TWO interesting events happened recently. In one instance, Maulana Mehmood Madani, a prominent leader of Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Hind said that Congress should stop frightening the Muslims by raising the false bogey of communal intentions of some individuals and expect minorities to come together against that and vote for Congress. Instead, he asked the so-called secular parties to seek Muslim votes on the strength of deliveries against the promises made by these Parties in their manifestos. In other words, Maulana refused to be taken for granted by secular Parties. It was an assertion which was hard to miss. And it was in the interest of his community and nation, a nation cannot progress if the arms of its development are not reaching a significant section of its populace.
In another incidence, clerics and prominent Muslim leaders got together in the aftermath of Muzaffarnagar communal riots recently. They went public about their lost confidence in the Samajwadi Party Government in the State. They no longer believed in SP to protect their interests. They went a step further in asking for President’s rule in the State. How could they trust a government which supervised their loss of life and livelihoods.
Both these incidents are very significant. For once, Muslim leadership asserted itself in a constructive manner. They were pointing fingers at vote bank politics and they no longer want to be used as one. For a change, they looked for positive agenda from political Parties.
Since India gained Independence, Muslims have trusted Hindu leaders, be they in Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Lok Dal or Janta Dal(U), to say a few. None of these leaders have delivered on their promises except for occasional cosmetics. Yet, Muslim clergy stuck to them. It did not matter that some of the deadliest communal riots happened under the dispensation of State governments of these so called secular Parties. The clergy never raised its voice against it. They simply accepted such violence and were happy with compensations they got for the dead.
It never occurred to them that why their children are not educated in spite of so many special scholarships and monetary help by various governments. They never questioned why their children are not making to various competitions for government jobs, why are they not able to compete for jobs in private sector. They never questioned the most unhygienic conditions they have been living in. Since independence, they got so allured by the fair skin that they almost forgot their own complexion under the dust which couldn’t be washed away for paucity of safe water. It did not occur to any member of the Muslim community to question their living in ghettos.
The youth never questioned their being sent to Madrasa when their neighbourhood friends went to government and convent schools and got better exposure to modern education which made them competitive for jobs. They never questioned why they are short listed for free laptops though there were other meritorious students coming from economically weak backgrounds. They never wondered how they will charge these free laptops when there is no power supply. They never questioned a high rate of unemployment prevailing amongst them nor did they ever think of setting up their own businesses.
Ambanis and Modis were not the most educated when they started business. In fact, they were hardly educated but this country gave them opportunities and one of them set up what is perhaps the largest business empire in the country. Why couldn’t Muslims do that, it never occurred to them. An occasional Abul Kalam Azad did not inspire them. Tata belonged to that small minority called Parsis. They are perhaps the smallest minority but that did not stop Jamshedji in planning and setting up Jamshedpur, India’s first finest planned city by a private person. Tata group of business is rated amongst the top business houses and also as the most professional group in India. Neither their minority status nor their rigid religious rituals came in the way of their progress. Their entrepreneurship has been inspirational for the country and they have maintained their distinct identity.
Same is the case with other minority groups. Whether they are Christians or Sikhs, their communities have been known for holding important positions both in government and private sector as well as owning big businesses respectively. Their religion never came in the way nor did any one of them allowed themselves to be a vote bank. Yet all maintained their distinct religious identity. Actually, all religions teach that God helps those who help themselves.
It never occurred to Muslims that they are the second largest majority in this country and yet they have been made to live at the mercy of so called secular Parties. Progressive living remained illusory to them. They never thought that they are naturally endowed with the finest of the crafts yet opportunity for commercial viability remained far fetched. Community leaders only talked of religious rituals and whom to vote for during elections. No body questioned the status quo. Their own became their biggest enemies.
It is in this backdrop that the two mentioned incidents merit attention. At last, Muslims are rising up for themselves. Voice may be meek but it has risen. One hopes that an awakened community will stand for its own interests and will ask for development rather than more communal bills. One hopes, it will not be frightened with false bogey of an individual. In fact, if there is any one, Muslims can look upto for their deliverance from abject backwardness, it is Narendra Modi who can do so by practicing good governance.