Saturday, March 24, 2012

Segregation in India: Plight of Muslims

After winning the American Civil War for Northern States, Abraham Lincoln went about abolishing slavery in United States of America.  The Congress and Senate passed three landmark amendments attempting to change the fate of African Americans in that country.  The 13th Amendment outlawed slavery, the 14th Amendment made blacks equal citizens, and 15th Amendment gave them right to vote.  In the next ten years of Reconstruction, many black leaders emerged to occupy positions in Senate and Congress.  It almost looked, for a while, that this new nation would correct the mistakes of its past and reverse the effects of slavery it imposed on black people.  However, the whites of America were not ready to give blacks an equal status in their country.  They started to dilute these amendments by creating a notion called ‘separate but equal’.  They imposed segregation in the country through a series of measures called Jim Crow laws. 

It started with disenfranchising many blacks, then creating separate schools, separate seating in travel and restaurants, thereby institutionalizing discrimination.  They created two Americas, one for the privileged which was mostly white, and the other was for the underprivileged which was mostly black.  The Jim Crow laws completely negated the three amendments passed during Lincoln’s times.

Segregation in India

India has many laws to oppose discrimination.  But like the Americans of those times, Indians too have come up with their own segregation strategies. 

When I went to an engineering school, there were only about 5 Muslims in a batch of nearly 350 students.  That made their representation around 1.5% while Muslims constituted nearly 14% of the Indian population.  This scenario bothered me for a long time. How did we come to this?  The usual and convenient explanation by most Hindu Indians was that Muslims don’t study, that they are not interested in education, that their religion has something to do with it.  Is that really true? 

White Americans gave similar excuses while trying to justify their discriminatory laws.  They said that blacks were not keen on the same kind of education that whites were interested, that there is something about their African roots which explains their lack of interest, and so on. 

Are the Muslims so different from Hindus when it comes to their expectations for mainstream education?  When I examine and observe many middle class Muslim families, they are not very different from middle class Hindu families in their aspirations.  They want to send their kids to good school, want their kids to get good higher education, and they want their kids to become engineers or doctors.  They want to lead a good and decent life just like middle class Hindu families. 

However, Indian Muslim is not give the same opportunity in India. From all the available statistics it is clear that the tools of prosperity have bypassed Muslims in India.  There are not many Muslims in private schools, not many Muslims in engineering colleges, not many Muslims in the IT industry.  There are two things happening here – one, while the Hindu middle class as a group is growing in size through time bringing more and more people into its fold, the same is not true for Muslims.   They are somehow left out of the rise of prosperity that India has witnessed in the last sixty years.  Two, there is an active campaign though not through explicit laws, but through many direct and indirect actions of many Hindus, to discriminate against Muslims thereby reducing their participation from the areas of opportunity.

Both these phenomenon are rooted in discrimination.  After Partition, Indian Hindus grudgingly 'allowed' Muslims to remain in India, but they are not ready to give them their due share in the rewards. 

There is a news item in THE HINDU which says that ‘In Delhi’s nursery classes, Muslim children are a rarity’:  [Emphasis mine]

 Of 92 (private) schools, as many as 20 admitted NO muslim child while 17 admitted only one Muslim child each.

…information from individual schools suggests Muslims applied in fairly significant numbers this year and were… less likely to be selected…

Social activist Abdul Khalid wrote: “…less than 0.5 percent of Muslim children have been admitted…”

Now, how does this actually happen in India?  I will relate a personal experience.

Recently when I had to admit my kid to nursery class we were filling application forms to different schools.  The application form from National Public School, a prestigious private school, asked us to mention the ‘religion’.  I deliberately did not.  When my wife went to submit the form, the school asked her to fill the religion otherwise it would rejected.   The form also had other items like salary of the parents and their job qualifications.

I talked to someone who had recently attended National Public School.  In his graduating batch of four sections of one class comprising 120 kids, there were only 5 Muslim kids.  That makes their representation less than 5%. 

I do not know the profile of all the kids at National Public School, but I am quite confident they would comprise mostly upper caste Hindus and other privileged sections.  The selection must be done on the basis of religion, surname, and the salary criteria followed by a personal interview with the parents.  The admission criterion is designed in such a way that it somehow excludes Muslims (and quite possibly lower caste Hindus). That means that upper caste Hindu children in urban areas get to attend schools where there are mostly upper caste Hindus.  This is segregation in action.  

Such segregation is not confined to only primary schools.  A rough estimate of the profile of people in most IT companies would reflect the same.  The number of Muslims would be very low.  In one of the companies that I am familiar with, there were not more than 1% Muslims in an organization which had nearly 2,500 engineers.  In a study conducted on IT industry in Bangalore in 2006, 88% were Hindus, while 5% were Christians and only 2% Muslims.  71% belong to upper castes (half were Brahmins).

The above news from New Delhi nursery schools is hardly surprising then.  If the statistics are revealed by private schools in metros and towns of while of India, you will see a stark segregation where Muslims are being pushed out of these mainstream schools.   

Segregation is already in action and taking place for many decades now.  Indian Muslim does not live in your apartment complex, he does not show up at your workplace.  He does not sit next to you in your school.  India has institutionalized its own segregation methods against Muslims.   

Way forward

Though the Lincoln Government imposed three amendments onto Americans to free the black man to make him an equal citizen, the whites came up with their own ‘separate but equal’ strategies to institutionalize discrimination against black population.   In the same way, though India has created laws to prevent discrimination based on religion, Indian Hindus have come up with their sly methods to prevent Muslims from access to the tools of opportunity.  

Muslim is the new Dalit in India.  Their participation in the mainstream is not reflective of their representation in population and the worrying trend is they are being marginalized and segregated more with time.  We have to realize and reckon this before it is too late.  

The struggle by the black population to overthrow segregation in United States of America culminated in a new Civil Rights Movement under various leaders including Martin Luther King Jr.  With the two new bills passed by Congress and Senate, Civil Rights Act in 1964 and Voting Rights Act in 1965, the Jim Crow laws were reversed and the rights of blacks were restored to make him an equal citizen without discrimination.  One of the key items introduced by Lyndon Johnson’s government was the affirmative action- to proactively increase the participation of blacks in all mainstream positions so that their numbers reflect their proportion in the population. 

Similarly, something sinister was happening in India for more than two thousand years in India where lower castes were systematically discriminated, ostracized and marginalized.  However, India has found an antidote to that poison – through the tool of reservations.  Though highly discredited as a tool for politics, the bitter pill of reservations alone has brought socioeconomic change to the plight of millions of lower castes in India. 

And now, we need to set in motion another transformation.  Of imposing reservations to bring Muslims into the mainstream, to break the walls that Indian Hindus have carefully built to keep Muslims away.  To do that, we have to introduce reservations for Muslims in private schools and government schools, in engineering and medical colleges, in IT industry and government jobs.  There is no other way out. 


  1. Thanks for speaking up on this. Your post led me to think from a different perspective which is missing in the mainstream media. As Rushdie said, the vast majority of muslims are sensible, peaceful people with middle-class aspirations just like any other groups. They have been the victims of the violent image imposed on Islam by the terrorists.
    Certainly they need reservation to help them lift out of their economic backwardness.

  2. Your posts are very thoughtful. I wish there could be many more people writing like you and raising the awareness level of Indians. We need such meaningful discussion in our parliament today.

  3. This is insanity.

    Reservation was a way to reverse historical wrongs. Historically, Muslims have never been discriminated in this nation. They were the rulers. Djinnah wanted (and got) Pakistan precisely for this reason - he felt that Muslims would require a separate homeland to prosper.

    Reservation was welcome, as long as it was for the historically oppressed sections of society. The mandal commission was a remarkably crafty thing. Some of the richest landowning rural classes of India were included under so-called "OBCs".

    I encourage you to read Dipankar Gupta's take on this, in his books. He has explained how how reservations have benefited India for the hitherto lowest sections of society, and how the Mandal commission and the practice of reservations post 1990 has poisoned the entire fabric of society, and destroyed the "image" of reservations.

    Not only are they not justified, reservations for Muslims will lead to violence and bloodshed on the streets. This is the worst possible suggestion I have ever heard.

  4. One cannot attribute the low presence of Muslims in the IT industry solely to discrimination.

    Cultural factors come into play here. For one, most conservative Muslims do not allow their women to work. So that robs 50% of their workforce right there. And you cannot blame Hindus for that.

    Also you will find that Muslims are overrepresented in other professions such as real estate brokers, furniture shop owners, provisions merchants, dance teachers, gym instructors and so on. Virtually every other real estate broker I have come across in Bangalore is a Muslim, even though they form only 10% or so of the population. Also, anecdotally, I found Muslim guys to be overrepresented in Page 3 photos in Bangalore newspapers (often with a pretty Hindu girl in their arms). Whether that amounts to them being "discriminated", I don't know! Although surely Muslim women seem to be in that regard! Not to mention the number of Muslim male actors in Bollywood, where they are clearly overrepresented! Maybe Hindus should demand reservation for acting in Bollywood hero roles!

    Let's face it, every community has a proclivity for certain lines of professions. Malayali Christians dominate the BPO/corporate training space as much as Tamil Brahmins dominate IT. People from North East states dominate the hospitality industry. It so happens that each is comfortable sticking to certain lines of profession because this is what they are most familiar with and have networks. As long as everyone is happy and has a decent standard of living, I don't see anything wrong with it.

    Reservations are of no use if there are not enough qualified applicants from a community in the first place. In most cases, it it not because they get discriminated against in college, but because they choose to get into other lines of work, due to influences from within their own communities.

  5. 71% belong to upper castes (half were Brahmins)? are you kidding ?

    ok, lets assume that 71% really are. Is there any problem with it?
    Looks like you hate Brhamins and so called upper caste people.
    Now don't start with reservation blah blah .
    PS. I am not a Brahmin/FC.

  6. 71% belong to upper castes (half were Brahmins)? are you kidding ?

    ok, lets assume that 71% really are. Is there any problem with it?
    Looks like you hate Brhamins and so called upper caste people.
    Now don't start with reservation blah blah .
    PS. I am not a Brahmin/FC.

  7. Sujai:
    When I went to an engineering school, there were only about 5 Muslims in a batch of nearly 350 students. That made their representation around 1.5% while Muslims constituted nearly 14% of the Indian population.

    Go to any muslim minority college. The total population of non muslims would be much less than what you said above.

    There are not many Muslims in private schools, not many Muslims in engineering colleges, not many Muslims in the IT industry.

    Any citations or blatant speculation.

    When my wife went to submit the form, the school asked her to fill the religion otherwise it would rejected. The form also had other items like salary of the parents and their job qualifications.

    Schools ask for your religion because they need to submit the same to Govt.

    The selection must be done on the basis of religion, surname, and the salary criteria followed by a personal interview with the parents.

    Do you know that there are colleges specially built for minorities who provide admission and concession based on you religion but not on merit.

  8. Small is beautiful! Minority fetches votes! Cool, it even helps support separatist movement.
    Alas! We talk history but forget basic facts from this very History. Muslim were RULING CLASS in India for nearly a millennium. Until British consolidated its reign and even after majority of Indian land was ruled by Muslim rulers. Yet they are backward, discriminated and need reservations . Great Thought from MMTN.

  9. @Ledzius

    "Reservations are of no use if there are not enough qualified applicants from a community in the first place. "

    We need reservation to ensure there are enough qualified applicants from a community


    Partition is the main culprit. For example, my friend's company doesn’t employ any Muslim. His CEO's father was a refugee from Pakistan, so the CEO has inherited his father's bias

    Childhood conditioning is also a big culprit. I know one of the finest physicists of India who is ultra anti-Muslim 'cause he is from Nagpur and has been conditioned by the RSS since a kid.

  10. Count_Rupert_Of_HentzouApril 13, 2012 4:30 AM

    More mental gymnastics by the confused liberals who play identity politics when it suits them.

    You know, the same kind who go crazy when the VHP types say the same thing about Hindus.

    Moslems were the ruling class for 800 hundred years, followed by Christians for 200 years, who were then followed by the socialists.

    So where is the mythical, oppressive Hindu rajya?

    It is only in the minds of deluded fools who have been mentally enslaved by the English colonial masters and their Marxist counterparts. Rationalists, my buttocks!

    Classic imperialist white man's divide and rule agenda being played out through these morons collective bhejas.

    Let's see if these liberal-secularist-atheistic hipsters can convince our Moslem brothers to adopt uniform civil code.

    Not gonna happen. India is Dar-Ul-Harb. Our Moslem brothers will simply do a Moslem Brotherhood on the jhollawallas backsides. Lol!

    Infact, when moslems become the dominant majority, whiny lefties are almost always their first victims.

    Don't become extinct, Sujai!

  11. >>> We need reservation to ensure there are enough qualified applicants from a community

    Is there any study in India or elsewhere that proves this point?

    Pls. go through to understand how many jobs are unfilled in various reserved categories.

  12. Sujai,
    Your rhetoric that Muslims are discriminated is completely biased. No body stops anybody in this country from doing anything. How can some body stop Muslims from education, jobs etc. If they have manageable family sizes, then the priorities would change to the better!

  13. You give all these big talks about discrimination , but failed to hide your own prejudices .71% of IT people in Bangalore are Brahmins ..lolz. Way to go kid , keep blabbering .

    PS: Feel free to remove this comment :P

  14. Sujai,

    You do not understand the real problem. The problem has many angles and various reasons:-

    a) Muslims typically have large families limiting the resources that could be spent on children's education.

    d) The inbreeding(Cousin marriages) has depressed the cognitive ability of muslims. It is a well know fact that inbreeding depresses IQ.

    c) The large families ensure that the parents cannot spend enough time for educating and disciplining their kids.

    d)Islam is a inhuman ideology that actively instructs the followers to dominate and subjugate the non-muslims.

    e) Elite of muslims went to pakistan during partition.

    f) It is not uncommon to find Pakistani IT folks in USA and UK

    Please explore more about islam here:

    And yes, I am not a hindu but a atheist. Feel free to debate me on these issues.

    1. Python,

      Next time to you think of putting your point across please also bring some statistics and evidences to the table so that you sound rational. Just issuing statements can only convince the dumb lot.

      Coming to your points -
      a)Baseless! Large families is more related to socio-economical issues than to a a religion or cast. Go to a slum inhabited with people of all faiths and you will see most of them have large families. Go to a urban area in general you will see families across all faiths have 2-3 children. Ofcourse there are always exceptions across all faiths.

      b)Come down to southern states in India and you will see that cousin marriages thingy is as widespread as in muslims. So, again it has more to do with scientific awareness and regional cultural practice than to religion or caste.

      c)Non sense! Partly again a socio-economic issue.

      d)All religions are alike and so are its religious followers! Religion can be easily tweaked to suits one's vested interests and propaganda. Religious people do not think and question, they just blindly believe what is said to them. Islam is no exception. How different is Hindusim that follows the evil practice of caste based human division that is deeply rooted even today?

      e)May be you're right. But what do you imply here?

      And yes, I am an atheist too but after reading your comment you like more like a Hindu Atheist to me.

  15. Thanks for publishing my comment. I have been to other liberal sites. They simply delete the comments like these.

  16. Please know some thing before what you write.

    No one is responsible for the light of Muslims. They themselves are. It is they who prefer to send their children to Madrassas instead of modern education.

    More importantly you should know that Islam (KOran) teaches segregation. In many verses in Koran, we see that Muslims are not to make friends with non-Muslims.

    Another thing is family planning. Who is responsible for this? It is Muslims.

    Sachaar commission said about 5% of representation for Muslims in Govt. jobs.

    If there is discrimination, one will not see even that 5%.

    Do you guys know what is discrimination? What it looks like?

    I can write but moderation of comments menas I am not sure it will be passed through.

  17. Muslims were not the rulers of India before the british came it was a series of kingdoms with some kingdoms being muslim but the majority of the nation fell under Maratha rule and Sikh rule and of the Ahoms in the Northeast discrimination is obviously wrong but I hate it when muslims try to rewrite history and say they were rulers. When muslims ruled it was the Turkish Delhi Sultanate and the Turko-Mongol Mughal empire about 95% of the Muslims in India and Pakistan have no lineage to these peoples but always like to associate themselves with these Empires because they were in power and lots of Right wing hindu politicians choose to spread this lie so that they can say look how long the muslims ruled for and now they want reservations most muslims are lower caste converts that were converted by the sword by the very empires that they now want to associate with where is their ancestral pride. We live in a secular state so I will not question anyone's religious beliefs but be historically accurate and know that you probably wouldn't be muslim today if your ancestors weren't raped and tortured

  18. Incidentally, Islam has nothing to boast except the holy Qur'an written by their prophet. Everything else they claim credit for is either stolen or forcibly taken from other great civilizations like Persian, Sindhi and Indian.

  19. Muslims were ruling class in India for over 800 years. Reservations only make sense for those who had been systematically oppressed during the past. There are many muslim minority educational institutions at each and every level. I went to one such institution. In those institutions, muslim students display vulgar domination and oppressive attitude towards an otherwise majority community.

    Vast number of muslims don't relate themselves with India and its culture. They treat themselves as Arabs. They don't try to mingle with main stream populace but have a tendency towards segregating themselves through madrassas, special acts, law. Their religious heads covertly support acts of violence often by giving hate speeches every Friday. Global image of islam also has installed a kind of fear ( and rightly so) in the minds of other communities all over the world.

    India is more tolerant towards muslims than any other muslim country is towards Hindus. As long as muslims put their religion ahead of the land they live in, they would only remain segragated. That would not help their cause. Muslim leaders have a covert agenda in keeping the community ignorant and dormant. Vote bank politics of the so called secular parties also doesn't help.

    Reservation on basis of religion is anti-constitutional. First and foremost, an Asian muslim has a fundemental problem to deal with, an identity crisis. They have to learn to love their nation before their religion.

  20. >> They have to learn to love their nation before their religion.

    That's true. I heard one guy from pakistan say, how funny a muslim's affiliation is. They glorify foreign invaders who killed their forefathers, raped their women and plundered their wealth, hate their blood brother who fought for them.

    They fight against the west who treats them equally, lets them marry their women, grant their citizenship but lick the boots of Arabs who treat them like untouchables (literally).

    This can be only be possible by a completely washed brain over and over and over. Funny folks... and dangerous too.


Dear Commenters:
Please identify yourself. At least use a pseudonym. Otherwise there will be too many *Anonymous*; making it confusing.

Do NOT write personal information or whereabouts about the author or other commenters. You are free to write about yourself. Please do not use abusive language. Do not indulge in personal attacks and insults.

Write comments which are relevant and make sense so that the debate remains healthy.