When the Union minister for minority affairs, K. Rehman Khan, announced last November a move to set up five central universities across the country where 50% of the seats would be reserved for the minorities, it quickly became an inter-communal debate, with various BJP functionaries in Karnataka joining the fray.
Ahead of assembly elections in Karnataka, the move also served to add to the stereotype.
Mohamed Shareef, writing in Deccan Herald, helps break it somewhat:
“Some people of Mysore, under the influence of vested interests, have demanded a separate university for the community and that it has to be named ‘Tipu University’. The very idea of a separate university for Muslims is not acceptable because Muslims do not have any separate identity in this country.
“All Indians, whether you are a Muslim or a Christian, belong to the one and the same common identity and heritage. Foreign religions have been accepted and respected in this country because of the secular and broadminded attitude of the Hindu majority.
“In one way all Indians are Hindus because Hinduism is not a religion but a way of life.
“Different cultures and ceremonies certainly add colour and vibrancy to our social fabric but the over-emphasis of the diversity is useful only from a tourist point of view. The more diversity we can boast of, the more tourists we can attract. Apart from these utilitarian points of view, the religious sentiments of the people of any nation has to be accommodated in the broader interests of national unity and national identity.
“We do not run separate trains for Muslims and Christians because the function of a train is to transport people and not to express religious identities. Similarly a university is a place to receive education and to conduct research and it is not a forum for expressing religious views. We do not have a separate physics teacher for Muslims because the learning of physics follows only one method of science as followed all over the world by the scientific community.
“It is high time we kept our religious sentiments away from the mainstream of the civil society. ”
Read the full article: Is there a Hindu or Muslim train?