April 23, 2007
New Delhi

PM releases book on parliamentary speeches of Maulana Syed Asad Madani

"I have great pleasure releasing this collection of Parliamentary Speeches of Maulana Syed Asad Madani. He was a fine product of our freedom struggle and composite culture. He was deeply religious and spiritual and at the same time had a modern, secular and progressive outlook. All his activities as a private person and a public figure reflected the values he inherited from our struggle for independence and the shared heritage of our people professing diverse faiths.

The Maulana was a staunch advocate of pluralism and secularism and dedicated his life to defend our common ethos and composite culture. His speeches in the Rajya Sabha present to us a modern mind, a patriotic and nationalist mind. Maulana Syed Asad Madani was a nation-builder.

In his farewell speech in the Rajya Sabha in March 1994 he stated "It is my earnest desire to see India as a developed country." His vision of India as a developed country went beyond GNP and other indicators of economic growth. It included in its scope the triumph of democratic ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity and substantial advancement of socio-economic conditions of all sections of society. In his vision of a developed India he wanted that the minorities, weaker sections of society and women enjoy equality and equality of opportunity.

In the beginning of the book it is stated that one of the greatest achievements of Maulana Madani has been his relentless struggle in defence of our composite nationalism. He always stressed that our progress and prosperity is dependent on the sustenance of our composite culture and the tradition of tolerance and openness. His words that "True secularism in the country could only prevail, if every section of society is provided with an equal opportunity for progress" assumes great significance in our combined quest for a life of dignity, peace and prosperity for all sections of our societies, including religious minorities.

It is this composite vision which defined the identity of our nationhood and which remain central to our approach to nation building. To day when so much talk is going on to make India a developed country by 2020 we have to be mindful of the words of Maulana Madani.

One of the enduring lessons of this book is centered around gender equality. It is indeed educative to find that the Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind during 1935 and 1936 was instrumental for securing the rights for Muslim women over their parental property. But the rights were restricted when Muhammed Ali Jinnah moved an amendment exempting the forest and agricultural property from the scope of the Bill. It was Maulana Madani who wanted Muslim women to have rights on all kinds of ancestral property.

But he could not succeed. Later on he hoped that some day the rights of women on parental property would be guaranteed. It was his progressive vision that defined his personality and his outlook. We need such approaches to address the problems confronted by women in our society. Without achieving such goals we cannot truly make India a developed country.

An ardent nationalist and humanist Maulana Madani was one of the great advocates of secularism. He provided leadership to the Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind and guided it along the path of secularism and modern values. In doing so he remained in the forefront of the movement against religious fundamentalism, bigotry and terrorism. Some of his suggestions to do justice to minority communities and deprived sections of society flowed from that larger vision. He wanted full discussion on the Dr. Gopal Singh Report to understand the real social and economic condition of the Muslims in our country. He also demanded a separate Ministry for removing backwardness of minorities. Through the Sachar Committee Report and the Ministry of Minority Affairs we want to address the issue which Maulana Madani had raised during his life time. The themes he discussed and the measures the Government has been taking now are centered around equity, justice and fair play.

The use of religion for dividing people and getting electoral benefit is a bane of our age. It is a dangerous practice which needs to be curbed. The sage counsel of Maulana Madani that we should refrain from encouraging religious hatred and enmity in the name of religion and caste sprang from his tolerant and open minded approach which he linked to our prosperity.

I compliment the translators M.A.Hussain and Sayeed Suhrawardy who have translated the speeches of Maulana Madani delivered in Urdu to English. The collection of these speeches in one volume constitutes an important addition to the corpus of literature on parliamentary speeches. In its own way this book will carry forward our attempts to enrich our parliamentary democracy and disseminate the values of humanism and secularism. It is a good effort and a fitting tribute to the vision of late Mulana Saheb."