Monday, 24 April 2017

Muslims in India are second class citizens

The song 'Sare Jahan Se Achcha Hindustan Hamara' was an instant hit when Sir Muhammad Iqbal, or Allama Iqbal, wrote it in 1904. Late he became an ardent supporter of a Muslim homeland. Iqbal died in 1938, two years before the Muslim League adopted the resolution for Pakistan in Lahore in 1940, but he was honored as the spiritual founder and national poet of the new nation when it came into being in August 1947.

In early 20th century Ottoman Empire was disintegrating. Muslims faced defeat and humiliation everywhere. Muslims in India have been suffering in many ways. Yet, they are proud Indians and love India as much as any other Indian community. Politics was only one facet of the man. Many Muslims feared that since democracy was about numbers, the Hindu majority would dominate Indian politics, culture and society and Muslims would be slowly marginalized and obliterated from India. If you objectively see the conditions of Muslims in India today, you will feel that is exactly what has happened.

Islam is the fastest-growing major religion in the world. There were 1.6 billion Muslims in the world as of 2010 i.e. 23% of the global population. The world's population is projected to grow 35% in the coming decades, the Muslims are expected to grow by 73% to 2.8 billion in 2050. Majority of the Muslims i.e. 62% live in the Asia-Pacific region i.e. Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Turkey etc. Indonesia is currently the country with the world's largest Muslim population with 203 million (87% of population), but India will have that distinction by the year 2050, with more than 300 million Muslims.

It is illogical & undemocratic to compare societal parameters in proportion to population. Yet the abysmal low shares enjoyed by Muslims in India, in all walks of life, cause heart burns and social unrest in future can't be ruled out. Muslims shares in India:
  • Population: 17.22 Crores i.e.14.23%
  • Armed forces: 3%
  • IAS & IPS: 3.65%
  • Bureaucracy 2.5%.
  • Central Organisations: 6.24%
  • Railways: 5%
  • Banking: 3.5%
  • Judiciary: 6.26%
  • Police Chiefs: 0.1%
  • Muslim convicts in jails 15.8% 
  • Under-trial Muslims in jails 20.9%
  • Per capita daily spend Rs 32.66 (Sikhs Rs 55.30, Hindus Rs 37.50, Christians Rs 51.43)
  • Illiteracy: 42.7% ( 36.4% Hindus, 32.5% Sikhs 28.2%, Christians 25.6%)
  • Below Poverty Line: 31% (SC/ST 35%, OBC 21%, OBC General 8.7%, Overall 22.7%)
  • Fair price shop licences: 6.94%
  • Antyodaya Anna Yojana Scheme beneficiaries: 1.9%
  • Low income houses allotted: 2.86%
  • Working people: 33% (Overall 40%, Sikhs 36%, Buddhists/Dalits 43%, Hindus 41%) 
  • Women working: 15% (Sikhs 15%, Jains 12%, Hindus 27%, Christians 31%, Buddhists 33%)
  • Rural land holding: 11%
  • Women divorced: 23.3% (Hindus 68%)
  • Men divorced: 12.7% (Hindus 76%)
  • Tractors owned: 2.1%
    Marginalization of Muslims in India is a harsh reality. Muslims are poorly represented in public employment, occupying only six per cent of state government jobs, four per cent in the central government, three per cent in the Indian Administrative Services and less than one per cent in senior bureaucratic posts. These empirical surveys and data depict how Muslims as a religious minority have been marginalized in the history of Indian formation. The issues of discrimination, exclusion and marginalization of Muslims in general and Muslim women in particular is complex but a serious matter of concern. But discrimination in every society exists and all people suffer discrimination in some form or other. In the communal–ridden society of India, most of the employers, industrialists and middlemen are Hindus, whereas most Muslims work as employees, workers and artisans. This ominous development has posed a great threat to the Indian Muslims and quest of survival. Muslim women in urban India are much worse off than their rural counterparts, in terms of their overall educational status compared to Hindu or Christian women. Since Muslim Indians share an economic and educational predicament with their vulnerable non-Muslim fellow citizens, therefore, economic and educational welfare are the predominant concerns in the process of democratization of Muslims.

    After 9/11, the West unleashed its 'War On Terror.' The victims were mostly Muslims. For over a decade now, there is a general mood of doom and gloom among Muslims. In India too, the rise of right wing Hindu nationalists have made Muslims uncomfortable. Riots, framing innocent Muslims in terror plots, encounter killings, ghettoisation etc, Muslims in India have been suffering in many ways. Yet, they are proud Indians and love India as much as any other Indian community. 

    Muslim leaders fought to get equal constitutional rights for Muslims and they failed. The Congress never accepted this idea of separate electorates on the principle that India would be a secular State and Muslims need not worry about it. Nehru's secularism and socialism stands defeated in India. The Congress's secularism turned out to be fake. During partition, the heaviest migration of Muslims that took place were from upper and middle strata of society. If Muslims have been a Congress appeased vote bank since 1947, why are they still backward?

    In India, Muslims face communal violence and risk political exclusion because of Hindu majoritarianism, which is gaining ground in the country. While Hindu nationalist groups are waging a concerted campaign against all religious minorities in their efforts to Hinduise India, Islamist forces are doing the same and even worse to religious minorities on this side of the border. After Narendra Modi became prime minister in 2014, Hindu domination is complete in India. The tokenism of Congress is over. 

    The ban on beef trading by Maharashtra government and closing of unauthorized slaughter houses in UP will disproportionately harm poor Muslims working in meat and leather industries. The spatial segregation of Muslims in urban areas makes them more insecure and vulnerable during communal riots. After the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008, the state too has contributed to this sense of marginalisation by targeting Muslim men who face human rights abuses during siege and search operations carried out under the pretext of anti-terrorism operations, both within and outside the confines of the law. 

    Elite Muslims are comfortable in both countries. Like most poor of the world, it is the poor Muslims in India and Pakistan that face most of the challenges, from education to healthcare to job opportunities. With education & prosperity, all sorts of discrimination will diminish over time. Muslims in India need to work hard to better their lot, and not just blame the government for their pitiable state. Muslims must organize themselves in India and look after their needs, otherwise they will be forced to exist on the margins of society and will be forced to learn to live as second class citizens of the State.

    It is safer in India to be a cow than a Muslim ... Shashi Tharoor

    My View:
    Every person belongs to a minority group, with varying criterion. A Hindu Brahmin belongs to minority of castes. Telugu speaking people are a linguistic minority compared to Hindi speaking people. There are linguistic minorities in every other linguistic state. Since our society is primarily polarized based on religion, religious minorities gains significance especially at the time of elections. In Punjab, Hindus(38%) are minority with Sikhs(58%) are in majority. In India, J&K is the only state with Muslim population being majority at 68% whereas Hindus are 28%. But in Kashmir valley Muslims are over 96%. Minorities exist in all walks of life in all parts of the country. Hence it is the responsibility of the governments to protect minorities and ensure their well being. Social problems are born mostly by poorer classes and to some extent by middle classes where as rich are comfortable everywhere. Thus minority protection is a must as long as poverty & illiteracy are existing. Once poverty & illiteracy are eradicated all protections could be abolished and country can become a 'True Democracy' in letter and spirit with merit as the sole criterion and national achievements would be at its best.

    It remains to be seen if India’s democracy can withstand the religious and fascist forces that seem to reign supreme now. The benefits of education, health, employment and enterprise were yet to reach around 100 million Muslims and India as a country cannot grow if Muslims and other marginalised populations are left behind.

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