United we stand

12 Sep

I had the privilege of felicitating bright’ meritorious students of the Muslim community in Ahmedabad recently’ on invitation by the Gujarat Ajmeri Charitable and Education Trust. It was extremely encouraging to see the enthusiasm and exuberance for education on display amongst the young people gathered there’ and girls in particular. The girls interestingly had outperformed the boys that evening’ securing 65% of the awards and recognitions.

Leaders of the Muslim community were also present in large numbers at the function. It was heartening to see a similar enthusiasm and drive amongst them for getting their newer generations educated’ to consequently progress and prosper.

It has always been very clear and obvious to me that education is one of the most powerful drivers for bringing about progress and development in society. The evening thus augured well for a bright shining future of our beloved nation.

I would like to share with you some of the thoughts i had submitted that evening’ as i had found the audience meaningfully engaged and willing to explore the issue. Minorities in India have for years been deceived and exploited in the name of vote-bank politics. They end up being used as mere ballot paper – with no one seeming to see or care for the human being behind.

Gujarat has managed to rise above this trap of minority-majority considerations’ to focus on all six crore Gujaratis as one. We have always maintained and aimed for universal objectives’ without any form of discrimination or bias. All students should get good education; all children should be healthy; and all poor should benefit from welfare schemes. Just as even if one organ of a body is weak’ the body cannot be considered healthy; i have always believed that my Gujarat cannot be considered developed if even one section of its society is left behind or weak.

True development therefore has to be all-round’ inclusive’ comprehensive and sustainable. We have often heard the prime minister addressing us from the ramparts of the Red Fort on August 15 as Hindus’ Muslims’ Christians’ Sikhs and so on. I wonder why he cannot address us simply as ‘my dear countrymen” rather than breaking us up like this? Isn’t this important to maintain the unity of our nation!

Secularism is a term interpreted in many different ways by different people. For me’ it has always been something very simple – putting India first. It means designing policy’ making decisions and taking actions in the best interests of the nation. When we look after India’s interests’ the interests of every Indian are automatically cared for.

My government therefore functions on the principle of ‘justice to all and appeasement to none’. And Gujarat is accordingly marching ahead with the mantra of ‘sabka saath’ sabka vikas’ (support from all’ development for all).

Friends’ these thoughts that i had explored with the gathered audience that evening’ are not mere wishes or fancy imagination. Gujarat has achieved concrete results based on them over the past decade. And it is not me or my government saying so. A committee headed by a retired judge’ Justice Rajinder Sachar – constituted by the central government of Manmohan Singh in 2005 – has said so.

The Sachar panel was formed to study the socio-economic conditions of Muslims in India and the report was tabled in Parliament on November 30′ 2006. An analysis of the report presents a clear understanding of the progress made by Gujarat’s Muslims’ especially in comparison to their counterparts in other states. The compiled data also exposes the deplorable status of Muslims in states which are singing paeans to secularism’ but in fact playing vote-bank politics.

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