In the first instance the Modi government’s announcement to help Pakistani minorities by easing the red tape in getting them Aadhaar and PAN cards and driving licences sounds like a jolly good idea, full of the milk of human kindness and all that.
But if we begin to read into the word 'minority' the equivalent of 'Hindus' as is being done in the general interpretation then it becomes another kettle of fish.
For one, India is not a Hindu nation so unless we wish to remove the tag of secular from the Constitution this initiative does not sit pretty and becomes racist by inference.
By bearing selective the government is predicating governance to religious tenets.
It also presumes that Hindu Pakistanis are less loyal Pakistanis than others. This may not sit well with Islamabad and India’s good intentions might slow down any progressive steps that country might one day take to better the lot of their minorities.
Yes, they are marginalised and not treated well but once you begin to go down this road where does one stop? We have 2 million Hindus in Bangladesh and they don’t get a fair deal. In Fiji, Indians have gotten the thin edge of the wedge. Sri Lankan Tamils have already crossed over in thousands. In the Caribbean we are still referred to as coolies. In Africa, we are at low rung of the well-loved ladder. Ask a Nigerian or a Kenyan how they feel about us.
Pakistan has Catholics, Parsis, Sikhs and several other denominations. India has them, too. This courtesy must then extend to them also. Not to do so would make a mockery of the exercise if New Delhi wishes to underscore the ill-treatment meted out to minorities.
India must also be ready then for a quid pro quo from the Pakistani side offering a similar 'package' deal to Muslim Indians who visit Pakistan. There is no point in screaming blue murder when they hit us back with similar statements even if there are no takers.
It has been over sixty-eight years and, regardless of their religion, these people are voluntarily third generation Pakistani. If we wish to go into this populist but still murky area we need to do it on a case by case basis with merit as the spur. If someone is being politically persecuted or his or her life is in danger then create a recourse for seeking asylum not a carte blanche.
"The facilities include permitting opening of bank accounts without prior approval of the Reserve Bank of India subject to certain conditions, permission for purchase of dwelling unit for self-occupation and suitable accommodation for carrying out self-employment without prior approval of RBI subject to fulfilment of certain conditions."
For every purpose they have now become Indian. More vital than this box of concessions is to first put the ground floor in order. We have hundreds of thousands of undocumented people from Bangladesh trotting down the porous border and legions of people from Sri Lanka. They have built ghettos in the capital and no one really knows who they are. Even the police are afraid to go into these enclaves.
By that token we have millions of Indians of all religious pursuits who are dirt poor, unemployed, hungry and desolate and they do not live in Pakistan. Should we not start with charity at home?
First Published On : Apr 20, 2016 17:55 IST