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Published On:14 April 2012
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

International Conference of IOS on ‘Minority Rights & Identities’ begins

India, followed policy of equal respect to all religions’


By Pervez Bari


New Delhi: Justice Rajinder Sachar, former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, has appealed to the Indians who have a multi-facet identity, to struggle unitedly for their rights and maintain Human Rights identity. The fight is for humanity wherein Muslims, Hindus and Christians should join hands together against their oppression by the government of the day.


Justice Sachar emphasised that in any country wherein the minorities have a feeling that they are being discriminated then that nation cannot call itself to be a cultured one. The government that cannot do justice to its minority populace has no right to rule, he added.


The above views were expressed by chief guest Justice Sachar while delivering the inaugural address in the 3-day International Conference on “Minority Rights and Identities: Challenges and Prospects in an Unfolding Global Scenario” which began here at Mavalankar Hall in the Constitution Club on Friday afternoon. The conference is being organised by the New Delhi-based Institute of Objective Studies, (IOS), as part of its IOS Silver Jubilee celebrations. Justice A. M. Ahmadi, ex-Chief Justice, Supreme Court of India, presided over the function.


It may be mentioned here that this conference is the last conference in the year-long 14-conference series held as part of the celebrations on completion of 25 years of its existence by the Institute of Objective Studies. A series of programmes in collaboration with institutions, departments, faculties and universities from April 2011 to April 2012 at Delhi as well as other major cities of the country were organised. The silver jubilee celebrations of the IOS was inaugurated by Union Minister of Law and Justice, Dr. M. Veerappa Moily, with an international conference on ‘Towards Knowledge, Development and Peace – Outlining Roadmaps for the Future’ on April 15-17, 2011 at New Delhi followed by twelve other conferences on ‘Prospects for Islamic Venture Capital Fund in India’; Interest-free Institutional Mechanism (Banking, Finance and Insurance) for Promoting Investment’; ‘Indo-ASEAN Trade and Investment’; ‘Global Trends in Education: Review and Options’; ‘Power of Media in a Globalising World’; ‘Good Governance in a Globalising World’; ‘Challenges before Youth in Contemporary World’; ‘Islamic Culture and Art’; ‘Empowering Women: Paradigm, Sources and Methodologies’; ‘Judiciary, Ethics and Delivery System’; ‘Peace and Progress: Role of Religions’ and ‘Worldview of Development: Challenges and Alternative Paradigm’ held at New Delhi, Srinagar, New Delhi, Patna, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Calicut, Cuttack, Aligarh and Pune respectively.


Meanwhile, Justice Markandey Katju, Chairman of Press Council of India, who was Guest of Honour on the occasion said Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great is the creator of modern India who enunciated the “Sulah-e-Kul” (equal respect to all religions) policy. Emperor Akbar was ahead by 200 years of his time and practiced secularism by having non-Muslims like Birbal, Maan Singh and others in his court on high positions. 


Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minster of India, and his colleagues extended Akbar’s policy and India was declared not a Hindu state in retaliation to Pakistan being made an Islamic state but a secular state. Pandit Nehru must have withstood utmost pressure and tension at that time and resisted not to yield to fascist forces to declare India a Hindu state, he averred.


Justice Katju reiterated that India is a country of immigrants where diversities of castes, cultures, languages etc. exists and are at its best. He pointed out that the scourge of communal violence was not there in India before the 1857 Mutiny when Hindus and Muslims joined hands to overthrow the yoke of British rule from the country. After crushing the revolt the British rulers adopted the divide and rule policy and introduced the virus of communalism in the country, he pointed out.


Justice A. M. Ahmadi in his presidential address said that education is the only recourse for empowerment of minorities and Muslims hoping empowerment without education is wholly displaced. He lamented that there is bias of police forces against Muslims. He said there is need to awaken secular forces.


Justice Ahmadi said that we live in a pluralistic society and he does not like the word tolerance as it is not a good word. When someone says to him that he is tolerating him then he thinks that something was wrong with himself. He said the word accommodate was better and be used in place of tolerance, he added.


Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam, Chairman of IOS, while presenting the IOS journey through years said: “We should have a common human rights regime for the entire SAARC-area minorities. We have come to realise over the years that the SAARC is not mere a political and business bloc, but a civilisation terrain that has a single cultural and political ecology”.


Dr. Alam said that there is so much violence and persecution which has created a generalised fear. The minorities are ruled by that overwhelming sense of fear that it has become part of their experience. The state has not only failed to protect the weak but is party to their experience.
He lamented that anti-Muslim organisations bent upon harming Muslims on one pretext or the other seem to be working in tandem with the country’s intelligence and security agencies. In that context Muslims are placed as the hostile “Other”, he remarked.


Dr. Mutleq R. Al-Qarawi, Asst. Undersecretary for Technical Coordination, Foreign Relations and Hajj, Ministry of Awqaf & Islamic Affairs, Kuwait, who was also one of guest of honour present on the dais, while speaking on the occasion emphasised on the rights and identities of Muslims said: “If we do right then we will get our rights. So, we have to follow the Holy Qur’an and the sayings of the prophet Muhammad (PBUH)”. This is for all humanity, he added.


Others who spoke on the occasion included Prof. B. Sheik Ali, former Vice-Chancellor, Universities of Mangalore and Goa; Rev. Dr. Dominique Emmanuel, Spokesperson, Delhi Catholic Archdiocese; Swami Dharmananda; Director, Adhyatma Sadhana Kendra, New Delhi; Swami Omkarananda Saraswati, Omkar Dham, New Delhi. Geshe Dorji Damdul, Director, Tibet House, Cultural Center of H.H. the Dalai Lama, New Delhi; and Dr. Mohinder Singh, Member, National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions were also present on the dais.


A short film on the IOS and the proposed IOS University at Palwal in Haryana was released and screened on the occasion. A souvenir was also released on the occasion. Dr. Ahmad Ashfaque Karim of Katihar, a social scientist, was felicitated with IOS award on the occasion.


Earlier, Prof. Z. M. Khan, secretary general of IOS, delivered welcome address and presented IOS profile. At the outset Maulana Abdullah Tarique recited verses from the Holy Qur’an. Prof. Ishtiyaque Danish, Asst. Secretary General of IOS, proposed vote of thanks. Agha Sultan, educationist & former member of SAC, Bangalore University, VTU & AICTE (SWRC), conducted the programme with aplomb.


[Pervez Bari is a senior Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Madhya Pradesh). He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

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