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Who are Against the Minorities? They or We?

By Sheema Mohsin

On January 22 the Urdu daily Salar published from Bangalore carried a statement by Mr. Rahman Khan, Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha as saying “The Indian Muslims should discard the title ’Minority’ attached to them.” It came as a shock especially because of the timing. It came when a few states are going to polls and Muslims as minorities have to assert themselves and also because debates are going on all over India on reservation to Muslims in employment and education as minorities.

Muslims are minorities and this is not an insult but just a terminology to explain that they are not equal to the majority community in numbers of population. Therefore they enjoy certain special rights guaranteed by the constitution to empower them to some extent.

Who are the Minorities?

In 1966 the need was felt to guarantee the rights of minorities even though Universal Declaration of Human rights confirm that all human beings are born equal. At the International covenant on civil and political rights, with an aim to facilitate the group (minority) to exercise and enjoy their rights and to assert themselves and maintain their identity and uniqueness amidst stiff competition from the majority, the Article 27 came into existence.

The Article 27 states that, “In those countries in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied the right in community with the other members, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion or to use their language’ The Indian constitution also adopted it and besides it the constitution protects life and liberty of the minorities and which can be enforced through court if necessary.

Thus Muslims through the constitution enjoy the rights as a citizen as well as a minority citizen. In spite of these dual rights the Muslims in India are marginalized and deprived and to such an extent that they form the most backward socio-political community.

The Anti minority environment created through hate speeches, frequent riots, communalization of education have instilled a sense of inferiority and insecurity in the minds of the Muslims. The attempt to polarize the country’s populace by the communal forces is very harmful .It will ruin the secular fabric and stagnate the growth and development of the country. Therefore consolidated efforts by secular forces are needed to defeat them and pave way for minorities to thrive and not stifle them further by stripping them of their minority identity.

AlthoughArticle14 of the constitution guarantees equal treatment, the overt and covert discrimination towards Muslims is seen in public and private sector. This is seen in the recruitment as well as in the promotion especially in the Administration, Police and Defense services. The various government schemes to uplift the Muslims are only in the papers. The Congress has simply not performed in respect to the Muslims. The harsh realities brought to light in the Sachar Committee Report has also not awakened their conscious .It seems they have no political will to implement the recommendations of the Mishra Commission Report on one hand and on the other hand even before the government does anything substantial for the Muslims there is the outcry of appeasement.

What the constitution grants to Muslims is their right and not charity.  No political party should perceive them as parasites or vote bank but as citizens who are in grave need of opportunity and encouragement. If it is made available to them they will certainly go a long way in speeding the pace of development of our beloved country.

(The writer is convener, women’s wing, Welfare Party of India. )

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6 Responses

  1. Minor clarification on Minorities!!!

    What Mr. Rahman Khan, was eluding to was perhaps the ‘minority’ mindset which is sought to be drummed into the minds of the Muslims by repeatedly calling them as such and thus blunt their thinking and then push them around. We are not minorities in that sense but the single largest class of citizens of India.

    Whereas Ms. Sheeema Mohsin is refering to is the constitutional definition of ‘minorities’ in India where “Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis) are notified as minority communities under Section 2 (c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.”

    Ms. Sheeema Mohsin should realize that the ‘majority-minority’ frame of reference in India has now changed to ‘Backward-Forward’ issue where Muslims are not only ‘backward’ and deserving of concessions per Article 16(4) of the constitution. It will benefit her to understand such elementary frames of reference in Indian Politics and give up the ideas frozen in 1970’s.

  2. We are minorities as stated in the constitution and we are backward too .The question is how to empower these backward minority muslims and which political party is working towards it inspite of constitution? Well Written.

    • could you ponder about our issues/problems, and how they could be segmented …… i.e.
      – issues/problems which are self-inflicted / intra community
      – issues/problems or road-blocks which are creations of the powers that be.
      – issues/problems which are imposed by vested interests who are inimical to the cause of the Muslims.

      Once you’re done with this exercise you could be better qualified to talk about empowerment because you’ll know exactly where the ‘dis-empowerment’ felt by you really lies as of now.

      ’empower’, you said!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. I have been reading your articles they are good and informative.keep it up.

  4. We Muslims were Minorities in 70’s also as well as t’day,We need to assert ourselves and see that good and commited community leaders come to power and not some nincompoop who are good for nothing, represent the community at the state and centre.

    • Oh!!! The lovely seventies…………

      The C.E.O. of IBM, is attributed to have said a long time back, while assessing the need/demand for computers that “I think there is a world market for maybe FIVE computers”.

      You have a situation now where there could be as many in a upper-middle class home in Bangalore, leave alone the world.

      The ‘issues’ in Politics for people who an hawk’s eye on it changes by the hour. Assertion/empowerment appear to be plastics words i.e. words without actual meaning since they are not contextualized.

      So if you don’t want to learn from whats happening around you then for you its welcome to ‘Disney land’, a land of wishful thinking.

      You don’t seem to see any good from our politicians, which maybe true in a way BUT is there any other segment of the society which is performing its duty?

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