March 24, 2010, Malviya Mission Auditorium, New Delhi
Chaired by: Sh. Ramesh Patange, Writer, Thinker & Chief Editor, Vivek (Weekly) Mumbai
Speaker: Smt. Asha Das, IAS (Retd.) and Member-Secretary Ranganath Misra Commission
Chief Guest: Sh. Arif Mohammad Khan (Former Union Minister and Renowned Thinker)
The contemporary unease is marked by an unholy alliance between politics and cultural identity in India. The thriving aspect of a multi-religious society lies in the observance of its cultural programmes and practices. However, it becomes counter-productive when the cultural realm digresses into the realm of politics and vice-versa. Indeed, in any society, both can overlap to the extent of widening and strengthening the core aspects of each other. This is the limit and any transgression of this limit would invariably create uneasy situation. Unfortunately, the political dispensation of the day has paid little heed to this sensitive issue of the separateness of both religion and politics. It is pertinent to mention that the way the politics of secularism is used and misused for political gains has played havoc with the cultural ethos of this great ancient civilization.
It is the considered view of the IPF that the Ranganath Misra Commission report is one more subtle attempt to divide Indian society on communal lines by painting one particular community as a loser in the midst of claims and counter-claims by the different segments of society. These claims and counter-claims are dealt with by privileging the dominant and conspicuous minority, violating the established principles of equality. In fact, this is the negative offshoot of the deliberate selective application of the principle of secularism. Regrettably, this is the running theme of a particular variety of politics of secularism right since the days of independence. Therefore, the India Policy Foundation thought it prudent to deconstruct the real motive of the Ranganath Misra Commission report by organizing a seminar on the subject.
“The members of Ranganath Misra Commission made alteration in some of the chapters without informing me,” accused Smt. Asha Das, former member-secretary of the Commission and former Secretary for Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India. She said this in response to a question raised by Prof. Rakesh Sinha, Director of IPF, which organised the discussion on ‘Ramifications of Ranganath Misra Commission Report’. She said that the original draft of the report was replaced by an alternative draft at a meeting of the Commission, to which she was not invited. She has given a 13-page dissent note on the recommendation of the Commission.
The Chief Guest on the occasion, Sh. Arif Mohammad Khan, said that Ranganath Misra Commission report should be rejected outright since it made religion the basis for reservation. It would divide the country and take us back to the era of the Lucknow Pact (1916) when a similar mistake was made.
Sh. Ramesh Patange, chief editor of weekly Vivek (Mumbai), said that the Commision’s report violated the Preamble of the Constitution which begins with “We the People” and did not create various religious segments. A large number of academicians, intellectuals and researchers, including former Union Minister Sh. Ravi Shankar Prasad, were present on the occasion.