Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Shah Bano - After 30 years

Those were the days of Longowala Accord and 400+ MP Majority for Rajiv Gandhi. Congress PM Rajiv Gandhi had ridden the Parliamentary Majority on the ashes of his mom, the majority which no Indian PM is likely to achieve ever. But alas that majority was not good enough to produce anything positively long-lasting. Apart from creating Environmental Ministry which focused India's attention to environmental issues (not necessarily solve though); there are few things I remember from Rajiv's Parliment (apart from presidential palace games of President Gyani Zail Singh to split the enormous Congress Majority...).

One of the things I remember from that era is how a socialist MP Madhu Dandavate tried in vain to argue against the misguided law of Rajiv Gandhi to overrule the Supreme Court decision of denying an easy way out for a Muslim male from his responsibilities in a marriage dissolution. I was in my college years then, still with dreamy views like how a debate in the parliament would change views of other MPs. Me and my friend Uday we wished that in the morning the law would not pass - the debate was for the whole night in the parliament. 

Looking back, the only thing good about that affair was there was at least some parliamentary debate! Given the tendencies of most democracies all over the world to either misguide the discourse or skip altogether any debate by skilled parliamentary machinations; it seems politicians then had at least some conscience left to 'argue and debate'. Definitely, likes of Madhu Dandavate have left behind a moral lesson for us - denying 'maintenance' to Shah Bano was wrong.

India took more than 30 years to recognize the basic rights of Muslim women here. Moreover, it needed Hindu Nationalist Government with lurking malice against Muslims to correct this imbalance. We had 3 Congress Governments in Delhi after Rajiv Gandhi, but none showed the courage to undo the non-sense of Rajiv's Shah Bano folly. These are the 'wages' of Indian Secular Polity in last 30 years!

Many in India's Secular Wing are likely to see this result with a suspicion. It is understandable that one would doubt secular credentials and motives of RSS aligned Indian PM Narendra Modi. But India's Left and Secularists need to avoid a knee jerk reaction to this verdict. Indian Supreme Court has got it right and PM Modi's Government has created the necessary 'political space' for justice to prevail in this case.

Debates in Parliament may not win arguments, as I learned from ages back heroics of Madhu Dandavate; but in the end, people get it 'right' in the land of 'rule of law'. No wonder, Indians; especially Indian Muslim Women are rightfully relieved at this ruling. 

These are exactly the foundations of a long lasting republic and Indians are marching well. 

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