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Mumbai: Before & After – 2

03 Dec

muslim_crowd

All right. Let’s talk about the Indian Muslim.

Taking a cue from the terrorists, who claimed they were striking a blow for the downtrodden Muslims of India, a number of people have started discussing the state of ordinary Muslims in India. However, while the terrorists were presumably talking about events like the Gujarat riots of 2002, most commentators have chosen to focus on the socio-economic state of Muslims in India, debating its effect on the possible rise of Islamic militancy in India. Pride of place in this context (especially in the West) goes to the Sachar committee report (full text here) that famously compared the conditions many Indian Muslims face to that of Dalits.

I find this fascinating. I’m no trained sociologist so feel free to correct me if you are, but the way I see it, if Dalits and Muslims are stuck in the same bracket in modern India today, then they arrived at that point from opposite directions.

The Dalits have been social outcasts for centuries; Muslims were the ruling class. Dalits were suppressed and discriminated against through their religion; Islam emphasizes brotherhood. Dalits were explicitly forbidden to study; Islamic scholarship remains famous even today.

So how did they end up swimming in the same troubled waters? Conventional wisdom (secular) would have it that it’s discrimination, plain and simple. Nobody will employ them, nobody likes them, nobody cares about them, etc. Conventional wisdom (communal) would have it that it’s all the Muslims’ fault. They don’t want to work, they don’t like Hindus, they don’t care about India, etc. Which one is correct?

According to me: neither. Instead, I have my own theory to offer.

India has spent so much time and energy over the past several years debating “Hindu tolerance” that we seem to have lost sight of one very important fact: conservatism isn’t the birthright of any one Indian community. Hindus might be all kinds of tolerant, but that doesn’t mean we don’t come fully equipped with a master set of orthodoxies, prejudices, superstitions and rituals that might well offend other communities. The Indian Hindu can be just as orthodox as the Indian Christian can be as just as orthodox as the Indian Jew can be just as orthodox as the Indian Muslim can be just as orthodox as the Indian Sikh can be just as orthodox as the Indian Jain can be just as orthodox as the Indian Parsi.

And recognizing this reality was the only way to govern India for a long time. For a country so obsessed with its past, we don’t much talk about the impact of Warren Hastings, the man who came up with a strategy for the East India Company to run its Indian empire, on modern India. His solution was that of successful colonizers (not mere invaders) throughout the ages: we’ll tell the natives what to do when it comes to criminal law, but let them do whatever they want when it comes to their personal lives.

This meant less headaches for the Company because all they had to do now was rubber stamp the ingrained practices of the locals, whatever their opinion of said practices might be, thus fostering a sense of gratitude amongst the newly conquered. This is why Raja Ram Mohan Roy had to campaign for the abolition of sati (albeit aided by Lord Bentinck’s disregard for Indian public opinion). It wasn’t that the British didn’t object to the custom – it was just more convenient to let things be unless the people themselves began to agitate for change.

Not surprisingly, this tradition continued once the British government took over from the Company after 1857. More surprisingly, we continued this practice of separate laws for separate populations once India became independent.

To be fair, this made sense at the time. In the 1950s, the wounds of the Partition and the frequently violent national debate that had led up to that event was still fresh in everybody’s mind. So one can understand why Nehru didn’t wish to create waves by pushing through an uniform civil code. It is not difficult to imagine how he must have felt when it came to the question of minority rights, especially Muslim rights.

It is therefore ironic that this sensitivity would end up costing the minorities dearly. Secure in his credentials when it came to Hindus, especially in the wake of Gandhi’s assassination, Nehru was able to flip off the Hindu Right and push through several law reforms for Hindus. And what we see now is that the Indian Hindu, who felt just as strongly about his religious convictions as any other Indian, was forced to deal with his disappointment. The Right would have you think this was a tragedy and an injustice – on the contrary, fifty years later, the Indian Hindu and his sister enjoy just about the same rights as any free people in the world (whatever be its implementation) while the same cannot be said about the minorities. We have better laws on almost every issue because it is not rooted in religious orthodoxy.

On the other hand, the Indian Muslim is still being treated in a manner adopted by the British to make sense of and govern a country that they couldn’t begin to understand when they established their empire. To appreciate the true lunacy of this system, imagine (it isn’t an altogether apt example but bear with me) Protestant England trying to make the Catholics feel more at home.

To find out what would most suit a Catholic, they call up the most conservative faction of the Catholic Church in Britain and ask them how the Catholics would like to live. When they’re told that all Catholics would like to ban a) abortion, b) birth control, c) divorce, d) women in the priesthood, and e) homosexuality, the British government helpfully makes all these things come true for the Catholics. The whole of England can choose the degree to which it wishes to be religious, except the Catholics. Oh, they can stay home from Mass if they want and refuse to keep Lent and call themselves liberals or whatever – but when their lives come into contact with the government, the government simply redirects them to the Church.

And it thinks it’s doing the Catholics a favor.

Then, to make things a little bit more interesting, an anti-Catholic segment of conservative Protestants starts screaming that the Catholics are getting a great deal out of the government and it’s just not fair to the Protestants who have their own pet causes they would like to see enacted into law.

In short, you have the Catholics being discriminated against by the government because they think this is a nice thing to do, and thanks to this discrimination, they consequently get pilloried by those who hate them.

The point I’m driving towards is that India is inherently discriminatory towards its Muslims. That much is correct. But what outsiders fail to realize is that it is not the result of anti-Muslim sentiment, it is the result of PRO-Muslim sentiment. And if the anti-Muslim crowd got its way and enacted an uniform civil law code, then they’d actually be acting in the best interests of the Muslim community much like Pandit Nehru once did for the Hindus. Welcome to India where up is down and down is up.

This isn’t to say the Hindu Right is acting out of the purest of motives. One of the rallying points for the Right’s call for an UCC, for example, has been what Mani Shankar Aiyar rather wittily called “the four wives of the apocalypse”. The Muslim and his four wives are having sex, lots of it, resulting in lots of little Muslims and in a couple of centuries or so, they’ll outrun us (read Hindu) all and then we’ll be back living under their bootheel. So make a stand today and stop them from multiplying!

I don’t know – maybe this argument just sounds better in rightwing drawing rooms? I’ve always found it rather nonsensical. For one thing (and this might shock you!), you don’t need a marriage license to procreate.

Secondly, polygamy is hardly sacrilege for Hindus and even though it is technically illegal, plenty of Hindus continue the practice including several prominent people, some of them even members of the BJP. And given the Indian Supreme Court’s decision conferring equal rights to couples in live-in relationships irrespective of legal status, if expressly barred from polygamy, there is nothing to stop Muslims from doing what Hindus like Dharmendra and atheists like MK Karunanidhi do – after al if multiple marriages are an act of faith then what do you care about the government’s opinion?

This is what I keep coming back to, even when I read the Sachar report – the challenges faced by Indian Muslims are pretty much the same as those faced by his Hindu neighbors. When I read the recommendations of the committee (better infrastructure, more schools, better roads, etc), I find myself wondering: well, and a Hindu or a Sikh or a Christian wouldn’t want or need these things?

That’s what is so creepy about the “India has 150 million Muslims who need attention right now” line of argument. It’s not that they don’t need the attention, it’s that people are walking around openly advocating that they receive this attention just in case they decide to suddenly explode into violent action. Hardly anybody seems to want any action based on basic civic duty; nobody is telling the government, “Hey bozos! This is your goddamn job! Do it!” – instead, everybody is saying “let’s take care of these guys coz they belong to the same community as these violent criminals and if we throw them a bone right now then maybe they won’t join those other guys”. It makes me wonder if the terrorists have already won.

I do not mean to suggest that there is no anti-Muslim sentiment in India. Of course there is, just as I’m sure there are Muslims who don’t look at Hindus very kindly either. I’m sure in an ideal world all religions will be able to peacefully co-exist for all eternity, but right here on planet Earth? Every single religion I can think of has run into conflict with at least one other and very few of them have the kind of history Muslims and Hindus share on the subcontinent. But we’ve gotten so entrenched in the habit of either defending such sentiments or denouncing it while occasionally denying it that we’ve gotten to a point where we can no longer discuss it.

To admit it is to mess with our mental image of ourselves and our nation as the epitome of peace, love and understanding – an image that is now intertwined with phrases like “ancient civilization”, “Hindu tolerance”, “fabric of India”, blah blah blah. And when we do admit its existence, we feel an overwhelming need to downplay it while turning somersaults to assure everyone that it’s somebody else’s problem. We can never attribute it to anyone we know or love. It’s always some faceless terrorist or rioter elsewhere (who’s always “driven” to it according to the Right, be it Hindu or Muslim) who feels that way.

But the problem with things that are somebody else’s problem is that we then have to trust them to come up with a solution. And why should they when it’s been working just dandy for them for so long?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s everybody’s problem when one citizen acts against another. And making us all equal before the law is an important step towards solving that.

[Previously – Mumbai: Before & After 1 – Pakistan]

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47 Comments

Posted by on December 3, 2008 in Life, Personal, Politics

 

47 responses to “Mumbai: Before & After – 2

  1. shweta

    December 3, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    Great writing Amrita- I wonder if there will be another war. definitely appears that way. And if it does, it will only increase HIndu-Muslim tensions.

     
  2. Sunil

    December 3, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    Hi again,

    This one I’m afraid is a terrible let down.
    Firstly if you are speaking about Indian Muslims – then you have to speak of them per se; all the thoughts here conveniently evades that by comparison with other Indian religious groups. This is important because, an Indian Muslim as a group came into being only with the formation of the state of India. So it skews the point pro ante – wrt the dalits which is a question of centuries.
    Secondly Indian Muslim is not a homogenous faction vis a vis dalits where the conflict of interests in in ‘rights ’ or ‘discrimination ’. It’s not like all Muslims came to being deprived from a position of excess. Muslims in India for many centuries have been most deprived, both in values and world view thanks to their rulers who amassed wealth.
    Three while it is easier to delineate conservative and orthodox factions or practices in other religions, wrt Islam it becomes terribly hazy. For instance – where would you put a muslim who would believe that there is no history before 632 AD?

    Question of Hastings: well it’s a time warp argument, but he just articulated and hit upon a solution to run a government without fumbling the process. The sole purpose of India was to be a productive colony to the empire. The priorities are different. British never intended to convert Indian population or cohabit within its territory.

    It’s terribly disappointing to see fantastic arguments about UCC vs. Muslim law. You seem to completely overlook the fact that a group or faction has the right to fight for whatever it wanted anytime. Well at least India promises that. Muslims anywhere in the world , by their religious definition find it hard to accept that. Except for Indian Muslims, fragments of Muslim populations in first world and the entire converted pacific populace there isn’t a group where Muslims comprehend the idea of rights which is a hostile British invention to corrupt and dilute Islam. So what is all of the talk about Indian Muslims being ‘ not given this or ‘ given that’ etc. The sole reason why Indian Muslims have a bit of respect and identity in the world is because they adhere to the meritocratic values Indian constitution espouses. Regard Pakistani Muslims who are either zealots at lower rung or hoarders of wealth at the upper rung. Further the entire example of English catholicism v Protestantism is the inverse . 1. India – the democratic state did not appropriate the state and the government from Islam- or Indian Muslims; in fact Pakistan did for their religious identity. 2. Protestantism was in direct conflict with Catholicism in medieval England, here – as you know secular democratic India promised an Indian Muslim all the rights of the constitution + the religious rights, something which was systemically dismantled all over England in the next few centuries. 3. Catholics were still English , they did not carve a catholic France out of England. Indian Muslims had a choice in 47 and those who believed in India have been rewarded ( in spite of all the problems) and we are proud to have them, than those who did in Pakistan. That’s evident.

    I don’t believe Indian Muslim is discriminated. – I wonder if people understand the weight of the word when they use it. But yes, India is becoming more and more wary of Indian Muslims; or that cute European word – alienate , but that is because not that Indians ’discriminate against muslims’ but because India and the world cant tell the difference between a fundamental Muslim and a secular Muslim.

    To expect the world to distinguish them , when they themselves cant is the problem.

     
  3. M

    December 3, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    Amrita,

    great points and writing – why are you writing a *book*? Shouldn’t you be a beareaucrat someplace doing just this? 🙂
    😀

    The thing is, this has been pointed out many times – I’ve heard this argument for a UCC so many times while growing up (too many lawyers in the family), but it seems like no politician wants to touch this with a barge pole because it is such a political flashpoint for them – and of course the muslim clerical establishment doesn’t want to see any revoking of their powers, so fight it any chance they get.

    I wonder if muslim activists, (i.e. those who work with/for muslims) have brought this up. Is there any way of disseminating this information to the wider muslim population, or would it be futile – and would the people who most need the reforms fight for this?

    Given the spread of TV in India, it seems like there should be some way for organizations not affiliated with the govt. (and so hopefully, not tarred with the brush of political self-interest) to publicize this issue – or are the consequences too scary for any org to take on?

    M

     
  4. bollyviewer

    December 3, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    I agree with you that a uniform civil code or at the very least, an update of the Muslim Personal Law is an outcome very much to be desired. And yes, it is discrimination against Muslims (not for them) to not do so. Whether that will solve the current communal tensions or not is something else again!

    As to how Dalits and Muslims ended up on the same rung of the ladder, has it occurred to you that they are there together because they started from the same place? Not all the Muslims in India were rulers. A lot of them were converted Dalits who sought to escape (and still continue to do so) the curse of being a low caste, not realising that in India its easy to change religion but impossible to change caste!

     
  5. ravi nair

    December 3, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    History is just that HISTORY and trying to compare the past to present day radical Islam is wrong.

    No one in India, should be above the law-Hindu, Muslim, etc, etc. The law of the land should be one and the same for everyone. If Muslims in India, want their SHARIAT-then a lot of them will be headless, handless,legless, eyeless. Check who commits most of the crime in India % wise. They want 4 wives for sure :-), hai na?

    In this day and age, you must be held personally responsible for what your children learn. Send them to a Madrassa and you’ll get a wonderful militant Islamist. Send them to a school which teaches science and fact and you get a human being, who can use his practical knowledge in the world and raise himself from poverty.

    A state is strong, if it’s leaders are strong. That is not the case in India. Where else in the world, would someone like Mayawati, bleed the coffers so openly and brazenly with no accountability?

    Pakistani Muslims have killed of the Hindus in Pakistan to less than 2% of the population. Now compare that to India, where Muslims have more than doubled in numbers. They are on the path to prove their Islamiyat to Saudi Arabia on a daily basis.

    Like Bush said after 9/11, now is the time to tell Indian Muslims:

    “YOU ARE EITHER WITH US or AGAINST US”

    Simple as that. Stand up and be counted.

    Let history be,..looking back solves nothing.

     
  6. Vikram

    December 3, 2008 at 10:32 pm

    First off, Sunil, absolutely brilliant comment and analysis.

    Indian Muslims are not discriminated against. This ‘holier than thou’ attitude of the west, especially after the civil rights movement in the US is just a reflection of the under the surface racism that manifests itself as ‘westism’, i.e. anything from the west is inherently superior to anything else.

    Let me give you an example, the much vaunted Christiane Amanpour of CNN said something like, while America is attacked because the terrorists hate American ‘values’ (yes the Americans love that word too), Mumbai might have been attacked because of the status of Muslims in India.

    Well guess what, neither India nor America were attacked because of their ‘values’. To see this one just needs to remember that the principal target of Al Queda for many years has been the Saudi government ! Not exactly a beacon of democracy.

    Terrorist groups do have political objectives, in Al Queda’s case the principal aims are to end Israel’s hold over the West Bank/Gaza and the removal of American troops from Saudi soil. They just have terrible self-defeating ways of trying to achieve them. In India’s case, the objective for many years was to end India’s hold over Kashmir and now its supposedly to ‘avenge’ the riots that our state is unable to prevent, although the motive the latest attacks is not clear to me yet. They forget that this is going to further polarize the situation against the broader Muslim community in India.

     
  7. dipali

    December 3, 2008 at 11:20 pm

    I like your analysis. A uniform civil code is long overdue, methinks. As well as a decent infrastructure that takes care of the rights of every single citizen of our country.

     
  8. apu

    December 3, 2008 at 11:56 pm

    Excellent piece, Amrita. Totally agree that the government really needs to do something about social justice, though not as a bone to the poor or to Muslims. I have no sympathy with Western journalists who claim that the poor state of India’s Muslims is the reason for violence. Please. The reason for violence is some people thinking that it’s ok to kill others to get what they want. We need to be clear on that. That doesn’t mean there is no discrimination in India, and we shouldn’t be hiding that.

    On the UCC – I’m all for it – but it amazes me how often the Hindu right portrays the Muslim Personal laws as a “brownie” given to Muslims, when it should be obvious to anyone that they are pulling down the community. Remember Shah Bano?

    On the Dalit Vs Muslims point, I think you’re a little off track, as others have pointed out.

     
  9. sachita

    December 4, 2008 at 1:57 am

    Amrita,

    That was a lovely arguement, Muslim personal law actually being a bane to muslims, shah bano case indeed.

    1. Are Muslims lagging behind in larger percentage than rest of the country or is it just that like rest of the nation? I mean the nation has progressed a wee bit but we still have 33% of the population below the poverty line. In which case, aren’t the hindus below the poverty line affected too? wouldn’t they serve as breeding ground for hindu extremism?

    2. But I am not sure what is the cause for their problems today. The prejudice must have been there for centuries anyway but before they might have had a upper hand as part of the ruling community. I do feel Muslims might be discriminated today. I have personally heard so many prejudices against them in my life that I wouldn’t be surprised if they faced it in their professional life too.

    3. Religious Orthodoxy and economic educational progression aren’t
    mutually exclusive. My parents are orthodox and so are so many well educated well placed people I know.

    I am not sure Dalits converted to Islam. I thought people converted to Christianity to get rid of the caste isms not Islam. Islam conversions to my knowledge have been either for the religion itself or due to the Islamic ruler.

    And let us not forgot it isn’t the hindus who don’t want a UCC it is the Muslims:)

    Also, UCC isn’t going to happen anytime soon whichever way you look at it, even BJP which has started looking at the muslim votes wouldn’t implement it.

     
  10. Mamma Mia! Me A Mamma?!?

    December 4, 2008 at 2:00 am

    Excellent piece! Very insightful and articulate! Get this published in a newspaper…more people need to read this!

    I also think that a UCC is the way to go!

     
  11. temple oak

    December 4, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    The question is not whether UUC stays or goes. right now the question is what would prevent further alienation of muslims in India.
    One thing to understand in relation with the current terrorist attacks is that islamic terrorists want another gujarat carnage. because whatever said and done they dont have influence over the majority of Indian muslim population. they know very well that attacks that they are conducting right now are not going to produce any effect on its own. are they fools to expect that after the attack in mumbai India will abdicate Kashmir? what they need is mobilisation of an militant army in their favour. it can occur only with further sharp reactions from the right wing in India.
    i dont think that indian muslim is concerned with who gets Kashmir. But when a riot occurs in Indian soil it makes him insecure. if he loses faith in law it is the true victory of the militants.
    i see a lot of hard liners around here. but let me ask one thing. if such a situation arises in which every indian muslim starts to strap bombs around them what is that they are planning to do? do you think it can be handled by force? sending everyone to prison? setting up ghettos? gasing them? Al-Queda will be having a ball.
    what i have to say is that at this juncture there is no point in comparing two population groups or taking two different eras and comparing. every situation is unique. the current muslim population is unique in its inherent paranoia and insecurity and its tendency ot seek cross national solidarity. one can say ‘ if they are paranoic its their problem.’ i would say its everyone’s problem. long lasting changes cannot be brought about in a mind set with brute force. there is no point behaving like the elder brother who is pissed off because parents take sides with the younger one. shrewdness and stable reflexes is the need of the hour.

     
  12. nits

    December 4, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    Hi Amrita – just a clarification. Are you suggesting that the Sachar report is propaganda or misguided well-meaning “facts” at best? I know there are SIMI activists themselves who contend that the report is hogwash so I’m genuinely asking.

    If I do take that report and various statistics at face value – whether discrimination comes about from pro or anti muslim sentiment is not relevant to me anymore. Yes the retrospective is helpful. But to use that logic to contend then that Indian muslims are not discriminated against at all is hard for me to stomach.

    Comparing Indian muslims to the plight of those in pakistan and Afghanistan is not an excuse for marginalization – it’s like saying ” You’d be worse off elsewhere, be thankful that you can at least enjoy the bare minimums of what India provides you.”

    Yes lots of people are discriminated against and under the poverty line in India. Where I believe (and I have no idea how to empirically back this up) discrimination plays in is lack of opportunity. Again I cannot prove this but I believe that Muslims in India face not inequality (because it is most definitely an unequal country for everyone) but a sharper lack of opportunity (this is my theory, wonder what you think). Dalits can come out kicking and screaming with a bust of Ambedkar and ask for rights. But Muslims have been disenfranchised to the point that their own leaders have not taken up cudgels for them in a long time. Mayawati spoke up for the Dalits. That wasn’t my problem either but it didn’t matter because she did. The Muslims aren’t my problem but no one is taking ownership for it inside or outside of the community. That disturbs me and reeks of discrimination not just on a law and policy level.

     
  13. Kanishka

    December 5, 2008 at 12:16 am

    Very interesting piece

     
  14. umang

    December 5, 2008 at 6:55 am

    I am really grateful for your comments.

    really its naked truth…

    nice,

    thanks

     
  15. ravi nair

    December 5, 2008 at 7:56 am

    Ethnic Cleansing of Hindu Pandits in Kashmir

    Watch this video and tell me that we Hindus have to stand for this in our own country. As an Indian, can I buy land in Kashmir?

    For all the muslim apologists, stop it once and for all.

     
  16. Hades

    December 5, 2008 at 11:25 am

    Very sane article.

    Muslim personal law screws the Muslims the most. In fact, to be precise, the poor ones the most. I doubt you’d see middle class Muslims with 3 wives. I find it mildly amusing to see people going on about benefits to the Muslim community when all they get is a set of antediluvian laws.

    The thing is that to large extent MPL (Muslim personal law) has been put in opposition to UCC which is, I find, stupid. It scares the Muslims off, giving rise to a bogey of “Hindu domination”. Nobody even talks about the option of reforming MPL itself without a UCC. We either have the Congress to scared to touch MPL with a barge pole for fear of scaring off its vote-bank or the BJP who wants to do away with MPL altogether in one fell swoop, for reasons that aren’t altogether genuine.

     
  17. Hades

    December 5, 2008 at 11:30 am

    Oh, and btw, in these times of blogs with names like ‘Random thoughts of a demented mind’, I must clarify-I meant sane in a good way.

     
  18. Aspi

    December 5, 2008 at 11:52 am

    So much to read so was slow in getting to this – but enjoyed reading it. I love oversimplifying things so I’ll say this: Terrorism is a class issue.

     
  19. Amrita

    December 5, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    Shweta – I think it’s highly unlikely. There’s just too much going on for the govt to take that decision. But then we’re currently being governed by a bunch of idiots so who knows.

    Sunil – well, that’s okay, we don’t have agree about everything 🙂 When you say I have to speak about the Indian Muslims as a separate issue, you miss my basic argument: for 60 years we’ve been talking about the Indian Muslims by ignoring the “Indian” part of the moniker. We keep looking at them like they’re some separate monolith faction who operate from different compulsions than the rest of us. We forget that there are Indian Christians, Indian Jains, Indian Parsis, etc who’re in the same boat… except they don’t have a country full of their religious brethren camped outside our gates with nukes. We’re continuing the two nation theory inside our nation.
    Secondly, it’s true that all Muslims haven’t all been rich and successful throughout the ages. Which is an ackowledged problem with the Dalit-Muslim comparison.
    Thirdly, why would you want to differentiate between Islamic factions? We don’t do that with Hindus when we’re looking at Hindu law. And in any case, I’m not advocating a different kind of Muslim law, I’m advocating UCC.
    Fourthly, the issue of Hastings is not about history alone. For one thing, he wasn’t the first man in history to come up with this idea. The Romans did it, Alexander did it, the Mughals did it, a whole bunch of people have done it when they were struggling to establish an empire on foreign shores. It’s pretty much standard operating procedure if you have your eye on a bigger prize than winning cultural converts.
    The problem with your “people have the right to agitate for what they want” argument is that the govt made this decision on its own after Independence because it was the convenient thing to do. And after that it went on being convenient to let the status quo stand rather than reform anything. And when they did make changes, it was once again the govt making the call and following the most conservative stand for the community as a whole because it made political sense. And the reason why politicians continue to keep UCC off the table (or want it back on for that matter) is not because they’re firmly committed to democratic principles, it’s because they can’t be bothered and because this makes more sense politically speaking.
    But we might be just disagreeing on what our ideas are of democracy as an institution. I’m just opposed to special interests determining policy.
    PS – as far as the catholic example goes it wasn’t supposed to be a literal, go back in time example. It was substitute these elements in that scenario in this point of time and see how it works. And Catholics have definitely been suspected of being fifth columnists in the pay of foreign interests (you forget the present English crown to start with included what is today parts of France) and anti-national so to speak which is why theyre still not allowed to marry the British heir.

    M – argh, have you been talking to my dad? 😛 Well, see that’s the thing… in all these years, I’ve never even heard of anyone saying hey, this is an Indian problem and a lot of people are getting screwed over – why does the Right have a monopoly on this issue? The answer is of course that we don’t have anyone around who has the moral courage and the moral certitude to do anything of the kind. To do anything of the kind you have to a)believe it and b)actually not have an anti-Muslim bent.

    Bollyviewer – huh, I never thought of that. When I think of Islamic converts, I just picture random Indian, I never really thought about caste. You’re right of course. Which just makes me more convinced that the Sachar report is talking about an INDIAN problem. The sentiment aspect of it, I really don’t know what the governemtn can do to make Indians *feel* differently about their fellow citizens. Passing laws isn’t gonna do that, y’know?

    Ravi – you’re about six years behind the times. Here’s an article that you should read. besides, how are IMs supposed to stand and declare their commitment to India? If a person is willing to kill himself, you think he’d be incapable of standing up and lying his face off? What you’re asking us to do is to look at 150 million of our fellow citizens with suspicion forever more. Not where we want to go as a nation.

    Vikram – I agree with the bulk of your comment re: al Qaeda and its motive et al. But I do think there’s an actual discrimination at work here, which is a totally (internal) separate issue. Also, if you want to keep your sanity, then do as I do and don’t listen when Westerners start talking about India.

    Dipali – Amen.

    Apu – I do remember the ShahBano case. I was a kid when it took place but even years later I can see the ripple effects of it.

    Sachita – 1) That’s what I’m thinking as well. There are Muslim dominated pockets of the country which are dreadfully poor, just as there must be Hindu dominated pockets of the country that are the same. I think its a lot more likely for them to join organized crime than terror outfit which require you to not only give up your life but also eschew all pleasure in life beforehand.
    2)Ditto.
    3) THANK YOU!!! This is exactly what’s been running through my mind and I guess I forgot to make it clear as crystal as I rambled on above.
    I don;t think Dalits converting to Islam is the point the Sachar committee was trying to make – Dalit in this instance is I think shorthand for “people who are really poor and discriminated against”. As for the UCC – you know, we’ve never actually had a public debate about it. The Right has hijacked this issue and taken it to their bosom to such an extent and sort of inextricably made it a “Muslim issue” that we don’t even know what the deal is. It would be nice to see more people talk about it.

    Mamma – ha, that sounds like work 😀

    Temple – yup, that pretty much sums it up for me.

    Nits – I actually don’t know. I’m pretty certain there were political compulsions behind its tabling, so that makes me sceptical but I’m also sure there are actual facts in there. The issue is that those are facts that might well apply to non Muslims as well and I’m sort of wary about tackling this complex issue as “all Muslims are the same”.
    I’m sure there is discrimination of the kind you mention – I agree with that totally – but I don’t see how either reservations, which Muslim leaders asked for, or the commendations of the Committee are going to help. To me, the discrimination stems from us treating the Muslims as something separate from the general populace. It’s one of the reasons why I’m so against reservations as a solution to anything – it simply reinforces the separateness imo.

    Kanishka, Umang – thanks 🙂

    Hades – Like I was telling the others, the Right has pretty much camped out on this issue and we really need to reclaim it. And the rub is that we can’t unless we actually find someone who has the moral courage to do it. Argh.

    Aspi – and it might well be the wrong class than the one everyone is fixated on! Irony.

     
  20. ravi nair

    December 5, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Amrita, India is about 6-7 years behind in their thinking which has not allowed it to look at reality. Calling oneself a super power does not make INDIA one. Superpowers do not hesitate to take action and we are being held hostage by Indian Muslims as a whole. I am on a binge now reading books by Walid Phares.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walid_Phares

    If you can get your hands on his books in India, please do so and you will see what I am talking about.

    My thoughts are based on important facts due to dealing with Kashmiri Brahmins, Indian Muslims, Persians, Middle Easterners and some Pakistanis and Bangladeshis.

    I also hope that you know about the Qu’ranic term of
    Taqqiya, which means deception. Muhammad approved it. Even the most “enlightened” Muslims approve of it, at least in a war situation.

    If Muslims globally want to subjugate us to their violence, then it is time for Hinduism to stand up to tyranny. Has our past Indian history taught us nothing? I would be perfectly at ease to treat Indian Muslims as second class citizens, just as Muslims treat us as 3rd class citizens globally.

    For them you and I are just Kaffirs and even below Jews or Christians, all based on the fact that we are Hindus. You are most certainly welcome to try and live with Muslims and knowtow to them 🙂 in any manner you want to, however the larger question is when push comes to shove, then where do you think most Hindus would lie, in my corner or yours?

    Yes, I choose to fight and would never give up my right to practice my faith the way I want to do without any encumbrances.

     
  21. Sunil

    December 5, 2008 at 11:18 pm

    Hello again Amrita,

    Going to write in more detail , just a quick snapshot of a response, because I can see some misattributions from your side:

    1. If you mean muslims in India ( not Indian muslims) then it stems longer than sixty years, and even within sixty years there have been efforts for reforms which have been resisted like hell. There is no land on earth where muslims live together with other cultures and have not been seen as the ‘other’. Muslims, as against other religions with all the education and reforms are still willing to blow themselves as we all know. Why is islam greater religion than others , (which have been slowly made defunct) when there is the ipod? I wonder why no one talks of victims and reforms when there is a gangwar?

    2. I mentioned about the wealth to highlight the inverseness in the comparision between muslims and dalits, which frankly is unfair- yes, both of them are deprived now doesnt mean they are in the same basket. Fruits but apples and oranges. Social – religious.

    3. Given the terror, we would like to know who exactly is going to run amok with a AK 47 and therefore to target the reforms at them? A hindu or a jain isnt going to blow himself next week is he?

    4. You brought in hastings.That he wasnt the first adds nothing to the argument. So he wasnt the first so?

    I think you are grossly mistaken about government made this decision thingie. It’s just lack of knowledge and I am going to expand on that.

    5. If catholic example wasnt a comparison I wonder whats it doing in an argument to say Indians discriminate against muslims? And dear, again, not allowed to marry the british heir isnt serving your arument. Besides , we are talking statue and democracy here, not monarchy.

    Im gonna expand on the evolution of some of the incredible sentiments I have noticed on this page.

     
  22. Sunil

    December 5, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    Reading the post again and the new comments, I wonder if I am the only one here who feels that the sentiments expressed are incredibly patronizing? I mean in every other sentence in the post and the subsequent comments on the Indian Muslim is written in passive voice. Like – from the top of my head here –
    Indian Muslim is still being treated…. such and such…
    We need to help to advocate UCC..
    We got to reform Muslim law etc etc…
    In each argument an Indian Muslim is assumed to be passive, a thing, and an entity who needs to have things done to him. This I find incredibly fascinating, more so an irony when people argue for the advocacy of UCC.
    To go back the point I highlighted in my first comment you have reached a premise that India is inherently discriminatory towards Muslims, after a lengthy conflated post that cut across different times in history in different cultural , social contexts without ever giving any proof of discrimination against Muslims by India. This reduces your argument to just a single belief. Beliefs are subjective values good for each man on the street.
    As I have said before, I notice that some of the sentiments seen (both in the post and in many comments) that India discriminates her Muslim subjects stems from the lack of understanding of the word discrimination. Firstly, It is an European word, ( just like democracy) and quite evidently most of us misuse it ( again, just like democracy).
    Let’s consider an example: imagine there is a group of people waiting for a public bus in a bus station. And
    1. If a Muslim passenger is not allowed to get into the public bus while others are, and
    2. If Indian constitution condones such an act either by law or by practice then INDIA discriminates against Muslim subjects.

    On the other hand, If a person X is driving his tata sumo on the way to ladakh and refuses to give a lift to a couple of long bearded Muslim youth for being Muslims ( for whatever may be his reasons), I agree it’s not an admirable thing but I am afraid it doesn’t amount to discrimination. It’s just good old prejudice. Similarly If Shabana Azmi is refused a flat in Mumbai, then it isn’t discrimination( some women don’t want to marry smokers, are they discriminating against them? )
    We need to understand the hierarchy of rights – an individual’s positive freedom overrides another’s negative freedom as long as the latter is the rightful owner of the freedom. ( Isaiah Berlin anyone?) So I can turn down to marry a non vegetarian – because my right to marry a vegetarian overrides her rights to marry anyone. Plus, the statue of India promises a redressal system for such acts, if you want to contest the grievance. Not on telly talk shows.
    But hey, India is full of such prejudices…Iyers dont want to marry lower castes, Sikhs pity Mallus, Mumbaikars mock ghatis the list is endless. I know all of this is changing but it’s still predominant. The idea I point out is the difference between prejudice and a discrimination; while the former is personal value system , latter becomes a systemic , ideological segregation and acts based on such segregation. Gujurat for instance. As I have said in the comment before, I do understand there is more and more alienation and bias against Muslims in India. But that doesn’t make India discriminatory against Muslims.
    The reason why we find hard to understand it is because, as a culture we already have accommodated ourselves to a hundred prejudices.
    For instance, given the history of habeas corpus, while there are no issues in a Jew marrying a Mormon in Europe, a Sikh marrying an Iyengar is still an issue in India, whether we like it or not. So even as a non practicing Hindu I can marry anyone In USA I can’t do the same in India without attracting social-religious sanction( subject to class of course) So discrimination is a different word in an Indian democracy than a western democracy. In fact if you strictly apply the democratic rules India favors minorities by discriminating against the majority. All men are not equal in India as in UK or US. (Yeah, I dont want anyone to be jumping on me about reservations; I’m okay with them.)
    So, in the context, how come one personal prejudice is acceptable with no urgent need to reform or to take care( let capitalism take care of it), while the other prejudice is to be solved pronto?
    The answer is quite simple. Violence. The way in which Muslim tend to highlight their grievance is by violence. Time and again. There have been wonderful movements in this country without resorting to violence – e.g. The Dravidian movement comes to mind, a successful socio-political power change. But with the question of Muslims, it would be naive not to believe that the reason why we are having this conversation is because of the risk of violence inherent in the problem, (which also incidentally today happens to be the reason for prejudice.) But that’s a different debate.
    I have nothing against UCC or reforms of Muslim law but it’s too late to be thought of as a solution and as the solution; It’s not like you impose it and the problem is solved. Given the resistance, I think we need another century for that to have any reasonable effect on the community. But I agree with you, the idea of reforms can’t be ignored either, they have to go on together.
    Now the most important bit:
    Further, you seem to entertain the idea that muslim law was imposed on them by the government because that was thought to be in the best interest of the nation. I am afraid to say that you are absolutely mistaken. You got to look up on the history of muslim resistance to the universal civil code , which started initially as far back as 1870s ( Hastings as I said just bumped into the solution, he did not make it up) to the Muslim demands in 1929 and great dilemma of the government of India act of 1935 which eventually led on to the Muslim personal law act of 1937. Not that Hindus were terribly civilized at that time, If I am not mistaken I think Sharda act was passed in 1929, so it’s not like Brits were just playing polo and having tea, leaving Indians to being what they are. The fact is, regardless of all the intricacies, Hindus welcomed reforms while Muslims resisted it, as it directly threatened their identity which was and mostly now is exclusively religious.
    Even when the nation was sliced, the resistance by Indian Muslims was immense to have UCC. After independence, lets not be under any illusion that no effort was made to reform. I don’t think I need to mention about Muslim law board and the Bano case, when surprise suprise…all the Muslims found a voice and representation all of a sudden to reverse a judicial decision. So I don’t buy this theory of Indian muslims being victim and helpless and things being done to them by the thoughtless leaders and government. The problem is Muslims, esp the lower rungs cant easily let go of their religion because it forms their sole identity without which they feel terribly lost in the post-modern capitalistic world? ( I think there was lovely essay about this on Balkans serbs by Naipaul?)

    Therefore the question starts there- Not what should happen to the Indian Muslim like written in the post but what does the Indian Muslim want? from Shahrukh khan to, Sania Mirza to Karim the mechanic in lucknow? We have no right to decide for them. We can engage with them, but they have to decide for themselves. That’s the idea of secularism. Now that has to be the terms of engagement – how we can find representativeness within Indian Muslim community to talk to with reason without either compromising the idea of India or posing a threat towards muslims who , regardless of their problems, constitute an integral part of the idea of India as anyone else. And how we can strive to cut down on the violence put by and against Muslim community?
    The moderate peace loving Muslim is/ has been in favour of UCC while fundamental Muslim is hostile towards it. The idea is for us to help the the former to find a means to sell the UCC and other democratic values to the latter , without making him feel like he is becoming an infidel.
    Given the Indian dynamic, Personally I would be surprised if this happens without significant blood shed.
    Have a nice weekend, ye’all
    Cheers

     
  23. temple oak

    December 7, 2008 at 12:43 am

    @ sunil

    i dont think that the moderate muslim is in either favour or is against UUC. he is not pre occupied with this issues and he is not organised. he is going on with life just like any other middle class individual.
    naturally what we hear is the strong loud voice of the fanatic minority.
    the issue is how to make them aware that if they dont stand up it would affect their own survival.
    the basic problem is that muslims in india unfortunately didnt develop a identity, a face seperate from their relegious identity. so all their leaders are relegious leaders.
    gandhiji’s thoughts had strong hindu philosophical undercurrents. but no one considered him a hindu leader. such a leader has to arise from the muslim population.

     
  24. sachita

    December 7, 2008 at 5:09 am

    Amrita,
    “Religious Orthodoxy and economic educational progression are not
    mutually exclusive. My parents are orthodox and so are so many well educated well placed people I know. ”
    I thought this went against your post? I thought you had said, muslim personal laws are not really pushing them out of religious orthodoxy and that is what is stopping their progression?

    I partly agree with comments from Sunil and partly don’t.

    I have issues when the people think Hindu Majority has to act all mature and try to make the muslims secure. Hindus and Muslims are insecure alike, the onus is on the government to treat them equal, not give the minority preferential treatment and expect the majority to understand.

    On the other hand, Sunil, I don’t care for terminology but for a person, being denied a job or an apartment in the name of religion affects his livelehood. what you term as prejudice or discrimination affects them in that process, you choose examples carefully didn;t you, what if somebody doesn’t stop by my shop because of my religion? whaat if somebody doesn’t admit me into his school because of my religion?
    And me being of minority group would mean, I am affected more often than otherss.

    An evident inequality has to be addressed. ofcourse not by showing inequality to some one else. But to say that these things exist but it is their fault as such or one can’t really do anyting about it, is an apathy a just society shouldn’t show.

     
  25. Amrita

    December 7, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    Ravi – well for the past sixty years, they’ve been in my corner. And I know Walid Phares’ work but I’ve never seen him express anything remotely like what you’ve been suggesting. By all means talk about right wing solutions, but how about some right wing solutions that work? Apart from a few loons on the Corner, even most conservatives would agree that your rhetoric symbolizes nothing but massive failure on the part of an acknowledged superpower. I’m sorry, but our answer cannot come from America. It has absolutely no clue what the hell is going on in this part of the world.

    Sunil – wow, ok I see we’ll just have to agree to disagree on pretty much everything. Before I get to your points though, I’d like to address the bulk of your second post which I hope I’ve misinterpreted in some way because otherwise it’s pretty mind boggling.
    First of all, discrimination is not a Western concept that we imported. Discrimination is discrimination wherever we find it, no matter who practices it under what imperatives. If you want proof of the Indian state’s discrimination, then all you need to do is look up the Muslim Personal Law and compare it to the Hindu Personal Law – it’s not just my belief that I’m a more privileged being than my Muslim sister, I AM more privileged by the law. It’s right there in black and white.
    Now your contention is that Muslims want this and they have had multiple chances to reject and reform this and they haven’t.
    Well obviously! Their actions under the Raj comes from the Muslim leadership’s association with a pan-Islamic movement against British imperialism. And after independence, the people proposing reform are a bunch of Muslim-haters who frame the debate as “taking those extra rights away” – what would you have them do? And the conservative leadership – the mullahs who hate the likes of Shabana Azmi – is only too happy to continue this debate in these terms because it ultimately leaves the power in the hands of the religious leaders and they can use it to beat down any secular/liberal challenge within their own ranks. it’s a vicious cycle and it’s getting worse with each passing year. And the Shahbano case comes within this cycle – Rajiv Gandhi screwed over millions of Muslim women because it was politically expedient for him to side with the clergy rather than provide leadership. I don’t know where it’s written that only Muslims can provide leadership for Muslims. If we started applying that rule to everyone then the terrorists won’t have to do anything, we’ll break up on our own very handily.
    In any case, as I’ve said over and over again, the UCC isnt just a Muslim issue, it’s happening with Christians and Sikhs as well.
    And the reason it’s not happening with the Hindus is because when the Hindus made their stand in the 1950s – the resistence to Nehru from the Hindu Right is pretty well documented and is in fact at the root of the present “stick the UCC in the eye of the Muslim” schtick of the Hindu Right these days – Nehru pretty much ran them over. Contrary to your view, Hindus are about as open to reform as anybody else – which is to say, not at all and this is a matter of record.
    The time for the UCC is not past because the time for the UCC has not arrived as yet. Let’s have a debate along the lines of equal rights rather than letting the Hindu Right smarm all over it and then if it gets voted down, then we’ll know for sure won’t we?
    And that which you call prejudice is not mere prejudice when it is put into practice – prejudice is passive, as you say it’s when you don’t want your kid to marry a Muslim; discrimination is active, you preferring to employ a less qualified applicant instead of the better qualified Muslim applicant because of your prejudice. When I say India is discriminatory, I mean the Indian State and the Indian people. This again is a matter of record as a simple Google search will tell you.
    Shabana Azmi finding a house is not a matter of prejudice, it’s about an Indian citizen being denied the right to buy property in her own country based on her religion. That is discriminatory and it can also be sanctioned by the State in a hundred different ways – from looking the other way, to the police refusing to register a complaint, to a labyrinthine legal process, etc. At least Shabana Azmi got to talk about it on telly – the ordinary middle class Muslim can’t even do that?
    In fact even Rightwingers were only too happy to point out that this is discrimination and that it works both ways when she made that statement – and either way it is wrong.
    I’m not sure what you were advocating by the use of that logic – if you were saying the status quo while regrettable is something that exists for a reason and it’s best to leave it as it is while we think of other things to do and let it sort itself out, I must vehemenetly disagree: discrimination or
    prejudice for that matter is NOT acceptable by reason of public indifference – I find that not just ridiculous but a seriously repellent view.
    I also don’t find the people talking about any of these matters patronizing in the least. The issue of agency is important but most people are discussing the UCC which applies to a general population and everyone of us has a stake in it. There are members of other communities getting screwed over too. I’d also like to point out that adopting the UCC will not force any community to give up any part of their cultural identity any more than reform of the Hindu Act has forced the Hindus – it simply provides a secular safety net if any person has a grievance they would like to see addressed and cannot redress through religious means.
    In any case the whole point of my writing this post was to ask people what they think ought to be done and where we should go from here. But even if it were patronizing, I’d welcome it because bullshit PC-ness has pretty much muzzled those of us who think of changing the status quo in case we give offence.
    Let’s actually get the ball rolling so that there’s at least an actual debate to attend and then we’ll agonize over whose feelings are going to get hurt by whose opinions. I’d much rather be villified in retrospect than keep my mouth shut in the present.
    In short, I guess the two of us are coming from diametrically opposite directions – you see this as the Indian Muslim problem, I see this as the Indian problem. Now re: your first post –
    1. I was talking about the Indian Muslim but the concept of The Other is not confined to Muslims. There are loads of other groups, even within religions and within communities, who’ve felt Otherized by their neighbors no matter where they went and what they did. That’s why The Other exists as a formal scholarly concept. So I fail to see your point. The issue of reforms I’ve already discussed. And I don’t know where you get the idea that there is never any talk of victims and reform when gangwars are mentioned – tell that to Mumbai and New York and Mexico City. Every city I’ve lived in, be it big or small, Western or Eastern, has been focused on local crime and what it meant. Pretty much all the attention the Indian cowbelt has recieved over the past ten years, in fact, has been focussed on crime. It’s another thing that hardly ever is anything done – your tax rupees at work.
    2. Sure. As I said, I didn’t come up with it, I just find it interesting as an idea to explore.
    3. Um, you do know that the only assassinations of Indian prime ministers came at the hands of Sikhs and Hindus right? This is why I think we need to take a holistic approach to domestic terror rather than just talk about one particular community because they share a religion with a greater international threat. Of course, each community has its own slant, but Muslims are hardly India’s only threat – the Khalistanis are beginning to make noise once again (and interestingly have a religious orthodoxy problem as well), the Northeast has been ignored to the point of secession, Karunanidhi is once again getting uncomfortably close to the LTTE and the naxalites are making hay out of the agricultural crisis. In case you missed it the one billion other times I’ve mentioned this: conservative religious factions are creating trouble for India not just in the case of Muslims, but in the case of Sikhs, Hindus, et al and yes, they can be just as violent as the actions of the Sangh Parivar and Sikh militancy have shown. To ignore them because we’ve suddenly found common cause with other nations in Islamic militancy would be to once again follow our old bad habits.
    4. So the greater point is that we, a democratic nation, are continuing age-old imperialist practices in the hope that the less fuss we make, the better it’ll all turn out. And guess what – it hasn’t. When one strategy fails, the time has come for a change. It’s now 60 years overdue.
    5. As I’ve already explained, it’s called transposing a situation to test the results. A species of reductio ad absurdum if you will. This is why I said within the post itself that it wasn’t a completely apt example – you’ll never find another example that’s EXACTLY alike, but I do think there are a number of similarities between these two. Being able to marry the British heir (in essence assuring that no Catholic will ascend the throne and form even the titular head of the government – a greater discrimination than any practised under Indian law) is just a part of the greater historical gulf between Catholics and Protestants in England that popped into my head because of the recent debate about abolishing that rule. If the concept still troubles you, why get hung up on it? Move on, the main argument still stands.

    Sachita – nope, I’m for the old fashioned separation of Church and State. In your private life you can do whatever you like and in fact most orthodox Hindus do. My own parents are pretty conservative when it comes to their religion. Doesn’t mean they vote BJP though. My issue with MPL is that it automatically cedes control of their most intimate decisions over to the clergy. It’s like those silly saas bahu serials in which some swami comes into the house and says weird stuff and immediately the entire household bows down in front of him even though it makes no sense and goes against their interests? Well, imagine if that were the law. If you want to do horrid things to yourself, feel free, but don’t make it so that another person can’t refuse.

    Temple – I believe there are Muslims in leadership positions who do hold moderate views but they never seem to get equal airtime unless they’re celebrities in which case they get attacked for being opinionated celebrities. I honestly think this has to involve everyone from every denomination – with Muslims obviously forming the core as India’s largest minority.

     
  26. Sunil

    December 7, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    Let me see how best I can Answer without blogjacking Amrita’s post.

    Firstly Vikram, In my haste to reply I had missed to respond to you before. I’m glad that we share the same view. Thanks.

    Temple oak :
    I totally agree with you. You hit it on the head with the leadership issue. In such debates, people, including Amrita here, seldom talk of lack of leaders within the Indian Muslim community. But I believe the question transcends Indian Muslims. Even very difficult regimes in twentieth century have produced leaders who have the vision to act in the interest of humanity without compromising the people they represent; De Klark, Gorbochev, Gandhi etc. But regard the Muslim world after the dismantling of the Ottoman empire, from Libya to Malaysia, all it has produced is like Gaddafis, Khomeinis, Zias etc. There has never been an aspiration to strive to co-exist ‘equally’ with different cultures or rulers. It has always been all or none.

    On the other hand, when you think of people within Muslim community who can influence opinion, they have often absolved themselves from the responsibility – Shabana Azmi for instance, I wonder what prevents/ed her from trying to reform retrograde Muslim ideology – ( btw couple of NGOs is not reforms)
    Instead all she could think of, when she had to do, was to whine for her own interest on television show that INDIA DISCRIMINATES AGAINST MUSLIMS, when she had gotten the meaning of all the three words wrong. It is almost an exploitation of the Muslim label. Mind you we are not talking about political parties here, she proclaims herself a moderate liberal Muslim. Does she even once think, that being a Muslim and not as an Indian Muslim she could have been able to achieve even a speck of what she has elsewhere? So in essence, in the Muslim world we have leaders who are – assassins ( which incidentally happens to be from Arabic), dictators, zealots, or shabana azmis, and others who want to use labels at their convenience. It makes to wonder if it is inherent to Islam itself? So suddenly, under the circumstances we are now, it is too demanding to produce a secular, progressive Muslim leader who would save them from self destruction. No one an average Muslim is just carrying on with his life, but mind you, even in doing so he is nodding for UCC though not explicitly. So having a sustainable family without marrying and divorcing at will, which a moderate Muslim does without feeling threatened is a chunk of UCC. But I agree with all you have said.

    Sachita: Thanks. I understand what you are saying. Terminology isn’t terribly important yes, but it projects different meaning. What I am trying to figure out for myself here is the thought process behind this post and the comments. I you think very highly of me, it was just the example that crossed my mind– See, you say….

    I by no means am contesting that it doesn’t happen, or, it doesn’t affect lives. As I have stated many times, it does happen and it does affect lives. My interest is to know how is this different from say an iyer not dining with a dalit or a muslim kid himself being sent to an Urdu madrassa than an English school , which has been happening and continues to happen. Why doesn’t no one emphatically say INDIA DISCRIMINATES AGAINST DALITS? In such cases it is always words like — oppressed, biased, rights and reservations. This is what I find curious. This is my thinking at the moment, and I am quite happy to change this position as long as it explained what is so unique about Muslim situation.

    Amrita here wants us to presuppose the finality of the conclusion that Indian state and Indians ( wow) discriminates against muslims without answering how it was reached and how it is different from other ‘discriminations’. In such a scenario it can be safely assumed that everyone discriminates against everyone else in India which if you see closely, is not very far from truth by that yardstick.

    Further we are told that Muslims very meeks and governments in India took them for granted and UCC is trick. I am baffled – do you have any idea how isolated Muslim populations are in UCC first world nations. Let me share here the ordeal of dating a Muslim liberal girl in UK- you got to find out if she is sunni or shia, if she takes alcohol, or if it is okay for me to consume alcohol during the date, some object to have it on the table, further, if she has issues paying for alcohol etc etc. And all this even before getting to know the person you are drawn into the religion. Such is the strength of their identity. There are xecptions but mostly these have been the issues I or friends have experienced . To believe The problems of Islam can be solved with law or reforms is a fantasy.

    Amrita : Thanks for the reply, but I reckon you are lagging in a different page as I can see from the responses I have received from other commentators. From a cursory read I notice gross evasions and defences in your reply. I wish I could type a reply right now, but have other inviting things to do like going and ogling shamelessly at Chitrangadha singh. Hope you don’t mind.

    Cheers

     
  27. Sunil

    December 7, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    errata:

    sachita you say..*…. what if somebody doesn’t stop by my shop because of my religion? whaat if somebody doesn’t admit me into his school because of my religion?

     
  28. Amrita

    December 8, 2008 at 9:11 am

    Sunil – Well, I can only respond to your comments to me as written, not your comments as you mean to write them so forgive me for lagging behind by responding to them in their entirety. In any case, I think it’s fairly clear by now that we’re coming from fundamentally opposite viewpoints and aren’t likely to agree so in interests of taking this forward instead of the two us writing blogposts to each other on how the other person is misguided – what do you think are the pressing issues wrt India and her Muslim population and what do you think ought to be done?

    PS – If you have a point to make, then go ahead and make them, but please don’t use me as your poster child especially as it pertains to issues on which you have no idea how I really feel (India doesn’t discriminate against her Dalits? Since when? People – including myself – have never written about it? Yeah, right.) or else I will have to start taking things personally and you really won’t enjoy that. I’m interested in what you have to say about issues, not in what you imagine are my positions on them. I know what those are already, thanks. And if you wish to know them, please ask.

     
  29. Sunil

    December 8, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    Woah!!!
    I cant believe that you were advocating aggressive embracing and engaging in dialogue with ‘pakistan’ a few days back.=)

    But really, don’t you find this romantic, us exchanging lengthy thoughts as if it means something to someone apart from us? I don’t know, but I do =) therefore I am quite happy take all your abuse as compliments.

    First off I am not trying to convince you of my beliefs or change yours. I’m just curious to know about your views, on what to me is an important issue; btw this is my first time on this blog and I think with all our sweet disagreements inclusive it still is a fairly reasonable place.

    Let me see how best I can articulate my disagreements on this post. Given the constraints lets just keep it clear and succinct.

    1. You had promised to write about Indian Muslim, but as far as I see there is nothing about Indian Muslim per se. In fact whatever opinion on Indian Muslims has come from other commentators.( Temple Oak, Sachita etc.)
    e.g It is like an article on Australian cricket team, which compares it to different cricket teams of different eras- how this happened then, how that transpired here etc. I simply want to know about the ‘Australian cricket team’.

     when this was pointed out, not only by me but others as well, I felt like we were taken elsewhere. I am not complaining here, and I know you should write what you want to write, but for all the devil talk here, I might be wrong. At least I keep the option at hand.

    2. You have made a statement that India inherently discriminates against her Muslim subjects. In spite of repeated ‘asking’ I have only got opinions of others ( and not of you) of how this premise was reached. So I am left wondering the meaning of the word discrimination, given what I have said I make of it in my earlier comments. And more importantly, its meaning in India societo-cultural context. I have had no explanations so far about the word- you could have either countered my understanding of its meaning or could have supported your own. You have done neither. So i am left wondering

    Is discrimination statutory? – i.e Muslims are lesser citizens than others in India?

    Or religious? E.g take off your hijab, we don’t like it.

    So far from other’s comments I understand it is social? Ie not socializing with Muslims, or ignoring etc.

    3. Legal discrimination:
    So far the only thing you have said in support of your purported ‘discrimination’ is
    … If you want proof of the Indian state’s discrimination, then all you need to do is look up the Muslim Personal Law and compare it to the Hindu Personal Law – it’s not just my belief that I’m a more privileged being than my Muslim sister, I AM more privileged by the law. It’s right there in black and white.

    This means you believe it is statutory.

    I find this line of thought amazing. India is secular. It promises each of its subjects, ‘fundamental rights’ which is uniform + the religious rights ie to reserve the right to practice your own religion. Any religion. So what is the argument in picking two religions in India and the respective laws of those religions and saying that is unfair. It is like Christians accusing Indian constitution of discriminating against them because there are more holidays for Hindu festivals than Christian. The fact is there are more hindu festivals than Christian. You can’t hold the state responsible for that. Besides, Indian constitution is not a constitution of a particular religion- so comparing two random religions and the holding the state accountable for their pros and cons is , frankly for the lack of better word, absurd. Imagine a jain comparing his religious rights with Christians and accusing Indian polity of discrimination!! If shariat law is retrogressive, that is precisely what it is. You can’t hold Indian state accountable for a religious law.

    Furthermore, you say you are privileged because of Hindu Law- that is a matter of perspective.
    If you ask me, I would be more privileged if I can marry and divorce is less restrictive and without alimony. So privilege is a matter of perception.

    4. Social discrimination:
    I am by no mean denying it, nor as you seem to argue- asking to accept with indifference etc etc…but what I am curious to know is how is the social discrimination on religion is different from social discrimination on caste. Since there hasn’t been any counter argument I imagine both the situations-
    1. It is different: How is it different? which is what I ask?
    2. It is not different: then, ? I have no sides here, just thinking aloud. Why don’t we hear chants like INDIA discriminates against Yadavs. Because as you said yourself discrimination is discrimination.

    Here is what I believe: there is alienation, there is otherization of muslims yes. But Muslims are as much Indians as any of us. I cant comprehend a picture of India without Muslims. So if they are as much Indian why is that they are chosen as the others over the other others, even in highlighting the discrimination? Because as I have said before, going by the meaning of discrimination we Indians have, in India everyone discriminates against everyone else. Thus the irony being such statements only impose the otherness that is supposedly meant to be fought?

    So I wonder, who constitutes this ‘INDIA’ that people put in the subject of the phrase…INDIA discriminates against Muslims, or anyone? We have above seen India is not the polity India; so who exactly are this Indian people? INDIAN PEOPLE we have seen discriminate against everyone else? I find such statements on par with simi garewal saying let’s carpet bomb Pakistan on NDTV. I’m sure she believes carpet bomb is a sort of hidden bomb that kills people without anyone finding.

    5. Lastly couple of tangents, nothing important –

    I notice that there is implicit sentiment here that Muslims are powerless and hence deserve sympathy. I am not against it, some of the happenings in recent times have been unpardonable but people speaking on behalf of others and basically mothering them not only corrupts the secular structure of the nation but also the process of empowerment ( another lovely word no?) of the oppressed. It’s my personal conviction that voice has to come from within. We might disagree but I suppose we have to live with it.

    In this context, I cant ignore the fact that the post here is blinded by its sympathy. It is constructed on assumptions like
    a. Muslims are passive and unrepresented. And hence often sinned against.
    This is unbelievable. Yes, as you said muslims were ‘played safe’ after partition but apart from that one instance there hasn’been any points to say Muslims were passive. even then congress just caved in to islamic fundamentalists ( Poker sahib n co, who thretaned more bloodshed.) FACT you ignore is muslims have been resisting the reform for a century now. I am surprised that is so easily overlooked and projected onto as the responsibility of others.

    e.g Rajiv Gandhi screwed it up in Bano case…wow! really like he wanted to oppress muslims …had he not doen what he did, had the supreme court decision not reversed, we were fairly inching towards civil war. I am sure people have heard of Muslim law board which represented the whole of Indian Muslims . and surprisingly overlooked here in the post.

    Here’s the extract from wiki:

    The orthodox Muslims in India felt threatened by what they perceived as an encroachment of the Muslim Personal Law, and protested loudly at the judgement. Their spokesmen were Muslim community leaders Obaidullah Khan Azmi, MJ Akbar and Syed Shahabuddin. They formed an organization known as the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and threatened to agitate in large numbers in all major cities. The then Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, agreed to their demands and cited the gesture as an example of “secularism”.

    And heres the site: click on history:
    http://www.aimplboard.org/introduction.html

    All India Muslim Personal Law Board was established at a time when then Government of India was trying to subvert Shariah law applicable to Indian Muslims through parallel legislation. Adoption Bill had been tabled in the Parliament. Mr. H.R.Gokhle, then Union Law Minister had termed this Bill as the first step towards Uniform Civil Code. Ulema, leaders and various Muslim organisations successfully convinced the Indian Muslim community that the risk of losing applicability of Shariah laws was real and concerted move by the community was needed to defeat the conspiracy.

    And why are we holding Rajiv Gandhi responsible – that the young pilot wasn’t aggressive? Think Sanjay Gandhi and vasectomy, and how well it was received. If people cant be controlled by neither law nor force how are you going to reform them?

    Also remember how Muslim mallapuram district was carved in kerala on their insistence?

    Another funny suggestion that Muslims don’t necessarily need to have a Muslim leader. Wow. I mean what are we talking about standing in for someone? why didn’t JFK fight for african american civil rights movement? Or why doesn’t Ricky ponting play for India? What is this craze to be the rescuer, ignoring even the identity?
    Speaking of identities,
    I am amazed how the Muslim identity is used for convenience:
    Muslims insisted on Muslim law act of 1937 and other Muslim sops from raj because…..your justification…

    Their actions under the Raj comes from the Muslim leadership’s association with a pan-Islamic movement against British imperialism.

    Then somewhere you go on to say…

    This is why I think we need to take a holistic approach to domestic terror rather than just talk about one particular community because—-> they share a religion with a greater international threat.

    I don’t buy the theory that they don’t a have voice etc. It’s just that they have been obsessively focussing on seventh century ideas. And they have to change and they have change from within, and organise towards progress as temple oak pointed out because violence or not, they shall be left behind, far far behind.

    A lot has been said about India discriminating against Muslims . I’ll tell you what one can safely trust about India – if there is a Muslim leader or even a Muslim party to lead India, as a nation towards future, I can safely put my money that India will elect him or her to represent India.

    PS- Amrita, I am sorry if I made you feel like my poster child and writin blog posts for each other. But I am not sure I can entirely take responsibility for that.

    For e.g
    You say medieval English catholic v Protestant in Indian Muslim context.
    I say that’s inconsistent and give three points why –
    1. Indian state did not appropriate Muslim rule, like how Protestants did with Catholics.
    2. Catholicism was in direct conflict with Protestantism, Indian muslim wasn’t with any religious Indian.
    3. Religion wasn’t nationalised – we didn’t have French catholics or English catholics like Indian Muslims and Pakistani Muslims.
    What you do is you ignore and not address the points and go on to ‘monarchy’ which operates under different law even now.
    So I can’t say I did have a debate here with you. But it wasn’t bad. The reason I ventured was the lure of the alert of Indian Muslim. Even for you , I don’t think whatever I had said here made any impact. Such are the times we live in.
    Anyway, have typed this out for 45 minutes. I suppose I just wanted to say it for myself.

    Thanks and bye now.

     
  30. Amrita

    December 9, 2008 at 10:18 am

    Sunil: Hahahah! So going by your own strict adherence to the purity of examples, if you’re the govt of Pakistan and I’m India, you must suffer from MPD and the struggle between yourself and your terrorist alter ego results in your passive aggressive approach to commenting! I can also expect to see you bomb my blog sometime in the future after which I will declare war on you.
    Look, I don’t know where you got the impression that the rules of civil debate include my letting you walk all over me, but if you’re going to go around misrepresenting my views to third parties then you bet your ass I’m going to shut you down. And if you think that’s “abuse”, I’m going to guess that you’ve never been abused, especially on these wild internets.
    But then you do have pretty quixotic notions about things: saying India cannot possibly be discriminatory because Indira Gandhi put the word “secular” into the Constitution is about as realistic as saying segregation ended in America in the 1960s therefore America is no longer racist. Btw, in case you didn’t notice, we’re also supposed to be socialist. See a lot of that going around do you?
    Then there’s your repeated “but you’re rambling” refrain – amongst the other things written in plain English that you haven’t bothered to understand, I explained in the very first post itself that this series would be “rambling”. I used that very word. Additionally, as I’ve said over and over and over again in this post and in my followup comments, I don’t see the point in looking at the Indian Muslim as a monolith that stands on its own devoid of any context. The rambling is therefore deliberate on multiple counts.

    It’s all very well for you to say that you want to understand what I’m thinking – talk is cheap, especially when you haven’t even made an attempt to recognize the parameters of my argument.
    Like the Protestant-Catholic angle… for the last time I have said repeatedly that this is NOT a completely apt example. Please read the post. Do you see that line? To elucidate further, a “not altogether apt” example means that there are significant deviations between said example and the subject of comparison. However, there are also significant similarities. So for you to say: “Look – deviations!” (although your points 2 and 3 are revisionist to say the least) is just silly.

    So I have to ask: given that we’re neither one of us trying to convince each other and you for one don’t seem to understand anything I write, would you like me to respond to each of the points you’ve raised above? With links and everything? Because I can, but I don’t want to waste my time on it if you’re simply going to come back and say the same thing over and over again. If you want to spend 45 minutes on it, then go ahead – but I have another use for my 45 minutes if this is your grand plan

    “I suppose I just wanted to say it for myself” –> if that was your intention then I’ll just leave you to it. No harm done.

     
  31. Dileep

    December 9, 2008 at 11:58 am

    Could those that say there’s no institutionalised bias against Muslims in India please tell me how many are employed by Bajaj, one of the biggest industrial houses in India?

     
  32. Sunil

    December 9, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    Amrita,

    I’ve made my case. As I see either I can learn from you why I am mistaken or let it as it is. Going by the postures, the latter is a daunting improbability because you seem to be preoccupied with taunting me as a person, for the views I hold when you are not threatening me —- of doing this unto me or wagering that etc etc…

    All you had to do was to state why you stand by whatever you have written instead of getting carried away.

    For all your glorious talk, I notice you have ‘singled out’ my comments to be moderated (because they challenge your views as I have not attacked you personally or for whatever reasons you did). I’m not going to be say I was DISCRMINATED. Either by you or INDIAN blog PEOPLE because, quite simply just validated my view.

    Bye I dont have say anymore. You are so right.

    @ Dileep: Im not sure whether Amrita would let me the comment publish… But I’m just responding in case the question was addressed to me accidentally.

    You have reached the wrong person. We are discussing INDIA DISCRiMINATING against muslims. We are not discussing Institutional Bias. Just goes on to say how people read words. Royal Bank of Scotland would perhaps not have a Jain as an emplyoee, That doesnt imply UNITED KINGDOM discriminates against Jains. But yes you have contest there are institutionally biased. Just so taht you get it right- Thats not what we are discussing.

    Funny people.

     
  33. Dileep

    December 9, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    Well, suppose Jains were 13% of the population in Scotland. Would it not strike you as rather odd that not ONE was an employee of RBS?

     
  34. Dileep

    December 9, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    PS. Industry and institutions don’t exist in a vacuum. Like a sports team or another other entity, they reflect the biases and prejudices that are there in society.

     
  35. Amrita

    December 9, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    Sunil – see, this is exactly what I’m talking about: half the people on this board have had their comments moderated at some point or the other – you know why? Because I moderate all comments that include links. Why? because I have a spam problem. But no, you imagine you’re being persecuted and without even checking or running through the logic of it (why would I moderate just to delay the appearance of your comment? is there some kind of time related mojo at work? wouldn’t it make more sense for me to delete it?) you straight away run with it as fact.

    And I wasn’t trying to threaten – this blog isn’t meant to be an angry or confrontational place. I write here because I enjoy the people who come here and what they think even when I don’t agree with them. I wouldn’t have spent time I can ill afford typing mammoth comments in reply if all I wanted was to dismiss you. But I won’t be misrepresented by anybody and I sure as hell won’t let anybody get away with it by trying to con me that civility demands I do so. It does no such thing. If you’d still like me to respond and are willing to actually read what I write instead of just trying to fix me into a box of your own devising, then I’d be only too happy to spend my time coming up with an answer.

    However if you feel I’m somehow unable to come up with any such thing or I’m too mean, then we’ll just say you convinced me and leave it at that. Okay?

    Dileep – I didn’t know that about Bajaj!.

     
  36. Sunil

    December 9, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    Dileep,
    I take I was right in assuming you were talking to me earlier. Im saying this because your comments are addressed to no one . So if the questions were not directed towards me, ignore what follows.

    1. There is no rule of sustenance anywhere that 13% of a faction should be represented in all companies or institutes. I suppose youll have to go to India for such claims. Sorry.

    2. I does strike me as odd, yes surely but unlike you I would not ASSUME it is unfair. because it could be a. Bias or. b. Lack of industry amongst Jains. c. many other reasons we both don’t know but have to find out.

    3. No one is arguing anything exists in vacuum. In fact as I know nothing exists. Not even biases and prejudice. I’m sorry here but sports teams, Industries, etc are measured in terms of competency all over the world not composition of bedouin clans like you believe.

    4. But you should ignore 1.2.and 3. because even if RBS was biased no one accuses UNITED KINGDOM of being biased. in fact UK has a law that europeans ought to be hired before asians. No one is screaming here that UK is racist. Indian has to wake out of their ghetto ideals.

    But, I replied out of pity for you. For the third time we are discussing alleged state discrmination. I’m sorry I cant keep on educating folks here. So no more talk thanks.

    Amrita: You are justifying your bias. I just felt biased, I dont have to agree with your reasons behind the bias. I might believe you but, other’s might not. Remember Bias is a Bias? It’s like a Hindu saying he is biased against muslim because he hates EVERYONE who bleeds a cow. Make the substitutions and it would even fit your troll idea.

    So far,

    1. You have repeatedly digressed…catholic v protestants

    2. Confused… initially you said the catholic protestant example was not to be taken literal , then went on to defend it…etc Are ‘non literal’ examples..sudenly worth defending with further extensions..?

    2. Patronized…you for one don’t seem to understand anything I write, would you like me to respond to each of the points you’ve raised above?

    3. Defended your impertinent outbursts as a ‘personal blog policy’.

    4. Made guerrilla disclaimers …oh didnt you see
    i put ‘ramble’ at the start or ‘not so apt’ at the begining etc…didnt I didnt I?
    I can put a placard that this is for ‘thinking people’ and just patronize a generation hanging around online.

    5. grossly irrelevant at times….’ see we are also socialists’ but in fact in real life, we aint. SO what the bleeding sausage? We are so many things we are not. Like for instance , we speak english, we cant comprehend it.
    The point is of Indian muslim not whether we adhere to the labels we define by.

    6. Naive…look isnt america still racist…inspite of no laws favouring racism? OMG I did not think of taht at all.. But since there are people who are going to biased, partial, racist, o how can we totally abolish racism then .. tie a camera to every person and monitor them whether they utter a racist remark?

    7. Though others may not agree with me at least they have had the courtesy to present their own reasons behind their beliefs but you otoh, fantastically have made no attempts to support your view ( So far all we know of your understanding of INDIA discriminates Muslims , is that india allows religious laws. therefore being born a hindu is legally automatic previlege than being born a muslim.)
    do you want me to reply to you with links and everything? Was i typing in urdu here are along? And its not only me, there were other comments from others too which were brushed aside.
    8. Inconsiderate….If you want to spend 45 minutes on it, then go ahead – but I have another use for my 45 minutes if this is your grand plan

    Even overlooking all of those , you have never once tried to counter a view (say discrimination) instead of drifting away into your own fantasies. ( Me having MPD …passive aggressive postures etc…which I guess we should leave to my shrinks, I’m surrounded by them. I can call your anger sadistic cant I? Hell I’m qualified enough to…but I don’t because I know the meaning of the word. And I’m more interested in what is said than being vicious.

    9. Typing bogus meaningless harangues- You are misrepresenting me, if you walk all over mel I bet your ass Im gonna show you down. whatever you had written. Why couldnt you just tell me what the john sausage you represent. That would shut me up no?

    For these reasons , I have come to believe you dont have the ‘equipment’ to substantiate your views. Of course you would vehemently disagree. I was looking for an adult debate based on ‘reasoning’ but I found justifications of accepted ‘beliefs’. Therefore I disengage from the conversation now. I’m sure you will be relieved. even if we don’t agree, I’m okay with you championing the cause; I always find causes quite corruptive to the soul. Lastly,
    I appreciate the enthusiasm you have shown however misspent it was. Take care, have a merry christmas.

    PS- Girlfriend says she loves the slow falling flakes over the screen. She is reminded of an edna millay poem, while I brood on The dead by Joyce.

     
  37. MomGoneMad

    December 10, 2008 at 6:47 am

    Wow, has Sunil finally gone away?

    Because I was getting an ulcer just reading his comments..

     
  38. sunil

    December 10, 2008 at 7:08 am

    I dont know Momgonemad, May be it’s that time of the month. Just take care.

     
  39. Amrita

    December 10, 2008 at 9:46 am

    Sunil – there! if you’d just been as honest a few comments back instead of insisting that you wanted to hear anything I had to say, we could all have saved ourselves some time and effort. Anyway, thanks for playing and I’m glad the girlfriend appreciates WP design.

    Shal – you’ll have to forgive Sunil, he’s just naturally classy like that.

     
  40. MomGoneMad

    December 10, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Amrita LOL:-)

    Such first -hand knowledge of PMS.. makes one wonder who has been having “that time of the month”.

     
  41. Sunil

    December 10, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    Oh! Is it what I think it is? Are you trying to seduce me on a public forum Mrs Froidson?. We can do it elsewhere without troubling Amrita =)

     
  42. pitusultan

    December 30, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    Wow! Just wow. At the risk of sounding like a fangirl, I’ll say this was a fantastic post. I need to go re-read it once I’ve had my second cup of chai. Thoda heavy hai mere half-caffeinated bheje ke liye.

     
  43. pitusultan

    December 30, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    Ok I don’t rly have anything intelligent to add although I am thoroughly enjoying the repartee – it’s like watching an awesome tennis match! But I will agree with the comments Sunil made about Shabana Azmi. Thank you! I cannot STAND that lil hypocrite. Ugh. And I’ve had the same thought abt the number of times she goes on and on about Nivara Haq Samiti or whatever it’s called and never actually talks about reforms from within her community.

    Actually, I can’t think of a single moderate Muslim ‘representative’ voice I like, except A R Rahman and SRK, Aamir and they’re not self-proclaimed ‘representatives’ of their community anyway, but I have tremendous respect for all three.

    As far as the discrimination based on religion goes, meh I dunno. Forget discriminating against HRH Shabana, there are plenty of Hindus who aren’t being sold flats in posh South Mumbai burbs because the majority (i.e. Gujju and Marwari residents) don’t want non-veg eaters in their building. I am vegan and I hate it when my Goan neighbor cooks sukke bombil (Bombay Duck YUCK!!!!!!!) but even I think that sort of discrimination is wrong.

    The point I am getting at is, ALL discrimination is objectionable, it’s just that religious minorities get to make a hullabaloo about it and the rest of us don’t.

    If a non-veg Maharashtrian Hindu is denied a flat by a holier-than-thou veggie Gujju Hindu, it’s wrong but nobody’s gonna call them out on national TV :-p

    Even if the Gujju in question were Jain and it could actually be termed ‘religious’ discrimination, who gives a shit about a Hindu anyway? Big deal, the Marathi guy can just go buy a flat in Dadar :-p But deny a flat to a Muslim and it hits the headlines. That is a fact.

     
  44. Amrita

    December 30, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    Pitu – sure, that’s one of the things that bugs me when people talk discrimination in India: that some types are apparently “ok” because it’s such a quirk like that veggie/ nonveggie thing. But the reason why TV cameras are interested in the Hindu Muslim thing is because these two groups are known to kill each other. So I guess the moral is if I want a nice flat in a veggie building, I better kill a few veggies 😛

    I don’t mind Shabana at all. She’s entertaining. I find most activists entertaining actually. And celebrity activists are especially so. And sometimes people are so taken over by their strong reaction to the celebrity activists, they actually come out and say the truth inadvertantly as I have seen on at least one occasion with Shabana and some crazy fundo person. I read what SRK had to say this time around and I have to give him props because it wasn’t the usual PC stuff.

    Most Muslim moderates can’t get on TV because A) Theyre’ not juicy enough for TV and B) Can’t up their profile because they’re not juicy enough to get on TV. It’s a sad fact that the more insane you sound, the more people want to hear you speak. Most of the moderate Muslims that I know who’re doing work for their community, do it in obscurity on a local level rather than a national level.

    That lack of national leadership I was talking about in one of the posts is just as applicable to Muslims as to any other Indian unfortunately.

     
  45. pitusultan

    December 30, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    because A) Theyre’ not juicy enough for TV and B) Can’t up their profile because they’re not juicy enough to get on TV.

    True. What I don’t get is, why isn’t Kalam talking? He’s the ex Prez, he’s a famous scientist/intellectual, people actually respect him and would listen to him talk. He could make a tremendous difference if he chose to! So why can’t he be bothered?!

     
 
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