Monday, December 1, 2008

Muslims--India's New Untouchables

Mumbai-born Indian-American Asra Nomani, former Wall Street Journal reporter and a harsh critic of Muslim terror outfits like Al-Qaeda and the Taleban, has expressed her feelings about the recent Mumbai attacks. Here are a few brief excerpts from her op ed that appeared in Los Angeles Times today:

The news of the attacks in Mumbai eerily took me back to a quiet morning two years ago when I sat in Room 721 of the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower hotel, reading the morning newspaper, fearing just the kind of violence that has now exploded in the city of my birth. The headlines recounted how the socioeconomic condition of the people of my ancestry, Muslims in India, had fallen below that of the Hindu caste traditionally called “untouchables,” according to a government report.

“Muslims are India’s new untouchables,” I said sadly to my mother, in the room with me. “India is going to explode if it doesn’t take care of them.” Now, indeed, alas it has. And shattered in the process is the myth of India’s thriving secular democracy.

Mumbai police said over the weekend that the only gunman they’d captured during the attacks – which left nearly 200 dead and more than 300 wounded – claimed to belong to a Pakistani militant group. But even if the trouble was imported, the violence will most certainly turn a spotlight of suspicion on Muslims in India. Already, my relatives are hunkered down for a sectarian backlash they expect from anti-terrorism agencies, police and angry Hindu fundamentalists.

According to the report, produced by a committee led by a former Indian chief justice, Rajender Sachar, Muslims were now worse off than the Dalit caste, or those called untouchables. Some 52% of Muslim men were unemployed, compared with 47% of Dalit men. Among Muslim women, 91% were unemployed, compared with 77% of Dalit women. Almost half of Muslims over the age of 46 couldn’t read or write. While making up 11% of the population, Muslims accounted for 40% of India’s prison population. Meanwhile, they held less than 5% of government jobs.

As expected, the Indian government and media have already concluded that Pakistan is responsible for the murder and mayhem in Mumbai. While Pakistan does have a serious terrorist problem, does it justify India's knee jerk response to blame foreigners (Pakistanis) for all of their problems that could possibly have roots within Indian society?

There is widespread and appropriately strong condemnation of the terrorists responsible for terrorist attacks in Mumbai. In Pakistan, US, Britain, Israel and the rest of the world, there is powerful outpouring of sympathy for the innocent victims. There is also a lot of speculation as to the causes and culprits of the expanding scope and scale of terror the world is witnessing. Such speculation will likely continue as the governments of the world grapple with the rising threat to civilians everywhere in the world. It's clear, though, that the use of military power alone as seen in America's "war on terror" will not succeed. There is an urgent need for all to acknowledge the failure of the current "global war on terror" to come up with a better strategy that relies on a broader set of tools and options to overcome the growing menace.

Here's a video report on widespread discrimination against Muslims in India:

Muslims in India by desitvonline


Joachim Martillo said...

You might want to take a look at Chabad Lubavitch' Dangerous Game and in particular the section that discusses ethnonational economic war.

Palestinians never knew what hit them when they wound up in Zionist gun sights. Now it is the turn of Pakistani and Indian Muslims.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's another piece by Martha Nussbaum, also in LA Times:

Terrorism in India is by no means peculiar to Muslims. A string of recent incidents has been linked to Islamic groups, most of these with foreign ties and pertaining to Kashmir. However, the most bloody recent example of terrorism in India was the slaughter of as many as 2,000 Muslim civilians by Hindu right-wing mobs in the state of Gujarat over several months in 2002.

This horrendous pogrom was portrayed at the time as retaliation for an alleged Muslim torching of a train car carrying mostly Hindu passengers. Two independent inquiries have since concluded that the fire was, instead, a tragic accident caused by passengers' kerosene stoves.,0,5178593.story

Saadia said...

Somebody just shared this horrible video on my blog: Muslim Students in India. I'm in deep depression. I cannot accept the students being abused to be the average Hindu student, because if that were the case, the police wouldn't just be looking on.

It is sad, but aside from some exceptions in showbiz and corridors of fame, the average Muslim is still discriminated against in India, it seems.

I would appreciate your responses.

Anonymous said...

I gather from the various comments posted in this blog are almost perfidious in nature.

Can you substantiate the fact that India with 85 % Hindu population have so far put 3 Muslim to the highest office of Presidentship. Air Chief Marshal, Chief Justice of India. Besides having Top Bollywood stars and atleast 3 Muslim Cricketers in the Indian National Team, yet is partisan with its Muslim population.

In contrast we do not come across any single Hindu being accorded any dignified position in entire Muslim World. But yet Muslim are deemed to be liberal ???

It's all parochial overtures against a great civilisation which existed before the borth of any civilization on the earth.

Mera Bharat Mahan is real fact of human history whether you guys accept or not.

We, as a Hindu nation have always propagated non-violence, vagitarianism, non-alignment and first and foremost we have in the history of Thousands of years not extended our borders inspite of being best civilization of the world.

You have all types of religions thriving in India, take Parsis for example they are placed at the highest pedestal of development as a most rich, educated, powerful sect.

It is all your psyche who possess ghetto mentality by potraying India in poor light. How can a country of Ram, Krishna, Budha, Mahabir, Guru Nanak, Kabir and Gandhi be so lowly to treat poeple differently. We see oneness in our plurality whereas you differentiate among Muslim brethrens calling Sunni and Shia nad kill each other. When that is not enough export that terrorism beyond borders whether India, Chechenya, Afganistan or USA and UK.

Riaz Haq said...

You do have a few high-profile Muslims that you cite to justify your arguments in support of social justice and equality of people of various faiths in India. However, the overall statistics, produced by a high-level Indian government commission and cited on this blog, tell a very different story of widespread injustice and deprivation suffered by minorities in India.
Denial is not going to change any of the facts on the ground. Indian
Muslims are a substantial minority of 150m people. India can ignore their sad light at its own peril.

Saadia said...

Why 'The Untouchables' then? They remain a reality to date.

Muslim cricketers have been threatened with their lives in the past, and the Muslim superstars of Bollywood were recently asked to pack bags and move to Pakistan after the unfortunate Mumbai massacre. Dr. Abdul Kalam paved his way towards the presidency because of his talent, for which, India proudly calls him The Missile Man. I see selfishness of Hindustan, in his ascension albeit with a bit of a bias! The others, I don't know much about.

As for Muslim countries reciprocating India's claims towards equal treatment of all, firstly, I doubt those claims, and secondly, there are more Muslims in India than there are in Pakistan, so they are bound to spring up here and there. By and large, though, Muslims still feel subjugated and vulnerable. And there are good reasons why they do!

Saadia said...

To reinforce the fact that Muslims feel insecure in India, and need to prove their sincerity towards the country, here's a news piece on Muslim Bollywood actors out to protest: Muslims denounce Mumbai attackers as enemy of Islam. Why did the so many Hindu actors not feel the need to protest with their colleagues? The next time India tries to tell the world what a great secular democracy it is, it should be prepared to answer factual data like this, and like "Muslim" President Abdul Kalam reciting the Bhagavad Gita every morning.

Anonymous said...

It has been a trudging walk through more than half a century as 2 mutually exclusive nations which was 1 without a second most enlightened nation on the earth. Both of us ( you and us ) are having same lineage of Rishis of the yore, smelt same earth, drank same water together but unfortunately due to short sightedness of 2 most blunderous personalities JINNAH and NEHRU committed highest level of blasphemy in the history by cutting asunder the ever prestine Mother Bharat into 2 without thinking about the plight of her sons, one is called Hindustani and other as Pakistani.

I have yet to come to reconcile to the fact that what could have been reasons to create 2 nations on the basis of Muslim and Hindu divide. Then how come we have as many or even more Muslims left on the Hindu side i.e., in India.

I do not find any such parallel in any history of the world. Can anyone help me to understand this dichotomy in a more plausible manner ? Muslims of Pakistan or elsewhere do not treat Hindus as their brothers but on the other hand they demand that the Hindus must treat Muslim fellows as their own brothers at their own expense. The most striking and demeaning fact remains that Muslims in India feel more for Iraqi and Afgani people rather than their own Hindu brothers who live perrennially together, share all good things and bad things together.

On other hand we Hindus do not have concensus among us to support LTTE cause in Sri Lanka even though we could have helped them with impunity. But we don't.

Saadia said...

During the early part of my student-life at university, I was a staunch supporter of United India, and what could have been. After all, Hindus and Muslims co-existed for centuries.

But for the last so many decades, it has become clear that Hindu extremists just won't let that happen. So Pakistan has been a blessing for many Muslims. I'm not talking about the average Hindu on the streets of India, but the Hindu extremist who is not afraid to burn, rape and plunder, who is a fascist.

Anonymous said...

Let us first learn to give love to our fellow beings irrespective of his/her class, creed, religion or gender. I and you should come first before religion. It is meaningless to assert ourselves as Hindus or Muslims unless we are able to fulfill the basic tenets of being civilized human beings. Bereft of having these minimal characteristics we cease to remain the most exalted creation of God on this planet.

I think, even wild animals behave in more orderly manner than us being prompted by self preservation instinct. On the other hand we bay for each others blood in the name of Allah, which is highest order of blasphemy and we tend to call it Jihad and those decorative words.

I personally believe in non-violence, mutual brotherhood, vagitarianism, stright-forwardness and to love all things and being in and around me.

Likewise my advise to all my friends to refrain from animosity because the analogy could be drawn from our own experience in life that the effect of the ill-feeling is like "a match stick which burns itself first before burning others".

Anonymous said...

Who removed the Sindhis from their motherland???? i guess the pakistani Muslims....

It is not hindu extremism that is responsible for the chaos in south asia. the right wing hindus where against the partition on the basis of religion....yet pakistan a islamic nation was formed.....India does not call itself a hindu state.....

again their are more muslims in India then there are in pakistan. and again why did muslims stay back in India???? because the idea to form a state on basis of religion is stupid and to talk about the economically backward people and associate religion to the problem is no solution.....

if a person is backward its due to there personal problem rather than solving that problem don quote figures on the basis of religion.

and pakistan should go and beg in front of IMF rather than worrying about India......the government and the so call intellectuals can not handle own state together and manage BOP, i do not think you guys are credible enough to raise voices for some clean up your mess rather than calling India ugly believe me by clling us ugly pakistan does not become clean or does it???????

Anonymous said...

Of late world at large and we the secular folk in particular have become wary of these words....Islam, Muslim, Inshallah or Allah for that matter but not about what they actually connote in real sense of terms. Because we hold all equally dear to us whether you are a beleiver or a non-beleiver. It is noetheless quite a parochial view point to be concerned only about Muslim community and their plight while overlooking others. Then why do you expect others to extend their helping hand to act succour to alleviate Muslim's plight all the time while you don't care for the rest.

Muslim living in India must follow law of the land as others do and jettison those demented practices called Shariat and all, if they want to come up in life. In fact these stupid lot themelves chose to live in ghettos and begets a whole lot of children whom they could not support properly. Nobody has forced to be like that, on the other hand it is they who have chosen not to mingle with the others and be part of the mainstream.

There is a verse in Bhagwat Geeta which says "One should lift oneself by oneself and never ever fall into self pitying oneself".

Life is a great opportunity for the man to achieve his highest potential, mere following certain rituals and espousing certain religious belief and donning certain unworldly look you don't become special by any means.

To be special you need to do special work for the betterment of the entire humanity like Buddha or Christ did. To change the world please start from yourselves, rest will be taken care of.

Anonymous said...

Islamic countries donot have any moral rights to critizie india for their own practice of human right is known to the whole world.

probably pakistan can take tons of bombs from usa and take few billion as aid.

They can live with taliban in swat and be happy over the same.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report about Indian police brutality against a Dalit woman in UP:

A policeman in India has been suspended after television channels broadcast images of him beating a woman.

In the footage, the officer is seen slapping the woman and pushing her to the ground as he continues to punch and kick her in a police station.

The woman is a suspect in her husband's murder.

The incident took place in Amethi town in the northern Uttar Pradesh state. The area is represented in Parliament by Congress Party's Rahul Gandhi.

Correspondents say that the beating highlights the widespread problem of police brutality in India.

'Brutal attack'

The footage appears to show an inspector assaulting the 26-year-old woman in full public view.

The woman, a member of the low-caste Dalit community, is accused of murdering her husband, whose body was found in their house on Tuesday.

Reports said the inspector was trying to "force a confession out of her".

A woman constable stood nearby as the suspect was beaten up.

Human rights activists are "appalled by this brutal attack on a woman".

According to Indian law, there are strict guidelines on the arrest of a woman.

A woman suspect can only be handled by a woman police officer and male policemen are not allowed to touch her.

A policewoman has to be present at all times, including during interrogations.

But most of these guidelines are regularly flouted by policemen in India.

There have been thousands of incidents of police brutality recorded in India in recent years, and in many cases, the victims are low caste and poor.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report on India's state-owned banks discriminating against Muslims:

State-owned banks in India have been accused of discriminating against the country's Muslim minority.

India's minorities watchdog has received a record number of complaints from Muslims who say they have been prevented from opening bank accounts.

India's Muslim community is among the poorest in the country.

Some bankers say it is not so much their religious background, but their economic status that makes it hard for Muslims to get banking facilities.

The National Commission of Minorities says that there has been a 100% increase in the number of complaints it has received over the past year from Muslims who say they are being prevented from opening accounts in state-run banks.

Reports say the worst case took place in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, where some 90,000 Muslim students were unable to open accounts to deposit scholarship cheques given to them by the government.

Official reports frequently put Muslims at the bottom of India's social and economic ladder - even beneath than low-caste Hindus.

Their economic status means they are often excluded by private banks, which prefer more well-to-do clients.

Already a number of reports have suggested that India's Muslims fare poorly when it comes to getting access to quality education or employment opportunities.

This latest finding will add more pressure on a government which is seen as doing very little for the country's largest minority group.

Riaz Haq said...

There is a systemic anti-Muslim bias in the criminal justice system of India, particularly in Gujarat, that makes it extremely difficult for any Muslim accused to get a free trial.

In this particular instance, Justice Bannerjee, various human rights activists and lawyers have argued that it was an accident and not an act of sabotage.

Here's an excerpt from a Tehelka story on how the investigation was handled by the notoriously anti-Muslim Gujarat police that says "if there was a “conspiracy” in Godhra, it was not by the Muslims". ASHISH KHETAN picks apart Judge Patel’s verdict and shows how a devious lie was constructed:

Parmar was the chief investigating officer of the Godhra carnage. It was he who had constructed the premeditated conspiracy theory which was supposedly under independent review by the SIT. When the SIT was formed, Parmar was serving his fourth post-retirement extension given by the Gujarat police. How could a probe officer be inducted into the SIT to review his own investigation, petitioners protested. Under pressure, the SIT reluctantly dropped him from the probe team. But, in another malicious move, it inducted Parmar’s aide Ramesh Patel instead. The logic? Patel was familiar with the case so his presence would help the investigators.

The idea behind the SIT was to have an independent review of the Gujarat police investigation by neutral officers. That purpose was defeated when the probe in effect was handed back to the Gujarat police, under the cloak of the SIT.

Raghavan visited Gujarat only for three days in a month. For all practical purposes, the investigation was carried out by the Gujarat police. In less than 10 months, IGP Jha claimed he had concluded his scrutiny of the Godhra carnage investigation carried out by the Gujarat state police. He claimed to have re-examined all the crucial police witnesses. But dismayingly, when Murli Mulchandani and Kakul Pathak were examined by the SIT, they were not quizzed about their damning confessions made before this TEHELKA reporter. Even the basic question of whether they were caught on camera by TEHELKA was not put before them.

Even more dismayingly, though this reporter’s statement was recorded by the SIT, his testimony — about Pathak and Mulchandani admitting on camera that they had fudged their statements — and the supporting sting footage were not produced before the court. When you consider the fact that both testimony and evidence produced by this same reporter has been cited as an important piece of evidence by the SIT in three other riot cases — Naroda Gaon, Naroda Patiya and Gulberg Society — the inconsistency becomes even more glaring. Why did the SIT not want to nail Pathak and Mulchandani? Why did Jha accept the sanctity of the Gujarat police investigation in toto?

If there was a “conspiracy” in Godhra, it was not by the Muslims. ASHISH KHETAN picks apart Judge Patel’s verdict and shows how a devious lie was constructed

Godhra Carnage: A Muslim Conspiracy?

See what two BJP men and a star witness told TEHELKA during a sting operation

Those acquitted have lost nine years of their lives. Only because they are Muslim

Riaz Haq said...

“Democracy in India is only top-dressing on an Indian soil which is essentially undemocratic.”

—B.R. Ambedkar, in 1949, framer of Indian constitution, in "Thus Spoke Ambedkar, Vol. 1: A Stake in the Nation"

Talking about minority rights, here's an excerpt from a piece by Satya Sagar about cow rights trumping human rights in India:

Human Rights vs. Cow Rights

What we are dealing with in this country is a situation where historically the concept of the fundamental rights of a universal, standard ‘human being’ has never existed. In fact I would argue that traditionally in India there has never been the concept of a creature called the ‘human being’.

The only two categories that have prevailed for centuries in this land- and continue to do so in many parts of the country even today- are that of the ‘devas’ and ‘asuras’. ‘Human being’ is a somewhat fancy Western category in between the ‘gods’ and the ‘demons’ that small groups of enlightened activists have been bravely propagating for many years but one which is understood by very few even in the highest echelons of power- in the Indian parliament or the Indian judiciary.

To those sections of society who rule India the Dalit, Adivasi, Muslim or the poor in general, who constitute over 75 percent of the Indian population, are not human beings at all. That is why a vast section of this oppressed population is subject to the most horrific forms of violence in the form of not just direct physical attacks from time to time but also abject poverty, forced displacement and disease. For example, there are 2.5 million children under the age of 5 who die every year due to malnutrition related diseases in this country- all avoidable with social or state intervention. A vast majority of these children are from the communities I mentioned above. If this is not a genocide I would like someone to explain what is?

Even today in many parts of the country while there is a ban on ‘cow slaughter’ that is effectively implemented there is no such privilege for people from the Dalit, Adivasi or Muslim communities. In that sense these hapless people do not even have ‘cow rights’ leave alone the more esoteric ‘human rights’.

The Mindset said...

for most of their problems or all of them they are themselves responsible and no one else.

They breed like cockroaches, they fight on any trivial matter, they don't know how to live peacefully. and as your article says 40% of criminals are Muslims which shows their criminal mentality

Riaz Haq said...

Muslim rulers deliberately projected as intolerant: Katju

Vidya Subrahmaniam, The Hindu

New Delhi: Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju on Sunday attributed simmering Hindu-Muslim tensions to a deliberate rewriting of history to project Muslim rulers as intolerant and bigoted, whereas ample evidence existed to show the reverse was true.

The judge also said that Indians were held together by a common Sanskrit-Urdu culture which guaranteed that India would always remain secular.

Justice Katju said the myth-making against Muslim rulers, which was a post-1857 British project, had been internalised in India over the years. Thus, Mahmud Ghazni's destruction of the Somnath temple was known but not the fact that Tipu Sultan gave an annual grant to 156 Hindu temples. The judge, who delivered the valedictory address at a conference held to mark the silver jubilee of the Institute of Objective Studies, buttressed his arguments with examples quoted from D.N. Pande's History in the Service of Imperialism.

Dr. Pande, who summarised his conclusions in a lecture to members of the Rajya Sabha in 1977, had said: “Thus under a definite policy the Indian history textbooks were so falsified and distorted as to give an impression that the medieval period of Indian history was full of atrocities committed by Muslim rulers on their Hindu subjects and the Hindus had to suffer terrible indignities under Islamic rule.”

Justice Katju said Dr. Pande came upon the truth about Tipu Sultan in 1928 while verifying a contention — made in a history textbook authored by Dr. Har Prashad Shastri, the then head of the Sanskrit Department in Calcutta University — that during Tipu's rule 3,000 Brahmins had committed suicide to escape conversion to Islam. The only authentication Dr. Shastri could provide was that the reference was contained in the Mysore Gazetteer. But the Gazetteer contained no such reference.

Further research by Dr. Pande showed not only that Tipu paid annual grants to 156 temples, but that he enjoyed cordial relations with the Shankaracharya of Sringeri Math to whom he had addressed at least 30 letters. Dr. Shastri's book, which was in use at the time in high schools across India, was later de-prescribed. But the unsubstantiated allegation continued to masquerade as a fact in history books written later.

Justice Katju said the secular-plural character of India was guaranteed both by the Indian Constitution and the unmatched diversity of the Indian population. The judge attributed the diversity to the fact of India being a land of old immigrants, dating back to 10,000 years (Justice Katju and fellow judge Gyan Sudha Misra first propounded this thesis in a judgment, excerpts from which were carried as an op-ed article in The Hindu edition dated January 12, 2011). The diversity, reflected in the wide range of religions, castes, languages and physical attributes found among the descendants, led the founding fathers to draft a Constitution with strong federal features. “Diversity is our asset and our guarantee for staying secular,” said Justice Katju.

Earlier, a resolution passed at the conference urged the government to forthwith set up an Equal Opportunity Commission as recommended by the Rajinder Sachar Committee.

The resolution said: “The conference resolves that inclusive growth is not possible without equal opportunities being given to all sections of society, particularly minorities and other marginalised communities.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a piece "In Dalit student suicides, the death of merit" by
Vidya Subrahmaniam, published in The Hindu:

New Delhi: He killed himself in his college library, unable to bear the insults and taunts. The suicide note recovered from his coat pocket charged his Head of the Department (HOD) with deliberately failing him and threatening to fail him over and over. Seven months later, a three-member group of senior professors re-evaluated his answer sheet and found that he had in fact passed the test.
Medical student Jaspreet Singh, a Dalit by birth, wanted nothing more than to become a doctor.
Tragically, he fulfilled his ambition posthumously. A year later, his young sister, a student of Bachelor of Computer Application, also committed suicide, heartbroken at the injustice done to her brother.
Shocking details about the January 2008 suicide of the Chandigarh-based student have emerged following recent investigations by Insight Foundation, a Dalit-Adivasi student group that has compiled a list of 18 suicides by Dalit students studying in reputed institutions of higher education across India in the past four years.
The Foundation has also uploaded two documentaries onto YouTube, titled “The death of merit” — one on Jaspreet and the other on Bal Mukund, a Dalit student from Uttar Pradesh, who studied at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences and committed suicide in March 2010.
Jaspreet was in the final year at the Government Medical College in Chandigarh. He was an excellent student throughout, and had never failed in any subject until he reached the fifth and final year.
This is when his ordeal began. His HOD told him that he might have entered medical college using his Scheduled Caste certificate but he would not go out with a degree.
The professor failed him in Community Medicine, a crucial subject, and told him, according to the suicide note, that he will not let him pass.
Jaspreet had set his heart on a MD degree from the prestigious Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh. The threat cut short that dream.
Jaspreet's father, Charan Singh, told The Hindu: “I have no reason to live anymore. What more evidence do they want?”
Indeed, the evidence is clinching in this case. Jaspreet's suicide note; a certificate affirming Jaspreet's handwriting from the Directorate of Forensic Science, Ministry of Home Affairs, Shimla; testimonies from Jaspreet's friends; and finally, the re-evaluation of the answer sheet by a three member body of doctors from PGI, Chandigarh. All three doctors, Rajesh Kumar, Amarjeet Singh and Arun Kumar Aggrawal, specialised in Community Medicine – the subject in which Jaspreet was failed. Yet till date, no action has been taken against the guilty HOD or the college.
In Bal Mukund's case, the AIIMS authorities seized on the fact that there was no suicide note. Their version was that Bal Mukund, who had attempted suicide once earlier, killed himself in depression.
But Bal Mukund's parents plaintively ask: “Who and what drove him to depression? He had repeatedly told us that he was harassed because of his caste. He was about to change his name. He also wanted to settle abroad to escape the humiliation of being born a Dalit.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a recent Op Ed by Aijaz Zaka Syed published in The News:

...Law Minister Salman Khurshid suggests the government is considering a six percent quota for “backward Muslims” under the 27 percent quota allocated for economically backward communities.
Things could get more exciting when other communities that come under the 27 percent quota join the protests. The Samajwadi Party of Mulayam Singh Yadav, that great messiah of Muslims, is vehemently opposed to the idea and could go to any extent to protect its constituency. There will be many others. In the end, the government may be persuaded to withdraw the proposal.
The less said of Dr Singh’s ‘leadership’ the better. One is yet to discover what he really stands for and believes in. If this government had been serious about the predicament of the Muslims, it wouldn’t have slept all these years on the recommendations of the Sachar Committee.

In a fleeting moment of generosity and apparently to acknowledge the Muslim role in returning Congress to power after years in wilderness, the prime minister had picked up eminent jurist Justice Rajinder Sachar to probe the condition of the community. You didn’t need a Supreme Court judge to assess the state of Muslims. It’s there for everyone to see all across the length and breadth of the country.

Yet the findings of the Sachar committee were astounding. Weighed down by the so-called guilt over the Partition and faced by antipathy and often open hostility by successive administrations since Independence, the Muslims have gone from being the ruling class to the lowest of the low in six decades.

In a country that they ruled for nearly a thousand years, Muslims today find themselves struggling on the farthest fringes of the world’s greatest democracy. According to the Sachar panel, the Muslims’ condition today is worse than that of the Dalits, the low caste Hindus who have for centuries suffered the worst possible discrimination and exploitation.

Demolishing the myth of Muslim appeasement, Justice Sachar’s findings actually exposed systemic discrimination and complete injustice at all levels against the community. Justice Sachar repeatedly talks of the disturbing “development deficit” the community suffers from in all walks of life.
Let’s face it. The Muslims are India’s new untouchables. It’s all very well to showcase the cool Khans of Bollywood and sport icons like Sania Mirza as the new faces of India’s Muslims. The larger reality of the community unfortunately is different. Facing political and economic marginalisation and security concerns on the one hand and being perpetually under the scanner of security agencies as usual suspects, they find comfort in numbers and in their ghettoes and slums in urban India. Poverty in small town India and rural areas is even worse. Little of the government benefits and programmes, targeting the vast majority of the economically struggling communities, trickles down to them.

It’s five years since Justice Sachar submitted these findings and possible solutions to the government. We are yet to discover what Dr Singh, or the Congress leadership, thinks about them, let alone act on the urgent recommendations to address the dangerous deprivation and dispossession of the country’s largest minority.....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a review of Laurent Gayer and Christophe Jaffrelot's book "Muslims in Indian cities - Trajectories of Marginalisation":

The book adds to the debate and discussions on the condition of Muslims following the publications of Sachar Committee and the Ranganath Mishra Committee reports. This book is a worthy addition in understanding the abysmal situation of Muslims in cities. The book covers Muslims in 11 cities - Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Lucknow, Aligarh, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Delhi, Cuttack, Calicut and Bangalore through 11 chapters apart from the Introduction and an erudite Conclusion. Each chapter also has a concise conclusion.

As these cities have distinct dynamics the book has used several variables and different approaches to best contextualise the lives of Muslims living there. For Mumbai, it has chosen the decrepit Shivaji Nagar area and not the cliched Muslim localities of Bhendi Bazaar and Mohammed Ali Road. In Lucknow the author has focussed on the Shias of the Kashmiri Mohalla. Thus for each of the cities it has chosen an area/locality/theme that could provide the best opportunity to present the differences in historicity, aspirations, thinking and mentality of the Muslims.

Though the book primarily brings out the routes towards ghettoisation (due to violence or combination of circumstances - as it says) it also goes a long way in puncturing the illusion of Muslim homogeneity that some people have. The dependence on land, willingness to take up new employment, hereditary occupation, asserting the distinctness of religion all have a bearing in defining the condition of Muslims across India - just like any other community. The book does well to draw upon these factors to bring out their role in the current situation of Muslims.

A good part of the chapters deal with how the people chose to vote and the choice of candidates. It lays threadbare the degree of receptivity of the political class and how the Muslims have been able or unable to extract the benefits from the state. It also discusses the contribution of Gulf remittances especially in the cities of Aligarh, Lucknow, Jaipur, Kozhikode and what that has meant for the Muslims - socially and politically.

The book also captures the intrinsic flavours of the cities which come out through the acute observations of the authors. Thus, Arif Sheikh a municipal school teacher at Mumbai's Shivaji Nagar 'takes a lot of his fluency in English and Marathi'. This is true for any slum or ghetto in Mumbai. Knowledge of Marathi means the ability to deal with local municipal ward officers enhancing ones prestige and standing.

The chapter on Aligarh talks about Sir Syed Nagar, an elite colony housing the Aligarh Muslim University professors. 'While they hardly visit other parts of the city' writes Juliette Galonnier, 'Sir Syed Nagar residents travel a lot to foreign countries'. Someone told Galonnier that Sir Syed Nagar is among the most educated colony of Asia but representing another point of view one AMU professor told the author that it is the 'largest Muslim intelligentsia ghetto'. The book is replete with many such interesting comments and observations - all well referenced and attributable to sources.

The book reveals that Muslims in Kozhikode are 'choosing to extend into the city's mixed localities'. In Gujarat's Ram-Rahim Nagar, which is a mixed neighbourhood, there has not been any riot for decades. In Cuttack the bhaichara (brotherhood) culture has ensured that Muslims have not suffered much physical harm.


Mayraj said...

"A couple of years ago, when rising Bollywood star Emraan Hashmi complained of facing religious discrimination at the hands of a housing society in Mumbai, he had invited instant derision and ridicule. Known as the “serial kisser” for his onscreen shenanigans, Hashmi was accused of hunting for cheap publicity.
Wagging tongues fell silent only when Shabana Azmi, one of India’s finest actresses and a liberal activist, came out in Hashmi’s support saying she and her distinguished writer husband Javed Akhter faced a similar predicament when they went house hunting in Mumbai’s posh neighborhoods.
More recently, Saif Ali Khan, one of the country’s top 10 superstars, talked of facing a similar problem. The fact that Saif’s mother happens to be Sharmila Tagore or the fact that he is set to marry Kareena Kapoor, the reigning screen queen, didn’t help at all. This in a city that is home to the world’s biggest movie industry. Mumbai is considered the most cosmopolitan of Indian cities bringing together as it does dream chasers from across the country and beyond.
As Emma Lazarus said for New York, Mumbai seemed to implore: “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free/The wretched refuse of your teeming shore/Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.” Not anymore. And it’s not just Mumbai; the state of affairs in Delhi or for that matter in other metros and major cities is little different. "
Muslims face housing apartheid in big Indian cities

"Agents told us it was not possible to get a flat in Gorai,” Mr. Khan told The Hindu. “They said Muslims are not preferred. I am married to a Hindu woman. So they suggested purchasing a flat in my wife’s name. But living anonymously is not possible. Letters and bank statements will be in my name.”
In Mumbai, a ‘no rent, no sale’ policy
Housing apartheid flourishes in Delhi
In India, non-Hindu parents face adoption prejudice
Chennai claims stronger secular credentials
India’s IT powerhouse is mired in social prejudice
Ghetto? What ghetto? We’re British
Persistent exclusion of Muslims in India
Curfew imposed in Hyderabad
Insecurity drives up realty rates in Surat’s Muslim areas

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a more recent piece in The Hindu on housing Apartheid against Indian Muslims in Delhi:

Finding a home to rent in India's national capital is an arduous task for anyone - but, an investigation by The Hindu has found, almost impossible for citizens who happen to be Muslim. Homeowners and property dealers contacted by reporters often firmed up deals, only to be disqualified as soon as they revealed their religion.

Housing apartheid was at its worst in New Delhi’s most affluent and educated neighbourhoods: New Friends Colony, Vasant Kunj, Jangpura and Rohini. By contrast, in areas such as Mukherjee Nagar, Karol Bagh, Janakpuri and Ashok Vihar the responses were mixed.

In one case, a property agent representing a homeowner in New Friends Colony flatly told The Hindu's reporters, “The landlords want only Indians, not Muslims.”

Told that the applicant was an Indian, the reporter was told not to push matters further. “Another Muslim,” said Radha of Gulshan properties in New Friends Colony, “wanted to take the flat on rent but he was also refused by the owners. Even though it suits your budget and needs, there is no point in showing you the flat. The flat has been vacant for a long time but they will not give it to a Muslim.”

Deepak Sharma of Balaji Properties in Rohini Sector-8, contacted by The Hindu's reporters, who posed as a young Muslim married couple, said that residents of mainly-Hindu Rohini “avoid renting their flats to Muslims here. I am sorry but you will not be able to get a house in this locality.” Ironically enough, Mr. Sharma’s office proudly displayed a photograph bearing icons of all religions, in perfect harmony.

For single women, things are even worse. When a reporter posed as a single mother looking for a house in West Delhi’s Janakpuri, an agent of Sharma properties was initially sympathetic. “You don’t have a husband?” said a property dealer, adding in a conciliatory tone “Ok, come tomorrow and I will find you a house.”

This changed as soon as she revealed that she is a Muslim who eats non-vegetarian food. “It could get a little difficult then,” he said, “I will call you back after speaking to the owner.”

By contrast, there were considerable options for a female student looking for accommodation in Delhi’s North Campus with brokers even looking out for the safety of their clients. “There is an option for a one-bedroom apartment but it won’t suit a girl since the entry is from the back of the house,” property dealer Varun Kumar said. Men looking for accommodation in the area say that single girls are preferred as tenants since they can be reined in with threats of complaints to their parents.

Property dealers seemed to operate an informal network of religious segregation, often pointing The Hindu's reporters to supposedly Muslim-appropriate neighbourhoods. More often that not, they were told to look for houses in the fringes of posh colonies. Property dealers in Rohini suggested Rithala, one in Jangpura proposed Bhogal, famous for its Kashmiri population and Afghanistani refugees, a broker in New Friends Colony suggested Sukhdeo Vihar and Jasola both of which are close to another Muslim ‘ghetto’ Jamia Nagar, and one in Vasant Kunj suggested Munirka and Kishangadh....

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts of the 2013 update to Sachar Commission 2006 report on state of Muslims in India as published by Times of India:

...In a unique exercise, Sharif has calculated that providing education to Muslim and SC/ST communities would on its own boost the GDP growth rate up to 12%. At present, Muslims contribute only 11.2% to the country's GDP while dalits and adivasis contribute only 16.5%. This is because these communities are poorly educated and forced to work in traditional and low value creating occupations. In traditional services, the share of Muslims and SC/STs in the workforce is about 18% each while in modern services their respective shares are just 8 and 14%.

Comparing NSSO data of 2004-05 with 2009-10, the report notes that in this period literacy levels of Muslim OBCs improved by 5.9 percentage points in rural areas and 5.3 points in urban areas. In the same period, literacy among dalits improved by 8.5 points in rural areas and 5.1 points in urban areas. Among tribal communities, literacy shot up by 11.3 points in rural areas and 8.6 points in urban areas. As a result, Muslims, who were earlier roughly at the same level as dalits and tribals, are now beginning to lag behind.

At the class 10 level, a similar situation exists. In both rural and urban areas, the number of students clearing class 10 has increased by 13% and 11% for STs and SCs respectively in urban areas, and 10% and 9%, respectively in rural areas. For Muslims, the change is only about 5% to 7% in rural and urban areas.

The share of 17 to 29 years old youths who are in higher education has increased by just 1.6 percentage points for Muslim OBCs over the same period. For other Muslims, it has increased by a minuscule 0.8 points. Compare this with a 9.4 points increase among Hindu upper castes and 5.3 points among Hindu OBCs. The improvement in dalits and tribals are similar to the Muslims.

...The source of income for almost a quarter of Muslim households is self-employment in non-agricultural occupations, mainly artisanal work. Only 14% of dalits and 6% of tribals earn their living from similar occupations. Another 23% of Muslims households earn by doing agricultural labour. Among dalits and tribals, the shares are 36% for this occupation.

In urban areas, over 45% of Muslims are self employed — more than any other community. They are usually involved in petty trade and various services like repair, etc. In the better paying and more secure salaried jobs, Muslims have the lowest share of all communities.

NSSO data from 2009-10 shows that in urban areas, over 88% of Muslims workers of age 15 years and above are in informal employment, the highest for any community. Muslims make up just over 6% of all government jobs, the lowest share of all communities and social groups.

Government schemes like the MGNREGS meant to provide a cushion for the unemployed too seem to have bypassed the Muslim community as Muslim households made up only 2.3% of those that got work under the scheme.

The report also points out that there is policy confusion about how minority communities are to be targeted for benefits under various schemes. Two sets of "minority concentration districts (MCDs)" have been flagged - one set is of 90 districts having 52% Muslim and 3.3% Christian population while the other set of 121 districts is the target of the prime minister's 15-point programme and has 66% Muslim and 11% Christian population....

Hopewins said...

^^RH quotes Nussbaum: "This horrendous pogrom was portrayed at the time as retaliation for an alleged Muslim torching of a train car carrying mostly Hindu passengers. Two independent inquiries have since concluded that the fire was, instead, a tragic accident caused by passengers' kerosene stoves"

Hopewins said...

Here is something interesting happening in the neighbouring country....

An "old" untouchable Dalit(Mayawati) humiliates a "new" untouchable Muslim (Hamid Ansari):

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an India Tomorrow report on anti-Muslim and anti-Christian criminal justice system in India:

According to the National Crimes Record Bureau (NCRB), a government of India institution that works under the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, the number of detainees belonging to Muslim and Christian minorities is more than double of the share of the two communities in the national population.

The NCRB report ‘Prison Statics India- 2012’ reveals that in 2012, as many as 28.02 per cent of the total detainees in entire country belonged to the Muslim community while the community constitutes only 13.4% of the national population. The year 2012 saw an increase in the number of Muslim detainees – in 2011 there were 26.5 per cent Muslim detainees in Indian jails.

According to the report, the proportion of detainees from Christian minority is also very high. As per the census data, Christians are only 2.3 per cent in Indian population but at least 6 per cent of detainees in 2012 belonged to the Christian community.

According to NCRB, any person detained in prison on the orders of competent authority under the relevant preventive detention law is called detenue (detainee).

The report says that a total of 1922 persons were detained in 2012 and 28.2 per cent of it (i.e. 543) were from the Muslim community. According to Census of India- 2001 the percentage of Muslims in India is only 13.4%.

Muslims are far more than their national population share not only among detainees but also among undertrials and convicts.

Out of the total 2,54,857 under trial prisoners, 21 per cent (53,638) belonged to Muslim community in 2012.

Out of the total convicts in the said year, 17.8 per cent (22,687) were Muslims. Interestingly, 53.5 per cent of convicted Muslims were lodged in four states Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

Riaz Haq said...

"The division of the Indian sub-continent was the biggest blunder in the history of mankind".

"Perhaps the idea of Pakistan was dead at its inception, when the majority of Muslims chose to stay back after independence, a truism reiterated in the creation of Bangladesh in 1971".

— Altaf Hussain's Keynote Speech at conference in New Delhi on 6 November 2004

The British government has confirmed that the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Altaf Hussain wrote to the then Prime Minister Tony Blair in September 2001, calling for the abolition of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s premier spy agency.

According to information released under the Freedom of Information Act, the letter was dated 23 September 2001, signed by Altaf Hussain and delivered to 10 Downing Street by Nirj Deva, who is currently a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the Southeast of England.

The British government was assured of MQM’s support in countering terrorism in Pakistan in return for help in achieving “equitable participation in governing the province of Sindh and in disbanding the ISI”. The letter appealed that the “ISI secret agency must be disbanded otherwise the ISI will continue to produce many Osama-bin-Ladens and Talibans in future”.

The MQM letter offered to provide “many demonstrations in Karachi in favour of the international community combating terrorism within five days notice after this agreement is signed, putting hundreds of thousands of people on the streets of Karachi” and “unlimited resources throughout the towns and villages in the province of Sindh and the province of Punjab to some extent, to monitor the activities of fundamentalists and Taliban-led organisations, and also to monitor the activities of Madrasas (religious schools)”.It also promised the UK “to ensure select groups to penetrate Afghanistan in the form of aid workers so as to enhance the Western agencies intelligence information capabilities”.

In return for these services, the alleged letter asked for “equitable participation in the governance of the province of Sindh and the Federation as partners; genuine, equitable participation in all spheres of life including education, employment, army and administration; local policing consisting of Muhajirs and Sindhis”.

Britain’s Foreign Office has confirmed “the Prime Minister’s Office received a letter from Mr Altaf Hussain which was passed to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) for a response,” said the Cabinet Office, adding: “No information is held indicating that a response was sent to Mr Hussain”.

The FCO has confirmed further: “On 27 September 2001, the FCO received correspondence, via No.10, from Mr Nirj Deva MEP enclosing a copy of the letter from Mr Hussain. Mr Ben Bradshaw MP, the then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the FCO, replied to Mr Deva’s letter.”

Anonymous said...

If you can form a country on the basis of Religion then why can't India be just for Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Hindu, Christian, Parsi & all other religions except for Muslims. You can take all the Muslims living in India to your country & give them your citizenship. Please take them.

Riaz Haq said...

One In Every Four 'Beggars' In #India Is #Muslim: Report …

Nearly 25 percent of the 3.7 lakh Indians categorised as "beggars" in the 2011 Census are Muslim, according to data released last month, reported The Indian Express. That's a total of 92,760 Muslim beggars in India.

While most of beggars in India are Hindus—about 72.2 percent—Hindus are also the majority religious group in India, accounting for almost four-fifths of the country's population. The number of Muslim beggars is significant as compared to their overall population in India, which stands at 17.22 crore as per the last Census.

A majority of the Muslim beggars are women, which is contrary to the national trend, where there are fewer women beggars compared to men.

Earlier, reports have indicated that Muslims have the lowest living standard in India, and spend less than ₹33 every day. The steadily increasing Muslim population in India is neglected, reported The Economist.

Riaz Haq said...

A study in contrasts: Muslims in India vs Pakistan by Dr. Ata ur Rahman ... The per capita income of Muslims in Pakistan is about $1,460 while the per capita income of Muslims in India is only about $400 – less than one-fourth of the country’s national Indian GDP. About 52.3 percent of Muslims in India live below the poverty line, with an average monthly income of $5 or less. Muslims constitute about 14.5 percent of the total Indian population. However, only between two percent and three percent of them pass the civil services examinations.
The literacy level of Muslims in India is also much lower than the national average. Only about four percent (one in 25) of Indians who receive education up to the high school level are Muslims, while only 1.7 percent (one in 60) of college graduates in India are Muslims. When we consider that one in seven people in India is a Muslim, these figures bring out the stark disparities that exist in India between Hindus and Muslims. In his book, ‘India’s Muslim Problem’, V T Rajshekar states that Muslims “are in many ways worse than untouchables and in recent years they are facing dangers of mass annihilation”.

The mass killings of Muslims in Indian towns and cities also add strength to the Two-Nation Theory. About 630 Muslims lost their lives during the 1969 Gujarat riots. This was followed by anti-Muslim violence in the Indian towns of Bhiwandi, Jalgaon and Mahad in 1970 when a large number of properties of Muslims were burnt and many Muslims killed. During anti-Muslim violence in Moradabad in 1980, about 2,500 Muslims were killed by extremist Hindu elements. Another 1,800 Muslims were slaughtered in the state of Assam in 1983 in a village called Nellie. The official 600-page Tiwari Commission Report on the Nellie massacre has remained a closely guarded secret since 1984.

The destruction of Babri Masjid in December 1992 by Hindu nationalists led to the Bombay Riots. BBC correspondent Toral Varia concluded that the riots were “a pre-planned pogrom” that had been in the making since 1990. According to many independent scholars, extremist Hindu rioters had been given access to information about the locations of Muslim homes and businesses through confidential government sources. This violence was planned and executed by Shiv Sena, a Hindu nationalist group led by Bal Thackeray.

The anti-Muslim riots that occurred in Bombay in January 1993 following the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December 1992, were reported in the following manner by international and Indian newspapers:

“Bombay: Day after day after day, for nine days and nights beginning on January 6, mobs of Hindus rampaged through this city, killing and burning people only because they were Muslims. No Muslim was safe – not in the slums, not in high-rise apartments, not in the city’s bustling offices – in an orgy of violence that left 600 people dead and 2,000 injured...Interviews have suggested, moreover, that the killing, arson and looting were far from random. In fact, they were organized by Hindu gangs, abetted by the Bombay police, and directed at Muslim families and businesses. The extent of police cooperation with the Hindu mobs appears to have spread through the entire police force, excluding only the most senior officers...neither the Maharashtra authorities nor the central government in New Delhi made any effort to stanch the flow of blood.” (The New York Times, February 4, 1993)

“Tragedy has struck Surat (Muslim) women… for them, it was hell let loose... While men were thrown into bonfires, torched alive or had burning tyres put around their necks, women were stripped of all their clothes and ordered to ‘run till they can’t… run”. (The Times of India, December 22, 1992).