Syed Ali Mujtaba | Clarion India
BY NOW it is clear, India is witnessing a conflict between ruling party’s interests and the national interests. The BJP government’s policy to consolidate Hindu votes through anti-Muslim anti-Islam propaganda is posing a grave threat to the larger interests of the nation.
As Indians we have two choices, either go with a nationalist party with little nationalistic aspirations whatsoever or cherish the dream of a nation where every citizen can hold his/her head high irrespective of caste, colour, creed, race or language.
No matter how much pretentious the BJP might sound as a nationalist party, going by its policies it is discernible that the party is holding India’s long-term prospects hostage to its narrow and parochial interests.
Peace under siege
Anti-Muslim, anti-Pakistan and anti-Kashmir policies are crucial for the saffron party to consolidate its Hindu vote bank in the country. The party is pursuing these policies ruthlessly endangering regional peace and good neighbourly relationship.
However, Pakistan seems to be in no mood to be cowed down to the BJP government’s hegemonistic designs. In fact, Islamabad has started fuming at New Delhi’s anti-Muslim feast. The fiery speech delivered by Prime Minister Imran Khan at the United Nation’s General Assembly drew global attention to the regional concerns that emanating from the BJP government’s nefarious domestic policies.
As far as Afghanistan is concerned, we are not going to send Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) to protect our interests. With the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) India has shut its doors on regional friends. The BJP government’s policy towards Afghanistan has jeopardised India’s long-term interests. Today, nobody is going to have any sympathy for India’s cause. Will Taliban, who are waiting to capture power in that country, befriend India with the anti-Muslim anti-Islam BJP at the helm.
The Islamists in Bangladesh are hauling at Hasina Wajid for remaining a silent spectator as Islamophibia is being built in the neighbourhood. They are waiting for an opportune time to unseat her from power and speculation is rife that she might meet Shiekh Mujibur Rehman’s fate.
Maldives, the third Muslim country in South Asia apart from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, too is in a defiant mood towards India. Maldives has extended an invitation to the Pakistan Army Chief for reasons best known to the Indian establishments. This has something to do with BJP government’s policy at the expense of India’s interests.
Nepal, the Hindu majority country in our neighbourhood, is set to use Chinese ports to trade with other countries, ending its dependence on India. Sri Lanka, the Buddhist majority country, is deeply in debt to China and the latter wants to build houses and roads in the north and east region of that country. Here, Tamils and Muslims have been traditionally looking to India for protection against the Sinhala excesses. The BJP government cannot go against the majority Sinhala for it’s doing to Muslims what the saffron party is doing in India.
The media is asked to build a narrative that the neighbours who are at fault being anti-India but the fact is that it is BJP’s policy towards its neighbours for gaining Hindu votes that is compromising India’s interests in the region.
Antagonising Muslim World
The BJP government has come under the scanner of more than 55 Muslim-majority countries in the world for its anti-Muslim anti-Islam policies. Muslims are spread across the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia-Oceania, Europe and North America constituting 24.1% of the world’s population.
It is estimated that global population of Muslims is 1.8 billion. They contribute 8% of world’s nominal GDP.
The BJP’s anti-Muslim and anti -Islam policies to consolidate its Hindu vote bank has pitted India against the Muslim world. The way Muslim and Islam are being rebuked in India with the tacit approval of the BJP government, makes the Muslim world understand India is into the game of clash of civilization.
It appears as if the BJP wants to prevent India from reaching out to Muslim nations and to develop the country without any assistance from the Muslim world.
The BJP government’s policy to foster anti-Muslim sentiment in India to get domestic support is clearly against national interests. Every Indian working in the Gulf region is a contractual employee. The BJP government’s anti-Muslim, anti-Islam rebuke has lit of the Arab fuse. An Arab spring has emerged against Indians working in the GCC and UAE region.
The BJP’s anti-Muslim politics pose a reputational risk for Indians all over the world and particularly those in the Gulf as they are tarred with anti-Muslim anti-Islam stereotypes. The so-called nationalist party has risked Indians abroad and has shamed the nation for its own aggrandisement.
Anti- Muslim Agenda
Muslims in India are the largest minority. They make up 14% of the total population. India’s Muslims have played a seminal role in shaping the Indian society and culture. They have played a prominent role in India’s freedom struggle and after Independence in spite of all the injustices heaped against them have been loyal to the Indian nation.
Even though the Constitution gives equal opportunity, Muslims face all-round deprivation in the country. The main reason for it is a general environment of hostility against Muslims created by the political parties to woo Hindu votes.
The history of Muslim deprivation goes back to the Independence but the BJP government that has come to power in 2014, has accentuated the Muslim marginalisation to a great deal.
It all started with the BJP government’s tacit support to the cow vigilante to go for mob lynching of the Muslims. Subsequently, by abrogation of article 370 and 35 A and making Jammu and Kashmir into two Union territories, the government took away the Muslim majority status of the restive state. The Supreme Court gave a partisan verdict on Babari Masjid case to appease the ruling Hindu nationalist party. And the last but not the least, undue interference in the Muslim Personal Law by abrogation of triple talaq’ which betrayed the government’s intent to infringe the community’s privileges.
The anti-Muslim bias inherent in the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is part of the Hindutva agenda the BJP government is pursuing to undermining the multi-religious identity of India.
Hence, rather than giving a call for unity at a time of grave adversity in the form of Covid-19, the party and its government chose to cause a schism between Hindus and Muslims. The silence of the BJP government to the growing communalisation of the society makes one wonder how the charade of secularism is being played in India.
The anti-Muslim policy may be useful for the BJP in consolidating its power base, but will it not be detrimental to the overall development of the country? Obsessed with short-term gains, the party is oblivious of the fact that India cannot progress without Muslims progressing in India.
In the book ‘Denial and Deprivation: Indian Muslims after the Sachar Committee and Rangnath Mishra Commission Reports’ authored by Abdur Rahman, (Manohar 2019), it is argued that demonization of Muslims is a dangerous trend in India. It was cautioned that those engaged in Muslim whistling and doing negative profiling of the Muslim image are doing disservice to the country.
Studies show that propaganda against Muslims can cause alienation in the largest minority. It can lead to loss of a sense of belonging in the community towards the country and may develop fissiparous tendencies among them and radicalise Muslim youth. Any dissent in a large section of the population is not easy to contain.
So, the BJP government’s pursuit of its short-term gains is pushing the country to unmanageable propositions. The nefarious designs of the party need to be exposed for they are jeopardizing the long-term interests of the country.
I have offered some pointers to counter the current anti-Muslim situation in India. It is essential for the Muslim youths to stay focused on their life’s primary goals: education, employment career, business and social work etc.
The Muslim community should not get drawn into communal conflagration and get trapped into the vicious narratives build around them; they should pool their time and resources into making strategies to counter the assaults made on them by the government and the media. They need to develop a roadmap for their political, social and economic betterment in India.
The Muslim youth should not be hypersensitive towards the controversial issues raked by the media and get driven by emotions. It is the media’s strategy to push BJP government’s anti-Muslim policy. Muslims should not get into the trap laid by the.
In the book, I had warned the Muslim youth to never think of any separatist course as this can push the community deeper into an abyss. By taking recourse to separatist agenda they will only be playing into the hands of the forces inimical to us. After all they want us out of the national mainstream.
Though facing hostilities of the worst kind, Indian Muslims should not allow an inferiority complex to get over their nerves. They must counter the evil with calm and compose, lest they lose the battle of nerves they are facing. They should refrain from engaging in nonproductive discussions to counter malicious campaign built around them. Instead they should contemplate on their individual and community development.
Muslims need not worry about the BJP. Indians at large will take care of it once they realise that their so-called nationalist party is, indeed, fooling them at the expense of the national interests.
(Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. Views expressed here are his personal and Clarion India does not necessarily subscribe to them.)