Salman Khursheed A M Ahmadi Syed Shahabuddin
The 48-year old National Integration Council of India (NIC), disbanded during NDA rule and reconstituted after UPA government came to power in 2004, is again being constituted. The persons being contacted include a number of Muslims also. Muslim leaders from other categories are also being chosen for their other roles. However, a number of Muslims active in different areas generally remain out of the list. This time also many stalwarts of the Muslim community have so far also not got any invitation.
The eminent Muslims contacted so far for their acceptance include Minister of Minority Affairs Salman Khursheed and Editor of Urdu daily Inquilab Shahid Lateef as the new members and former Chief Justice of India A M Ahmadi, Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir Omar Abdullah, well known Muslim leader Syed Shahabuddin, Member of Parliament Asaduddin Owaisi, ANHAD founder Shabnam Hashmi, and Movement for Empowerment of Muslim Indians (MOEMIN) General Secretary Navaid Hamid as the re-nominated members.
NIC has got a historical background. India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru convened National Integration Conference in September-October, 1961 to find ways and means to combat the evils of communalism, casteism, regionalism, linguism and narrow-mindedness, and to formulate definite conclusions in order to give a lead to the country. This Conference decided to set up a National Integration Council (NIC) to review all matters pertaining to national integration and to make recommendations thereon. The NIC was constituted accordingly and held its first meeting in 1962. Since then it has met 14 times. 1. 2nd and 3rd June, 1962; 2. 20th to 22nd June, 1968; 3. 12th November, 1980; 4. 21st January, 1984; 5. 7th April, 1986; 6. 12th September, 1986; 7. 11th April, 1990; 8. 22nd September, 1990; 9. 2nd November, 1991; 10. 31st December, 1991; 11. 18th July, 1992; 12. 23rd November, 1992; 13. 31st August, 2005; and 14. 13th October, 2008.
Omar Abdullah Asaduddin Owaisi Shahid Lateef
Prime Minister is the Chairman of the NIC. According to the last published list, the NIC contains 147 people including Union Ministers, Chief Ministers of all states and Union Territories with legislatures, leaders of major political parties, chairpersons of national commissions, and leaders in media, business, labour unions, and women’s organizations.
In a multi-religious country like India, its importance enhances. There are 122 major languages in India and it is the birthplace of several major religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainim and Sikhism, and also land of other important religions like Islam, Christianity and Judaism.
The NIC meets infrequently to discuss strategies for dealing with potentially divisive issues. It has met fourteen times since its first sitting in 1962. The last meeting was in October 13, 2008 after a wave of anti-Christian attacks, mostly in Orissa and Karnataka, as well as Maoist militant attacks across India.
Expressing his views, Navaid Hamid, also invited to join the reconstituted NIC in a letter from the Minister for Home Affairs, P Chidambaram, told the Fana Watch that the reconstitution of the NIC had clearly sent a strong message to the civil society that the UPA government gave paramount importance in the continuity of the national institutions, established for involving the civil society in nation-building and integration between different segments of society.
He said: “I am confident that the reconstituted NIC would actively deliberate on the contentious issues which threatens the harmony and integrity; would be involved in the consultation for the formulation of the laws and guidelines for cementing the bonds between communities and checking the spread of the hate campaigns and fascism in the coming years.”
Shabnam Hashmi Navaid Hamid
In response to a question, Navaid Hamid, who originally joined the NIC in 2005, said: “There are certainly left several eminent Muslims behind. As for example, the leaders of Muslim organizations and institutions who play a key role in forging unity and communal harmony don’t get attention of the power that be.”
It seems to be true because influential community leaders like Maulana Syed Rabey Hasani Nadvi, President, All India Muslim Personal Law Board and Rector, Darul Uloom Nawatul Ulema Lucknow; Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, Dawoodi Bohra's present Dai; Dr Kalbe Sadiq, a leader of Shia community; Maulana Syed Jalaluddin Oomri, Ameer, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind; Maulana Mahmood Madni, General Secretary, Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind; Maulana Asghar Imam Mehdi Salafi, Secretary General, Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadees Hind; and Dr Mohammed Manzoor Alam, General Secretary, All India Milli Council and Chairman of think tank Institute of Objective Studies as well as Imams of the country’s two central mosques---Maulana Syed Ahmed Bukhari of Jama Masjid Delhi and Mufti Mukarram Ahmed of Masjid Fatehpuri---have been most of the time kept out of the list.
The question is: Would the reconstituted NIC get a broader representation from influential Muslim as well as other religious and linguistic communities this time?
---A U Asif, Editor, www.fanawatch.com, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org