What's wrong about thinking communally?
Ask any adivasi. Ask any madrasi. As a nation we seem largely incapable of living with diversity, which is odd considering there is no other nation in the world with such a wealth of diversity
Mohan Guruswamy Delhi
I must be missing something. I looked at Shazia Ilmi's "communal" video. I really think we must see things in their context too. She is not asking for votes for the Jamat or Majlis. She is soliciting support for the AAP, which is not by even any touch of the sun a communal party. She is saying that Muslims have for far too long been voting for the Congress without thinking of their own interests. (This can be debated, but someplace else.) It’s time that they think of themselves first, meaning pursuing their legitimate interests. When she says that Muslims must think "communally" meaning in their interests. But there is no doubt that she is pitching for the AAP. The particular candidate she is pitching for, Meera Sanyal, is not a Muslim. None of the AAP candidates in Bombay is a Muslim. Her party president is not a Muslim. Even Shazia’s husband is not a Muslim.
She has used the words “communal” and “secular” in the commonly misunderstood sense of the words. To be secular is to be a skeptic about religion and belief in God and all the scrambled thinking that goes with their contemplation. To be secular is to be rational. We have for long misusing this word to mean tolerance. You can be tolerant by quietly suffering all the nonsense that goes on around with the stated purpose of saving our souls and to point it in the right direction when the time comes. To be communal is entirely something else. It means having communitarian values. But more about it later.
When Shazia says, “be communal”, she is saying think of your quam. Now quam means both the ummah and the nation. She is seen exhorting Muslims to be “communal” which in this context means, quam, to vote in their self-interest. In other words, in the interest of the quam. Muslims are a distinct and substantial minority in India, and what’s wrong if they have to think in their own collective interests? The facts are that Muslims, by and large, have got a raw deal in the development of this country. Even as I write, the once venerable Times of India’s New Delhi edition, now that the elections here are over, is carrying a series of articles that narrate in nauseating detail how Muslim mohalla’s have fared while the rest of Delhi has raced ahead. I would have thought better of my daily newspaper if it had carried this series before Delhi voted.