Sunday, July 22, 2012

Segregation in India 2: Indian Muslims are not Khans or Kalams

India constantly refers to many Muslim Presidents they have had to showcase its tolerance and equal treatment of Muslims.  Nowadays many Indian Hindus repeatedly take the example of our erstwhile President, Abdul Kalam.  They say, ‘Look! We have had a Muslim as our President.  And he was selected by a Hindu Party!’ By saying this, they want to showcase India as a tolerant and magnanimous country that allows anyone to become the President of India, even a Muslim.  These Hindus also refer to the three Khans who dominate Indian Hindi Cinema – Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Amir Khan.  And they point out the cricketers like Yusuf Pathan and musician like AR Rahman.  They use these examples to say that Muslims are not discriminated in India, that they are not marginalized, that they get the same access to education and opportunity, that they are not unequal, that they are not second-class citizens. 

According to these Hindus, the Muslims are in fact ‘appeased’, they are given certain sops unnecessarily, like subsidies on Haj, and they are given special treatment unnecessarily, like special personal laws.  These people think that these ‘appeasing’ measures have a definite purpose - only to win votes.  They believe that Muslims are so naïve, so innocent that they could be beguiled by such silly sops, like Haj subsidy, to form a single vote bank.

‘Indian Muslims are appeased.  Stop this appeasement!’ they protest.  Each of these appeasements supposedly hurts Hindu sentiments.  Giving Muslim men the right to marry more than one woman, while Hindu men have to endure the pains of sticking to only one wife is just too much – the sheer injustice done to Hindus this way causes lot of heartburn to Hindus.  Allowing Muslims the right not to sing Vande Mataram while Hindus have to stand in a line, in rain or sun, and sing the song aloud causing sore throat is just too much – this hurts Hindus sentiments like no other.  Why are Muslims given these special exemptions while Hindus have to endure through these painful practices of sticking to one wife and singing Vande Mataram in sun and rain?

Why does each government bend over backwards to treat Muslims so special? Especially when they have every access to become whatever they want to in India?  Look at Abdul Kalam, look at Shah Rukh Khan, and look at Irfan Pathan!  Does it look like we discriminate Muslims? Doesn’t it show how tolerant India is of its minority religions?

The assumption that showcasing these prominent Muslims is somehow reflective of the status of a common Muslim is extremely flawed.

Let’s make it clear - Abdul Kalam is an exception.  Not many Muslims are represented in Indian Parliament or State Assemblies; they are not well represented in IAS or IFS, they are not well represented in Indian administration or Indian Army. 

Also, Abdul Kalam is not even a typical Muslim. He is a Bhagvad Gita toting, shloka chanting, and Saraswati idol displaying Muslim.  He does not actually fit the bill of ‘typical’ Muslim.   Same goes with Shah Rukh Khan.  They are not the typical Muslims that Muslims identify with.  They are actually far from it.  They are actually more palatable to Hindus than to Muslims.  Hindus love such Muslims who don’t show off their Muslim-ness.  The closer they appear to be Hindus the more they become acceptable.  You should write them off as exceptions. 

The presented argument is similar to women’s representation in Indian society.   Women representation in India is pathetically low.  In legislative bodies, India ranks 105 out of a total of 143 countries, lower than most Muslim countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan and others.  In corporate world, their representation is abysmally low.  However, Indians would like to cite the examples of Indira Gandhi, Jayalalita, Sonia Gandhi, Mayawati, etc., to showcase how progressive we are.  Actually, all these examples can be dismissed as exceptions. They are not reflective of ground realities.  All these women have earned fame ONLY because they were associated to other male personalities as wives, mistresses, daughters, etc.

Ugly Muslim

In fact, your average Muslim is an ugly Muslim, the way your average Hindu is an ugly Hindu.   This ugly Muslim coworker would suddenly vanish around noon to go to mosque and not show up for the meeting, the way your ugly Hindu coworker would suddenly vanish for few days to visit a pilgrim temple when there is an important delivery to make.   This Muslim coworker may sport a beard to work the way Hindu coworker may suddenly shave his head off and show up next day.  Your Muslim coworker will have funny dietary habits of eating beef much the same way as Hindu coworker who fusses over his vegetarian diet.

As an atheist, I find an average Hindu as ugly as average Muslim.  I tend to tolerate them both without making complaining too much.  To me, the average Muslims comes with quirks and idiosyncrasies much the same way your average Hindu does. 

But that’s now how Hindus look at Muslims, or how Muslims look at Hindus. 

Hindus have a much greater degree of tolerance to quirkiness of Hindus just because we are born into Hindu families.  As Hindus, it doesn’t bother us much when one of our coworkers suddenly springs a surprise on you that he won’t eat meat that day, or that he has to skip office to do a puja to ward off evil forces.  It doesn’t bother us much when one of your customers doesn’t sign an agreement or send a check on a Tuesday.   And yet, a Hindu finds the idiosyncrasy of Muslim far too intolerable, so much so that they don’t find them fit to be employed.

One Hindu friend while referring to her cousin’s Muslim husband told me that ‘he is so unlike a Muslim.  He is not religious.  He doesn’t even believe in God.  He is so nice’.  To be a tolerable and acceptable Muslim, one has to shed all Muslim-ness.  I have never been introduced in such good words by fellow Hindus – ‘He is such a nice Hindu, he is an atheist’.  

One fellow entrepreneur expressed surprise that I have Muslim employees at work though we are small company.   He asked me if we ‘face problems’.   He confided in me that they maintain a strict homogeneity because it makes things easier.   Most of the workers at his company are vegetarian Hindus.  He says that it makes lot of things easy, removing all complications. 

A Muslim friend looking for an apartment got favorable response till he disclosed his full name by which the owner got to know his religion.  Immediately the owner changed his stance and refused to rent the apartment.   Most Hindus rent out apartments to Hindus citing they just want to avoid ‘complications’, or that such a trend makes ‘things easy’.  [1, 2, 3, 4]  All these conveniences add up to discrimination and segregation of Muslims and we just don’t want to admit it.  In the apartment complexes that I am familiar with, most of them are invariably Hindu, and there is no Muslim family in 100 families.  That is not an exception – it is the norm.

I am not the only one who finds this odd.

According to Census 2001, Hindus comprised 80.46% of Indian Population, while Muslims were 13.43%. And, according to Sachar Report:
  • The socio-economic status of Muslims is lower than that of OBCs and a little higher than SC/STs.
  • In literacy, Muslims are far below the national average. 1 out of 4 Muslim children in the 6-14 year age group have never attended school or never finished school.
  • In premier colleges only 1 out of 25 under-graduate students (4%) and 1 out of 50 post-graduate students is a Muslim (2%).
  • Unemployment rate among Muslim graduates is the highest among all socio-religious communities.
  • The average amount of bank loan disbursed to the Muslims is 2/3 of the amount disbursed to other minorities. In some cases it is half.
  • The presence of Muslims has been found to be only 3% in the IAS, 1.8% in the IFS and 4% in the IPS. The share of Muslims in employment in various departments is abysmally low at all levels. Muslim community has a representation of only 4.5% in Indian Railways while 98.7% of them are positioned at lower levels.
  • Representation of Muslims is very low in the Universities and in Banks. In no state does the representation of Muslims in the government departments match their population share. Their share in police constables is only 6%, in health 4.4%, in transport 6.5%.
The list goes on.  I don’t need to include all the facts.  It is pretty clear that Muslims are being pushed out of the mainstream representation and it is being done silently without an explicit global mandate, but it is happening at a local level by Hindus who succumb to their natural prejudices.  These small and little prejudices add up to give you the grand picture where Muslim is discriminated and marginalized in India. 

The question we have to ask is whether we are living up to the fear of Mohammed Ali Jinnah who said that a Muslim will never the equal status in a country where Hindu is majority.  Are we that nation that Jinnah feared?  Or are we the secular nation that some of us continue to believe in spite of all the trends that suggest that are on the reverse path?
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  1. Thanks for writing this. I always learn a lot from your posts. Once again thanks for the time you spend on researching and writing.

  2. Parsis, Jains and Sikhs- they are all minority. But they are all developed. Average income of Sikhs, Jains or Parsis is much higher than Hindus. If Hindus practice discrimination , as Sujai is claiming, then why should only muslims be discriminated?

    Only muslims are responsible for their socio-economic status, literacy rate or unemployment. The Ghulam, Khalji, Tughlaq ,Sultan, Lodhi and Mughals ruled India. Still the muslims couldnt prosper. Whereas Jainism is a religion as old as Hinduism, Sikhism is younger than Islam and Parsis came from outside India- and they have all prospered. Muslims have failed to get their act together- why should rest of India pay a price for it?

  3. @United Indian,

    All other religions are a mere number in a count of 125 million.Muslims are more in number and strength than the comparative size of all the other minorities.

    The Mughal RULERS were from outside India, their subjects were Indians.Most of them converted, fearing taxes they had to pay during those times.That doesn't stop them from being Indian.

    In fact the Muslims in India are quite different from the Muslims in Syria, Afghanistan or say the Arab Nations. They have, like this article pointed out, have Hinduised as against to being Indianised to co-exist among the Majority Hindus.

    So what are we segregating them for?

  4. Great post brother. I have also been a Hindu who believed this vitriol and hypocrisy peddled by the right elements in Indian society (cutting across party lines).

    The people who talk about Hindu tolerance should also think about why there are no Buddhist monuments survive in a country which was predominantly Buddhist 2000 years back.

  5. As long as we all hear and not question leaders/politicians/parents who try to separate people based on "we are this" and "they are that???" and improving facilities only where they can go easily to make money/power, not even million Gandhi's or Mandela's can't do anything, but I am sure your article must have enlightened few people.

  6. "Allowing Muslims the right not to sing Vande Mataram while Hindus have to stand in a line, in rain or sun, and sing the song aloud causing sore throat is just too much – this hurts Hindus sentiments like no other."

    Are you sure it has nothing to do with the fact that Vande Mataram has National Song status, and not singing it will bring upon a shower of rage and fury on any non-Muslim person who does the same?

    "In literacy, Muslims are far below the national average. 1 out of 4 Muslim children in the 6-14 year age group have never attended school or never finished school. "

    Come now, you think the reason they aren't literate is because Hindus deny them admission to schools?

    Are you really the same person who said we shouldn't keep blaming everything on the government and do something about the situation ourselves?

    Lastly, United Indian said:
    "If Hindus practice discrimination , as Sujai is claiming, then why should only muslims be discriminated?"

    I completely agree with him.

    Christians have, in your own words, "quirks" that are almost as offensive to the average Hindu (such as eating beef).

    I'm not saying that Hindus don't discriminate, I'm just saying that you've blown your argument out of proportion.

  7. I do agree with few points on this, but I want to add few points. 1)Muslims are not a homogenous entity. They are also divided by Language, Class, Caste, regional differences. 2)The socio economic conditions are not same across. In few states Muslims are doing quite well ex: Kerala where they are represented well in politics, business, media. In states such as AP, TN they are doing OK. In UP they are well in represented in politics 3)When you say abdul kalam etc are not typical muslim, so who according to you is a typical muslim? How do you define him? One with beard and pray 5 times? Constitution doesn't give reservations based on faith, its only based on social backwardness. Few muslim castes (Dudekula ex in AP) are already under BC list.So thats why courts struck down muslim reservations. People like Abdul Kalam and many others who became chief ministers, governers, presidents, people in arts, films etc reaching to the top is a good example and shouldn't be dismissed as exception. Also many states have affirmative action like minority schools, colleges, loans, scholarships etc and still if muslims are backward its because they have not given priority to education and concentrated on non-issues. How come other minorities like sikhs, christians are doing well? Reasons of prejuidice against muslims which I feel are due to various reasons like Moghal rule for hunderds of years, british divide rule, partition of india, appeasement policies in post 1947 india, terrorism etc.
    Whatever maybe the prejudice against muslims in Housing by non-muslims is not good for a secular democracy.Muslims also should look at themselves why this prejuidices are building. All communities should consider religion as just personnel between human and god and not a rigid identity and also have more tolerance towards others who are different from us, so these problems willn't occur

  8. The kind of arguments made in here for Muslims in India can also be made for any community in India. If being President of India or Cabinet member or Chief Minister, or top movie hero and heroine does not count as advancement what else India can offer to a particular community. I have heard this kind of argument made for Brahmins as well.

    If anyone is losing sleep over the fact that Muslims are not represented adequately in each and every level of society in India, I request them to consider the following.

    Take the subcontinent to get your statistics. Combine the present day Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh and count the number of Muslims in each public endeavor. You will see that Muslims are not doing that bad after all.


  9. I agree tht u hav blown thngs out of proportion..we r not against muslims,but the major concern is their standard of living and stupid reasons to multiply wthout thnking as wht wil their family survive on??education is so low in school wil evr say no to thm.but they cant afford school orelse they prefer madsrsa..wht jinnah said was past tense..time has changed and the future is bad..mostly they r so rigid tht they dnt respect othr religion..they term othrs as kafirs..and ths is all cz of the wahabi preachers..wherelse smart and educated muslims r far betr.

  10. @sujai
    i think its would be better if u write a similar story about the other version as well-plight of hindus in muslim majority countries/areas

  11. Funny. Just see how Hindus live in Pakistan and Bangladesh - minorities there. Muslims in India are far better off.

  12. I thought India is secular country or may be the word secular has more connotations than I am aware of.

    Majority of non-Arab muslims Indian or otherwise, think they descended from the Arabs, when in fact they did not. Pakistan is an Islamic republic. But common muslim there, suffers more than a common muslim in India.

    May be the way forward for Indian muslims is to get Indian government to declare India to be an Islamic republic and tax all non-muslims for the betterment of Islam. Give free education (sharia and otherwise) to muslims as long as they want to study. Free food for all muslims. Free travel to Mecca - as many trips as they like. Make it strictly punishable by law, may be death sentence, if any muslim is denied a house for rent/sale. Build two mosques for every temple/church/synagogues. Allow muslims to have their own law, in which case if a muslim kills a non-muslim that's okay.

    After all, Indian history has not been wounded enough.

  13. Illiteracy and blind belief in the religion has to be blamed first for the plight of Muslims in India. Blind belief leading to population growth. Triple talaq system giving way to males to get 4 marriages and give birth to children as he wish. If one man has more children, how can he afford to give them quality life? This is the reason why Muslim kids are going to workplace in school going age. They have to feed their family. So, not pursuing quality education. Then how can they compete with other communities? Whose fault is this?

  14. Great article man! Amazing...Mind-blowing. Come on, lets fight for one thing that is sure to make a muslim's life better. Fight for a reservation of 14% - in academic institutions, govt jobs, politics, promotions etc. Negative discrimination can only be overcome by an equal and opposite positive discrimination.

  15. >> The people who talk about Hindu tolerance should also think about why there are no Buddhist monuments survive in a country which was predominantly Buddhist 2000 years back.

    Ask the Timurs, the Khiljis, the Baburs and unlike what our own history tries to teach us, the Akbars. Ask them who erected minarets of skulls. Ask them who destroyed infidels' places of worship. May be, you will get an answer from their descendants. Look for the discussions of Hasan Nisar, Najam Sethi -- few liberalist pakistani speakers.

  16. Sujai,

    any comments on "Innocence of Islam" and reactions in India?

  17. Sujai: I am visiting your blog after a long time but could not resist commenting on these 2 sentences in your post:
    "Not many Muslims are represented in Indian Parliament or State Assemblies; they are not well represented in IAS or IFS, they are not well represented in Indian administration or Indian Army."

    The Muslim representation in Legislative Assemblies or Parliament may be lower but is misleading since they hold the controlling vote in quite a few of the 500+ constituencies (one "revealing" comment in this regard was from a Senior Cong leader

    As for their representation in Govt Service, allow me to quote from ab article by Dr Sengupta in the Asian Age (quoted here "…It is true that the percentage of Muslims in government services has not been very high. But this is on account of the fact that, at the time of Partition, most Muslims in government service migrated to Pakistan, and a considerable vacuum was created which took an entire generation to fill up. This is not the fault of Indian democracy. And the vacuum is gradually being filled up.

    Another aspect which Shabana Azmi has overlooked is the fact that there is a much larger proportion of Muslims than Hindus who are self-employed, or have definite vocations in which they excel and which come to them by heredity, such as in the fields of glassware, carpentry, carpet-making, leather goods, meat production and distribution. It is not widely known that the wooden slippers used by Hindu monks are usually made by Muslims. So also are the fans which are used reverentially before images of Hindu deities in temples across the country. We need not talk about Bollywood, which is overwhelmingly dominated by Muslim actors, actresses and technicians, a fact which even the redoubtable Bal Thackeray has never been critical of."

    Pl also have a look at the post above for more on the Sachar Report. Thanks and apologies for the length of the comment. Jai Hind, Jai Bharat!

  18. Folks, better sooner you realize that Islam is a fanatic cult. Fortunately not many Muslims are educated to realize this. People should read about war lord Mohammed the founder of this religion to know better. All religions have primitive ideas, but Christians have evolved their beliefs and practices over time, Hindus are evolving, but not the Muslims. They will not evolve till they question their religion and adapt to modern times. They will not evolve if Mohammed is their role model in their lives. God save the world from new form of Nazism i.e Islamism.

  19. One Hindu friend while referring to her cousin’s Muslim husband told me that ‘he is so unlike a Muslim. He is not religious. He doesn't even believe in God. He is so nice’.
    Thats called taqqiya of Islam,The word muslim itself claim musalla iman,who has 100% believe in god.U need more to prof ur muslim atheist a hypocrite or u.hahahahahahahahaha...................

    1. Look brother learn what you speak about first "taqqiya" is a concept in Shia Islam, It is never acceptable under mainstream Sunni Islam which forms 80% of the Muslim population in India.........The problem with you people who have internet educated brains is that you believe anything and speak anything!!

  20. what was the point of this post?
    Muslims ruled this country for 1000 years - this is what these Muslims keep saying themselves.
    they can't live in peace with anyone-not even with their own kind.

  21. This blog has concocted details. You are just saying opposite to what the reality is. If a Hindu reads a Kalma and goes to a Mosque, he is a secular Hindu. If a Muslim like Abdul Kalam is at least tolerant towards another religion, he becomes a blasphemous, not so average, exceptional Muslim.

    The Sachar Committee report has ignored vital facts and reasons behind the lower rate of literacy, employment and other related areas. The vital fact here is that Muslims have grown much faster in population than Hindus. They are able to marry numerous women, give birth to hundreds of children etc. If this is the condition, will doling out subsides and reservation make any difference. Make a law that each Muslim can have only 1 wife and 1 child and see how the condition of Muslims in India drastically changes. If you give them sops and benefits, it will just help them get more wives and kids. Get to the root cause of all problems and tackle it there.

    About the living of Muslims in apartments, I do not know which part of India you are living, but here in Bangalore, all Hindus and Muslims live in same apartments. The sellers of the apartments are professional companies which never reject a buyer for his religion or any other cause, provided he has the money to buy.

    You had been talking about some Hindus not giving their houses for rent to Muslims, but did not talk about vice versa. In certain cases it is completely fine and even Muslims do the same. If you are a Hindu who eats pork and you go to a Muslim house to stay, they would probably refuse you from giving their house in rent to you. Similarly, many Hindus know that most Muslims eat beef which they do not like and hence may not give out their houses to them.

    On one point, you lost it completely. You were comparing Hindus and Muslims on how weird they are. But whichever examples you give for Hindus are always temporary and not regular, like he goes out for a Temple trip, shaves his head etc. And to say that Muslims do not get similar opportunities is completely false. I worked in a temple, heading the web development dept. A Muslim boy was working in my team as a developer. He asked for a 1 hour off every Friday for his prayers. We allowed him this privilege during office time, but said that he has to come 1 hour early to office or leave 1 hour late. This facility was not given to any other Hindu staff in the office. If they were inclined to pray, they were free to do so either before or after working hours. So, whatever you are telling in this article is false and just your very personal and inexperienced opinion, which does not reflect the reality.


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