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‘Secularism Has Become A Way Of Keeping Muslims Hostage’: Yogendra Yadav

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By Yasa Iqbal:

The Indian Muslim community in Riyadh held an event this weekend in the capital called the “Current Political Discourse in India – A Challenge for Minorities”.

The event that took place on December 2 was graced by Mr Yogendra Yadav, a professor, politician and a political analyst. On the invitation of the Aligarh Muslim University Old Boys’ Association (AMUOBA) in Riyadh, Professor Yadav graced the affair.

The founder of Swaraj India spoke eloquently at the event. He said, “More than a minority question, we are looking at the specific question of Indian Muslims. Because Indian Muslims suffer, not merely as a religious minority, but also suffer as a socially disadvantaged and discriminated group. This is what makes the situation of Indian Muslims unique. They face a challenge today. A challenge which has created a sense of siege especially after Prime Minister Modi’s victory and his political consolidation in 2014.”

Muslims, unlike other minorities are different. They have been subjected to social and political differences. They are being reduced to second citizens and the blame is not to go on Mr Modi and his party but the general idea of secularism which has prevailed in the recent years,” added Mr Yadav.

According to him, the Muslims are a political tool and have been used since years for political benefits by age-old parties. The majoritarian thinks that Muslims are being favoured by the parties. Yet, this does nothing apart from bringing more disadvantage to an already deplorable situation.

“The problem is that this siege-like situation has resulted in a siege-like mentality among the Indian Muslims, their leaders, their intellectuals and their politicians. And this siege mentality leads them to do things which are detrimental to their own interest,” he explained. “What siege mentality does is that it makes you play the script of your opponent. I believe the national debate on Uniform Civil Code is a classic example of that. Mr Amit Shah laid a trap and Muslims, religious and political leaders along with the so-called secular political parties stepped into that trap and made something into an issue which wasn’t one. An issue in the sense that it serves BJP’s interest,” the political analyst added.

Talking to a reporter in the capital, he opined, “Islam provides rights to women more than any other religion and it is being portrayed as a religion which is anti-women. This all is because of the siege mentality. If we want to come out of the siege mentality, we have to diagnose and debunk the fundamental reasons why the Muslim community is in dilemma and the only thing that comes to my mind right now is that the basic reason is the fraudulent character of secular politics.”

On being asked about the challenge, he said, “We must learn to identify the root cause of Mr Modi’s victory in the abysmal failure and fraudulence of the so-called secular parties because while secularism is a sacred principle, secular politics has become one of the biggest frauds and hoaxes of our politics. Secularism has become a way of keeping Muslims hostage. Political hostage. That is what needs to be challenged.”

When asked on how that can be challenged, the former member of the Aam Aadmi Party and the founder of Swaraj India said “By thinking a new way forward, Muslims today are at a cross-road. There are four options that they have. First and the laziest one is to go back to the same parties whom they had left and which have led the Muslims down and who are responsible for bringing Mr Modi to power. Going back to the ‘contractors’ of secularism is not an option at all. The second one is that of exclusively ‘Muslim only’ politics, the kind of Mr Owasi’s or AUDF’s in Assam, or maybe that of the Ulema Council’s which are being proposed. According to me, that would be a poor and bad option. And only Muslim politics will feed Hindu fundamentalism.”

“Remember that Muslim Extremism and Hindu Fundamentalism feed each other,” said Professor Yogendra Yadav.

Moving forward, Professor Yadav explained, “The third option is the radical one. The one no one wants to talk about. The way that opposes the base of democratic politics.”

“That’s a suicidal move. And I sincerely hope that the Muslim youth doesn’t go for it. One of the many strengths of our nation is that unlike most other nations, the Indian Muslim youth has not yet taken the path that is radical and leads to extremism. And it should be the task of secular politics to ensure that this does not happen,” added Mr Yogendra.

He further explained, “The fourth option, as per me, the best one, is to re-imagine, re-invent and re-invigorate a new secular politics.”

According to him, this can happen if we think of a new leadership and a new agenda. The Muslim community in the last 20 years has produced new social leadership. But the social leaders aren’t accepted as political leaders.

Mr Yogendra Yadav expressed that the issues exclusive to the Muslim community should not be the only focus but that larger secular questions and issues like education, employment and housing should be.

Before ending, he said, “Challenge for the future is how Muslims join everyone else in facing these issues and that we must remember that the challenge that confronts us today is not merely just for Muslims or minorities but rather for the ‘idea of India’ as a whole. The only way is to re-imagine secular politics in the real form which is not merely Muslim politics but long futuristic politics for defending and protecting the idea of India.”


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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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