A Grim Reality We Are Ignoring — Many More Muslim-Haters Could Be in the Making!

0

SIGNS OF THE TIMES

Humra Quraishi

All those arrested or detained so far in the Sulli Deals and Bulli Bai app case are the young. Young students to be precise. How could they carry such perversion cum hatred cum communal anger for the ‘other’?

This very, very vital crux needs to be studied? That’s a different story altogether who would bother to go into the very crux, in an atmosphere when communal poisoning is peaking by the hour, challenging our very survival.

Years back when I’d first heard academic Nalini Taneja talk in an open forum of what’s taught in the RSS run schools, those details hit …came across as a shocker! This  Delhi  University professor read aloud  passages from the text taught in the  RSS  run schools and commented that the history text  books taught in these schools are  nothing but an  unadulterated version of the RSS view of history and  ‘use’ of history  for its sectarian agenda: Aryans are the  original inhabitants of  India, Indian civilization is essentially Aryan civilization, the ancient  period  of  history when Hindu  rulers ruled was golden and  India  had  enormous  advantages  during this  period. The coming of Mughals brought along darkness, cruelty…  Hedgewar, Gowalkar, Savarkar are amongst the greatest freedom fighters. Muslims as a community are traitors, Hinduism is synonymous with nationalism. Also, caste, child marriages and sati are defended…Muslims, Christians and Parsis are all called foreigners …Urdu is referred to as foreign language.

And in 2016, during an interview given to me for a leading newspaper, former  IIT Mumbai academic turned  activist, Professor Ram Puniyani, detailed the teachings in the RSS run schools, “RSS has single teacher schools, Ekal Vidyalaya and bigger ones as Shishu Mandirs. The pattern of authoritarianism between teachers-taught, senior- junior is very rigid. The main values which are promoted are those of conformism. Along with this, the books in these schools are structured around the mythical history of superiority of Hinduism, that all was well with Hindus till Muslim aggressors came, caste is presented as having given stability to society, Muslim Kings are presented as cruel and so on… The hatred for religious minorities is drilled into the children.”

Ram Puniyani has also focused on the dangerous build-ups in his book, ‘Indian Nationalism Versus Hindu Nationalism’ (Pharos Media), “Hindu nationalism or for that matter any nationalism under the cloak of religion is an attempt to smuggle in the feudal hierarchical values in the modern language. To begin with it relegates the religious minorities to second class citizenship and simultaneously promotes the inequality of caste and gender. The core of freedom of expression; the freedom of basic choices in matters of food, life partners, pattern of life are constrained. The pluralism is undermined along with rational thinking and scientific temper is being attacked…We are living in difficult times where the very core of our national values is being attacked. The notions of pluralism, fraternity, equality are under constant attack. We have a Constitution based on these values, which in nutshell can be encapsulated in the term Indian Nationalism. From over last three decades Hindu Nationalism is being asserted in a very aggressive ways.”

And the former Vice Chancellor of the Lucknow University, Roop Rekha Verma, minced no words, whilst detailing the communal ‘happenings’ in the  academic institutions in Uttar Pradesh. “Besides the text books, the manner in which teachers talk against the Dalits and Muslims in classrooms is just too shocking!”

*****

Indian Muslims are well aware of the RSS agenda. They also realize they cannot go marching down the streets shouting anti- government slogans. They are well aware of the fact that it is neither possible or prudent to fight the  Hindutva lot, so they sit back forlorn, amidst severe helplessness and hopelessness. Mind you, this does not mean that they are unaware of the political build-ups and the political treachery that’s on.

They have  been  reading  books on the  RSS  ideology, authored by  the well -known scholars and academics — AG Noorani’s ‘The RSS – A Menace To India’ ( Left Word),  Shamsul Islam’s ‘Know The RSS: Based on Rashtriya Swayamsevak  Sangh Documents’ ( Pharos Media ),  Khushwant Singh’s ‘The  End of India’ (Penguin ), Jyortimaya Sharma’s ‘Terrifying Vision – M.S.  Golwalkar, The RSS and India ‘(Penguin), books on the RSS and the Right-Wing  by Ram Puniyani, books authored by the former  I.G. Police, Maharashtra, S.M. Mushrif.

Communal build-ups have been on …on going. To  quote  Khushwant Singh— “ The Sangh  has capitalized  on old  prejudices about Muslims …one should  make  every single effort  to save the  country  and  openly challenge and take  on these Sanghis /fundoos who  are  destroying  the country. We have to battle with   them at any cost, give it back to them, abuse for abuse. For, if we love our country we have to save it from the fascist forces.”

And to quote from A.G.  Noorani’s book, ‘The RSS – A Menace To India’ (Left Word), “India is battling for its very soul …The  Rashtriya  Swayamsevak Sangh  (RSS)is  the  most  powerful  organization  in India  today; complete with a  private army of its own, unquestionably obeying its  leader who  functions  on fascist  lines  on the Fuehrer principle…The  RSS  is at war with India’s  past. It belittles three of the greatest builders of the Indian State — Ashoka, the Buddhist; Akbar, the Muslim; and Nehru, a civilized Enlightened Hindu. It would wipe out centuries of achievement for which the world has acclaimed India and replace that with its own narrow, divisive ideology.”

Time to stand up and talk of the ground realities.

How apt are these lines of Sahir Ludhianvi:

 

Here we go, stoking fire through song-laden lips

The fear of the world can never staunch the flow of our words

In all, we have just one view, our own

Why should we see the world through someone else’s eyes?

It is true we did not turn the world into a garden

But at least we lessened some thorns from the paths we travelled.

TIME TO FOCUS ON THIS GROUND REALITY!

Let me focus on this major misconception circulated by the  Hindutva brigades –  That is, the Indian Muslims are an appeased lot. In contrast to the appeasement propaganda, the Indian Muslims will recount humiliating and traumatic experiences they face, because they happen to be Muslims!

Today, when one can get a womb-on- rent, a Muslim family finds it difficult to get a room-on- rent. If the crisis situation for the Indian Muslims was limited to the housing front, then one wouldn’t have to raise an alarm.  Its spreading out to all possible spheres, affecting hundreds and thousands. Even the basic survival gets tough. Yet no halt to the appeasement propaganda.

Even poet Nida Fazli had to agree that he faced little problem on the housing front because of his partner. “She’s not a Muslim, that’s why I faced no problem getting a house in Mumbai. Of course, I do know of the communal situation. There’s communal poisoning spreading out, politicians are dividing us. Yeh politicians and politics hamai tukrai-tukrai mai  baat  rahi  hai!’ (Politicians and their politics are dividing us into bits!)

Even the basic facts should be adequate to clear the misconception that Muslims are an appeased lot. Details of the 2011 Census reveal that India’s average household size was 4.45 members .That is, it has decreased and came down from 4.67 a decade ago. The size of an average Muslim household fell to 5.15 from 5.61 over the previous decade. And this reduction was sharper at 11.1% for Muslim households headed by men while for families headed by women it was 4.47%. The average size of Hindu families declined by 5 % over the decade.

The fact that the average size of a Muslim household is shrinking faster than that of the Hindu counterpart  is enough to relay  that  Right-Wing propaganda against the  Muslim minority community is factually  incorrect  and vicious enough in  making  the   masses  perceive  the  Muslim  community as  the  forever expanding, ‘over-producing’ community.

The first time I heard  details to the dismal  ground  realities  faced by the Muslim  population in the country was  way back, in 1998, when  I  interviewed  economist, Abusaleh  Shariff, the then  chief economist with the National Council of Applied  Economic  Research.

 He spoke on the findings of  the  NCAER team that conducted  a study  survey of  33,000  rural  Indian  households to create a  ‘Human  Development Profile’. Dismal  facts about the  poverty  levels  in  rural   India stood out: India’s  350 million  people   lived  a  miserable  life  of  absolute   poverty. And facts and figures showed that Muslims lagged on several fronts. Community wise break- up showed the Muslim population to be comparatively much lower than the   majority. Coupled with this was the fact that more Muslims — 66% of all   Muslims lived in rural areas.

And  in 2002 ,when  his  report, Relative  Socio Economic Deprivation  of  Indian  Muslims, was released, I had  once  again interviewed  him. The report  carried these crucial   findings— overall the  head count  poverty  and capability   ratios  were  considerably  higher  for  Muslims  compared  to the  all India  average  and the  caste  Hindus. The  percentage of  population  below the  poverty  line  was 43  for  Muslims  as compared with only  32  for  caste  Hindus  and  39  for the whole population. Findings showed that  the  household  income  of  Muslims was  Rs  22,807  compared with Rs 29 ,786 for the  Hindu  of the  upper caste. Even  where  land  was  concerned  43  per cent  of  Muslim  households  were  landless compared with  only  30  per cent  among Hindus;  on an average  the  high  caste  Hindus  owned   5.1 acres  of  land  compared  with  only 3.6  acres for  Muslims …And  on  the  cultivation, work  and  housing fronts  the  statistics  suggested that  only  36  %  of the  Muslims  undertake agricultural  occupations  compared to  44  %  among all  Hindus (including the  SCs and STs).The  proportion  of  income  derived from agriculture and allied activities  among the  Muslims was much  lower than the  Hindus .However  their  share  of income was disproportionately  larger  when  it comes to  artisans and  industrial work. In  urban areas only 29  per cent  of Muslims  were employed  wage /salaried  occupations, compared to  47 %  Hindus  …Muslims  were largely self- employed —53  % .

Those findings also showed that Muslims in rural areas depended relatively more on wage labour. But the work participation rate of Muslims was much lower, which suggested higher un-employment rate. Employment of Muslim women in any sort of occupation was extremely low. Whilst  Muslims  had  relatively  better  access to  protected water and toilets ,they  were also  relatively  disadvantaged where the  quality  of  housing  of  housing was concerned —  60   per cent of  Muslims  lived  in kuttcha  houses compared with  only  48  per cent  for  the  upper caste  Hindus .The  proportion of  Muslim households with  electric connections  was only  30  per cent  compared to  50  per cent  for the  upper caste  Hindus .Those  utilizing  the public  distribution  system  was  22  per cent for Muslims  and  34  per cent for  Hindus.

On the educational front too, Muslims were found to be far behind. However  next to the  SC and STs .Only 50 %  of the  Muslims  are  literate  as compared to  about  60 %  of the  upper caste  Hindus .The  enrolment of  Muslims  was  only 62  %   as compared  with about  72 %  for all India and  77 % for upper caste Hindus. Overall, Muslims seemed worse off as compared to all India average and the upper caste Hindu.

After reading the report, I had asked Abusaleh Shariff to comment on the propaganda that the Muslims are an appeased lot. He said, “It is a myth that Indian minorities are pampered or appeased. Providing subsidies to the Haj pilgrimage cannot be put forth as evidence of welfare for Indian Muslims! What  needs to  be  provided are equal  opportunities for education at all levels,  employment  both in the  public and  market economy  and  access to social and  health security… Our analysis confirms high incidences of poverty and deprivation amongst all the citizens in India.  Given this  high  level  of deprivation, Muslims as a  social group are relatively  more  deprived  than the  Hindu community as a whole .However,  if the  scheduled  castes and  tribes are considered separately then the relative  deprivation between  Muslims and the  non- SC, ST  Hindus  is very  large .So is the  differential  between  SCs and  STs and the  high caste  Hindus.”

This economist  had also stated that most  public programs  in the areas  of  poverty alleviation  and social sectors were  fraught  with  conceptualization,  identification and   implementation  problems, besides high levels of  corruption  at the district and  lower  levels of  bureaucracy. “This is more so  in the case  of  special  programs aimed at the  minority  communities. A  disproportionately higher  percentage  of  Muslims  fall in this  group  and thus the  benefits   of recent growth  may  have  not reached  a large   percentage  of  minorities.”

And during my travels it got more than writ large that in contrast to the so called appeasement, an Indian Muslim has been facing a series of disadvantages and deprivations. In several regions Muslims are deliberately ‘kept away’ from basic government facilities, including medical facilities.

Appointing a couple of Muslim bureaucrats on prominent slots, cannot be termed appeasement. Window dressing, it is! Also, what can a Muslim figure head do! Nothing! Perhaps, not even listen to your grievances!  During my very first visit to Hyderabad in 2006 (January 2006) the Pravasi Diwas was all set to be inaugurated, with the  then President of India, Dr Abdul Kalam, in the city for the opening ceremony. His presence made the  Muslims of Hyderabad comment that the  President did not find  time to visit Gujarat , post  the  2002  pogrom, but  had quite obviously  found time to be  in Hyderabad  for the ‘pravasis’!

They had also told me that when several Muslims of Hyderabad wanted to meet Dr Kalam to discuss their grievances, they were not given time. Provoking them to quip, “What good is a Muslim President for the community! His predecessor Dr K. R. Narayanan, was bold enough to talk of the Gujarat pogrom.”

____________

Humra Quraishi is a Delhi-based writer-columnist-journalist. She is also the author of several books including Kashmir: The Untold Story. The views expressed here are author’s personal.

 

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here