The Telangana government has been going overboard to placate the Muslims in the state, much at the cost of other communities, which would, clearly, not only distort the political discourse but also sow seeds of discord
The driver of a vehicle must be cautious and careful. Even a small error is a potential danger to life. By announcing Urdu as the second language of Telangana, Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) has committed a blunder that is bound to influence generations to come. Not just this, some of the other major decisions taken by Telangana government in recent times can be termed bluntly as minority appeasement for purely political gains with scant regard to the overall well-being of the state.
On November 9 KCR designated Urdu as second official language of Telangana. He announced that 900 Urdu teachers would be recruited soon by forming a special District Selection Committee (DSC). The eligibility criteria for these posts will be framed by the Urdu Academy and the Minority welfare department. The deadline for the recruitment is 70 days and to be executed on top priority basis.
KCR has also provided for induction of 66 Urdu-speaking officers into various key departments in the government. The State Assembly, Council Chairman, Chief Secretary and the 17 other ministers will have one Urdu -speaking officer assisting them. Likewise, the assembly administration, State Council, Information and Public Relations Department, Office of the Director General of Police (DGP), the Hyderabad City Police commissionerate and all the newly set up 31 district Collector offices will have exclusive Urdu speaking officers to receive petitions from the public.
Imposition of Urdu as the second language in Telangana is KCR’s latest spectacle among the slew of audacious largesse he has granted to appease the Muslims in the state.
He had recently proposed to construct Hyderabad International Islamic Cultural Convention Centre of international standard in an area of 10 acres in Kokapet on the outskirts of Hyderabad. He has also decided to set up a separate industrial corridor for Muslims which is in direct contrast to the democratic principles of the country.
Telangana government has also increased the quota for Muslims in jobs and education from 4% to 12%. The Telangana Minorities Residential Educational Institutions Society (TMREIS) is planning to set up 120 schools at the cost of Rs.6723 Crores. 71 such residential schools (39 Boys and 32 Girls) are already functioning and remaining are likely to come up in later phases. 75% of the seats are reserved for the minorities in these schools. Urdu is a compulsory subject for Muslims while non-Muslim students can opt for Telugu.
The Chief Minister’s Overseas Scholarship Scheme for Minorities introduced in 2015-16 grants Rs.10 Lakhs per Student and one-way Airfare to those minorities travelling abroad for higher education in foreign universities. A Telangana Minorities Study Circle was also formed for 2015-16, which will focus on training minorities Candidates for competitive exams conducted by TSPSC. It is also sponsoring 100 minority candidates who are preparing for All India Services Exams from the country’s top Institutes every year.
Officially, all the above initiatives come under Minority welfare schemes but are aimed at strengthening the Muslim vote bank for the ruling party. Official records say that there are already 1,561 Urdu-medium schools in the State with about 1.31 lakh students.
The current Urdu academy in Telangana is occupied in organising Haj programmes and religious seminars. The Urdu academy is not equipped to do any academic work .We already have a number of examples across the country where fanatics from Islamic seminaries are seen and heard sowing the seeds of separatism and refuse to abide by the law of the land. If a school going kid is fed such venom by fanatics, the result is bound to damage the social fabric of the state and country.
Till date there has been no proof of any contribution of any madrasa to science and technology. On the contrary, Madrasas have contributed immensely to the establishment of theological states across the Arab lands and in Asia too. If these are the antecedents of Islamic schools across the world, what kind of research would an Islamic centre in Hyderabad conduct? The historical evidence is simple and clear. It will be another institution supplying Islamic doctrine to schools and colleges. In the coming decade, voices of separatism would have grown with the sanction of the government and funded by the Telangana public! Chances of this scenario transpiring is high because there is none to verify the content and monitor the developments of such schools.
The language barrier will pose a big challenge to the government officers thus forcing them to agree to requests that are in Urdu. Leaders like Owaisi can easily hijack these schools to suit their own narrative and paint a favourable picture of the Nizam and Mughuls in the history books of such schools. Chief Minister Chandrashekar Rao himself has always been reluctant to accept the atrocities of Nizam and the Razakars during the accession of Hyderabad in 1948. These kinds of appeasing actions by Telangana government will only sow the seeds of Muslim separatism.
A separate Industrial corridor for Muslims may be on paper today but will soon be pushed as an agenda for the 2019 general elections. In October, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Soud Mohammed Alsati expressed willingness to invest in Telangana. With such religion-based investment coming in, the ramifications for Telangana and the country as a whole are huge. KCR’s promise of an exclusive industrial corridor for Muslims will give rise to other demands. Since such a corridor would mostly accommodate students literate in Urdu, Muslim investors could demand a “separate” welfare fund for Muslims and later insist on Islamic Banking too.
The Khilafat movement, supported by M.K. Gandhi, resulted in furthering the Muslims separatist agenda and resulted in the partition of India. Such slew of measures by a state government to appease the Muslims would result in rekindling separatist tendencies again. We can recall that MIM party head Assauddin Owaisi initially opposed the idea of a separate Telangana but agreed to support the cause only when his demand to include Kurnool and Ananthapur districts, both with a high percentage of Muslims, were included as part of the new state.
Corridor for Muslim
Measures aimed at pampering a community are bound to sow the seeds of discord in the society, creating deep chasms and spoil the social fabric. Instead of attempting to bring the madrasas into the mainstream with emphasis on science and modern computer-based education, the Telangana government is running in the opposite direction. Arabic style of dressing in Hyderabad, increase in burkha clad schools kids are manifestations of cultural assertiveness which further alienate Muslims from the mainstream. Similar appeasing measures, in the garb of secularism and Muslim identity, attempted by the erstwhile SP government in UP had almost alienated the Muslims of the state and hence this year the UP Government, led by Yogi Adityanath had to force the madrasas to celebrate Independence Day. Telangana could follow suit if remedial measures are not taken soon.
Recently, AIMIM leader Akbaruddin Owaisi proactively proposed that his party will form an alliance with TRS in the 2019 general elections. By the time nationalistic forces are strengthened in the state, the separatist elements could gain a strong foothold.
Any attempt by the central government to thwart their efforts will be showcased as being anti-Muslim. Decisions of Telangana government aimed at appeasing the Muslims could lead to serious damage to the society in the coming days if they are not effectively countered by every concerned citizen, party or organisation.
The writer is co-convernor of Vishwa Samvad Kendra, Telangana