“We have not faced generations of discrimination and are a prosperous community,” Aga told ET in an interview. “Some people in my community would like some seats reserved at university level, but I am not for it.”
Article by MEERA MOHANTY, economictimes.indiatimes.com
Her comment came in the backdrop of increasing demand for reservation from various communities and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s recent statement lauding Parsis for not regarding themselves as a minority. Jaitley had said this mindset of the Parsis allowed the community to emerge as a “role model” for others.
Aga was in Bhubaneshwar as the chief guest for an event organised by metals firm IMFA’s corporate social responsibility wing, the Bansidhar and Ila Panda Foundation. At the event, she handed over the ‘Shambhavi Puraskar’ for inspiring, young social workers to agriculturalist and conservationist Sabarmatee.
A nominated member of the upper house of Parliament since 2013, Aga speaks up for what she believes in, like the necessity for political parties to have their books open to scrutiny. But she is determined not to be dragged into increasingly polarised debates, within and outside Parliament.
“As much as we need economic development, we also need to preserve our culture of secularism, pluralism and diversity,” she said. She believes that is India’s strength and her community a great example of that. “Look at my community. We arrived here, more than a 1,000 years ago, and flourished in this country because we were encouraged and not discriminated against.”
The onus, of holding on to this Indian ethos, does lie with the majority she believes. “When a daughter-in-law comes into your house, it is the mother-in-law that must make her feel at home. Similarly, it is the majority that must make the minority feel welcome and comfortable,” she said. Every government, she said, has exploited religious, caste and other differences to suit their purpose.
Aga was the sole dissenting member of a parliamentary standing committee that recommended political parties be kept out of the ambit of the Right to Information Act. “If any government is serious about dealing with black money, they have to be willing to come under RTI and have their own books open,” she said.
In her dissent note, Aga had argued that as beneficiaries of subsidised land and housing allotments and many other perks, political parties qualified as public authorities. “But all parties, including the Communists, the BJP, the INC (Indian National Congress), everyone joined hands to throw it out,” she said.