Who should be considered a ‘minority community’ in India, is the question here:
Over 190 million Indian Muslims, forming 14.2% population and growing at the fastest pace (fertility 3.2 per woman compared with the declining national average of 2.2) or less than 60,000 Parsees who are at the risk of extinction (fertility just 0.8 per woman)?
To any rational mind, calling Parsees minority makes sense; handful Jews in India can be surely called minority. But saying that Indian Muslims are ‘minority’ defies all rationality. They are the third largest Muslim population in the world, after Indonesia and Pakistan. The population of Indian Muslims is more than the combined populations of two biggest Muslim countries: Egypt (94 million) and Iran (82 million) and three times the population of UK. They are actually a full nation (as big as the neighboring “Terroristan”, misleadingly called Pakistan) inside India! And if taken together, their population almost equals that of Uttar Pradesh, the most populous Indian state.
The majority-minority divide is a borrowed concept from Western democracies, just like the idea of secularism – separation of State from Religion. But why divide people into majority and minority groups? Well, people in the mature (western) democracies discovered that the majority monolithic bloc (Christians) often try suppressing those of other faiths in minor numbers; therefore the minority groups needed some safeguards to stay in the mainstream society and prevent their marginalization. For the same reason, they invented the concept of ‘secular State’ – where government policies are not dictated by any religious ideology. Both concepts resulted from experience of theocratic governance.
But applied in the Indian context, the majority-minority divide has inherent problems. The most fundamental is that the so-called majority of ‘Hindus’ is not a monolithic bloc like Muslims or Christians. What is called ‘Hinduism’ is not a ‘revealed religion’ by a specific person like Islam or Christianity. ‘Hindu’ community is made up of a lot of diverse communities with their own unique beliefs and traditions. None of these numerous communities ever had the tradition of distinguishing people based on so-called ‘belief.’ In no sense, ‘Hindus’ form a mono-cultural group of people and have no history of ‘attacking or converting’ people of other identities to increase their numbers. They also have no history of running ‘theocratic state.’ What sets them apart is that their Dharma based way of life makes them naturally tolerant of people of other cultures and those who think differently, without ever getting into the ‘we’ vs ‘them’ rivalry.
Therefore, it is difficult to understand the relevance of majority-minority divide in India; it serves no purpose. Pragmatically speaking, it only polarizes the society. And if politicians have been using it, politics must be the only intention. The word ‘minority’ is the most ‘relished’ word for politicians who indulge in appeasement politics for Muslim votes. For them ‘minority’ is synonymous with ‘Muslim’ – more accurately, the Muslim clerics whose dictates swing Muslim votes. ‘Minority’ word suits them for playing the game of vote-bank politics. Having fallen in their trap over time, Muslims started to call themselves ‘minority community.’ But looking at their cosmic headcount of over 190 million, it is really hilarious and ridiculous both.
If smallness of numbers alone make people’s life hard, as the minority appeaser politicians and Muslim leaders want us to believe, then life of the Parsees and the Jews living in India must be really horrifying due to their microscopic headcounts. But contrary to this silly logic, both these communities have been living intermingled with the majority Hindus for ages. Their contribution to Indian society is exceptionally high compared with their hardly-visible numbers – that makes them pride of India. Moreover, unlike Muslims and Christian, they don’t run ‘religious conversion’ industry to prop up their numbers for political mileage.
Again, contrary to the deceptive narrative of ‘majority Hindus’ oppressing ‘minorities’ the government of India has launched a special ‘Jiyo Parsi’ program in 2013 to prop up the population of the Parsees community which has been declining dangerously. The population of Parsees fell from 1.14 lakh in 1941 to 57,264 in 2011. In the past two decades, on an average just 200 births took place annually in the community. The very low fertility rate (just around 0.8 child per woman) has put the community to the risk of extinction in the coming years. Such a gesture is possible only in ‘Hindustan’ – the land of Hindus, due to their highly compassionate and accommodative way of thinking. There has to be something remarkably humane about Hindu culture that today globally the largest population of Parsees lives in India. In contrast, one can easily imagine their fate in any ‘Islamic State’ run on Sharia constitution.
Therefore, Muslims have to look at their own socio-psychological habits that have put them where they are today, and they must also compare it with the mental framework of people of these two communities.
Finally, there is the angle of the two-nation theory that partitioned united India, while talking about Indian Muslims. Pakistan was created based on the delusional thinking that Muslims are superior to Hindus because they have dominated them for around 800 years until the British came, so how can they live in India under “Hindu-Raj” after the British left. [There are prominent Muslim leaders who wanted the British to delay their departure indefinitely; founder of the AMU was just one among them.] Therefore, they must be given a separate land where the ‘superior’ Muslims can live in their own ‘superior’ Islamic ways. Founded on this discourse, there is an ongoing Pak campaign to prove that Indian Muslims are leading a suppressed life dominated by ‘kafir’ Hindus. Otherwise, the very basis for creation of Pakistan gets negated! [Of course, 1971 has already proved them wrong when the Islamic glue failed to keep the Pakistani “Muslim Kaum” united!!]
Why should Religion decide Minority Status?
Now another question:
If India is supposedly a ‘secular’ – religion neutral – country, then why demand things in the name of religion?
Right ‘secular’ parameters to judge small and minor groups of people who might get excluded from the national mainstream are – poverty, physical or mental disability, social boycott (lesbian, gay, transgender), people living in difficult terrains, illiteracy, poor senior citizens without support, orphan / abandoned children, sex workers, group of people persecuted on any ground (eg. Kashmiri Hindus who were driven out of Valley by radical Islamists), and so on.
Does Muslim community qualify to be called a ‘minority’ group on any of these ‘secular parameters’? The answer is a clear NO.
Poverty may be applied on Muslims, but they alone are not poor in India. In fact, none of the progressive and broad minded Muslims are poor. Religious ghettoization, indifference to modern education and lack of serious efforts to mingle freely with non Muslims are the prime reasons of poverty among them – and the backward looking Maulavis are solely responsible for that. It is a pity that even after 7 decades of independence the behavior of Indian Muslims is largely shaped by clerics, not by educated Muslim intellectuals and scholars. Is it a responsible way of living in a modern democracy where 85% Indians don’t practice Islam?
Are Minorities Safe in India?
After branding Muslims as minority, the pseudo-liberals and intellectuals who grew up reading only Western books then pose the question of safety of ‘minority Muslims’ in ‘Hindu majority’ India.
When an American or European journo raises such an issue, it is understandable because the Western concept of “Religion” runs in their veins and where, for example, a Christian is naturally supposed to have a discriminatory mindset towards a Muslim. But when an Indian intellectual writes a piece with this mindset he/she is doing a great injustice to over 100 crore Indians (non-Muslim and non-Christian) who make India naturally ‘secular’ and tolerant of diversity by virtue of their Dharma based non-discriminative way of life that sees ‘the whole humanity as One Family’. It merely reflects a distorted or hollow understanding of Hindu civilization that defines India. They suffer from ‘secular’ blindness when they can’t see the fact that from 1947 to 2018 population of Indian Muslims has steadily increased from around 10% to 15%.
However, their question is again best answered by the real minorities in India – Jews and Parsees, who also practice foreign born Faiths. What sets them apart from the Muslim community is that these communities rely on hard work and enterprise, rather than begging favors in the name of minority religion. In fact, Parsees can teach a lot to the Muslim community – how to be grateful and respect Dharma based tolerant Hindu culture and live peacefully and prosper through hard work and forward looking mindset. History tells that when Arab Muslims invaded Iran in the 8-10 centuries, Zoroastrians had to flee to avoid persecution, torture and conversion. They found safe refuge in the distant India of ‘Hindus’ – not among the next door Muslims ‘neighbors’ – deluded in sham Islamic superiority. The moot question is: who is really superior, the one who threatens to kill and terrorizes or the one who actually saves?
Realities of the modern 21st century society demand that Muslims stop playing politics in the name of Islam and learn how to live peacefully among secular Hindus. Their problems are typically rooted in their own circular thinking looped around Islam, Sharia, Kaum or Umma, and delusion of Islamic superiority. Lucky are those who develop the maturity to transcend this loop and join rest of the free thinking progressive mainstream.
Hindus are Inherently Tolerant and Accommodative
Hindu culture does not have any inbuilt bias against people of other beliefs. All India born philosophies are based on Dharma principles recommending universal human ethics for peaceful living where hysteria and fanaticism are considered traits of lowly uncivilized humans. Unlike Islam, none of these philosophies prescribe indulging in terror or violence to convert or dominate them. They have inbuilt tolerance for diverse opinions and the capacity to accommodate them – something utterly unthinkable in rigid monotheist Islam or Christianity. Look at the freedoms enjoyed by Muslims in Hindu’s India.
In India, the minority Muslim community is the major road block in adopting a uniform civil code that rest of the 86% Indians have been demanding for decades. A Muslim painter, Hussain, ccould paint Hindu Goddesses in nude – in the name of freedom of expression – and yet stayed alive as darling of Indian ‘seculars’. Radical Muslim politicians like Owaisi brothers can publicly issue threat of total decimation to Hindus (85% Indians) and radical cleric Zakir Naik can openly promote terrorism in the name of religious freedom. Another Muslim actor, Amir Khan, counted among the top movie stars of the country, can makes film (PK) mocking Hindu gods and make fortune – and then even accuse Hindus of being ‘Intolerant’! …Height of juvenile and ungrateful thinking.
Are Non-Muslims Safe in Islamic Societies?
Indian intellectuals have failed to consider this question, either for fear of physically attack from radical mullahs or for fear of losing their self assumed ‘secular’ status. Unlike the situation in India where minority Muslim population is growing well above the national average, uninhibited by the ‘majority Hindus’, the non-Muslim minority is steadily shrinking in the neighboring Islamic countries. In Pakistan, they have shrunk from around 20% in 1947 to less than 2% now and the kidnapping of girls and forced conversions still continue as regular but ignored events. Bangladeshi Islam is also leaving its mark on non-Muslims who are now less than 8%. Not too long ago, its only Hindu Chief Justice was forced to flee the country.
Within India also a peculiar situation is emerging in many areas across the country. The ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Hindus from Kashmir can’t be seen as an isolated local aberration. There are many areas (regions) in the country – most notably in West Bengal, Bihar, UP and Kerala – where demographic changes have made Muslims locally the ‘majority’ community. In many such areas, their local socio-psychological and cultural behavior have changed – and are often described as ‘mini Pakistan’ by cocky Islamic fundamentalists. In many areas, Muslim mobs move around imposing Islamic theocracy, called sharia, on people as if India is an Islamic nation.
How safe are minorities in these mini-Pakistans is a question never asked by the self-declared ‘secular’ intelligentsia?