Winston Churchill once said, “Appeasement is a person feeding a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last”. Appeasement has been the bane of an ordinary Indian’s daily life. Right from getting admission to schools/colleges, to getting jobs, it seems everything is geared towards appeasing certain sects. While the idea was a great one, when reservation was implemented, no one expected the antiquated policies to be in play, nearly 72 years after independence. Whether it was actually to benefit the affected or, a political ploy to stay in power is highly debatable. Both proponents and opponents will give you a list of reasons to support their stand.

Who do we blame for this? Nehru has enough blame to shoulder so another one would have to be added to this list. He played along with, the then Education Minister, Maulana Azad’s suggestion back in 1954. When exhorted by various members of the hindu fraternity, he chose to ignore their pleas and went ahead. What started as a policy to be implemented for a limited period of time, to allow all backward people to come up in life, became permanent. The Mandal Commission, established in 1979, used data back from 1931; recent data was not made available to this commission. Based on this data, they concluded that over 50% of the population was in the category that needed reservation!!!

Now, rather than wanting to get OUT of this list, people are fighting to get IN to this list; Hardik Patel stands testimony to this. In today’s India, the ordinary Indian person is not interested in government jobs. However, the person is affected, positively or negatively, when these policies affect the education of her/his children.

We cannot blame the people benefiting from these policies! If I belonged to one of those communities, I would want to avail any of the benefits too! Be it a person from the minorities, backward communities or any other group, human tendency is to benefit from policies. Unless one had their head buried in sand, everyone has heard of the millionaire backward community candidate who was granted admission into a medical college while a person from the “forward” community, albeit from a very poor family, lost his chance to attend that college; many other such examples exist.

We hear of the the atrocities perpetrated on the common person in states like West Bengal, Kerala and other states. What we don’t hear is the reason why. Let’s understand a few facts that make these atrocities even more ghastly!

Yes, we hear that a fight broke out between people of two communities, over a seemingly innocuous reason. However, rather than step in, the local administration seemed to be abetting a community. That these could have easily been stopped, but weren’t, is appalling!

That the two communities have “lived harmoniously” is a myth! There have always been tense undercurrents, and is well documented; however, both communities have attempted to adjust to the other community. There is no denying that! That being said, when political representation is based on the majority community prevalent, this brings the tension to the forefront, and nobody wants that.

Appeasement is not the solution to social equality; if anything, this is undermining it! Starting from the reversal of the Shah Bano verdict to the banning of “The Satanic Verses” to Taslima Nasreen’s hiding from public, appeasement has made a mockery of the freedom of expression, and as a result, the Constitution. Only in India do we hear the phrase, “Terrorism has no religion.” Surprisingly, the very people that parrot this phrase don’t seem to have a problem saying “Saffron Terror” or “Hindu Terror”. In the same breath!!! Make up your mind!! Either terror has no religion, or it does!! You can’t have it both ways!!

The former Prime Minister, Man Mohan Singh’s statement, “Muslims have first claim on India’s resources” or the INC president stating that the INC was a Muslim party, have only gone to show how politicians have abetted the growing tensions between communities. That the INC president realized his faux pas and then went on a nationwide temple tour only goes to show an increased level of appeasement.

Is there a solution to this, at this point in time? Being a pragmatist, some would call me a pessimist, my feeling is No! Some of the community leaders have begun to realize the dangerous precedent set by appeasement. Unless they spread the message to their followers, who in turn realize the truth behind these words, this would be a situation that India cannot extricate itself from.

Maybe I’m wrong. What do you think?

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