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Constitution Assembly Of India - Volume VIII
Dated: May 25, 1949
I have the very unpleasant task of opposing Mr. Mohamed Ismail Sahib so far as the question of separate electorate is concerned, because I have been feeling all along that my existence has been useless in this House. Having been returned on the separate electorate ticket I can say noting more than that the Muslim community wants a particular thing. If I say anything which is in the interests of the nation as such, I am dubbed a communalist. Therefore I am now suggesting something which I have not tried, but which others have tried and given it a place.
Prof. N. G. Ranga (Madras: General): May I know, Sir, whether an argument is allowed to be repeated?
Mr. Z. H. Lari: My Friends is not aware of the art of speaking; otherwise he would not have said that things are not repeated. Things are repeated, but not ad nauseum. Therefore I said, be fair and consider the position as it is and then take a decision which will be conducive to the interests of all communities and to the nation and enhance the good name of the State to which we all belong.
Shri M. Thirumala Rao (Madras: General): I have got here a copy of the article on the Republic of Ireland. I do not find in it a single word of the quotation made by Mr. Lari.
Mr. President: If any Member wishes to quote that portion he may do so.
Shri M. Thirumala Rao: If I am called upon to speak I will do so.
Mr. President: The honourable Member may take his chance.
The next amendment, No. 5, is one of which notice has been given by several Members.
(Amendments Nos. 5, 6, 7 and 8 were not moved.)
Mr. President: Then there is another amendment of which I have got notice, by Shri Thakur Das Bhargava. There is notice of the same amendment by Mr. Nagappa and Mr. Khandekar.
(Both Mr. Nagappa and Pandit Thakur Das Bhargava rose to speak.)
Mr. President: I understand that the amendment of which Pandit Thakur Das Bhargava had given notice came first. Since his amendment came first, I will give him the opportunity to move it. (Addressing Mr. Nagappa) You can take your chance of speaking on it.
Pandit Thakur Das Bhargava (East Punjab: General): Sir, I beg to move:
Mr. President: Is this an amendment to the original proposition?
Pandit Thakur Das Bhargava: This is an amendment to an amendment.
An Honourable Member: But no amendment has been moved.
Pandit Thakur Das Bhargava: This is an amendment to an amendment. The practice in the House has been that when notice of amendments has been given, all the amendments are taken to be moved. That was the ruling given in the previous session. According to that, I have given notice of this amendment.
Mr. President: Strictly speaking, this is not an amendment to any amendment. If it is an amendment, it is an amendment to an amendment which you have not moved.
Pandit Thakur Das Bhargava: The practice is that amendments to amendments are allowed even when it happens to be an amendment to one's own amendment. That was the ruling by the Vice-President.
Mr. President: In dealing with th Draft Constitution, I ruled that I would accept amendments to amendment but not amendment to the original article, even though they may be given under the pretext of being amendments to amendments, if they are not given in time. On that basis I have been going on all these days. I was not informed of any previous decision by the Vice-President when he was presiding. Therefore I gave that ruling and I am following that ruling since then. I do not accept amendments out of time, amendments, which are strictly speaking not amendments to amendments but amendments to the original article.
The Honourable Shri Ghanshyam Singh Gupta (C. P. Berar: General); Sir, this can be an amendment to an amendment, amendment No. 4, by Mr. Lari, that sub-paragraph (ii) of the second paragraph of the Motion be deleted. That means that he does not want to give reservation to certain classes of the Scheduled Castes. Pandit Bhargava wants that reservation should continue for ten years.
Shri Jaspat Roy Kapoor: May I submit.......
The honourable Shri Ghanshyam Singh Gupta: I have not finished. Mr. Lari's amendment is that sub-paragraph (ii) of the second paragraph of the Motion be deleted. That means he does not want to have any reservation. Pandit Bhargava says that reservation should be there for ten years. So, his is an amendment to the other amendment. This is what I want to bring to your notice.
Shri Jaspat Roy Kapoor: I would respectfully submit that Mr. Bhargava's amendment be taken as perfectly in order because in is virtually an amendment to the other amendments which have already been moved by Mr. Mohamed Ismail Sahib and Mr. Lari. These amendments seek to amend the notion in a particular manner. All that Mr. Bhargava wants now is that the motion should be amended in a different manner. Both the previous amendments sought to amend the motion as placed before the House by the honourable Sardar Patel. Now Mr. Bhargava wants that the motion should not be amended in the manner which has been suggested in the two amendments which have been moved but in the manner in which he would not move it.
Mr. President: In that view and in the view which has been placed before the House by the Honourable Shri Ghanshyam Singh Gupta, I take it that it is an amendment to an amendment.
Pandit Thakur Das Bhargava: Sir, I move:
"That the following be added to the Motion:
I only formally move this. If I catch your eye, I propose to speak later on the resolution.
Mr. President: The amendments and the original motion are now before the House for discussion.
Shri S. Nagappa (Madras: General): Mr. President, Sir, I congratulate the majority community and also the Minorities Advisory Committee that was appointed in order to go through the problem of the minorities in this country. Sir, there are three parties to this. Firstly, we have to congratulate the Honourable Sardar Patel on his wonderful achievement which could not be achieved by two centuries of British rule. He could do it within two years. Divisions were created by the Britishers in order to continue their rule over India perpetually. Now, that could not be done in two centuries has been done within two years. Now the minorities themselves come forward and say that they do not want any reservation. That is an achievement. The second party is the Minorities Advisory Committee and the third party is the minorities themselves. We have to congratulate all the three. Now, people may ask, "How is that you have not foregone your reservation?" I do not think we are getting reservation because we are religious minority. We are not a religious minority. We are an economic, political and social minority. We have got rid of two disabilities. Mahatmaji was kind enough to grant us two freedoms, social freedom and political freedom. Now, Sir, the majority community happens to be larger in number. You have seen where the Kauravas were hundred in number and Pandavas were five in number, they had an equal right to the kingdom. Though Lord Krishna failed in his last avatar to get independence of rather the due share in the administration of the country, yet in later generations Mahatma Gandhi achieved at the cost of his life the political freedom for Harijans; he not only achieved political freedom: but while we were hated, teased, tortured and ill-treated up to 1932, after 1932 the hatred was converted into affection. Some honourable Members have said that the Scheduled castes must have no reservation. Without asking us, this majority community has given us reservation. My honourable Friend Mr. Lari and other friends were saying: "Why should these Scheduled castes be given reservation"? We are not asking for reservation for our community. We are the people who have given protection to all the people. Three thousand years ago we gave you shelter. It is our community that gave protection to everybody. Our community does not seek protection. Well, Sir, the Britisher could not rule this country without us; the Muslims could not conquer this country without our cooperation and the Congress could not achieve freedom. It is only in 1942 that we joined the movement, and it is as a result of our joining it that we were able to drive out the Britishers. So, Sir, without our co-operation without our help no one in this country can exit. We are the right royal owners of the whole country and as the descendants of the oldest inhabitants of India, we have every right, but we are not so narrow-minded to drive other out. We have been giving protection; we have been tilling the soil; we have been toiling and moiling for the sake of others. Look at the sacrifice we have shown. We have been ill-treated for centuries and yet we have been sticking to our religion. There have been some scapegoats who have joined Sikhism and Christianity. But today seven crores of people continue to be in the Hindu religion and this only means the "suffering attitude", the sacrifice and toiling that denotes this community. So, Sir, I am not seeking protection of you, the majority community. I know you have 'one man, one vote'. After all, do you think that you are the majority community? I cam convert you into a majority community. It is only a class question that comes into existence and not the casts question. When this is the case, I need not seek any protection. I am thankful to you for the protection given by you. When you are offering the hand of help, why should I reject it? We Scheduled Castes have not invaded this country from Arabia. We have not come here from outside and we do not have a separate state to go and live if we cannot absorb other people. We are not a separate nation; we are the blood and bone of the same religion, same culture, same custom; we are the true sons of the soil. How can we be treated differently? So let not my honourable Friend make use of us and our community to plead his cause. I would request them, if at all they have any affection for us, let us have reservation for our own sake. For our part we can safeguard our interests better then anybody else. Self-help is the best help; that is a slogan and it is true. They say: "Why should you require reservation"? Freedom is not complete unless and until it is full of the three aspects. The first is social, the second is political and the third is economic. That is most important and vital to independence. I know the whole country is lagging behind so far as the economic freedom is concerned, but much is this particular community. Even today, here and now, I am prepared for the abolition of the reservation, provided every Harijan family gets ten acres of wet land, twenty acres of dry land and all the children of Harijans are educated, free of cost, up to the University course and given one-fifth of the key posts either in the civilian departments or in the military departments. I throw a Challenge to the majority community that if they are prepared to give this much, I will forego the whole reservation. Let my Muslim friends know that we Harijan are not lagging behind in nationalism. It is we that have to fight more because it is our country. After all, you are the invaders, immigrants; you do not have as much interest as we have in this country and we are the people that produce the whole of the national wealth of country either by agricultural labour or by industrial labour. Unfortunately, just like the bees that gather honey, we work hard, but we are away from the honey; but the time will come and if you continue to be so selfish as you have been all these days, the same thing that was done to the Britisher will be repeated to you. What about you who have migrated from Central Asia, Mongolia and Manchuria? You will have to go back to your places. Even there you will be sent out. It is we that have a greater right than anybody else on the face of this country. So it is not a favour that you have done us, but you have rightly done it.
I have been telling you that the economic problem is the most important problem so far as this country is concerned. It is very easy question that can be solved if you make up your minds. You have been abolishing the zamindari all over the country. You have got lakhs and lakhs of acres of land. If you can give us, every Harijan family that is not possessing land;all the landless Harijans, at the rate of ten acres of wet land and twenty acres of dry land and educate the children to the University course, I am prepared to forgo the reservation. Here it is.
Shri Mohan Lal Gautam (United Provinces: General): Every Brahmin is prepared to become a Harijan of you give him ten acres of wet land and twenty acres of dry land.
Shri S. Nagappa: Even if the Brahmin is granted lands, then how to till? He has been having lands till now. He has to seek our protection; he has to employ us. It is something like entrusting Rambha to a Napumsaka. To my Brahmin friends I say; "What is the good of your asking for land? Land should be given to the tiller of the soil, he must be the owner of the soil. You do not want to own it for owning's sake. You must find utility for the property that you possess." It is no use my Brahmin friends saying: I come forward and say I am prepared to be a Harijan." A Harijan cannot be converted, like a Christian or a Muslim. You must be a born Harijan, you must have day you can become a Sikh, if you grow a beard, but you cannot become a Harijan except by birth.
A Honourable Member: Very selfish.
Shri S. Nagappa: Do not think the Harijan community has been converting everybody. If you are prepared to take to the Harijan community, you must be prepared to scavenge and sweep. You do not want to do that and feel some dignity. You say "I am a Hindu and I cannot scavenge and sweep for others." You want to have the option: I am for the heads, but not for the tails. If at all U lose, I must lose the tails and not the heads." Is this your principle?, I ask Mr. Mohan Lal Gautam who has been kind enough to offer to become a Harijan.
As regards my honourable Friend Mr. Lari's amendment, that the reservation for the Scheduled Castes should be abolished, I thank my honourable, Friend for giving this idea to the House. But, let it remain as an ideal; it cannot be put in action. After all is said and done today, let my honourable Friend Mr. Lari remember that once upon a time, if not today, some time ago, he was a Harijan. It is the Harijans that have contributed to all these communities.
Mr. Z. H. Lari: I would be glad be become a Harijan if I could get ten acres of wet land and twenty acres of dry land.
Shri S. Nagappa: If you can scavenge, you can become a Harijan. Nobody prevents you. Community has come according to duties; no one has been labeled that he is so and so. Only if you do the work of a teacher, you can be called a teacher. If you scavenge, you are a scavenge; if you sweep, you are a sweeper. If you are so fond of becoming a Harijan, the duties are also open to you. All the friends that are prepared to scavenge, sweep.......
Mr. President: Please confine yourself to the motion before the House. We all know the duties of the Harijans.
Shri S. Nagappa: Let me come to the point. My honorable Friends who have been jealous of my community, I hope will not be so for ever.
We have already abolished reservation. I ask where was reservation for this House. We were mixed with the Caste Hindus and they have elected us. We represent the Caste Hindus. I am today giving the law not to the Harijans alone, but to all the thirty crores of people. The Constitution is not made for my community alone. I have not been returned by my community alone. Therefore, in practice, we have abolished reservations. This Parliament, this Constituent Assembly, has been elected on the basis of joint electorates. This has been accepted in the case of Christians, Sikhs, Harijans and Hindus. Only my honourable Friends who were preaching the two-nation theory have been returned by their own people. I tell you, Sir, there are some short-comings. This good-will of the minority community has not been utilised by the majority community in a proper way. I can quote instances where they have gone back, where they have not been large-hearted. Take Madras where there are eighty lakhs of Harijans. According to the Cripps' proposal, for every million of the people, one representative should come. We are only seven. We would have been eight if there had been reservation according to the population. But it is a minor matter whether seven or eight are here; the work done is the same. Take Travancore. It is a State that is supposed to be the first and foremost so far as the Harijans are concerned. It is the first State that introduced Temple Entry. But, that State has failed to give representation to Harijans in the Constituent Assembly. Out of a population of sixty lakhs, thirteen lakhs are Harijans. These thirteen lakhs of Harijans have been ignored and four lakhs of Muslims have been given a seat. They have robbed Peter to pay Paul. That is why we want reservation, It may be stated that it is a State. Take the United Provinces. There are twelve millions of Harijans in the U. P. according to the Census of 1931. I find only six members from that province. What about Bengal? I am not in possession of the correct figures in Bengal. What about the Punjab? my honourable Friend Pandit Thakurdas Bhargava has been saying that there are eighteen lakhs of Harijans and four lakhs of Sikhs Harijans, altogether making up a total of twenty-two lakhs. I find a solitary representative from the Punjab so far as the Harijans are concerned. According to the Cripps proposal, there should have been two. Let us go to the States. What about Patiala State? Out of a population of thirty-six lakhs, nine lakhs are Harijan. There should have been at least one representative in this House. Take Madhya Bharat. Out of a population of seventy lakhs, seventeen lakhs are Harijans. When His Excellency the Governor-General visited that State, the Harijan represented to him, Sir, we are only three members in a House of seventy, though our population happens to be seventeen lakhs'. Look at the justice done by the majority community. We appeal to you, we do not claim, we appeal to their good sense, not only with folded hands, but also with bended knees, to do us justice. We crave for mercy. After all, we are voiceless, our voice is feeble. In Madhya Bharat, those are only three members; in the Constituent Assembly, nil. Because of this selfishness of yours, you are compelling us to ask for reservation. This was your testing period. If you had been large- hearted, we would have been the first and foremost persons to come and say, 'we do not want any reservation'. The fault lies in you; not in us. That is why Mahatma Gandhi said, "for the sins committed against them in olden days by your fathers and forefathers, become Harijan sevaks to wipe off those sins." It is you who are on the wrong side. If there is a dispute between a mandir and a masjid, it is our throat that was offered at the alter. If there was any Hindu-Muslim riot, it is we that fought the battle. What is the reward we get? "All right, be toiling", this is the reward. "You were my watch dog; be my slave or serf", this is the reward. Are you justified in this? You could have done this all these days when we were ignorant. Mahatmaji has removed that ignorance. He has put enough patriotism, enough conscience into our minds. You may think that Mahatmaji is no more. But you must be aware that his spirit is everywhere; his soul is everywhere. We cannot see him today; but he is watching our doings. The Congressites who have been claiming to be the descendants of Mahatmaji know that he is watching this Assembly. I leave it to you. It is for you to abolish the reservation whenever you want. I have thrown the challenge. it is for you to accept.
As regards my honourable Friend, Pandit Thakurdas Bhargava, who claims the amendment th be his, namely, that the provisions regarding reservation of seats and nomination will last for a period of ten years, I would say this. We, almost all the Harijan Members of this House, sat together and the Honourable Pandit Nehru was kind enough to explain to us that in our own interests this will be the best thing. According to his advice we have come to a decision on this point. After all, this is a question that has to be reopened by Parliament. If, after ten years, our position happens to be the same as it is today, then, it is open to the Parliament either to renewit or abolish it. This does not prevent you from coming forward within the next five or ten years or even two years with an Act of Parliament saying "Harijan have been granted their demands, they are now on a par with others and they need not have this reservation of seats". If is open to you as it is worded today. Therefore, we accepted that the reservation should continue for ten years to come from the commencement to the Constitution.
I have again thank the honourable members of the Minorities Committee, the President of it, or you Honourable Sardar Patel, who has taken so much trouble in order to safeguard our rights. I thank you, Sir, for the opportunity you have give me.
Mr. President: I would ask Members to confine their remarks to ten minutes.
Mr. Naziruddin Ahmad ( West Bengal: Muslim): Mr. President, Sir, the Resolution moved by Dr. Sardar Patel is an important land-mark in the constitutional history of our country, and will be referred to by future historians and constitutional writers with enthusiastic applause. Sir, at the very outset, I desire to declare that I am in compete and wholehearted agreement with the Resolution (Hear, hear). Sir, in the short time at my disposal, I should try to touch only the main points. The original Resolution and the two principal amendments differ as well as agree in certain respects. According to the original Resolution, the reservations to Muslims in to be abolished. With regard to the amendment moved by Mr. Ismail Sahib, Muslim reservations are to be retained. Mr. Lari wants all reservations to be abolished. So the original Resolution and Mr. Lari's amendment agree that Muslim reservation should be abolished, and this is opposed to Mr. Ismail's amendment.
Then with regard to the Scheduled Castes, the original Resolution and Mr. Ismail's amendment require them to be retained, while Mr. Lari wants them to be abolished. With regard to Sikhs to the backward classes, the position is similar. Thus, Mr. Ismail's amendment and that of Mr. Lari are in all respects directly opposed to each other.
Sir, I think that the occasion when the Muslims in India accepted reservation of seats should be recalled. That was a time when the communal situation was very unsatisfactory, and some reservations seemed at that time to be necessary. But now the situation has vastly improved and is daily improving and there is, for a long time, much harmony between the two communities. I think that reservation of any kind are against healthy political growth. They imply a kind of inferiority. They arise out of a kind of fear-complex, and its effect would be really to reduce the Muslims into a statutory minority. Then, again, Muslim reservation is psychologically linked up with separate electorates, which led to so many disasters. Therefore I should submit that to carry on reservation would only serve to perpetuate the unpleasant memory of those separate electorates and all the embitterment, that accompanied them. I submit that it will be bad even for ten years.
Then, Sir, I believe that reservation of Muslim seats, specially now, would be really harmful to the Muslims themselves. In fact, if we accept reservation and go to the polls, the relation between Hindus and Muslims which now exists will deteriorate. The great improvement in the situation that has been achieved will be lost. The Hindu-Muslim relation of the immediate past will be recalled and feelings will be embittered. There will be dissentions between Hindus and Muslims--a thing which is highly undesirable, even if we consider it even from the purely Muslim point of view. This would again create divisions amongst the Muslims themselves. In fact, if seats are reserved, one candidate may be set up by Hindus and another by Muslims, Muslims will divide. They will flock to one candidate, or the other and this will lead to division among the Muslims themselves on a false issue. I therefore submit that reservation for Muslims would be undesirable. In the present context, when we have improved relations and with the abolition of separate electorates, it is illogical and an anachronism, and it is positively injurious to the Muslims and to the body politic.
Sir, reservation is a kind of protection which always has a crippling effect upon the object protected. So for all these reasons, I should strongly oppose any reservation for Muslims. Now, Mr. Lari's amendment is to the same effect, that there should be no reservations for Muslims, and I welcome it so far as Muslims are concerned. His amendment, however, is hedged in with the condition that there should be cumulative votes. His argument was based mainly upon continental considerations. In Ireland, the fight between the two sections ins everlasting. It dates-back from the very dawn of history and it is not going to end. But so far as Hindu-Muslim relation is concerned, there was only a temporary break in the cordiality between the two communities, and happily the old amity which had existed in the country from time immemorial, has again been established; it has again improved. The system of cumulative voting is not necessary, and it is extremely difficult to work. I do not think it is needed in the conditions present in India, especially among hundreds of millions of illiterate voters. I therefore submit that any kind of cumulative voting, or other intellectual abstractions of refinements of the kind are unnecessary. From the Muslim point of view alone, we do not want any reservation whatsoever.
Then, again. reservation of seats to the communities was inevitable connected with separate electorates. With the removal of separate electorates reservation of seats would be absolutely illogical. If we contest seats, not reserved seats, the result would be that Hindus and Muslims would be brought nearer to each other. Although we are a minority--and that is a fact which has been very much stressed by Mr. Lari--I think it will be impossible for any Hindu Candidate to ignore the Muslims. In fact, for one seat there will be at least two Hindu candidates, and in case of a contest, the Muslims will have an important role to play, and they may well be able to tip the scale, by playing the part of an intelligent minority, suitably aligning themselves with one side or the other. They will have a decisive voice in the elections. It may be that an apparently huge majority may at the end of the elections find itself defeated by a single vote. So no man who contests an election, however promising his prospects may be, can ignore Muslim votes. Therefore,the safety of the Muslims lies in intelligently playing their part and mixing themselves with the Hindus in public affairs. This will be a great advantage to both the communities, and without any reservations at the next election, Hindus and Muslims will freely associated with one another in the elections and in public affairs for the service of our motherland.
Those of my honourable friends who think that there should be reservation, have their eyes on the past. They are looking behind. But our eyes, the eyes of the Indian Muslims, should be facing the future. We should have a progressive outlook. Now, Indian politics contain a large number of subjects, none of which I can think of as having communal implications. In the Provinces there are the principal subjects- education, sanitation and local self-government. These subjects do not affect any community in particular or as such. Hindus and Muslims will have to stand side by side and work these subjects for the common welfare of our motherland.
In the Central sphere there are the industrial problems, irrigation schemes, the question of defence and external affairs and also the common problems of peace and order. There is nothing communal in these matters and every one is equally interested in them irrespective of his community or religion. I feel very strongly that religion should have nothing to do with politics: not that religion is to be ignored; but religion is a private matter and in public life we should cease to think in terms of communities. Whether in this Assembly or in public life outside, we are neither Hindus nor Muslims. In private life we should be devout Hindus or Muslims. So if we distinguish our outlook as between private and public life, there will be no trouble. The State should interfere as little as possible with the religious feelings of its citizens. They should be left untouched. If Muslim play their part well and intelligently, if they play their part faithfully and patriotically, their position will be respected.
With regard to other minorities I submit our position ought to be made very clear. These are the Scheduled Castes and the new Scheduled Castes among the Sikhs, there are the frontier areas, the Excluded and Partially Excluded Areas, and there is also the Anglo-Indian community. They would all be protected. The amendment of Mr. Mohamed Ismail Sahib will protect them all. But Mr. Lari would abolish them also. But the position of these minorities must be respected. It is a question of confidence in the electorate and in the system of government. If any of these minorities feels that it would not be protected unless it has been given reservation of seats, by all means let them have it. So far as the Scheduled Castes are concerned I think we have no grievance. It is a question of satisfying them. If they feel that they would be satisfied with reservation, let them have it, and in this respect Mr. Lari's amendment goes a bit too far and is an encroachment on the rights of other minorities. So also is the case with the Sikh Scheduled Castes. It is for them to say whether they would have the reservation of seats or not: it is not for us to speak for them. It is not a question of logic or argument but it is a question really of creation in each sect or community a feeling of confidence and security that by a particular, it would be treated justly and fairly.
So far as the Muslims are concerned we have has a debate in the West Bengal Legislature, where I find that the Muslim opinion against reservation of seats was overwhelming. For the election to the Union Boards etc., already the system of reserving seats has been abolished and Hindus and Muslims vote side by side as friends. What is more important is that the Hindus have to seek Muslim votes. This is a very potent and a welcome factor. The Muslims should be realists as they are expected to be and they must not have their eyes on the past. They should try as quickly as possible to adjust themselves to their new environments. If they show faith in the great Hindu community, I am sure they will treat them with fairness and justice.
Dr. H. C. Mookherjee (West Bengal: General): Sir, in considering whether the House should accept the recommendations of the Advisory Committee and the resolution placed before it by Sardar Patel there are two questions which, it seems to me, the House should ask itself. The first is: are we really honest when we say that we are seeking to establish a secular state? And the second is, whether we intend to have one nation. if you idea is to have a secular state it follows inevitable that we cannot afford to recognise minorities based upon religion. This to my mind is the strongest possible argument why reservation of seats for religious groups should be abolished and that immediately. So far as the idea of building up one nation is concerned I do admit that there are certain economically backward groups in every community and for them provision has been made in the directive adopted in December last.
Sir, I intend to place all my cards on the table and to say that personally I have the greatest possible objection to reservation for backward groups in the political sphere. I do admit that they deserve our sympathy and that they require economic safeguards but I do not see any reason why they should demand political safeguards. I do not wee why a person belonging to a backward community should feel that his grievances cannot be placed before the legislatures unless he elects somebody in whom he has faith. Such an attitude to mu mind shows that he has not as yet, as a member of a minority community, made up his mind to become a part and parcel of the nation. Still I do submit to the wisdom of our leaders and I support the Resolution, only because I hope the House will accept the amendment moved by Pandit Thakur Das Bhargava, to the effect that these reservations should have a definite time limit, that once for all we shall see their end at the end of ten years from the time that the Constitution comes into operation.
Sir, when the constituent Assembly was dissolved in January last, thought I had very urgent business in my own home I intentionally stayed on here, because I wanted to find out the feelings of the country with regard to this question of the abolition of reservation. It was the dream of my life ever since my mother made it clear to me that I had two duties to perform. These two duties I promised to perform after touching her feet. One was to carry on the campaign against drink and drugs so long as there was life in me, and the other was to see the end of the communal business. Though she was not an educated woman in the ordinary sense of the term, she had witnessed the results of the cleavage introduced into the national life by the Minto-Morley Reforms, under which the non-Muslims were separated from our Muslim brethren. She made me promise that if I ever entered public or political life I should devote myself heart and soul to the abolition of this communal electorates business. I am thankful that God has spared my life so that like the Prophet mentioned in the New Testament I can sing:
Sir, I tried to find out the views of the country. I may tell the House that it has taken ten years of unremitting hard work on the part of the Nationalist Christians all over India. I sent out a questionnaire and 42 letter were addressed to my people and replies were from 35 of them. I have consolidated the replies and I find that the enquiries were made, among other sections of the people, by Nationalist Christians who were friendly with Hindus. Muslims, Sikhs and Scheduled Castes. Their replies consolidated show the following results.
So far as the masses are concerned my friends are united in saying that the masses do not want reservations. They say that they are interested in three or four things only. They want food, clothing, a shelter over their heads, medical aid and good roads. These are their demands. When they were specifically asked whether they wanted reservation, the reply in every case was as follows: "We know that we shall never enter the Legislatures; reservations do not concern or interest us." There all sections of the people were at one. Then came queries addressed to the lower middle classes, people who depend upon service to earn their living. Their reaction was that if there was any kind of reservation they would like to have reservation in jobs. This reservation business, Sir, to my mind, comes from the upper middle classes-- people who have political ambitions. Then I sent forward a second set of questions in which I asked what were the motives for this demand for reservation. Two motives were assigned. The first and the foremost, in the view of my friends, was that most people have political ambitions--self-seekers after power, self-seekers after position in the different legislatures for their own selfish purposes. Such people, I say, Sir, are not wanted in free India. But at the same time it was admitted that there are certain people who really feel alarmed over the future of their communities. Such people want to come to the Legislatures, because they think that they can safeguard the interests of the groups to which they belong. These are people for whom I have respect. But when we have passed the different Fundamental Rights which guarantee religious, cultural and educational safeguards, safeguards which are justiciable, safeguards which can be decided in a court of law, I feel that the presence of people belonging to certain groups is not necessary. Then again, when I think of the directive principal that justice should be done to the classes which are backward socially and economically, I feel and I have every confidence that justice will be done to them. In my view the Scheduled Casts again do not require representation. But, as I have said, I bow to the wisdom of my leaders and I am, therefore, prepared to support this motion.
Now, the question is: Can the majority community be trusted? The majority community has been very generous to every one of the minority communities. That is my firm belief. I may tell House, Sir, with your permission that when for about two months I had the honour to occupy the Chair which you are occupying today, I deliberately tested it for myself, whether we could trust the majority community. My Muslim, mu Sikh and my Scheduled Caste friends will agree with me when I say that very opportunity was given to them by me so that they might voice forth their feelings and this was done with the permission, with the silent permission of the majority community. I may further tell the House that during these two month almost every day foreign observers came and some of them were free-lance journalists and other were people interested in religious and educational work and everyday they would come to my House and ask me: " Are you perfectly confident that the majority community is going to be fair?" I said, "Well, of course I think so; but I want you to watch for yourself and draw your own conclusions." There was a free-lance American journalist who quoted to me lines from the speech of Mr. Winston Churchill made at Manchester in which he talked about Brahmins mouthing Mill and Bentham and then denying freedom to their Scheduled Caste brethren in India. I told him that every Scheduled Caste member had a chance to voice his grievances. On that particular day Mr. Nagappa and Mr. Kakkan narrated their grievances to the House and there was not a single caste Hindu who denied the existence of certain grievances. At the end of that day's proceedings, two or three Caste Hindus stood up admitting all the charges and promising that every effort should be made to remove these social disabilities.
Sir, these things undoubtedly show that the minorities have nothing to fear from the majority community. I am firmly convinced from my own experience that it is the path of wisdom for the minorities to trust the majority community that if they want to live in peace and honour in this country, they must win its good-will. Our attitude in the past has not been very helpful. I do not want to go into details, but everybody will admit that the attitude of the minorities has not been at all helpful. Let us recollect how many times we used back-door influence in order to sabotage our nationalist movement. I shall not go beyond that. To the majority I say: "Once for all we are placing the responsibility of looking after us fairly and squarely on your shoulders." This is an opportunity which Providence has given to the majority community to prove by actual work, to prove by actual example that the protestations made so far are genuine and personally I have reason to believe that they will not be found wanting.
Mr. President: I may say that I have again received a number of slips from Member who was wish to speak. But I am not going to use the slips; I shall use my eyes.
Begum Aizaz Rasul (United Provinces: Muslim): Sir, I come to give my whole-hearted support to the resolution moved by the Honourable Sardar Patel regarding the representation of the minority communities. Sir, I am sorry that I have to oppose the amendment moved by Mr. Ismail from Madras. The basis of his amendment is the retention of separate electorates. For my part I have from the beginning felt that in a secular state separate electorates have no place. Therefore the principal of joint electorates having once been accepted, the reservation of seats for minorities to me seems meaningless and useless. The candidate returned on the joint votes of the Hindus and Muslims in the very nature of things cannot represent the point of view of the Muslims only and therefore this reservation is entirely unsubstantial. To my mind reservation is a self-destructive weapon which separates the minorities from the majority for all time. It gives no chance to the minorities to win the good-will of the majority. It keeps up the spirit of separatism and communalism alive which should be done away once and for all. This reservation was for ten years only and to my mind these first ten years are the most crucial in the life of our country and every effort should be made to bring the communities together.
Sir, this is one ground on which I support the motion of the Honourable Sardar Patel.
The second ground on which I support it is that there is still a feeling of separatism prevalent amongst the communities in India today. That must go. I feel that it is in the interests of the minorities to try to merge themselves into the majority community. It is not going to be harmful to the minorities I can assure them, because in the long run it will be in their interests to win the goodwill of the majority. To my mind it is very necessary that the Muslim living in this country should throw themselves entirely upon the good-will of the majority community, should give up separatist tendencies and throw their full weight in building up a truly secular state.
Sir, I will go into the history of the events of the last two years. It is a very sad history and no on e can deny that the Muslims living in this country have been the greatest sufferers as a result of the events that have taken place. Not only have their lives and property been in danger and full of insecurity, but their very honour has been at stake and their loyalties have questioned. This caused great sense of frustration and mental depression. We want to finish with the past and we want that a new page should be turned over in which all communities living in this country would feel happy and secure. There is some fear in the minds of the Muslims that by doing away with reservations they will not be returned to the legislature according to the members of their population. This fear to my mind is baseless because I feel that when we put the majority community on its honour, it will be up to it to retain its prestige and honour and return members of the minority community not only in numbers to which they are entitled on a population basis but perhaps in greater numbers. I do not visualise any political party in the future putting up candidates for election ignoring the Muslims. The Muslims comprise a large part of the population in this country. I do not think any political party can ever ignore them, much less the Indian National Congress which has stood for the protection of minorities. Sir, I feel that we Muslims should pave the way for not only the introduction but the strengthening of a secular democratic State in this country. The only way in which we can do it is by giving up reservations that are meant for us and by showing to the majority that we have entire confidence in them. Then only I feel that the majority will realise its responsibility.
Sir, I would like my Muslim friends to visualise this position : If reservation of seats for Muslims remains, it would be tantamount to an act of charity on the majority community. They will say : `Let us give them so many seats.' We will get the seats, but there will not be much good-will on the part of the majority in giving that. The idea of separatism will remain but if we agree to have no reservation, the honour and prestige of the community as well as of the party that will be contesting the elections will be on test and I do not think that any party can ignore or can afford to ignore the minorities, especially the Muslims. In that event I visualise the Hindus going about not only to the Muslim candidate set up in this or that constituency. Which would be better, I would like to know : this reservation of seats which keeps up a division between the two communities or to be return Muslims? I therefore feel that it is in the interests of both the communities that this should happen and this is the only way in which good-will and friendship can be created between the two communities. Trust begets trust and when we place a sacred trust in the hands of the majority- it is sure to realise its responsibility.
Sir, I come from the United Provinces where the Muslims are largest in numbers in any one province in India today. Having worked amongst the Muslim masses, men and women for ten years, I can claim to know something of the working of their minds. Muslims are backward educationally and economically, but as far as political consciousness is concerned they are very much alive today and have been so for sometime. I can say that the Muslims in the United provinces understand the state of affairs very well. They have realised that the changed conditions demand a change in attitude on their part. Therefore I feel that I am not in any way betraying the confidence of my electorate when I say that this attitude that I am taking today is absolutely in their interests and I know that the majority of Muslims of the United Provinces are behind me in this matter.
Sir, a friend remarked to me yesterday that Muslims are realists. I entirely agree. I think that they are a very realistic people. They are not a static people and they have no static ideas. They have always advanced with the times as Muslims history will show. Therefore, if today we demand the abolition of reservation of seats for the Muslim community I feel that we are entirely on the right path and want to proceed according to changed conditions.
Sir, those Muslims who wanted to go to Pakistan have done so. Those who decided to stay here wish to be on friendly and amicable terms with the majority community and realise that they must develop their lives according to the environments and circumstances existing here. I do not say that they have to change except in accordance with the aspirations of the other people living in this country. Sir, we do not want any special privileges accorded to us as Muslims but we also do not want that any discrimination should be made against us as such. That is why I say that as nationals of this great country we share the aspirations and the hopes of the people living here hoping at the same time that we be treated in a manner consistent with honour and justice.
Sir, sometimes the loyalty of the Muslims has been challenged. I am sorry to bring this up here, but I feel that this is the right moment to mention it. I do not understand why loyalty and religion go together. I think that those persons who work against the interests of the State and take part in subversive activities are disloyal, be they Hindus or Muslims or members of any other community. So far as that matter is concerned, I feel that I am a greater loyalist than many Hindus because many of them are indulging in subversive activities, but I have the interest of my country foremost at heart. I think I can say that of all the Muslims who have decided to live here. They only want to avoid struggle and strife, want security, want their mental attitude to develop that way. Sir, it is for the majority to infuse into the minds of the minority communities a feeling of confidence, good-will and security. Then only can loyalty accrue, because it is the condition of people's minds that creates loyalty. It is not the asking for it that makes for it. Therefore I feel, Sir, that in introducing this Resolution Sardar Patel has done the right thing, because he is giving the various communities the chance of getting together.
Another point, Sir. There are some Hindus and some Muslims also who think and are exercised over the fact that some seats may be lost to them by the abolition of reservation for minorities. I am sorry that they should think on those lines. The advantages of this abolition of reservation far outweigh the disadvantages of the loss of a few seats. I do not myself visualise any loss of seats because, as I have said, the parties, out of concern for their honour and prestige, will put up more candidates than are warranted on the population basis in order to ensure that the right number is returned. Today everything is moulded by public opinion, the India with its declared objective of a secular democratic state cannot afford to have any complaints against it on these grounds. Therefore I feel that the minorities, especially the Muslims, do not stand to lose in any way. Our Hindu friends might think that they might lose a few seats on that ground. I feel that they are thinking on the wrong lines. It is true that a much greater responsibility is now thrown upon the majority because now it is up to them to see that the Muslims and the other minorities are returned according to their quota, but the majority must bear this responsibility. I feel that this will work so much towards harmony and good-will between the communities that this risk should be taken. For those Muslims who think that this is going to be harmful to them, I say that it is not going to be harmful because it will create better relationship between the two communities. Even if a few seats are lost to the Muslims, I feel that sacrifice is worth while if we can gain the good-will of the majority in that way.
In spite of the great and able advocacy of Mr. Lari of the principle of proportional representation, I was not impressed by it. He quoted the example of other countries. Those countries are highly advanced, politically and educationally. They are much smaller in area and in number, and to compare India with those countries is, to my mind, not a very feasible proposition. In India the principle of proportional representation and single transferable vote is understood by very few people. Even in the legislatures it cannot work properly because there are very few people who know how to work that out. Where there are lakhs and lakhs of voter, the principle of cumulative votes cannot work successfully because the electorate is so big and illiterate that it will be impossible to work that system out. The only solution to my mind is joint electorates without any reservation of seats. I feel that this is the only way in which we can get along together. We must once and for all give up all ideas of separatism and to my mind even this proposition of Mr. Lari keeps up that spirit alive. I feel, Sir, that there are so many evil forces at work in the world and in the world of Asia especially that these small things regarding reservations of seats will be very soon forgotten by us, because after all in the larger context of world affairs today, we have to see how India can retain its position of leadership in Asia as well as save to go the way China has done or the way Burma is threatened. Therefore we have to develop all our resources, material and moral, in order to make India a prosperous and strong country. Therefore to my mind these are matters which should be relegated to the background. WE should now harness all our energies in order to make India prosperous and strong.
Syed Muhammad Saadulla (Assam : Muslim) : Mr. President, Sir, I will be giving out no official secret when I say that this vital question whether the Muslims will be benefiting by reservation of seats or by swimming in the general stream of no reservation was discussed informally by many Muslim Members of this House in December last. We could not come to any decision at the time and a suggestion of mine that we should consult our electorates was accepted. I do not know whether my other friends consulted their electorates but, I wrote to all the Muslim members of my party in the Assam legislature and they gave me the unanimous mandate of claiming reservation for the Muslims.
Mr. B. Pocker Sahib: The honourable Member says that all the Muslim Members of this House considered the question in December last. It is not a statement of fact.
Syed Muhammad Saadulla: I cannot help Mr. Pocker Bahadur. Perhaps he was absent from Delhi at the time when we held this meeting. Sir, the sorry spectacle I have witnessed today that even on this vital matter the handful of Muslim members could not come to nay decision and that they were giving contradictory opinions on the floor of this House, makes me sad. The Minorities Advisory Committee in its sitting on the 11th May came to a momentous conclusion I am afraid according to me, on very insufficient material or data. The report which the Honourable President of the Minorities Advisory Committee has submitted to the Constituent Assembly is full of very sound maximum of politics. And I can personally testify, as I am a member of the Minorities Committee and have attended many of its sittings, although on account of a domestic trouble, I could not attend on the 11th of this month he has struck the right path and has often declared that as the Constituent Assembly has already decided to give reservation to as the Constituent Assembly has already decided to give reservation to different minorities in the open session of the House, it is up to the members of those minorities to declare unequivocally if they do not want that reservation. I think, Sir, this is a very correct attitude to take. I remember that on two previous occasions, the Honourable Sardar propounded this dictum. Unfortunately I find, Sir, that on the meeting of 11th May, when there were only four members from the Muslim minority present, only one supported the resolution moved by my honourable Friend, Dr. H.C. Mookherjee by speech another opposed by vote, thus canceling the support of one against the other, while one honourable member of the Cabinet-I refer to the Honourable Maulana Abul Kalam Azad took the very right stand of being neutral; and seeing that one Maulana was neutral the other Maulana, Maulana Hifzur Rahman, another member also remained neutral. Sir, if we are to push the dictum of the venerable Sardar Patel to its logical conclusion, he should have left this matter whether the Muslims wanted reservation or not to the Muslim members only. We only a handful and as has been already suggested by Mr. Lari, he could very well have asked the few members to meet him and express our opinion. The resolution that was moved in the Advisory Committee is by a non-Muslim. I have got great regard for Dr. H.C. Mookherjee, who has very many sacrifices to his credit. He is a super-patriot and is doing wonderful work for the abolition of alcohol and drugs as he himself has told us. He is also the Honourable Vice-President of this august Assembly, but I never knew him to represent the Muslims, and, therefore, he had no right whatsoever to move in the committee that even a short reservation of ten years that was accorded by the House to Muslims should be taken away, and I am sorry to find that although in the report, Honourable Sardar Patel said :
He should have taken the logical course of consulting the Muslim members only, but without waiting to do that, on the solitary support of Begum Aizaz Rasul, he has thought fit to recommend to this House that reservation of seats for the Muslims should go. Personally I am not enamoured of reservation and so far as Assam is concerned, there is no necessity for reservation, but if we take India as a whole, we cannot but concede that the Muslim Minority can legitimately claim and it deserves reservation at least for a limited period. Let us take the population percentages. Orissa has got 1.5 per cent.; the United Provinces 14 per cent.; Madras 7 per cent.; Bihar 11 per cent.; the United Provinces 14 per cent.; Assam 24 per cent. It may be very well said : "What will reservation in any of the provinces will not jeopardize the majority community to any extent, for, even if all the Muslims combine, they cannot change the will, in the House, of the majority community, but the question of psychology comes in. We know an accomplished fact like the partition of Bengal was unsettled by psychology, by sentiment and persistence. Free India attained freedom very recently and it still needs consolidation. She should try to pacify the distrust and remove the suspicion of every community, great or small. As has been said by very many speakers, we stand on the mercy of the majority community. I am at one with the Honourable Sardar Patel when he said that the majority community must comport themselves in such a way that the minority may feel no necessity for constitutional safeguards. Similarly, I request every Muslim friend of mine, who is now domiciled in the Dominion of India to give his unswerving loyalty and unstinted co-operation in the interests of the nation and the country. We have been nurtured under the system of separate electorate from 1906. For good or evil, we have been accustomed to that system (Interruption). There is an interruption from some colleague, who himself is a product of separate electorate. That honourable interrupter forgets that Members of this House have been returned on the system of separate electorate. I was elected to this House by the Muslim members only of the Assam Legislature. Similarly, my honourable friends, my colleagues, the Prime Minister and other Ministers from Assam were all elected by the votes of the Hindu members only. If this is not separate electorate, what else is it? But as has been said, times have changed. We must start give and take. I will request my Madras friends to give up their strong plea of separate electorates. I will request on the other hand, the majority community to rise to the occasion and give reservation to Muslim minority for a limited period. The previous speaker, my honourable Friend Begum Aizaz Rasul, said that reservation will not benefit the community in any way. I quite agree with her that without the help of the majority community's votes, the Muslims will not be able to return any one in whom they have confidence; the candidates must enjoy the confidence of both the Hindus and Muslims, yet reservation will have tremendous psychological effect upon the Muslim community. They at least will secure that one of them is in the Legislature to speak on their behalf, to safeguard their interests. Why deny this little bit of charity to the Muslims? Rise up to the occasion and show mercy; as the great English poet said "Mercy is twice blessed."
Sir, the question of reservation is implicit in the report itself. You admit reservation for the Scheduled Castes whose number is twice that of the Muslim minority community of India. You admit at least in two provinces the right of the Indian Christians for Political safeguard or reservation. You admit it for the Anglo-Indian community. The only part where the present report and the present resolution differs from the previous decision of the House is as regards the Muslims. I appeal to the House that they should not deny this safeguard when it is wanted by the minority concerned. it is said that many members have said that they do not want it, let us take the majority view of the Muslim Members present here. If the Majority of the members say that they do not want it, I will be the first person to how to the opinion of the majority.
One word more, and I shall finish. We say that we want to build up a strong democratic state. Democracy presupposes that every part of the population of the Dominion must feel that they have got a direct interest in the administration of the country. Administration of the country is divided into two parts. One is the legislature which selects the Cabinet and the other is the executive which consists of the Government servants. Unless you safeguard the interests of the minorities in some way or other, whether by reservation, or as suggested by Mr. Lari by way of multiple constituencies with cumulative votes, or in any other way, democracy will dwindle into oligarchy. That will be a sad day if India is converted into an oligarchy from the start of our existence as a free country.
Mr.President: We have only twenty minutes to twelve. I have already got a large number of names on slips; but as I have said, I am going to ignore the slips and I am going to use my eyes. Even when I try to use my eyes, I find about a dozen gentlemen standing in their places. One member has expressed his grievance that he does not catch my eye. I think that grievance is shared by many other members and his slip will not in any way influence me. So, I would like to know the wish of the House if they would like to have this discussion continued till tomorrow.
Many Honourable Members: Yes.
Mr. President: It seems that there are many Members who wish the discussion to be continued. The subject is important and I am inclined to agree with them. We can now go on with the discussion. Tomorrow, I think it will not take much time.
Honourable Members: The whole of tomorrow, Sir.
Mr. President: Why is it necessary? We have got other work, and important work too, to get through. Therefore, I think of limiting this discussion to some time, so that we may take up the next motion and after that we may take up the Draft Constitution. However, we shall consider that tomorrow; today, we propose to go on further.
Rev. Jerome D'Souza (Madras: General): Mr. President, I am sure honourable Members of this House will agree with me that we are face to face with a decision of very grave importance, the ending of an experiment fraught with the gravest consequences to our country.
Sir, in Mr. Lari's very vigorous exposition of his case, one could understand one point clearly and that was that in working out democracy, some method should be found by which the minorities should not be ignored or swamped. It may be that this preoccupation was in the minds of those who introduced the principle of communal representation in our country. It is not for us to enter into their mind and pass judgment on them; but it is absolutely clear now that in trying to save democracy from some of those pit-falls, a very grave and a very serious deviation in political matters was made when political privileges were attached to minorities based on religious distinctions. The consequences of this are written large in the history of India during the last few years. It has ended, in the opinion of most observers in this country, in the division of our land. So, the country as a whole now realise that whatever be the immediate inconveniences or the number of dissentient voices that there may be, it is necessary to turn our path resolutely away from this deviation and set ourselves along lines which will bring no longer into the political life of our country distinctions based merely on religion.
Sir, the nationalists in India have always opposed the principle of separate electorates and I believe it was only in a spirit of compromise that they agreed at a certain stage to allow at least reservation with joint electorates. I am sure, Sir, that if the conditions at the time when this proviso was accepted were the same as they are now, there would have been far greater hesitation and much less unanimity in keeping this little vestige of the old arrangement. But, as many speakers before me have closely brought our, the evolution of events and opinion in our country makes it necessary that this vestige too should be given up. One aspect of that evolution has been indicated by Dr. Mookherjee and that was the completeness, the generosity, the thoroughness with which individual rights have been safeguarded in the section of our Constitution devoted to Fundamental Rights, the way in which these Fundamental Rights are placed under the power and jurisdiction of the Supreme Judicature and the spirit in which those provisions were passed by this House. That, and the multiple signs of good-will on the part of the majority community which we have introduced have reassured minorities to such an extent that today very substantial majorities are secured for the proposition placed before us by the Honourable majorities are secured for the proposition placed before us by the Honourable Sardar Patel. I do not deny that there are dissentient voices. But we have been in touch with our people up and down the country and I think I can say with certainty that as far as the Christian community is concerned, in the light of letters received and the public expression of opinion which we have heard, India as a whole is behind Dr. Mookherjee in his decision that there should be no reservation of seats.
Sir, I will not enter now into considerations of the evolution of a healthy nationalism in India in support of this proposition. Those are obvious grounds. The tragic developments in our country make it necessary that we should very resolutely turn from the path of communal separatisms. But, even from the practical point of view, there was something illogical and contradictory in this last vestige which we, at an earlier stage, sought to perpetuate. We were asked to secure representation for certain religious minorities and interests by reservation of seats for members professing that faith, but the representatives were to be elected in constituencies where probably the majority of the electorate would not belong to that faith. Now, Sir, either you accept the principle of representation for religious interests of minorities and ask those men to chose their own representatives or you give up the entire principle of representation on the basis of religion and not put us in the equivocal position of sometimes getting the professed representatives of a particular interest chosen by members who do not belong to that interest. That is the contradiction, that is the illogicality at the heart of this reservation which we wish to remove, and which the House is in a position to declare must disappear. This being so, it remains for me to make once again a most earnest appeal to this House to consider henceforth all kinds of special safeguards special reservation, special assistance to be given to backward groups, to be no longer on the basis of religion, but on the basis of individual merit, on consideration of individual deficiencies and need, bearing, no doubt in mind the social background, but essentially on the merits of the individual case. A man is to be assisted because he is poor, because his birth and upbringing have not given him the opportunity to make progress, socially, politically and educationally. Therefore, it should not matter whether he be a Christian, or a Muslim or a Hindu or a Brahmin or non Brahmin,or a Scheduled Caste member. Government like a truly democratic government with a paternal attitude towards all backward classes, will come to his help on the basis of his individual needs, and not on the basis of a communal or religious classification. Along this line, we have every hope that the democracy of new India will evolve in the way that it should evolve; and evolving this, it will give to others who have perhaps not succeeded well in applying the principle of democracy, an example which will be of profit not only to ourselves, but for social and international peace throughout the world.
Sir, I know that in thus giving up what seems to be last vestige of a safeguard on which the Christians and other minorities had counted-safeguards which were promised and which were considered to be certain to fall to their share until recently, I say, in giving up this, it is not we who are taking a risk. I venture to say that the national leaders and the majority community are undertaking a responsibility the gravity of which I hope they fully realise. In very grave and solemn words Sardar Patel has emphasised the responsibility of the majority community. From this day, it is up to them to see that men of all communities, provided they have personal worth, provided they are socially and politically progressive and acceptable to their association or to their organisation, receive a fair chance in the selection of candidates, and are given a fair deal in the course of election.This responsibility now, therefore of getting elected, if I may say so, passes away from the shoulders of the minority and devolves upon the heads and shoulders of the majority. They are willing to accept it, if I can judge from the attitude of this House. We are willing and glad to accept their assurance, that to the best of their ability, they will stand faithful to the spirit of this pledge, and to the spirit of this compromise, so that we and they may join together today in celebrating the end of a political experiment which has meant so much unhappiness for our people and which is, at last, being ended by the free and willing vote of the elected representatives of Indian democracy. (Cheers).
I shall not say anything more than this. I hope and pray that the spirit which has inspired the utterance of Sardar Patel and the reactions of the House will continue to animate the political leaders and the majority organisations and the public of our country; and that along the lines of secular democracy, wisely and firmly traced out by our great leader, this country, without distinction of caste and creed, will bring to the service of the motherland all the treasures of character and strength which each community possesses by virtue of its traditions. In this way Muslims and Christians, Hindus and Parsis and Anglo-Indians, will stand shoulder to shoulder and work out the prosperity and happiness of all our people, and lead the new Democracy of India to the glorious triumphs which Providence assuredly has in store for her.
Shri Jagat Narain Lal (Bihar : General): Mr. President, Sir, I have come to support the motion and to oppose the amendments moved by Mr. Ismail and Mr. Lari. In fact, after the speeches of so many of the Muslims friends who have themselves opposed the amendment, not of nay predecessor who has just spoken, it was not very necessary that I should come forward to oppose it, but I have only come to express one sentiment and that is, that after the bitter experience of the partition of India, there should be left any member in this House or anyone in this country who should think of separate electorates and should come forward and advocate them. It is a feeling of pain and of surprise which I could not help expressing here. After all the assurances of the past and of what is being done in the neighbouring country, that this State is going to be a Secular State, and will guarantee freedom of faith,worship and of thought, and that it is not going to recognise any religious distinctions for the purpose of conferring political right, it does not seem proper, and it does not seem to be good for any community, for any minority community to come forward and advocate any sort of reservation whatever.
Mr. Lari forward and talked of cumulative votes. He talked of the Third Series of Constitutional Precedents. But he could have seen from the same Constitutional Presidents-time is short, otherwise I would have read out the portions-how the U.S.S.R. by article 123, Switzerland by article 49, Germany by article 136 Yugoslavia, Finland and so on, have all declared that religion or religious distinction will have nothing to do with political rights whatsoever. Sir, the bitter fruits of separate electorates ever since they were advocated in 1906, all through the subsequent years, during the Round Table Conference, and now ending with the partition are all too well known to be recounted. I therefore humbly beg to oppose the amendments and also to say that after the assurances that have been given, that there is to be a secular State, there should not be any advocacy for reservation whatsoever. So far as the Scheduled Castes are concerned, repeated references have been made and specially by one of the previous speakers who asked, "When they have got it, why not we?" But let me point out once again that the Scheduled Castes have been given reservation not on grounds of religion at all; they from part and parcel of the Hindu Community, and they have given reservation apparently and clearly on grounds of their economic, social educational backwardness.
Therefore, that analogy does not apply here. With these words I beg to oppose the amendments and support the motion.
Mr. President: It is twelve o'clock. The House will adjourn till Eight o'clock tomorrow morning.
The Constituent Assembly then adjourned till Eight of the Clock on Thursday the 26th May, 1949.
CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY OF INDIA
New Delhi, the 11th May, 1949.
The Hon'ble Sardar VALLABHBHAI PATEL
Chairman, Advisory Committee on Minorities,
Fundamental Rights, etc.
Constituent Assembly of India.
The advisory Committee on Minorities, Fundamental Rights, etc., in their report dated the 8th of August, 1947, had recommended certain political safeguards for Minorities. These were accepted by the Constituent Assembly during the August, 1947 session, and have been embodied in Part XIV of the Draft Constitution. According to these recommendations, all elections to the Central and Provincial Legislatures were to be held on the basis of joint electorates with reservation of seats for certain specified minorities on their population basis. The reservation was to be for a period of ten years at the end of which the position was to be reconsidered. There was to be no weightage, but members of the minority communities for whom seats were reserved were to have the right to contest general seats. The communities for whom seats were to be reserved were Muslims, Scheduled Castes and Indian Christians, the latter only so far as the Central Legislature and the Provincial Legislatures of Madras and Bombay are concerned.
2. I would recall to you mind at this stage that the Committee had observed in their report that minorities were "by no means unanimous as to the necessity, in their own interests of statutory reservation of seats in the legislatures". Nevertheless, the Committee has recommended reservation of seats "in order the minorities may not feel apprehensive about the effect of a system of unrestricted joint electorates on the quantum of their representation in the legislature."
3. When the above recommendations were being considered by the Assembly, events were taking place, following the partition of the country, which made it impossible to consider the question of minority rights in East Punjab, particularly in so far as the Sikhs were concerned. This question of East Punjab was accordingly postponed; and also the question whether the right to contest unreserved seats should be given to minorities in West Bengal.
4. The Advisory Committee in their meeting held on the 24th February, 1948, appointed a special sub-Committee consisting of myself as Chairman and the-
5. This report came up for consideration before the Advisory Committee at their meeting held on the 30th December, 1948. Some members of the Committee felt that, conditions having vastly changed since the Advisory Committee made their recommendations in 1947, it was no longer appropriate in the context of free India and of present conditions that there should be reservation of seats for Muslims, Christian, Sikhs or any other religious minority. Although the abolition of separate electorates had removed much of the poison from the body politic, the reservation of seats for religious communities, it was felt, did lead to a certain degree of separatism and was to that extent contrary felt, did lead to a certain degree of separatism and was to that extent contrary to the conception of secular democratic State. Dr. H.C. Mookerjee, Mr. Tajmul Husain, Shri Lakshmi Kanta Maitra and certain other members gave notices of resolutions seeking to recommend to the Constituent Assembly that there should be no reservation of seats in the Legislatures for any community in India. Shri V.I. Muniswami Pillai gave notice of an amendment to the said resolutions seeking to exclude the Scheduled Castes from the purview of the said resolutions. At that meeting I pointed out that if the members of a particular community genuinely felt that their interests were better served by the abolition of reserved seats, their views must naturally be given weight and the matter allowed to be reopened. At the same time I was anxious that the representatives of the minorities on the Committee should have adequate time both to gauge public opinion among their people and to reflect fully on the amendments that had been proposed, so that a change, if effected, would be one sought voluntarily by the minorities themselves and not imposed them by the majority community. Accordingly the Committee adjourned without taking any decision and we met again on the 11th of May, 1949. At this meeting, the resolution of Dr. H.C. Mookherjee found wholehearted, support of an over-whelming majority of the members of the Advisory Committee. it was recognised, however, that the peculiar position of the Scheduled Castes would make it necessary to give them reservation for a period of ten years as originally decided. Accordingly the Advisory Committee, with one dissenting voice, passed the said resolution as amended by Shri V.I.Muniswami Pillai in the following form :-
It was further decided that nothing contained in the said resolution shall affect the recommendations made by the North East Frontier (Assam) Tribal and Excluded Areas Sub-Committee with regard to representation of tribals in the Legislatures. The Committee also decided that the resolution should not affect the special provision made for the representation of Anglo-Indians in the legislature.
6. The Committee also accepted the unanimous proposal made by the Sikh representatives that the following classes in East Punjab, namely, Mazhabis, Ramdasis, Kabirpanthis and Sikligars, who suffer the same disabilities as other members of the Scheduled Castes, should be included in the list of Scheduled Castes so that would get the benefit of representation given to the Scheduled Castes. Subject to this change and to the above mentioned resolution, the report of the special sub-committee appointed by the Advisory Committee was approved.
* Appendix B
7. As a result of the above decisions, the resolutions seeking to do away with rights of minorities to contest general seats in addition to reserved seats in Assam and West Bengal, of which notices had been given by some members of the Committee were withdrawn.
8. The Committee are fully alive to the fact that decisions once reached should not be changed lightly. Conditions have, however, vastly changed since August 1947 and the Committee are satisfied that the minorities themselves feel that in their own interests, no less than in the interests of the country as a whole, the statutory reservation of seats for religious minorities should be a whole, the statutory reservation of seats for religious minorities should be abolished. The Committee accordingly recommend that the provisions of Part XIV of the Draft Constitution should be amended in the light of the decisions now taken.
Report of the Special Sub-Committee referred to in paragraph 4 of the Advisory Committee's Report.
At a meeting held on the 24th February 1948 the Advisory Committee on minorities, Fundamental Rights etc. appointed a Sub-Committee consisting of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, as Chairman, and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Dr. Ambedkar and Mr. Munshi as Members, to report on certain minority problems affecting East Punjab and West Bengal. We met on the 23rd November and herewith present our report. We much regret that on account of his illness Dr. Rajendra Prasad was unable to be present during our deliberations and to give us the benefit of his counsel, but we understand from him that he is in complete accord with the conclusions which we have reached.
2. The Advisory Committee will recall that at a session held in August 1947 the Constituent Assembly considered the problem of what may broadly be described as political safeguards for minorities and came to the following conclusion:-
These decisions were reached at a time when the effect of the Radcliffe Award on the population structure of the East Punjab and the West Bengal Provinces was not accurately known, and a tragic and immense migration of populations was taking place across the frontiers of the East and West Punjab. The Assembly accordingly decided to postpone consideration of the whole question of minority rights in the political field to be provided in the Constitution for Sikhs and other minorities in the East Punjab. They also agreed, at the suggestion of the representatives of West Bengal, to postpone consideration of the question as to whether minorities in that Province should have the right to contest general seats in addition to having seats reserved for them according to population strength.
3. The most important problem referred to us is the problem of the Sikhs. We have examined carefully the demands put forward on their behalf by different organisations and individuals; these vary from suggestions that no special constitutional safeguards are necessary to the very forthright demands of the Shromani Akali Dal. In main these demands are-
It will be noticed that these suggestion are a fundamental departure from the decisions taken by the Assembly taken by the Assembly in respect of every other community including the Scheduled Castes.
4. It seems scarcely necessary for us to say that in dealing with this problem we are acutely aware of the
tragic sufferings which the Sikh community suffered both before and after the partition of Punjab. The holocaust in West Punjab has deprived them of many valuable lives and great material wealth; moreover, while in these, respects, the Hindus suffered equally with the Sikhs, the special tragedy of the Sikhs was that they had also to abandon many places particularly sacred to their religion. But while we fully understand the emotional and physical strain to which they have been subjected, we are clear in our minds that the question remitted to us for consideration must be settled on different grounds.
5. The Sikhs are a minority from the point of view of numbers, but they do not suffer from any of the other handicaps which affect the other communities dealt with by the Advisory Committee. They are a highly educated and virile community with great gifts not merely as soldiers but as farmers and artisans, and with a most remarkable spirit of enterprise. There is, in fact, no field of activity in which they need fear comparison with any other community in the country, and we have every confidence that , with the talents they possess, they will soon reach a level of prosperity which will be the envy of other communities. Moreover, while, in the undivided Punjab, they were only 14 per cent of the population, they form nearly 30 per cent of the population in East Punjab, a strength which gives them, in the public life of the Province, a position of considerable authority.
6. We have come to the conclusion that we cannot recommend either communal electorates or weightage in the Legislature which are the main demands of the Shromani Akali Dal. In the first place they are not necessary for the well-being of the Sikhs themselves for the reasons we have stated above. Indeed it seems to us that under a system of joint electorates with reserved seats and with the right to contest additional seats the Sikhs are likely to get greater representation than is strictly warranted on the population basis where as on a system of communal electorates, their representation will be limited. The only way in which this representation could be increased beyond the population basis is to give weightage which means trenching compulsorily on what other communities legitimately regard as their right. In the second place, communal electorates and weightage are definitely retrograde from the point of view of the general interests of the country. The demands of the Dal are, in principle, precisely those which the Muslim League demanded for the Muslims and which led to the tragic consequences with which the country is all too familiar. We feel convinced that if we are to build a strong State which will hold together in times of peace and war, of prosperity and adversity, the Constitution should contain no provision which would have the effect of isolating any section of the people from the main stream of public life. In this connection we would recall the following resolution passed by the Constituent Assembly at its meeting on the 3rd April, 1948 :-
It is not always easy to define communalism, but there could be little doubt that separate electorates are both a cause and an aggravated manifestation of this spirit. The demands of the Dal are thus wholly at variance with the considered judgment of the Assembly.
If the Constitution guaranteed special safeguards such as communal electorates, and weightage to the Sikhs we fear that it would impossible to justify denying the same privilege to certain other communities. The detailed arguments may vary but the main approach will be similar. We would mention in this connection only the Scheduled Castes whose standards of education and material well-being are, even on Indian standards, extremely low and who, moreover, suffer from grievous social disabilities. They have contented themselves with the Provisions approved by the Assembly and referred to in paragraph 2 above. We cannot conceive of any valid argument which would justify the inclusion in the Constitution of safeguards for the Sikhs which are merely illustrative. We feel convinced that to accede to the demands of the Shromani Akali Dal will lead, by an inevitable extension off similar privileges to other communities, to a disrupting of the whole conception of the Secular State which is to be the basis of our new Constitution.
7. We recommend accordingly that no special provision should be provided for the Sikhs other than the general provisions already by the Assembly for certain minorities and summarized in paragraph 2.
8. The only reason why the Assembly postponed consideration of the question of giving to minorities in West Bengal the right to contest unreserved seats was that it was pointed out by the West Bengal representatives that the population structure of the Province was not known at that time. Although, on account of the recent exodus from East Bengal, any accurate estimate of the number of different communities in West Bengal is a matter of some conjecture, the broad picture is known clearly enough and we do not think there are any reason why the arrangements already approved by the Assembly for other Provinces should not be applied to West Bengal.