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Beyond the figures

Seema Chishti has written an insightful article in The Indian Express (Minority Report, in numbers). It brings to light how the Muslim cause in India is a political card. Unfortunately, even the media seems to have fallen for this bait. Two extremes represent Muslims in the media - Muslims who have been accused of violent acts (so labelled 'terrorists') and victims of what is perceived to be an oppressive religion. Though I quite agree with Ms. Chishti's thoughts, the views in this blog are entirely my own.

The committee headed by Justice Rajinder Sachar has been 'revealing' figures about the sad state of Indian Muslims in every aspect - employment, literacy and income distribution. I do not understand to what end the Prime Minister has appointed this particular commitee (not that the others are doing ground-breaking work)? We know the state of Indian Muslims in India. Just quantifying the gravity of the situation is definitely not helping matters. After 60 years of Independence, Muslims who chose to stay with their mother country, who fought for its freedom, are still looked upon with suspicion - their minoritry status being exploited for political purposes.

There are two sides to this coin. I don't blame only the government, as the community itself has not been very forthcoming. They perceive an exxagerated hostility by the government, and refuse to bring in any change. Firstly, I think the government should focus on welfare on secular terms in all poverty-stricken areas of the country. If, according to the figures available, Muslims are proportionately poor, they will also benefit proportionately. Secondly, the media should ensure that religious undertones are avoided in any related news story.

For the community itself, they need to have a voice of their own. For this, they must end their internal differences. Why don't madarsas, which are being given a bad name, bring their representatives out and speak to the media instead of avoiding them or entering into meaningless arguments? If there are stereotypes being built about Muslims, we need to see how we helped create them, and then help in breaking them down. Muslim India desperately needs a sane, rational and progressive voice. While Islam recognises no intermediaries between man and God, the people who call themselves our leaders must first earn that title by washing away the moss that has gathered on the community by its own inertia.
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