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Survey shames secularists

Survey shames secularists

Author: Editorial
Publication: Free Press Journal
Date: January 12, 2007
URL: http://www.samachar.com/features/120107-editorial.html

Given the recent history of the Indian sub-continent, and the lingering emotional divide between communities which pre-dates the Partition, it is no surprise that Muslims here have not kept pace with the majority community in economic and social spheres. When the cake is small, and there are more claimants than it can be divided into, it is natural for a certain in-built bias to come into play. ( The dominant communities everywhere be it America or Australia always hog economic opportunities.)

On their part, Indian Muslims have not helped their own cause. Illiteracy being a twin sister of poverty, Muslims by pointedly spurning modern syllabus in education, and instead preferring `madrasas' to regular schools, have ensured that they remain outside the mainstream job markets. Therefore, the results of the Government-sponsored survey on the socioeconomic status of Muslims do not at all cause any surprise.

The only surprise is that the most vociferously `secular' West Bengal is one of the worst States when it comes to Muslim employment. While the most vilified Narendra Modi-led Gujarat is one of the best. But there is no need to change your opinion of Modi on the basis of the survey. For, the findings reflect a situation which almost certainly had developed over a number of years.

The relatively higher rate of Muslims in government and public sector jobs in Gujarat is not a gift from Modi. Muslims in Gujarat have been traditionally better educated. Their economic conditions too are better than that of their co-religionists in other States. Per force better educational and economic conditions of the community help create better employment opportunities.

As against Gujarat, in the Marxist-ruled West Bengal economic conditions of ordinary people have been dismal. Despite all their pro-poor claims, the Marxists in the near three-decade rule have failed to provide succour to the very sections which have traditionally constituted the core of their support-base in the State. If there is not a single Muslim in a higher position in any of the West Bengal public sector undertakings, and only 1.4 per cent at lower levels, it does not follow that Buddhadev Bhattacharya or his predecessor Jyoti Basu had harboured an anti-Muslim bias.

However the Marxists could be rightly pilloried for generally mismanaging the West Bengal economy, causing poor educational and employment conditions for ordinary people, including traditionally most backward Muslims. If the survey has revealed that Andhra Pradesh is the best employer for Muslims in the country, it too is due to historical factors. Muslims under the Nizam had had better exposure to educational and employment opportunities than was the case with other Muslim-rulerd princely States.

That the Manmohan Singh Government felt the need to appoint the Justice Rajinder Sachar Commmittee only to confirm the well-known fact that Muslims are not represented in government jobs commensurate to their numbers says something about its lack of priorities. Even without the formal appointment of a retired High Court judge, the Government was in a position to collect the requisite data by writing to various State governments.

Indeed, it would have been immensely better for the welfare of Muslims if such a headcount had been undertaken in educational institutions. For, it is the lack of education among the Muslim masses which is the number one reason why they have fallen off the employment map of this country.

However the reason why a survey to put an official stamp on a well-known fact was wholly ill-considered is that it has the potential to further divide the society. For the Muslim leadership, such as it is, is bound to exploit the findings to vitiate the atmosphere further.

Extremist mullahs and maulvis will buttress their hackneyed argument that there cannot be justice for the community in the country unless Muslims match the numbers of the majority community. While others in the Muslim leadership will use the findings of the survey for self-aggrandizement. Either way, the survey will become a headache for the ruling coalition.

Since the rulers lack the will to draw the right lessons, expect more sops to the self-appointed leaders of the Muslim community by the self-avowedly secular leaders with an eye only on the Muslim vote-bank.

After all, the survey duly confirms the fact that the politics of minority `appeasement' practised by various secular parties was only aimed at netting the votes of Muslims and not at providing them better educational and employment opportunities. The survey exposes the duplicity of the so-called secularist elements.


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