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Constitution and the Cow

by Newsweek Pakistan

Dibyangshu Sarkar—AFP

India should take care to avoid Pakistan’s mistakes

When asked why the Indian National Congress party leaders scuttled the Cabinet Mission Plan of 1946 that would have created a federal state in India giving Hindu and Muslim communities the right to rule themselves separately, the answer from leaders like Sardar Patel used to be that they never thought Pakistan would last. Then, in 1949, Pakistan decided to become an Islamic state; and the journey of its democratic decline began. Today its tormentors, the terrorists, win against the state because they have the same ideology as the state.

After 70 years, an insecure Pakistan has not learned its lessons and is being challenged by the sharia of the Taliban and the Islamic State. The religious parties of Pakistan complain of politicians’ incomplete embrace of ideology. The same scenes appear to be repeating in India. New Delhi’s secular constitution, written by untouchable scholar B.R. Ambedkar, is being challenged by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), whose vigilantes call themselves “cow protectors” and kill Muslims and untouchables with impunity. Ambedkar was aware of the presence of hardline Hindus in Congress and couldn’t formally say “secular” in the text of the constitution. It was parliament, under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, which inserted the 42nd Amendment to the constitution making the preamble assert that “India is a secular nation.”

Needless to say, the BJP believes the said amendment should be deleted to make it easy for the party to implement “Hindutva,” the ideology of Hinduism, these days most emphatically expressed through violence related to the sacredness of the cow. The emphatic capture of a majority of votes in Lok Sabha under Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to be taking the state on the same “ideological” path as Pakistan traveled earlier. The negative fallout of Hindutva will be delayed because of the high performance of the Indian economy and the prosperity it has brought to the masses, but the ugly scenes on the Indian street signal the same end-result as has been visited on Pakistan.

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