Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The truth is out

The truth is out. In a few days, the report of the Sachar Committee (on the socio-economic condition of Muslims in India) will be presented to the nation.

The findings are grave. Muslims in India lag behind the Scheduled Castes and Schedules Tribes, who have so far been viewed as the weaker sections.

The lie of “Muslim appeasement” will also be nailed.

The stage has already been set for the presentation of the report and its grave findings. The Prime Minister of India has called for minorities to receive a fair share of education and jobs in the public and private sectors. The BJP has already condemned such a call, as anti-national. And the CPI(M) has for the first time formed a cell on minorities.

Dr Syeda Hameed, a member of the Planning Commission, had recently written an article “Trapped in a blind alley”, on this subject.

Commenting on this, blogger Ashish, while wishing for a society where there is no discrimination against anyone because of his religion, nevertheless seems to be quite removed from the everyday reality of the Indian Muslim. I wouldn’t be surprised if many others think along the same lines. I reproduce an extract from his piece to illustrate this view.

Most surveys show the Muslim community in India to be under-represented in terms of jobs, education, and so on. These 2 areas are the primary areas that allow people to advance and progress in life, and being under-represented in these areas is a depictment of how far behind the community is. But a good solution to this is not so easy to find. If you ask a politician, he will suggest the vote-bank catching method of providing reservations. However, reservation on the basis of religion is a bad idea. In our society, there is a great deal of turmoil already on the reservation area, and adding to this would be a bad move. The founding fathers of the Constitution had advocated reservations to the long depressed communities that were down-trodden. What they felt was that these reservations over a period of time will bring the community ahead in spite of the biases against them.

However, there is no inherent and inbuilt bias against the Muslim community. It is a question of numbers - if there are more Muslims in the education basket (school and college), then there will be more fairly represented in the job area. The major challenge behind the muslim community is to ensure that their children attend schools that provide them the necessary education to advance in the world. They have to be able to see the advantage of proper education for their male and female children.The controversial idea in this is that this education will lead to them challenging some of the ideas advocated by their clergy (a trend that you already see in Christianity and Hinduism), and this is something that can be fairly unsettling. An educated mind typically asks questions until it is satisfied, and the clergy typically believe in ensuring that their word is seen a direct interpretation of the religion and hence a direction from the god. This will typically clash.

Ashish describes himself as an engineer with an MBA, and a concerned citizen. So I hope that he will now reflect on what he thinks and examine the basis for his views. I hope what he has written will be a beginning of a process of rigorous enquiry for him, to find out for himself what the real truth is, beyond any question. I have no doubt that when he sees and knows for himself this truth – of what it means to be a poor Muslim, and how the “system” operates for him / her – he will be filled with sadness and rage at the real prejudice, discrimination, apathy, denial, marginalisation, pauperisation and strategic deprivation his Muslim fellow citizens suffer.

Siddharth Varadarajan, Krish and Bhupinder have also written about this.


Ashish said...

Hi, thanks for considering what I had written. I am essentially now a cynic about the good intentions of people in power.
I re-read what I had written, and considering that I am a voracious reader and normally read a wide section of news and magazines over a period of a number of years, I have not seen anything to change my views.
I feel very sad about the state that the muslims are in (celebrate the ones who have made it good, but consider the vast majority who have not made it good). But when one gets into a game of finger pointing about who is responsible, it gets more dicey. There are no easy solutions.
They are as good citizens of this country as any, and there is no reason why they should not be sharing in growth and prosperity. However, after reading the Sachar committe findings (although in summary), it presents a very shicking picture.
But consider what is happening now. The opportunist politicians are already on the prowl, seeking to gather votes by promising things that will not happen. A few reservations in job promises will not help, they will create more frustation and conflict. Not one of them has said anything about figuring out the actual reasons why they are in this state. Why are they so woefully under-represented in the education system. That, in my mind, is the biggest problem, and that is the problem that is likely to continue for decades. Controversially, in cities I have seen even poor trying to ensure that their children are educated so that they can make atleast one jump in life, but why do the wise men of the Muslim society concentrate on things like mode of divorce, veil or not; why they do not concentrate on making the women more educated and ensuring that every child gets into a regular education system. I would argue that a madrasa, unless it is essentially a regular school teaching regular subjects in the garb of a madrassa, is condemning that child to not prosper. It makes me uncomfortable to say such a thing because of the reaction it may provoke, but I know of no solution to bring a society up until they are educated and are able to force their leaders and the wonderful politicans and councillors to do the things that are actually important.
That is the primary responsibility of the parents. We all talk about their representation in the various walks of life, but why do we not talk in more detail about percentage in the primary, middle and senior schools. Those are the most worrisome areas to attack. I still have not seen any good articulations about what is the kind of discrimination that they face in terms of attending schools. If that happens, let the govt do what it can to make sure that they are present in force in the education system. I can write more, but it will be in the same line.
I know that there are place where they are facing discrimination such as many parts of Gujarat, and those should be areas that face special attention, not making that a blanket statement.

rama said...

Hullo Ashish, thanks for expressing your thinking. I'm afraid I cannot agree with you, because my understanding of the truth is very different. As I see it, what you say is simply "blaming the victim". Ultimately everyone has to come to their own conclusions, based on their own desire to get to the truth, and appropriate efforts to ascertain the truth. Relying on the mainstream media, on hearsay, on gossip, on views internalised by socialisation etc etc - may not serve this purpose! Yes, education is the way! But the opportunity to avail of good education must be available to all, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Dalits, Adivasis etc etc. Best, rama