Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Next door to Delhi, mob kills 50-year-old [Muslim], injures son over 'rumours' they eat beef - Written by Aditi Vatsa - The Indian Express


The Indian Express

Next door to Delhi, mob kills 50-year-old [Muslim], injures son over 'rumours' they eat beef 

(Headline from print edition with the word [Muslim] added to explain the reality and gravity)

In Dadri, mob kills man, injures son over 

‘rumours’ they ate beef (website headline)

Man beaten to death in Dadri: The attack on Akhlaq and his family took place around 10 pm after an announcement about the family consuming beef was allegedly made at a local temple, police said.

Written by Aditi Vatsa | Dadri | Updated: September 30, 2015 11:59 am
Inline image 2
Photograph of 50-year-old Mohammad Akhlaq, who was beaten to death in UP’s Dadri, allegedly by residents of Bisara village, after rumours spread in the area about the family storing and consuming beef (Express photo by Gajendra Yadav)

Inline image 1
Family of Mohammad Akhlaq mourn in Dadri after a mob allegedly killed him over ‘rumours’ of eating beefon Tuesday (Express Photo by: Gajendra Yadav)

A 50-year-old man, Mohammad Akhlaq, was beaten to death and his 22-year-old son severely injured on Monday night in UP’s Dadri, allegedly by residents of Bisara village, after rumours spread in the area about the family storing and consuming beef, police said.

Six people were arrested in connection with the attack, around 45 km from Delhi, sparking protests that led to police firing, damage to vehicles and injuries to a 20-year-old welder who works for the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) facility in the area.

Police said they have sent samples of meat taken from Akhlaq’s home “to the forensics department for examination”. Akhlaq’s daughter, Sajida, said the family had “mutton in the fridge” and not beef.

The attack on Akhlaq and his family took place around 10 pm in Bisara after an announcement about the family consuming beef was allegedly made at a local temple, police said.

While Akhlaq, a farm worker, succumbed to injuries suffered during the attack, his son Danish was admitted to a government hospital where doctors described his condition as “critical”.
Gautam Budh Nagar District Magistrate N P Singh said police have been deployed in the area and “as of now, the situation is under control”.

“Some locals spread rumours that Akhlaq had cow meat at his home and engaged in cow-slaughtering. Following the rumours, tension ignited and some locals attacked his home in Bisara village,” Singh said.

While a shopkeeper near the temple and Bisara village sarpanch Sanjeev Kumar Rana claimed that those arrested included the temple priest and an aide, police said the priest — identifed only as “babaji” — was released after questioning.

Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Gautam Buddh Nagar, Kiran S, said “preliminary investigations revealed that an announcement was made from the temple” about the family consuming beef.

“The priest was picked for questioning as we need to investigate the involvement of others in the case,” said Kiran.

According to Sajida, Akhlaq’s 18-year-old daughter who was in the house when the attack took place, “a group of more than 100 people from the village” reached the house that night.

“They accused us of keeping cow meat, broke down our doors and started beating my father and brother. My father was dragged outside the house and beaten with bricks. We came to know later that an announcement had been made from the temple about us eating beef,” said Sajida.

According to the SSP, a case of rioting and murder has been registered against 10 people. “Six of them have been arrested — Rupendra, Vivek, Sri Om, Sandeep, Saurav and Gaurav — all residents of Bisara village,” the police officer said.

“We have been told that a group of people entered the temple and used a microphone to make the announcement. However, investigations are still underway. We do not know if any of the accused are associated with the temple. We have collected meat samples from Akhlaq’s house and sent it to the forensics department for examination,” said Kiran.

However, as news of the arrests spread, residents from Bisara and neighbouring villages held demonstrations and clashed with police near the NTPC facility, damaging vehicles, including a police van, and burning a motorcycle.

When police resorting to firing, Rahul Yadav, who works as a welder at NTPC, received a bullet injury near his abdomen.

Yadav’s brother Narendra said they “got caught in the clash” and alleged that his brother was injured by a bullet fired by a policeman.

“Around 500 protesters from nearby villages had assembled there. A policeman fired a shot in the air but it hit Rahul on the side of his abdomen,” he said.

Senior officers, however, contested Narendra’s version that his brother was hit by a police bullet.

“Rahul Yadav received a bullet injury on his lower hip. We are yet to ascertain the type of the bullet and the weapon from which it was fired,” SSP Kiran said.


Monday, September 21, 2015

‘WE HAD REQUESTED HIM, WARNED HIM ... BUT HE DIDN’T STOP’ : Virendra Marathe, Managing Trustee, Sanatan Sanstha: Mumbai Mirror



Mumbai Mirror | Sep 21, 2015, 08.53 AM IST

‘We had requested him, warned him ... but he didn’t stop’
By Alka Dhupkar

In Ponda, 29 km southeast of Goa's capital Panaji, the right-wing Sanatan Sanstha says it is busy defending the `Hindu nation' from attack by `Samyavadi' (leftists) like Govind Pansare and anti-Hindus like Dr Narendra Dabholkar. Sameer Gaikwad, arrested in connection with Pansare's murder in Kolhapur, is a little-known, but innocent, `sadhak' here.

At the Sanstha's sprawling 20,000-sq ft headquarters, Mirror met managing trustee Virendra Marathe and was introduced to a secretive world of sadhana (prayer-meditation); a spiritual head who hasn't met outsiders for years; arms train ing camps for Hindus and how the battle to protect Hinduism is being waged.

Inside, on display are photographs that `come alive'; a twokilo mirror that `moves on its own'; and `divine artistry' on a bucket used by its spiritual head, Jayant Athavale.

Pansare, says Marathe, was bitterly anti-Brahmin and opposed vehemently by the Sanstha. Kalburgi, he adds, was an unknown but obvious antiHindu while Dabholkar was an atheist.

While the BJP coming to power is welcome, Marathe says its attempts at political adjustments in tandem with the RSS like leaving `Om' out of yoga are unwarranted and smack of Mahatma Gandhi's attempts to `politically pamper Muslims'.


‘Politicians should start sadhana’

By Alka Dhupkar

As the spotlight turns to the SanatanSanstha after the arrest of its `sadhak', Sameer Gaikwad, in connec tion with the murder of rationalist Govind Pansare in Kolhapur, the Goa-based Hindu outfit's managing trustee, Virendra Marathe, says his organisation believes itself to be the custodian of `real' Hinduism.

What is expected of a sadhak?

Sanatan Sanstha is public charitable trust. We are adhyatmik (spiritual) and we only do spiritual work by `sadhana' (prayer medita tion). A sadhak practices different types of sadhana and dharmacharan (how a Hindu should behave and which practices should be followed). Our aim in life is to be happy, and happiness is god.

Do you believe Sameer Gaikwad was happy?

Instead of asking us about Sameer, look at it this way: in school, all students are taught the same lessons. Some go on to become scientists, some goons. So, will you hold the teacher or the school responsible for the lat ter? It answers your question.

Do you disown Sameer Gaikwad?

Sanatan Sanstha is not behind Dabholkar and Pansare's murders. Sameer is innocent, and we know it. Certain forces want to implicate us in wrongdoings, and we're fighting them. No investigation agency has ever proved that the Sanstha has indulged in criminal activity, and Sameer has no criminal record either. Let the law take it course. We will wait for the judiciary to hold him guilty, and then verify the police evi dence against him.

Why is the Sanstha insisting he is innocent?

The police have only call records, and are checking if Sameer was directly involved. It is at a very primary level. The media is por traying that Sameer killed Pansare at the Sanstha's behest.

How did Sameer's family members become sadhaks? Have you met him?

I have never met Sameer Gaikwad or his family. I have no idea about his friends cir cle. Our legal team, the Hindu Vidhidnya Parishad, is looking into it.

Why is the Sanstha being suspected in these murders of rationalists?

Our duty is to protect the rashtra (country) and religion, for which we are doing Sadhna.

This can be done only if society is intact and safe. We meditate for hours. If the rashtra is been attacked by terrorists then we can't sit doing sadhana for hours. That's why we have to do dharm rakshan (protecting our religion). We are strongly against our reli gion being disrespected in cinema, drama and art.

A part of our work is to keep a watch on what people like Dabholkar and Pansare say about the Hindu religion and how they are misleading common people. We would counter their claims and tell people that Dabholkar was an atheist, as he doesn't fol low the real Hindu religion. He was not a true follower, so what gave him the right to criticise Hinduism? We will now oppose Dabholkar's follow ers. We have got their play, Socrates to Dabholkar via Tukaram, banned in Kolhapur.

The play says Sant Tukaram was killed, while we believe he flew to heaven in the aircraft sent to him by god. About Pansare, yes, we had strong differences with him as well. He used to spread hatred against Brahmins through his speeches. We had requested him, warned him, protested against him but he didn't stop.

We, as Hindus, wanted to eliminate the caste system but Pansare wanted to propagate it. Pansare has a strong connection with the Sambhaji Brigade, which speaks ill of Brahmins. Why we should tolerate it? We will continue protesting with our sadhana.

We didn't know Kalburgi till he was killed, but a statement attributed to him is "Urinate on Shiva's ling". What should we say about their intellectual level? Shouldn't we condemn it?

How can the Sanatan Sanstha decide what constitutes `real' Hinduism? Anyone criticising Hinduism becomes your target.
We know Hinduism because we have done scientific sadhana. Only a doctor can prac tice medicine, right? Will it be acceptable if an engineer practices medicine? In the same way, these people who have not done sad hana and don't follow Hinduism correctly have no right to criticise our religion in the name of Karmkanda rituals or superstitions.It would be better for them to stop doing so.

Do you have such differences with anyone else?

We don't target anyone personally, but some followers of Dr Dabholkar leading the Andhashradha Nirmulan Samiti are insult ing our gods. All Samyawadi (Leftists) should also be banned in India. They have no idea about Indian culture and religion. There are these so-called `purogami' (progressive) intellectuals who are getting unnecessary importance. They actually speak rubbish. I don't need to take their names. We oppose them. These so-called progressive people oppose Vinayak Damodar Savarkar's Hindutva ideology. They selectively talk about Savarkar's thought when it comes to the beef ban. They should first accept Savarkar's Hindutva ideology.

Why did the Sanstha target Mahesh Bhatt, Asgar Ali Engineer, Markandey Katju and others during an All India Hindu Adhiveshan (convention?

We have been organising this convention for four years to brainstorm with like-mind ed organisations on how we can protect our Hindu rashtra. This year, the adhiveshan was held in June and attended by 200 organ isations including Abhinav Bharat, Bajrang Dal, Hindu Rashtra Samiti and the Hindu Kutch Samiti. Our sister organisation is the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti. We discuss threats to Hinduism, and the names you mentioned are insulting the religion. We won't tolerate it. It is a kind of intellectual terrorism by these `progressive' people.

When you say the Sanstha will not tolerate it, do you intend violence?

Not at all. Hinduism is based on non-vio lence. We use all democratic forms of pro test. We request the police to ban such speeches or programmes. Unfortunately, after our applications, people like Dabholkar and Pansare were given police protection.

Such programmes are conducted under police protection when they should be banned. We also go to court and create awareness through public meetings, doorto-door campaigns, our media content and study material.

Your study material has pictures of Shivaji, Savarkar, Tilak but not Mahatma Gandhi's.

We have declared Gandhi as a saint. But he has done many wrong things and we have our differences with him. He supported Muslims during Partition, advised Hindus to not attack Muslims. This is why many Hindus were killed during Partition. The Partition wouldn't have happened without Gandhi's approval. He pampered Muslims politically, more than the Hindus.

But Gandhi advocated non-violence, and so does the Sanstha.

No. Non-violence and self-protection are different. When Muslims attack Hindus, they should protect themselves by attacking their attackers. We believe in military and arms training. It is not violence. We believe every Hindu should get military training for self-protection.

Are sadhaks trained in use of arms?

Yes. We hold military training sessions for our sadhaks in Valpai forest. Around 15 sad haks have been trained in using firearms, walking a rope, surviving an enemy attack, hide in the forest.

Who were these sadhaks who received military training at Sanstha camps?

We don't have their names. We ran those camps for only two years. We hired arms and ammunition from locals who held arms licenses. The Sanatan Sanstha does not have any arms license, arms or ammunition. We don't require one.

Do you expect support from the BJP government at the Centre and the state?

Yes. Both BJP and RSS are based on Hindutva ideology. We have hopes from them. A clean Ganga is top priority, as is resolution of the Kashmir issue. We expect a lot in education as well. Muslims get religious education in madarsas, Christians in churches. In Hinduism, verbal education is not sufficient due to the sheer numbers. The Sanstha teaches scientific religious education. The government should make it available to all. Our guru Athavale and new saints have made formats to measure spirituality, using which one can do sadhana and follow Hindu practices.

We have written to the Centre demanding that Hindu religious education be part of the school syllabus - how to offer floral tributes to god, what food items should be offered and when, for example.

Do you think BJP will do it?

The government has supported Yoga but have removed `Om' from Yoga. Why is the government afraid of Muslims? Why is the government overly concerned and sensitive to Muslims? Let them follow the rules. Why be so careful as to insult Hindus? Without `Om', Yoga has no meaning. We don't like BJP and RSS's political adjustments, be it in Kashmir or the beef ban.

We have published reports and books on how two cows can earn their owner Rs 11,000 per month. Also, there is a huge demand for Gomutra (cow's urine). The government should extend tax subsidies and other facilities to promote industry based on Gomutra collection. It has huge potential to become economically viable.

Platforms made from cow dung are in huge demand, even abroad.

What should the government do for followers of other religions?

Calling Islam and Christianity `religions' is totally wrong. They are just panths (branches). Only Hinduism has existed since the beginning of this world. Islam and Christianity

The meditation room at the Sanstha headquarters were founded by humans. We want that In dia be known as a `Hindu' nation in our Con stitution, and this change should be brought by religion-based politics.

Will the Sanstha enter politics?

Yes, but saints in the Vairagya (internal state of mind) phase are not interested in politics but those at a spiritual level of 60 per cent can enter politics. They can be from any party, even the Congress. My point is, all politicians should start Hindu Sadhana.

What if the Sanstha is banned?

There is no possibility that the Sanstha will be banned. If it is, we can continue our work without name or letterhead. What is the difference? We already have our network of over one lakh sadhaks in Maharashtra, and are connecting online to sadhaks in Serbia, Australia and other nations. We have strong door-to-door pracharaks. We will continue to do our work of protecting the Hindu rashtra.


Saturday, September 19, 2015

Digital (Hindu) India - By SUVIR KAUL - www.outlookindia.com



Digital (Hindu) India

Anyone who writes critically about Modi attacks Hinduism and by extension, a Hindu India.

What causes anyone who offers a critique of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the functioning of his government to be attacked by his supporters as anti-Indian and anti-Hindu? Worse, as terrorists whose efforts have been orchestrated by—take your pick—the security agencies of the United States, the Christian Church, or unnamed colonial masters?

I ask this question from a particular vantage point: I am one of over a 135 signatories of anopen letter published on an academic website run by the American Association of University Professors.

This letter, issued in advance of Modi’s visit to Silicon Valley, invites readers, including those who work in the tech industry, to think carefully about some urgent concerns raised in India about the digital infrastructure the government plans to build.

There is no question that such an infrastructure is crucial to the economic health of the country, but as events in the United States and elsewhere have made clear, without safeguards this digital future will erode some of the personal freedoms guaranteed by our constitution.

The letter also reminds readers of Modi’s questionable role as Chief Minister during the 2002 Gujarat Riots, and then lists a series of events that have characterized his first year as Prime Minister, events that concern educators in particular. The government has acted to constrict the performance of NGOs, particularly those who speak of environmental concerns or who are active in following up on acts of violence against poor and marginalized groups. As is clear from their writing and protests, our colleagues in Indian universities and other educational institutions are increasingly beleaguered by government policies that not only erode institutional autonomies but also endanger critical thinking, analysis and pedagogy.

And of course we all know of cases where foreign scholars who possess valid visas have been denied entry to the country; other researchers, including Persons of Indian Origin, have been deported. (Does a nation like India really have so much to fear from academic enquiry?). This growing climate of surveillance, intolerance and repression is one of the reasons why this letter asks people to think about the uncritical fanfare with which they plan to welcome Modi to Silicon Valley.

Might all our concerns be misplaced? Perhaps, but our letter stated a particular point of view that could and should have been debated. Instead of debate, what we have been subject to is a barrage of personal insults, and worse, threats. Some emails have contained risible elements: we are told that we are “Cone Heads” who suffer from an “acute case of Stockholm syndrome.” Other emails were not quite so funny; indeed some of us have chosen to report them to the police because they felt threatening. Withdraw your signatures, we were told, or else: “Failure to do this now will result in you repenting with untold suffering on your deathbed.”

Another wrote, “you will suffer the consequences of your folly, the Indian nationals in particular. Already the names of the signers of that petition are being widely disseminated through social and other media as sepoys and foreign based enemies of Mr Modi and the Modi government. . . . You may run back to your ivory towers but you can’t hide, not in this age of social media. You have exposed yourself to the wrath of a large number of people who actively support Mr Modi and his government. Be careful about signing petitions in the future, and never ever beard the lion in his cave. You have my condolences for signing that petition.”

No debate here, only intimidation and, yes, condolences, given that Modi’s supporters now have us in their sights.

All of this might be easy to set aside as evidence that the internet and email have encouraged people to write anonymously what they never have the courage to say openly. The level of invective has been so worrisome that Aaron Barlow, the Executive Editor of The Academe Blog, where our letter was published, felt the need to write a special commentary saying that he had never before seen such name-calling and even threatening responses to any published article. Is it the advent of Modi to national power that has emboldened this sort of viciousness, often camouflaged as a defense of long embattled, now muscular, Hindu power? It seems likely, given the insistence of several emails that Modi is the figurehead of Hindu revivalism, and that we are Hindus who have acted treacherously against our faith.

In this paranoid vision, anyone who writes critically about Modi attacks Hinduism and by extension, a Hindu India. A Hindu India that ought to be closed to people like us, they say, for we are saboteurs waging “war on India’s development.” So writes a well-known Hindutva-vadi commentator, who also sees us as anti-democratic because we dare question an elected Prime Minister (as if such questioning is not a fundamental right, indeed obligation, of democratic citizenship). Not surprisingly, his comments are a prelude to a more sinister threat: “it is always worth remembering the names of all those who are ready to subvert India.”

This combination of pusillanimous name-calling and blacklisting, so representative of the bullying and violence of our new political dispensation, is meant to cow us down. However, it has the opposite effect, for it teaches us that we are on the side of all those who combat, in their daily lives and pedagogy, the shrinkage of open debate and dissent in India today.

Suvir Kaul is A. M. Rosenthal Professor, Department of English, University of Pennsylvania


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Patidars and Muslims: Reservations and the State. Mukul Kesvan


The Telegraph

Patidars and Muslims - Reservations and the State

More than the speech of the vice-president, Hamid Ansari, to the Majlis-e-Mushawarat, it is Hardik Patel's call for a Patidarquota that puts the case for affirmative action for Muslims in perspective.

Last month, Hardik Patel, a 22- year-old fan of Bal Thackeray's political methods, speaking on behalf of one of the most successful large communities in Gujarat, demanded reservations for the state's Patidars. In spite of the fact that a mammoth rally organized by him led to violence, he got a solicitous hearing from the state government - chief minister Anandiben Patel appointed a committee to consider his demands - and soothing sounds from prime minister Modi, otherwise notable for his near-Olympian silences. "I appeal to all brothers and sisters of Gujarat that they should not resort to violence," said the prime minister. "The only 'mantra' must be ' shanti'." "Violence," he went on to say, "has never done good for anyone. All issues can be resolved peacefully through talks."

Let us ignore the many ironies in the prime minister's little homily and try a thought experiment instead. Imagine a young Muslim rabble-rouser doing the things Hardik Patel has done to press for Muslim reservations. Visualize him posing for photographs shouldering a shotgun, or sprawled on the bonnet of a car with a snub nosed pistol, his supporters brandishing swords. Now think of him inciting a crowd of half a million Muslims in Surat and that crowd turning violent. How do you think the Gujarat government or the Central government would have reacted? How likely is it that the prime minister would content himself with emollient talk of non-violence and peace? Not very.

Yet in spite of Patel's violent political style, India's political establishment handles him like precious glass whereas when Asaduddin Owaisi, a member of parliament of long standing, makes the case for Muslim reservations on television, he is received as an irresponsible extremist playing with fire. In the same vein, the general secretaries of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad attacked the vice-president's speech as subversive of the Constitution and communal.

To be fair to Hardik Patel and the Patidars he represents, the reservations they are asking for aren't ridiculous if we go by recent political precedents. Politically powerful, economically entrenched and socially mobile communities have asked for and received reservations in the very recent past.

In February 2009, two months before the Karnataka assembly elections, the BJP government of the chief minister, B.S. Yeddyurappa, added 19 sub-sects of the Lingayat community to the list of backward classes in Karnataka. This brought the total of Lingayat sub-castes eligible for reservations to 42. Lingayat sects are economically and politically powerful; half a dozen chief ministers of Karnataka have been Lingayats.

Similarly, before the October 2014 elections to the Maharashtra assembly, the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government passed an ordinance reserving 16 per cent of all government jobs and places in educational institutions for Marathas. The Marathas, like the Patidars, are a landed, politically powerful community. While this ordinance was stayed by the Bombay High Court, it was converted into the Maratha reservation bill by the BJP-Shiv Sena coalition that won the assembly elections and swiftly piloted through both houses of Maharashtra's legislature.

So Hardik Patel has good reason to believe that relatively prosperous communities like his have been given backward class status and the reservations that go with it. Jats, Lingayats and Marathas have all used electoral muscle to extract concessions from the State; the Patidars are simply following their lead.

Muslims could be forgiven for thinking that there is something amiss with a system that helps communities much more prosperous than theirs while refusing to consider their claims to affirmative action. When the Congress government in Maharashtra proposed 16 per cent reservation for Marathas, it had also given Muslims a 5 per cent share. Unsurprisingly, the BJP-Shiv Sena government ignored the Muslim reservation while piloting the Maratha quota through the Maharashtra legislature.

Why are communities that are, by any measure, vastly better off than Muslim communities, cosseted by the State? And how does the State justify the exclusion of Muslims from whole categories of reservation? It's worth reviewing the arguments.

Scheduled caste status by definition can only be accorded to members of 'Indic' religious communities (Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and so on) and not to Muslims and Christians. So if a Dalit was to convert to Islam and Christianity, he would become ineligible for reservations. The argument here seems to be that since SC reservations are meant to address caste discrimination and since caste is essentially Hindu, a convert to an egalitarian faith like Christianity and Islam that doesn't formally recognize caste is released from the burden of caste discrimination.

There are several things wrong with this reasoning.

To start with, SC reservations were intended to be reparations for the historical backwardness created by caste discrimination. To claim that this handicap is transcended by the act of conversion is both absurd and unjust.

The argument that Christianity and Islam are egalitarian faiths and therefore their adherents have no need of reservation is inconsistently applied: why shouldn't it apply to mazhabiSikhs who belong to a faith as fiercely egalitarian as any?

But let us accept for the sake of argument that conversion transports Muslims and Christians into a haven of non-discrimination. Let us also accept that SC reservation exists to compensate one set of Hindus for their historical oppression by another set of Hindus. The question this raises is, why should Muslims and Christians help pay for this compensation? That they are made to share in its costs is self-evident: when, from the general pool of jobs and educational places, a percentage is reserved for Dalits (defined as Hindus) they become unavailable to everyone, not just to upper caste Hindus. Any reservation shrinks the general pool; since Muslims and Christians can't be Dalits, why should they help compensate for Hindu apartheid?

If we believe Muslims are implicated in caste and need to share the cost of reparations through reservation, there is no historical or ethical reason to exclude plebeian Muslim and Christian communities from SC status. And if expanding that definition is constitutionally complicated, there is certainly no reason to exclude them from other backward classes status in the way the BJP-Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra did this last December.

In their very different ways, Hamid Ansari and Hardik Patel have clarified the debate about reservation. If the republic and its constituent states continue to extend reservations to dominant landholding castes while deliberately excluding or under-representing Muslims and Christians from such reservations, they call the legitimacy of the democracy they embody into question. When, in Satish Deshpande's words, reservations become "...simply a welfare benefit that the state can grant to any community at its discretion", the exercise of that discretion begins to define the very nature of that State.

Mystery of the missing Muslim Captains of industry - By TK Arun - THE ECONOMIC TIMES, MUMBAI, INDIA


The Economic Times

Mystery of the missing Muslim Captains of industry

September 7, 2015, 5:04 PM IST 

 in Cursor | India | ET

This newspaper’s finding that only 2.67% of the directors and senior-most executives of the largest 500 companies listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange are Muslims is a sad reflection on the state of the community and of Indian society in general, but hardly comes as a shock
Except to those engaged in professional demonization of Muslims as descendants of foreign invaders who pollute the culture, owe foreign allegiance, harbour terror in their hearts and are resolutely fecund, so as to outnumber Hindus, the sooner the better. The 2011 Census data showed that the Muslim population growth rate has steadily been coming down, is lower than that for Bihar as a whole and that, in absolute numbers, Hindus outnumber Muslims by the largest ever majority today. Now, the ET study brings out an indicator of relative economic disempowerment of Muslims, as well.
Rather than the caricature of menace the Hindutva brigade paints of the Muslim, the reality shows a deprived, disempowered community living under the shadow of violence as the number of communal incidents recorded by the Home ministry keeps going up.
Of course, Muslims are not alone in being under-represented in the corporate hall of fame. The result would be even more disheartening, if one were to hunt for the presence of members of India’s deprived castes and tribal groups in the higher echelons of corporate India. However, certain other minority communities are likely to be overrepresented, in relation to their population: Christians, Sikhs, Jains and Parsis.
The difference, essentially, is education.
Of course, the same prejudice that makes it hard for Muslims to rent a home in urban India will be at work when it comes to hiring as well. However, given the shortage of talent in general, companies are likely to pay attention more to capability than to religious identity. Discrimination on the basis of community used to be far stronger and overt in the pre-liberalisation era of suppressed competition.
Even in companies with Muslim promoters, the largest proportion of senior managers would be non-Muslims, more likely than not. This underscores the role of factors other than discrimination in hiring for the weak representation of Muslims in decisionmaking roles in corporate India.
The Sachar committee report and the subsequent evaluation report on its recommendations, by Prof Amitabh Kundu both brought out the plight of India’s Muslim minorities. In terms of socio-economic indicators, they are at the bottom of the heap, along with the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.
The Planning Commission, under the previous UPA government, found that funds allotted for education and healthcare had systematically skirted Muslim-dominated villages in places like Uttar Pradesh. This led former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to declare that the minorities and other deprived sections had the first claim on the nation’s resources. Such statements were widely interpreted to be minority appeasement — with merit, considering that Congress-led Maharashtra did not particularly lag Gujarat in putting away young Muslim men behind bars for years on terror charges that were subsequently disproved.
Vice President Ansari recently said Muslim backwardness is a drag on the entire society. He called upon the community itself to do more for its own uplift. Things are, indeed, changing.
When e-learning software producer Extra Marks was scouting for a school to deploy its offering, it met with skepticism and rejection, till it met up with the Muslim Education Society in Kerala. The MES school in Pattambi was the first school to buy and use English-language software and tablet based teaching and learning.
This is, of course, far removed from the Madrasas of north India, where Muslim pupils are herded into a closed universe, whose horizons are defined by Urdu, the only language they learn, besides the Arabic of the Quran.
The route to redemption for Muslims, as well as for other deprived sections of Indian society, is to equip themselves to take part in the ongoing structural transformation of the Indian economy, from an economy where the bulk of the workforce was engaged in agriculture to the new, emerging, urbanizing powerhouse of services and industry. Those who become skilled professionals and entrepreneurs from among the ranks of the deprived communities will augment their community’s social capital and help the rest climb their way out of backwardness.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.