were viewed at that time.

The Constituent Assembly debated the issue of Minority Rights during the month of August 1947 right after Independence. One of the contentious issues was having separate seats for minorities. Maulana Hasrat Mohani  makes some very thought provoking remarks something my fellow blogger and India Muslim, “History Lover”, should find very interesting.

I refuse to accept Muslims to be a minority

How is it that when you talk of minorities you mean Muslims only and when you talk of reservation you refer to Muslims only ?:

The Muslims refuse to be called a minority if parties are formed on political line.

It must be noted that when the Advisory Committee on Minority Rights lead by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel made its recommendations it set a 10 year limit on all kinds of reservations for any community.

Ananthasayanam Ayyangar once again makes some thought provoking arguments.

We are going too far and are trying to placate them in every possible way. I have got here the treaty entered into by Turkey regarding the protection of its minorities on 24th July 1923 at Geneva. I ask any of the protagonists of this amendment, to show me a single. instance where in any part of the country, in any part of the world a political right has been conceded in the manner in which it has been conceded here.

It cannot be said that there is a greater nation in recent years standing for the rights of Muslims in the world than Turkey. Let us see what rights they have given no the other minorities in Turkey and what rights they have insisted upon for for their nationals in other countries.

 they are entitled to stand shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the community,to stand for any seat anywhere without being trammelled, without being ineligible for any particular post or office

I am not prepared to call a single individual a minority. I do not like the word ‘minority’ at all.

The issue of Reservations for Minorities crops up again in November of 1948. By this time the draft Constitution underwent many changes with Dr. B.R. Ambedkar introducing the re-drafted Constitution Bill. Directly elected Governors were discarded and the present system of nominated Governors made its way.  The issue of Reservations is once again raised by Kazi Syed Karimuddin.

Joint electorates with reservation of seats is absolutely of no consequence to the minorities. It would do them positive disservice.

If the two resolutions regarding the continuation of separate electorate or joint electorate with reservation of seats with a fixed percentage of votes of the community to which the candidate belongs which were rejected last time are not acceptable to the House,

the minorities should forego this reservation of seats under joint electorates

 this is going to create permanent statutory minorities in the country

It would be to the great disadvantage and detriment of the Muslim community or any other minority community which claims reservations

 reservation of seats will create more bitterness, more jealousies, more communal hatred and Muslim disintegration

We must be left to our own fate and we are quite prepared to face the future.

Once again the Kazi makes the case for a strong executive.

Without any sacrifice of the democratic principles the minorities can be protected.

The rights of the minorities can be protected in another way and that is by the establishment of a non-parliamentary executive in this country.

If you introduce non-parliamentary executive, the members of the executive would not be afraid because they are not liable to be removed by their supporters

in parliamentary executive the Government is naturally weak, and vacillating because the ministers have to depend for their continuance on communally minded supporters

A digression from the subject of reservations. The Constituent Assembly while debating Ambedkar’s Constitution Bill  also took up the question of the Preamble. Ambedkar makes a strong argument against the current situation of having Socialism ingrained in the Preamble and requiring every political party to express faith in it.

What should be the policy of the State, how the Society should be organised in its social and economic side are matters which must be decided by the people themselves according to time and circumstances.

It cannot be laid down in the Constitution itself, because that is destroying democracy altogether. If you state in the Constitution that the social organisation of the State shall take a particular form, you are, in my judgment, taking away the liberty of the people to decide what should be the social organisation in which they wish to live.

It is perfectly possible today, for the majority people to hold that the socialist organisation of society is better than the capitalist organisation of society.

But it would be perfectly possible for thinking people to devise some other form of social organisation which might be better than the socialist organisation of today or of tomorrow.

I do not see therefore why the Constitution should tie down the people to live in a particular form and not leave it to the people themselves to decide it for themselves.

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