Tarique Anwar, BeyondHeadlines
New Delhi: “The way forward can no longer be the destructive path of soul-development, but the less trodden path of holistic material-spiritual development of man, society, culture and State.”
Expressing his above views here on the three-day international inaugural conference (April 15 to April 17) entitled “Towards Knowledge, Development and Peace – Outlining Roadmaps for the Future” to mark the silver jubilee celebrations of the think tank organisation Institute of Objective studies (IOS) held at the India Islamic Cultural Centre, internationally renowned scholar and Kualalumpur-based International Islamic University former rector Prof M Kamal Hassan said the current uprising or social unrest brewing in a number of the Middle Eastern societies today had its roots in long-standing economic, social and political discontent, which was suppressed by the greedy and autocratic leaders whose strong grip on the political system was, nonetheless, endorsed and sustained by the Western promoters of the democracy and human rights themselves.
He also said that the intelligent and educated Arab youth and intelligentsia could no longer bear the hypocrisy of both national leaders and international forces of global hegemony. Quoting a number of economists, he opined emphasis on achieving human welfare involving the enlargement of all human choices whether economic, social, cultural or economic had today become the overall objective. He concluded the most important goal of development was human freedom.
Earlier, Union Law and Justice Minister Dr M. Veerappa Moily, in his inaugural address on April 15, said that the knowledge agenda of IOS was a national agenda provided every section of the society should get a space. “IOS should get success and if it succeeds, India would succeed,” declared Moily emotionally.
He said that an overarching law premised on the “right to justice” could soon be a reality. The first draft of the Bill is ready although it is still to be circulated for feedback, Moily informed.
The Minister recalled at the function that in 2006, as the chairperson of the Second Administrative Reforms Committee on the Right to Information, he had recommended that Ministers be administered an “oath of transparency” instead of the customary “oath of secrecy,”
“The government has not accepted my recommendation but I’m still pursuing it”, he said.
Moily said India was on the threshold of a great opportunity that required the country to democratise and universalise the spread of knowledge.
“We need a paradigm shift for the transfer of power from a few to all, and knowledge is the key to this development,” he said, adding that knowledge and excellence could not be individualised but had to be based on inclusion.
“Expansion, inclusion and excellence” must be the slogan, Moily said, rejecting the theory of inherited merit. He said merit was not a privilege but could be inculcated through nurture. “We don’t want one Sachin Tendulkar to win. We want India to win.”
Minister of State for Human Resources Development Dr D Purandeswari averred nation should be bonded by cultural internationalism instead of cultural nationalism. She said that man had been reduced to a status of a consumer.
Presiding over the inaugural function, former Supreme Court Chief Justice A M Ahmadi said that the nation could not go forward without knowledge, development and peace. He lauded IOS initiatives in this connection.
IOS Chairman Dr Manzoor Alam sought a re-examination of the view that there was necessarily a positive correlation between knowledge, development and peace. He said that the only way the three could be correlated was through equity and social and political justice.
He lamented that the celebration of knowledge society and knowledge economy would be incomplete without social enlightenment and similarly without inclusion, growth and development could further disadvantage the “weakest of the weak, the most vulnerable of the vulnerable.” He said that equity and a just economic order were similar prerequisites for peace.
Addressing the gathering on the second day of the seminar, Justice Rajindar Sachar strongly said that India not being a monopoly of a single religion should address the genuine grievances of Muslims through the only viable option, which was setting up of Equal Opportunity Commissionances(EOC). The establishment of the EOC will help every deprived group approach to get its genuine grievances sorted out, he said.
The former Delhi High Court judge said: “The idea that one faith is privileged over the other in India, is completely unacceptable. Believers of all faiths in the country should be treated equally to ensure peace in the country.”
Sachar, who led a high-level committee appointed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for preparation of a report on the social, economic and educational status of the Muslim community of India, reiterated that Muslims deserved an equal status in every sector.”
Dr Abusaleh Shariff, chief economist at the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), emphasised the necessity of Muslim children get educated with other communities for a long term policy of standard education.
Shariff, who was also the member-secretary of Sachar Committee, further said: “The government doesn’t solve the problems of the community through a long term policy of standard education but just palliatives of some amount which at best can be described as pittance. But we become happy at that pittance itself.”
Sawami Agnivesh was critical of the Muslim leadership in not recognising the prevalence of the caste system among Muslims, eminent scholar John Dayal found no hope for peace in an environment when development centered on a few at the cost of justice.
Speaking on the concluding session of the conference, Supreme Court Judge Justice Markandey Katju held the writers of history responsible for spreading communinalism in India. “Some of our historians have projected Muslim rulers intolerant. Their contributions towards the promotion of communal harmony and secularism were willingly ignored. You will find in history books that Mahmud Ghaznawi got Somnath Temple demolished, but you will hardly find anywhere in history books that Tipu Sultan used to give annual grant to 153 temples.
Katju further justified his claim that Muslim rulers promoted secularism by saying that Nawab of Awadh who was known for his secular way of ruling. The apex court judge pointed out that this kind of “suppression of an important part of our civilization history” were the main cause of growth of communalism in India. But he also said that India is a country which is very diverse and can’t live without secularism. Calling India as the “country of migrants” Katju regarded the Indian culture as “Sanskrit–Urdu” culture.
Expressing his views, ex-diplomat Syed Shahabuddin lauded the efforts of the IOS for creating a platform for the social scientists, intellectuals and those from politics to come together and plan a roadmap for change. He praised Dr Manzoor Alam for creating a platform for the community.
Besides three business plenary sessions on knowledge, development and peace as well as three parallel sessions on prospects of creating knowledge societies in the 21st century, development strategies in contemporary world and peace in the era of globalisation were addressed by a galaxy of eminent scholars. The conference participated by delegates from inside and outside the country, ended on April 17.