The Hindu – Kashmir is a political problem: Hamid Ansari

The fact that Indianness of any citizen being questioned is a disturbing thought

New Delhi, 10 August 2017. Outgoing Vice-President Hamid Ansari spoke to television anchor Karan Thapar on a range of issues. The interview will be aired on Rajya Sabha television on Thursday. Excerpts:

Question: One of the things that attracted enormous attention was in 2015 when senior BJP leader Ram Madhav tweeted criticising your behaviour as Vice-President. I know Mr. Madhav apologised and deleted the tweets but never before has the general secretary of a ruling party publicly questioned, leave aside criticise, the Vice-President. Were you surprised and taken aback by that?

Answer: Surprised, yes, because the facts were well known and very clear and there were my colleagues in office who put the public wise to it very quickly. There was no ambiguity, there was no confusion.

Q. Hardly a day goes by without us reading about cow vigilante attacks. Earlier, we read about lynchings, we have read about beef bans. People who refuse to say ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ have been told they should leave the country. There have been accusations of Love Jihad, Ghar Wapsi campaigns and even killings of rationalists. How do you view all of this?

A. Breakdown of Indian values, breakdown of the ability of the authorities at different levels in different places to be able to enforce what should be normal law enforcing work and overall the very fact that Indianness of any citizen being questioned is a disturbing thought.

Q. Today, there are many who believe we are becoming an intolerant country. Do you fear that yourself ?

A. Yes, because I interact with fellow citizens and there are great many people from different walks of life who come and talk about it.

Q. The Supreme Court has ruled that ‘Jana Gana Mana’ must be played before every film screening. More recently, the Madras High Court ruled that ‘Vande Mataram’ must be sung at least once a week in Tamil Nadu schools and colleges and at least once a month in government offices and private establishments. Once again, these two rulings have divided public opinion. How do you view them?

A. The courts are a part of society. So what the courts tend to say sometimes is reflective of what the prevailing atmosphere in society is. I call that a sense of insecurity… this propensity to be able to assert your nationalism day in and day out is unnecessary. I am an Indian and that is it.

Q. An issue that dominated the news in recent months concerning the Muslim community is this debate about triple talaq. I want to ask where you as a Muslim stand on it?

A. Firstly, it is a social aberration, it is not a religious requirement. The religious requirement is crystal clear, emphatic, there are no two views about it but patriarchy, social customs have all crept into it to create a situation which is highly undesirable.

Q. Should the court step in?

You don’t have to, the reform has to come from within the community.

Q, Speaking in Bengaluru on Sunday you said and I am quoting “the political immobility in relation to J&K is disconcerting.” Are you suggesting that the governments in Srinagar and Delhi ought to be taking more initiatives and are not. Is that the immobility that you are talking about?

A. Yes. Yes. The problem is and has always been primarily a political problem. And it has to be addressed politically.

Q. And politicians today are ducking it?

A. That’s my impression. And I’m not the only one in the country…Well when young boys and girls come out on to the streets and throw stones day after day, week after week, month after month, it’s something to worry about because they are our children, they are our citizens. Something is obviously going wrong. What exactly, I am not the final word on it, but I think there are enough people in the country who are worried about it. Eminent people belonging to different political persuasions and their worry must be taken on board.

Q. Another issue that is problematic today is the India-China standoff at Doklam. Just 48 hours ago or so, Chinese newspaper, the Global Times, quoted a Chinese expert who said that a small scale military operation is possible may be even likely in two weeks. Are you apprehensive about this situation?

A. Not really. I think we have had these periods of standoffs with China. And there is enough knowledge, enough wisdom still available to be able to retrieve situations.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karan-thapar-interviews-hamid-ansari/article19458957.ece

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