Imagine a newly elected village panchayat deciding what should be the punishment for theft in their village. Now, none of the village panch are thieves themselves so they agree on a certain set of rules. These rules can be called fair because in future if any of the panchayat members are caught stealing they will be subject to the same rules.

Now add a twist to the tale. Assume that one of the members is a thief himself but no one knows that yet. This member will actively argue for the lower punishment for such crimes because he knows that his chances of being subjected to those rules are much higher. The rules out of such negotiations are not fair because one party had extra hidden information. Over time this sort of bias gives great benefit to the entire community of thieves.

While this might appear like an extreme case, in reality, special interest groups work actively all the time across all political systems to make laws that benefit them. Recently Mark Zuckerberg in his Congressional testimony batted for regulation of social media. He understands full well that he will be able to influence those regulations and make rules that help his monopoly while creating entry barriers for new competition.

B. R. Ambedkar baked affirmative action in the constitution for the same reason. He wanted his community of benefit from the rules he was forming and hence he gave them a better deal.

Although this sort of power struggle might appear unfair to many, it is unavoidable. The best way to counter it perhaps is making sure there are different pressure groups that actively negotiate for themselves and hence the legal biases even themselves out. For example, in the USA the Oil Lobby and Environmentalist Lobby keep fighting each other.

The Minority Lobby 

Congress party’s track record in benefiting their core vote bank is rather very impressive. Congress party brought in RTE and gave an exemption to their special interest group of minorities. Then the party went ahead and amended the constitution itself and ensured that minorities are protected from any court intervention in future.

But that was not enough. Congress party went out of its way to make it real simple for Minorities to claim the exemptions. They created “National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions” and then banned Hindus from being members of it. Also, this body can issue minority certificates irrespective of what State governments might do, thus protecting all the thousands of minority institutions from different state governments. All the minority institutions need to do is to make sure their people are selected on NCMEI and they can enjoy full protection against any government regulation.

It is not enough that minority institutions are free to provide education. One needs to make sure that minority students have an edge over everyone else too. Since courts have often declared Muslim reservations to be unconstitutional Congress pulled a new trick “Minority only schemes”. I will come to that later but let us understand an important question. What exactly were the representatives of Hindu institutions doing when they were being steamrolled by Right to Education and other regulations? Why could they not negotiate a better deal for themselves?

Faizan Mustafa addresses that question in his recent article in Indian Express titled “Two Inequalities“.

Article 30 of the Indian Constitution permits religious and linguistic minorities to establish and administer the educational institutions of their choice. Since minorities are defined at the state level, Yogi should know that Hindus, too, as a linguistic minority are entitled to Article 30 rights. A Hindi medium institution in Tamil Nadu established by the Hindus of UP will be a linguistic minority institution. Hindus are also a religious minority in a few states.

Firstly, Hindus getting minority status in Nagaland is not same as Muslims getting minority status in Kerala. Also, the minority status has not been granted to any Hindus by any state government. Why would a Christian government in Nagaland bother giving any freedom to Hindus? And unlike Muslims Hindus can not approach the central government authority NCMEI because by law Hindus are not allowed to be part of it.

But even leaving that issue aside, the TMA Pai judgment had defined Article 30 to have a far narrower scope than what Mr. Faizan claims here. It was the 93rd amendment that made Minorities free from any regulations while forcing all Hindu institutions to come under them.

Article 15(5) of the Constitution says that minority institutions under Article 30 shall be exempt from the constitutional reservation. This amendment was inserted in 2005 by the 93rd constitutional amendment that was not opposed by the BJP. Of the 381 Lok Sabha members who were present in the House, 379 had supported this amendment. The amendment brought in by the BJP’s Vijay Kumar Malhotra for dropping the exemption of minority institutions got just 110 votes as 272 members voted against it. The constitutional validity of the amendment was upheld by the five-judge bench of the Supreme Court in Ashok Thakur (2008). The court said that the exemption of minority educational institutions from the ambit of reservations is constitutionally valid as such institutions are a class by themselves and cater to the special needs of minorities. Their exemption is thus not violative of the right to equality.

Even though the law is unfair and utterly bigoted, all Mr. Faizan has to say here is “it is in the constitution” to shut us up. But if he really wants to rub it in our face, he reminds us that BJP supported the amendment very enthusiastically. 379 out of 381 members supported the amendment essentially supporting the claim that Hindus can be treated as second-class citizens.

It is obvious that BJP failed miserably to uphold interests of its core voters either out of ignorance or incompetence.

Minority Only Scholarships and other schemes

Indian people are very enthusiastic supporters of government doles in education. What can possibly be wrong with scholarships? Most people wonder. Isn’t it good if more minority students are able to afford education? What people fail to realize here is that dividing the public purse in favor of one group leaves less for another group. In fact, the non-minorities have not negotiated anything here. Say the total minority population in this country is 30%. The budget allocated to minority only scholarships is around 2500. This should mean the rest of the population should also have access to scholarships of around 6000 crores. But that budget is around 200 crores.

To understand how evil this sort of schemes are let me rephrase the minority only scholarships as follows. This new definition helps people understand why it is bad.

Let’s create a poor student scholarship with the budget of 2500 crores. Once all poor students apply we claim that minorities have the first right on this public money and hence first distribute all the scholarships to minority students. After all minority students have received scholarships if some money remains we give it to other students. Does this sound fair to you? If this does not sound then how does a poor student scholarship where non-minorities are NOT EVEN allowed to apply? Is that fair? That is precisely what minority only schemes are.

When Dr. Manmohan Singh said minorities have first right on national resources all the BJP politicians were quick to criticise it because it takes relatively fewer brains to understand why that is a bad idea but the same politicians have supported minority only schemes and even increased budgets for the same.

The counter strategy

Passing/repealing laws is the primary duty of elected politicians. Giving out LED bulbs and building toilets are secondary objectives because it can be implemented even by a half decent PWD engineer. Securing a better deal for your supporters is Politics 101 for any politician. If you want to virtue signal claiming you do not want to treat anyone special than it is important that you do not allow your opponents to have special interest groups either. You need to work on dismantling them.

As 4+ years of a historic mandate goes down the drain, BJP sadly has failed miserably to implement any sensible legislative agenda. Worse they seem to have moved very fast on implementing the agenda set for them by Congress party. BJP’s star minister who has delivered well beyond his political weight, in my opinion, is Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi who has revealed scheme after scheme with astronomical budgets for minorities only.

Mr. Faizan gave a piece of advice to Mr. Yogi

There is no Muslim reservation in AMU. It already has more than 45 percent or so Hindus in its prestigious courses like medicine or engineering. If Yogi really cares for Dalits, let him force the BJP to implement Dalit reservations in the private sector. Meanwhile, let AMU and JMI make special efforts to increase SC/ST representation so that societal diversity is reflected in these institutions.

What should be read in that advice is “Implement our agenda further and we might consider throwing some crumbs at SC/ST in future at our discretion”. That is the language of someone who has run laps around you and defeated you thoroughly.

This is where ideally BJP should have left its hounds loose. The people who have got RS seats just to support BJP in public sphere. People who run think-tanks and attend literary festivals. People who otherwise write on the lofty issues of Indo-US partnerships and countering China in Africa. People who otherwise talk about making India a Vishwa-Guru. Sadly, that is not happening. The only conclusion here in my opinion is that Hindus need a separate pressure group to work on their interests.