Abul Hasan, ViewsHeadlines,
There is no denying that discrimination against Muslims in India runs deep. The 200 million strong Indian Muslims face discrimination against them in daily lives and experience it in almost every part of the country, with a few exceptions.
There is no denying that this discrimination against Muslims didn’t appear all of a sudden after Narendra Modi and BJP took India by storm, not just forming government in New Delhi with an overwhelming majority but also winning massive mandate in Uttar Pradesh. Discrimination against Muslims, trying to destabilize their businesses and stopping them from becoming part of India’s growth has been continuing for a long time.
The riots that have been the hallmark of the country after Independence were a well-thought out strategy to corner the community, destroy its businesses and weaken them in their ‘strongholds’. If you take a look at how the riots happened, you will see a trail of efforts to destroy the small scale industries, by fomenting communal tension in areas where Muslims were relatively prosperous and ran good businesses based on local small scale industries. Riots in Moradabad, Bhagalpur, Aligarh, Meerut, Ahmadabad and several other places across the country destroyed successful Muslim businesses in those parts of the country.
Riots were not the only way to stall Muslims’ efforts to progress and be the part of the growth that India started experiencing a few decades after the partition. There are many subtle ways in which discrimination against Muslims is experienced in their daily lives by Indian Muslims.
There has been a massive effort by the right wing organizations under the aegis of RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal and the BJP to stereotype Indian Muslims. The stereotyping efforts run deep, and a lot of investment is made by these organizations to make Muslims look abnormal, or rather monstrous in the eyes of common Indians. Who can forget the then Gujarat Chief Minister’s “HUM paanch, Hamare pachees” jibe some fifteen years ago. Narendra Modi meant that a Muslim man has usually four wives, this counted to five and these five persons produce at least twenty-five children among them.
Some other stereotypes about Indian Muslims include that Muslimswill outnumber Hindus within a few years time, in the event of a war between India and Pakistan they will support Pakistan, they are anti-national and work for ISI, they oppress their women, they bath only once and many such other things.
Discrimination in jobs
Getting job is very difficult for Muslims. I am not talking about Muslims coming out of IIT with flying colors and facing discrimination in getting jobs. While they get jobs as companies desperately need talents from India’s top tech colleges, there are some instances where they are among the last ones to be hired by tech companies despite being competent.
But common Joe is the one who faces very tough time in landing a job. Two people with same educational qualifications and almost similar expertise in a certain field are treated differently just because one of them in Muslim.
Ayesha Pervez, who works on minority issues and has authored reports on India’s working Muslims, was quoted by Al-Jazeera as saying that job-seeking Muslims face the hurdle of discrimination even outside unorganised sectors. “The discrimination – which is nothing but religious identity-based exclusion – exists in organised government sectors too. In West Bengal, Muslims constitute 27 percent of the population. But their representation in state-government jobs is as low as four percent…Workplace discrimination forces Muslims to adopt fake Hindu identities. Because of this discrimination, most Muslims are unable to upgrade their standard of living”, says Pervez.
Denial of reservation benefits to Dalit Muslims
There are a large number of Dalit Muslims spread across the country. They are the most backward segment of population. These are the people whose Dalit parents or grandparents converted to Islam. These people are denied benefit of quota and reservation in jobs and education. This is notwithstanding the fact that they are more deprived than the fellow Dalit who have been brought back to Hindu mainstream society.
Be it Congress or the BJP, no one wants to give quota benefits Dalit Muslims. This shows the extent to which they can go to discriminate against Muslims. Misra Commission report, a couple of years ago asked the government to give benefit or reservation to Dalit Muslims, but we know how the report has been pushed under the carpet and no action taken on its recommendations. Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians cannot be included among Scheduled Castes, and thus they cannot be granted reservation, thanks to the Presidential Order of 1950. That order denies inclusion of Dalits of any community other than Hindu in the Scheduled Castes category. The third paragraph of the order says, “notwithstanding anything contained in para 2, no person who professes a religion different from Hinduism shall be deemed to be a member of the Scheduled Castes.”
Difficulties in getting business loan
If you are a Muslim business owner and want to get loans from banks, it is going to be tougher than you might have thought. While the discrimination against Muslims in India’s banking sector was well-known, a response received after an RTI was filed in this regard made the level of discrimination rather very clear. A Mumbai-based RTI activist M A Khalid had filed an RTI to know what was the share of the Indian Muslims to the total loan disbursed by banks. The response showed a horrific picture. Muslims got a little over 2% in both 2014-15 and till September 30 in FY 2015-16.
A Times of India report says, “Although there is no specific guideline about granting loans to Muslims, the banks agreed that 15% of the total priority sector loans should go to the minority community. Muslims constituted 14.2% or 17.22 crore (as per the 2011 census) of India’s population of 121.09 crore and scholars and community leaders feel that their share in bank loans should be much higher…Among the six PSU banks —Punjab & Sind Bank, Allahabad Bank, Corporation Bank, Bank of Maharashtra, Vijaya Bank and Andhra Bank—from which Khalid got information, only Allahabad Bank showed an encouraging trend. It said the share of the Muslim community in the priority sector credit of the bank was 7.07% as on March 31, 2015, which increased to 7.19% on September 30”.
There is no denying that Ghettoisation has been forced upon Indian Muslims. Even well-off Muslims who want to live in cosmopolitan, mixed housing societies are not allowed to live in such societies. In many cases, if they want to buy or rent a flat in mixed colonies, they are denied citing many ‘reasons’. One of the reasons usually mentioned is that people eating non-veg food are not allowed in the society.
Last year one of my friends, who works in a top real estate company and shifted base to Delhi from Bangalore wanted to rent a flat in an upscale locality in South Delhi, adjacent to Jamia Nagar, he was flatly refused. Everything was going fine and the flat owner looked very impressed with the guy till he asked his name. “Everything changed as soon as I told him my name and he realized that I was a Muslim”, says he. The owner of the flat didn’t deny him immediately but told the broker that the flat ‘was already booked’ though it remained vacant for several weeks.