JANUARY 20 , 2010

The Congress-and Nationalist Congress Party coalition government in Maharashtra on Wednesday passed a resolution which makes it mandatory for all taxi drivers to speak, read and write Marathi to get taxi permits and also that they must have been residing in the state for 15 years. The State Cabinet’s decision is likely to have far reaching repercussions for other states in India, and could trigger similar divisionary and disturbing decisions.

The latest Cabinet decision for taxi permits is bound to affect migrants from North Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar as most taxis in Mumbai are being driven by people from these two states.However, the Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan has clarified that the decision is only for new permits and old ones won’t be affected.It is pertinent to mention that in the recent past migrant taxi drivers have been targeted by the Maharashtra Navniramna Sena for allegedly taking up the jobs of locals.

The decision appears to fly in the face of a recent Supreme Court ruling. In an apparent reference to the recent violence against north Indians in Mumbai, Supreme Court Justice Markandey Katju, in his judgment, in Hinsa Virodhak Sangh  Vs Mirzapur Moti Kuresh Jamat & Ors ( 14.03.2008) reminded the divisionary forces

“ ……

41.It must be remembered that India is a multi-cultural pluralistic society with tremendous diversity.  There are a large number of religions, castes, languages, ethnic groups, cultures, etc. in our country.  Somebody is tall, somebody is short, somebody is fair, somebody is brown, somebody is dark in complexion, someone has Caucasian features, someone has Mongoloid features, someone has Negroid features, etc.  We may compare our country with China which is larger in population and size than India. China has 1.3 billion people while our population is 1.1 billion.  Also, China has more than twice our land area.  However, there is broad homogeneity in China. All Chinese have Mongoloid features; they have a common written script (Mandarin Chinese) and 96% of them belong to one ethnic group called the Han Chinese.

42.On the other hand, India as stated above, has tremendous diversity and this is due to large scale migrations and invasion into India over thousands of years.

43.People migrate from uncomfortable areas to comfortable areas.  Before the coming of modern industry there were agricultural societies and India was a paradise for these because agriculture requires level land, fertile soil, plenty of water for irrigation etc. which was in abundance in India.  Why would anybody living in India migrate to Afganistan which has a  harsh terrain, rocky and mountainous and covered with snow for several months in a year when one cannot grow any crop?  Hence, almost all migrations and invasions came from outside into India (except in recent times when some people have gone to other countries for job opportunities).  Most of the migrations/invasions came from the North-West, and to a much lesser extent from the North-East of India.  Thus, people kept pouring into India, and it is for this reason that there is so much diversity in India.

44.As the great Urdu poet Firaq Gorakhpuri wrote :

In the land of Hind, the Caravans of the peoples of

The world kept coming in and India kept getting formed

45.Since India is a country of great diversity, it is absolutely essential if we wish to keep our country united to have tolerance and respect for all communities and sects.  It was due to the wisdom of our founding fathers that we have a Constitution which is secular in character, and which caters to the tremendous diversity in our country.

46.Thus it is the Constitution of India which is keeping us together despite all our tremendous diversity, because the Constitution gives equal respect to all communities, sects, lingual and ethnic groups, etc. in the country.

47.The architect of modern India was the great Mughal Emperor Akbar who gave equal respect to people of all communities and appointed them to the highest offices on their merits irrespective of their religion, caste, etc.

48.The Emperor Akbar held discussions with scholars of all religions and gave respect not only to Muslim scholars, but also to Hindus, Christians, Parsis, Sikhs, etc.  Those who came to his court were given respect and the Emperor heard their views, sometimes alone, and sometimes in the Ibadatkhana (Hall of Worship), where people of all religions assembled and discussed their views in a tolerant spirit.  The Emperor declared his policy of Suleh-e-Kul, which means universal tolerance of all religions and communities.  He abolished Jeziya in 1564 and the pilgrim tax in 1563 on Hindus and permitted his Hindu wife to continue to practise her own religion even after their marriage.  This is evident from the Jodha Bai Palace in Fatehpur Sikri which is built on Hindu architectural pattern.

49.In 1578, the Parsi theologian Dastur Mahyarji Rana was invited to the Emperors court and he had detailed discussions with Emperor Akbar and acquainted him about the Parsi religion.  Similarly, the Jesuit Priests Father Antonio Monserrate, Father Rodolfo Acquaviva and Father Francisco Enriques etc. also came to the Emperors court on his request and acquainted him about the Christian religion.  The Emperor also became acquainted with Sikhism and came into contact with Guru Amar Das and Guru Ram Das (see `The Mughal Empire by R.C. Majumdar).

50.Thus, as stated in the Cambridge History of India (Vol.IV  The Mughal Period) Emperor Akbar conceived the idea of becoming the father of all his subjects, rather than the leader of only the Muslims, and he was far ahead of his times.  As mentioned by Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru in `The Discovery of India, Akbars success is astonishing, for he created a sense of oneness among the diverse elements of India.

51.In 1582, the Emperor invited and received a Jain delegation consisting of Hiravijaya Suri, Bhanuchandra Upadhyaya and Vijayasena Suri.  Jainism, with its doctrine of non-violence, made a profound impression on him and influenced his personal life.  He curtailed his food and drink and ultimately abstained from flesh diet altogether for several months in the year.  He renounced hunting which was his favourite pastime, restricted the practice of fishing and released prisoners and caged birds.  Slaughter of animals was prohibited on certain days and ultimately in 1587 for about half the days in the year.

52.Akbars contact with Jains began as early as 1568, when Padma Sunder who belonged to the Nagpuri Tapagaccha was honoured by him.

53.As mentioned in Dr. Ishwari Prasads `The Mughal Empire, the Jains had a great influence on the Emperor.  A disputation was held in Akbars court between the Jain monks Buddhisagar of Tapgaccha and Suddha Kirti of Khartargaccha on the subject of Jain religious ceremony called Pansadha in which the winner was given the title Jagatguru by Akbar.  Having heard of the virtues and learning of Hir Vijaya Suri in 1582 the Emperor sent an invitation to him through the Mughal Viceroy at Ahmedabad.  He accepted it in the interests of his religion.  He was offered money by the Viceroy to defray the expenses of the journey but he refused.  The delegation consisting of Hir Vijaya Suri, Bhanu Chandra Upadhyaya and Vijaya Sen Suri started on their journey and walked on foot to Fatehpur Sikri and were received with great honour befitting imperial guests.  Hir Vijaya Suri had discussion with Abul Fazl.  He propounded the doctrine of Karma and an impersonal God.  When he was introduced to the Emperor he defended true religion and told him that the foundation of faith should be daya (compassion) and that God is one though he is differently named by different faiths.

54.The Emperor received instruction in Dharma from Suri who explained the Jain doctrines to him.  He discussed the existence of God and the qualities of a true Guru and recommended non-killing (Ahinsa).  The Emperor was persuaded to forbid the slaughter of animals for six months in Gujarat and to abolish the confiscation of the property of deceased persons, the Sujija Tax (Jeziya) and a Sulka (possibly a tax on pilgrims) and to free caged birds and prisoners.  He stayed for four years at Akbars court and left for Gujarat in 1586.  He imparted a knowledge of Jainism to Akbar and obtained various concessions to his religion.  The Emperor is said to have taken a vow to refrain from hunting and expressed a desire to leave off meat-eating for ever as it had become repulsive.  The Emperor presented to him Padma Sundar scriptures which were preserved in his palace.  He offered them to Suri as a gift and he was pressed by the Emperor to accept them.  The killing of animals was forbidden for certain days.

55.If the Emperor Akbar could forbid meat eating for six months in a year in Gujarat, is it unreasonable to abstain from meat for nine days in a year in Ahmedabad today?

56.Emperor Akbar was a propagator of Suleh-i-Kul (universal toleration) at a time when Europeans were indulging in religious massacres e.g. the St. Bartholomew Day massacre in 1572 of Protestants, (called Huguenots) in France by the Catholics, the burning at the stake of Protestants by Queen Mary of England, the massacre by the Duke of Alva of millions of people for their resistance to Rome and the burning at the stake of Jews during the Spanish Inquisition.  We may also mention the subsequent massacre of the Catholics in Ireland by Cromwell, and the mutual massacre of Catholics and Protestants in Germany during the thirty year war from 1618 to 1648 in which the population of Germany was reduced from 18 million to 12 million. Thus, Emperor Akbar was far ahead of even the Europeans of his times.

57.Emperor Akbar himself abstained from eating meat on Fridays and Sundays and on some other days, as has been mentioned in the Ain-I-Akbari by Abul Fazl.

58.     It was because of the wise policy of toleration of the Great Emperor Akbar that the Mughal empire lasted for so long, and hence the same wise policy of toleration alone can keep our country together despite so much diversity.

59.     We may give another historical illustration of tolerance in our country.  In the reign of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah of Avadh, in a certain year

Holi and Muharrum coincidentally fell on the same day.  Holi is a festival of joy, whereas Muharrum is an occasion for mourning.  The Hindus of Lucknow decided that they would not celebrate Holi that year out of respect for the sentiments for their Muslim brethren. On that day, the Nawab joined the Muharrum procession and after burial of the Tazia at Karbala he enquired why Holi is not being celebrated.  He was told that it was not being celebrated because the Hindus out of respect for the sentiments of their Muslim brethren had decided not to play Holi that year because it was a day of mourning for the Muslims. On hearing this, Nawab Wajid Ali Shah declared that since Hindus have respected the sentiments of their Muslim brothers, it is also the duty of the Muslims to respect the sentiments of their Hindu brethren.  Hence, he announced that Holi would be celebrated the same day and he himself was the first who started playing Holi on that day and thereafter everyone in Lucknow, including the Muslims, played Holi, although it was Muharrum day also.  It is this kind of sentiment of tolerance which alone can keep our country united.

60.     We are making these comments because what we are noticing now-a-days is a growing tendency of intolerance in our country.

61.     Article 1(1) of the Constitution states India i.e Bharat is a Union of States.

62.  It may be mentioned that during the Constituent Assembly debates some members of the Constituent Assembly were of the view that India should be described as a Federation.  However, instead of the word “Federation” the word “Union” was deliberately selected by the Drafting Committee of the Constituent Assembly to indicate two things, viz., (a) that the Indian Union is not the result of an agreement by the States, and (b) that the component States have no freedom to secede from it.

63.     Moving the Draft Constitution for the consideration of the Constituent Assembly on November 4, 1948, Dr. Ambedkar, Chairman of the Drafting Committee explained the significance of the use of the expression “Union” instead of the expression “Federation”:-

“It is true that South Africa which is a unitary State is described as a Union.  But Canada which is a Federation is also called a Union. Thus the description of India as a Union, though its constitution is federal, does no violence to usage.  But what is important is that the use of the word “Union” is deliberate.  I do not know why the word “Union” was used in the Canadian Constitution.  But I can tell you why the Drafting Committee has used it.  The Drafting Committee wanted to make  it clear that though India was to be a federation, the federation was not the result of an agreement by the States to join in a federation, and that the federation not being the result of an agreement, no State has the right to secede from it.  The federation is a Union because it is indestructible. Though the country and the people may be divided into different States for convenience of administration, the country is one integral whole, its people a single people living under a single imperium derived from a single source.  The Americans had to wage a civil war to establish that the States have no right of secession and that their federation was indestructible.  The Drafting Committee thought that it was better to make it clear at the outset rather than to leave it to speculation or to dispute”.

64.     The Drafting Committee thus clearly attached great importance to the use of the term “Union” as symbolic of the determination of the Assembly to maintain the unity of the country.  This was evident from the discussions on draft article 1 in the Assembly on November 15, 1948.

65.     Thus India is not an association or confederation of States, it is a Union of States and there is only one nationality that is Indian.  Hence every Indian has a right to go any where in India, to settle anywhere, and work and do business of his choice in any part of India, peacefully.

66.     These days unfortunately some people seem to be perpetually on a short fuse, and are willing to protest often violently, about anything under the sun on the ground that a book or painting or film etc. has hurt the sentiments of their community.  These are dangerous tendencies and must be curbed with an iron hand.  We are one nation and must respect each other and should have tolerance.

67. As the great Tamil Poet Subramaniya Bharati wrote :

This Bharatmaata has thirty crores of faces!

But her body is one.

She speaks eighteen languages!

But her thought is one

68. The great Tamil poet Kaniyan Pookundranar wrote :

All places are my own places

All people are my own kith and kin

69. Similarly, the great poet Saint Tiruvalluvar in Chapter 74 verse 735 of Tirukkural wrote:

That alone can be called as a prosperous country

which is free from separatist tendencies

and people who harm its sovereignty.

70. In the Shanti Parv of Mahabharata Bhishma Pitamah tells


Republics have been destroyed only because of internal

divisions, it  is  only  when  there  are  internal

divisions  between  the people,  that an  enemy can

destroy it, hence a republic should always try to

achieve, unity  and good relations between its people.”

In the same Shanti Parv, Bhishma Pitamah also said :

The intelligent authorities of a republic should suppress

Those leaders of factions who try to divide the people.





    Though everyone keeps harping on the Shiv Sena/MNS factor in creating the marathi-manus versus outsider issue in Maharashtra, it is in fact the Congress and its allies which have allowed the problem to foster. Maharashtra has been a Congress bastion for most of India’s history, and yet, they have either failed to check the growth of this issue, or quietly approved of the Shiv-Sena/MNS methods of promoting regionalism. This move, if made mandatory, is not just violative of the Constitution, but also marks a new low in the political climate of the country.

  2. It is unfortunate that the Congress Government has dared to thought of legislating such a patently anti-constitutional piece of law incorporating two discriminatory clauses to obtain Taxi permits in Mumbai. While the political compulsions of MNS and Shiv Sena are understandable, what compelled the Congress to adopt such a partisan posture is beyond one’s comprehension. Fortunately, the High Command intervened timely and compelled the state leadership to climb down from the stated position before causing much damage.

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