In the Hindustan Times of November 3, 2007 Mr. Khushwant Singh’s assertion that the entire Muslim community of India is lagging behind just because some of its women observe purdah, seems to be very innocent. For his kind information I may add that at the time of 1931 census, when the greater number of Indian Muslim ladies used to observe purdah, they were much more literate than they are today.
Being a very eminent scholar who has seen the world much more than others, Mr. Singh should not have shied away from mentioning real causes behind the backwardness of Indian Muslims since 1947. He is also a member of a minority community which was made to suffer a lot during 1984. It is another matter that he was fortunate enough to get refuge in a diplomatic mansion; other members of his community in Delhi weren’t.
Anyhow, as this scribe analyses the scenario, there are only two reasons for the backwardness of Muslims in India. First, Muslims were not allowed to progress. Secondly, they did not evolve their own leadership who could have strived for the development of the community.
Since Independence not more than four per cent Muslims were given admission to any national university. The institutes also followed almost the same pattern. In 1957 one of this scribe’s cousins was admitted to the International Institute of Statistics, Calcutta (now Kolkata). He was surprised to know that he was the first Indian Muslim to get admission to the Institute in the last 10 years.
Another example: This scribe’s brother was the only Muslim among 300 students admitted to Pant Polytechnic Delhi – that too on the insistence of then Union Labour Minister Gulzari Lal Nanda. He was a Science Graduate whereas the basic qualification for admission was Matriculation.
Yet another example: Once this scribe appeared for an interview for a job with Border Roads Organisation. One Major Joshi came in the hall where the candidates were waiting for their turn. He told me with great contempt, “You will not be selected because your face resembles with Qasim Rizvi of Hyderabad.” In the same organisation one Commander Mr. Patel told him that they considered Sikhs to be more loyal to the country than Muslims.
In 1965 one of this scribe’s classmates, Mr. Mittal – an AMU graduate – went for an interview with U.P. Irrigation Department. The Chief Engineer openly told him, “We reduce the marks of the graduates of Aligarh Muslim University by 10 per cent but we will select you.”
Mr. Khushwant Singh, please note where we stand. When only four per cent will get admitted to educational institutions, how many will be able to excel and how many will progress?
When jobs were not available and the doors of educational institutions were closed for them, the Muslims had to earn their living through menial and lower service jobs. Besides, no loan, no quota and no permit were awarded to the members of this community. By chance one Muslim contractor was awarded a petty contract of some civil repair work in an Air Force workshop. When the brigadier came for inspection, he got the contractor arrested immediately just after knowing that he was a Muslim. So no opportunity of economic progress and advancement was provided for this community. How can a community progress without education and employment opportunities?
Even after all these handicaps if some fellows were successful in establishing their own small scale industries, they were looted, burnt and/or destroyed in more than 41,000 riots like Bhagalpur, Bhiwandi and Gujarat since Independence. There was a time during Indira Gandhi’s regime when two riots were taking place every day. Ironically, the sufferers were Muslims and the same Muslims were arrested and jailed for ‘perpetuating riots’. As if all these anti-Muslim moves were not enough, millions of Muslim youth were imprisoned for no fault of theirs under TADA, POTA and what not. A student of Aligarh Muslim University, Mr. Mubin was arrested from campus in broad daylight and it was reported by the police that they had caught him carrying RDX in Agra. The Present and Vice President can vouch for this incident.
In 1991 this scribe was fired at by his non-Muslim neighbours. In 1971 his brother, an officer with ONGC, was forced to leave his house in Ahmedabad at 2 a.m. His small children were also beaten by iron rods. His only crime was that he was the only Muslim resident in the locality. Much later, in 1992, his son was coming from his Wood Stock College by a train. Some kar sevaks manhandled him and thrown him out of the running train; moreover they fired several rounds at him.
This scribe’s younger brother’s wife was fired so fiercely by some anti-social elements that her bodyguard died on the spot and some of his cousins received bullet injuries. The police did not take any action because the M.P. of the area was directly involved in that shooting. These are a few incidents of a well established and educated family. Similar, and much worse situations, were faced by other Muslim families also.
After the perpetual negation of opportunities and continuous sufferings, a ghetto-like mentality has set in among Muslims. They are very reluctant to face the harsh realties of life collectively and compete with others.
Now their first and foremost necessity is the evolution of their sincere leadership. The last half a century has proved that no political party can provide their own leadership. When Babri Masjid was demolished, no MLA or MP save and except one tendered his resignation. Thus they need to come together and develop their own leadership democratically.
Lastly, the masses should clearly understand that, as per the wishes of Guru Golwalkar, all the 13.8 crore Muslims cannot be drowned into the Indian Ocean. It is physically impossible. Muslims are an integral part of the populace of this country. If the country has to survive all the constituents of our society will have to understand each other and live like friends caring for each other. It is a fact that there are a great number of well meaning people in this country but sometimes they get carried away by the marauders. The latest revelation of Gujarat riots is one such example. The inaction of Central government is also meaningful. This phenomenon should be changed. Some people should come out and remove the misunderstandings among the communities and create a congenial atmosphere in the country. Our major political parties do understand this fact; that is why all the major political groups have nominated a Muslim candidate for the post of Vice Presidentship. No Muslim organisation had asked for it.