MUSLIM EFFECT IN INDIA: RELATIVE DEPRIVATION
The rich legacy of Muslims can be visualized from the Mughal monuments particularly from the Majesty of Taj Mahal and Red Fort which serve as a good representative to which contemporary Muslims has a belonging. The fate of community turned upside down after the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 which was a detrimental blow to the Muslim glory. Hardy (1972) maintains Muslims in India before 1857 was a different community, as opposed to what they were under the direct British rule. The good days of the Mughal era when Muslims received the royal patronage were no more. Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 was a crowning disaster which though commenced on caste grounds by Hindus, was blamed on the Muslim community as an anti-British revolt (Omer Khalid). Government motivations were largely confined to a deep-seated suspicion of Indian Muslims after the events of 1857–59. Loss of royal patronage and deprivation of employment and education in modern science and technology through English, Muslim economic condition in the immediate aftermath of Mutiny was the picture of catastrophe. William Wilson Hunter in The Indian Musalmans had shown the exclusion of Muslims from govt. jobs and held that over 88% of the gazetted appointments in Bengal were held by Hindus. Though he ascribed the relative deprivation of the Muslim community to the contemporary education system in Bengal. Enormous changes took place in the 20th century from Partition of Bengal in 1905 to Unholy Partition of India in 1947. Religion was the driving force behind both the events. A separate nation Pakistan was created for Muslims. The partition was followed by violent clashes between two group members which led to migration in respective areas. The Muslim exodus is confirmed By Richard Symonds, a relief worker who saw, “from Delhi alone twenty-five thousand govt. employees and their families, with sixty thousand tons of personal baggage, had to be moved to Karrachi”. Those who opted for India were not treated well as per S. Gopal. After Independence Indian demography witnessed a remarkable change with Muslims remaining the largest religious minority.
Muslims in India form the largest religious minority in the country. According to the 2011 Census, they comprise 14.4 percent of India’s total population — roughly 174 million people. They are the third largest Muslim population anywhere in the world after Indonesia and Pakistan. India’s diversity and traditional ethos of tolerance have been marred by hostility and hate along with caste and religious lines. Millions of Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis have suffered from systematic repression, exclusion and stigma at the hands of Upper Caste Hindus. In 2016, a global index of human rights, social and religious freedoms by Pew Research Centre placed India among the worst 10 of the world’s 198 countries when judged for “social hostilities”. Intellectuals have long taken the economic conditions of Indian Muslims for granted. Two official reports, the Gopal Singh Committee Report (1982) and the Sachar Committee Report (2006) have addressed their socioeconomic conditions to some extent. These studies came to the conclusion that Muslims face deprivation with respect to various dimensions like employment and education. Today, globally Muslims show the lowest literacy rate. Even in India Muslims have lowest literacy rate and this later on mixes with other variables and ultimately result in lower participation in the job market or in many cases end up with jobs with lower earnings. According to Sachar Committee, 25 percent of Muslim Children in the 6-14 age group either never went to school or else dropped out at some stage. Even after obtaining degrees and certificates Muslims have been unable to get employment, especially in the Government and organized sector. Professor Abusaleh Shariff, of Centre for Research and Debates in Development policy, New Delhi said, “They [Muslims] do not get jobs [corresponding to the] qualifications, both due of market imperfections and also due to bias in the system,”. Muslims in India face discrimination and social exclusion coupled with insecurity which leads to a situation where Muslims are not in a position to exploit their economic opportunities. The estimates provided in the Sachar Committee report show that in general, per capita consumption expenditure (MPCE) is lower for Muslims than for all SRCs except SCs/ STs and the incidence of poverty (headcount) is also higher for Muslims than for all SRCs except SCs/STs. Jeffery and Jeffery (1997), in their study of Muslims in Bijnor, argued that many Muslims regarded their relative economic weakness as stemming from their being excluded from jobs due to discriminatory practices in hiring. This sense of marginalization has been steadily increasing since the rise to prominence of Hindu right-wing ideologies. Their living conditions are comparable, and on some parameters, even worse than other backward categories such as Scheduled Castes, the incidence of poverty is high within the community, and literacy levels abysmally low. By and large, the community lags behind most others in terms of access to public and private sector jobs, infrastructure and credit. No country can boast of development if its sizeable minority is steeped in illiteracy, poverty and backwardness. The rapid acceleration of Indian economy in recent decades has a little meaning for them given their low level of education. Almost in all economic and social dimensions, Muslims lag behind. These include differentials in endowments across social groups, actual or perceived discrimination, behavior patterns or attitudes and supply of educational and employment opportunities. Labour market participation rate low and the unemployment rate was high among Muslims.
Despite India’s Constitution provides that “all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion,” subject to public order, morality and health. However, recent federal and state laws directly counter the freedom that the Constitution guarantees. The many Indian States have passed “anti-conversion” laws. These anti-conversion laws, called the Freedom of Religion Acts, have resulted in discriminatory practices against minority religious group. Although anti-conversion laws do not explicitly ban conversions, in practice these laws, “both by their design and implementation, infringe upon the individual’s right to convert, favour Hinduism over minority religions, and represent a significant challenge to Indian secularism”(International Religious Freedom Report: India). The increasing attacks on Muslims in recent years have increased the security concerns among Muslims in India. This security concern coupled with the identity crisis faced by Indian Muslims add to the growing depravity of the community in India. This Muslim Effect (Relative Depravity) in India has added a black spot on the face of so-called Shining India.
Author is post graduate student at kashmir university, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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