India became free when British rule lapsed in 1947. It was freedom granted by the British and duly passed by an act of the British Parliament. It was not a freedom won by any coercive action like a war of independence. The freedom was without a fight, more as a gift and was solely dependent on the British perception that the Indian military for long the pivot of British rule could no longer be trusted. Many Indians had joined the Azad Hind army and coupled with a continuous mutiny in the navy had an unsettling effect. The British decided to leave and Gandhi and Nehru got freedom on a platter.

Hindu-Muslim divide

The British were past masters in a policy often referred to as ' divide and rule'. They supported a concept articulated by the poet Iqbal that Hindus and Muslims can not live together and in fact were two separate nations. Thus the concept of a homeland for Muslims emerged. This was Pakistan and Mohammad Ali Jinnah became its foremost exponent. The concept of Pakistan, however, did not solve the  Hindu-Muslim divide as a large number of Muslims were left in India. They now number close to 20 crores and they can't be wished away.

Nehru the Indian leader had a golden chance to integrate this community with the rest of India. But he failed and on a number of cases protected Muslim laws and life. He failed to enforce a uniform civil code, even as he reformed Hindu law. He thus allowed a separate Muslim identity that is detrimental to the Indian State. The Muslims were allowed to practice the Sharia and this despite the directive principles in the constitution that enjoin the government to pass a law as a uniform civil code. Thankfully a request for a separate electorate was not accepted.

The UCC

The wheel has now turned full circle and 70years down the line there is a clamor for a Uniform Civil Code ( UCC). The case being brought out is the concept of triple talaq. This gives a power to a man to divorce his wife  by just uttering the words talaq the 3 times. This can be done even by telephone. It's a draconian law and most Muslims consider this ad sacred and inviolable.

The Supreme Court is hearing the case and the court asked for the government opinion. In an affidavit , the government has stated that triple talaq is not compatible with the Indian aspirations and violative of the constitution that talks gender equality. The government  of Modi has taken the right decision, but it has served as a red flag to a bull.Almost all Muslim parties have closed ranks and called it an interference in their religion. Led by the Muslim law board, the Muslims state that they will practice the Sharia and no power on earth can enforce a UCC. In addition, they also say that Triple Talaq  cannot be abrogated and is part of Muslim ethos. They are not concerned with gender equality and feel that the rights of man take precedence all the time. 

Dilemma

The government is on the horns of a dilemma and it does not know how to bite the bullet. The Muslims are adamant that their personal law cannot be touched. One wonders how the Muslims are so vociferous in India while they except the civil code in Europe and the USA without a murmur. This is because of weakness in the government and more so of the Hindus who have let matters drift for 7 decades. One is reminded of days of  Muslim rule when the Muslims never asked Hindus whether they would like to pay the Jizia, a tax on Hindus as per the Koran. Those were the days of Muslim rule that lasted 9 centuries and during the days of the Mughals, the Hindu population declined by 80 million. That amounts to 30% of the population at that time.

Muslims are on the warpath and the number of adherents to the ISIS is rising with many from Karnataka, Kerala, and Hyderabad making a beeline. It's a frightening thought in case even 10% of the Muslim population were to take part in such activities what will happen to India? Can anybody guess it?

Last word

The UCC is just a tip of the iceberg but it is a pointer of things to come. How will the Modi and later governments deal with this? The UCC is, as I said, a small thing but the Muslim mind wants something more and who knows whether the seeds of another division of India are not already sown.


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