By Saud Amin Khan:
The gloomy prospect which presents itself to the eye of the Indian Muslim today creates great anxiety and little gratification. Since freedom of expression and liberty of thought are cardinal values under our Constitution, I want to share with you minor details about the experience I had in the capital recently.
When I vacated my flat last month, I wasn’t really prepared for what was to come. In fact, any person born and raised and belonging to this country will find it appalling to believe that on the basis of my religion, my identity as an individual and an Indian was forthrightly dismissed.
I was homeless for a good 25 days and the cause of it – Islam.
If a certain section of society is not worthy of this nation then this nation is poor indeed. I will not deliberate upon the fragments of my identity which are, currently, being rebuked; but, the part which is not but, quite unfortunately so, deserves to be deliberated upon is my Indian-ness.
The problem with our country is not the lack of constitutional guarantees but, rather, the overtly easy ways to mute free speech. There has to be an acceptance of thoughts we detest, cultures different from ours and religious behaviour not-in-synchronisation with our own have to be acknowledged and appreciated, for that is the true indicator of democracy and freedom.
But, when the same freedom is misused in the name of nationalism and patriotism, democracy agonises.
A certain faction of our society has created the impression that they alone are the protectors of India’s ancient values and peace. In this way, they have acted vigilantly and conquered one position after another. Although to the surprise and relief of many, I want to present a worthy argument without innocently ranting about the Dadri-lynching case, Malegaon blasts verdict and the likes of Sadhvi Prachi and her “Muslim-mukt bharat” mantra.
Well, terrorism does exist, but why do we not feel ashamed or bothered by the fact that our whole country is at the risk of being terrorised intellectually at the moment? Why is our collective social consciousness struggling to condemn the wrongdoings of those who want the damnation of Dalits, Muslims and other minorities?
A society’s treatment of those in the minority speaks of its performance on human rights. In that respect, reservations and quotas don’t suffice.
My worry is that I can see a proliferation in the ever-dissatisfied and terrified group of people who can no longer be reckoned as belonging to their own nation. To eliminate the causes of such a development is an action that surely deserves the attention of the country. For it is in the interest of the nation to safeguard the allegiance and faith of its people, as much as the need to safeguard other features of public life.
The needs and sentiments of Muslims, therefore, should be prioritised. My objective here is to make you aware that anti-social and dishonourable treatment of human beings provokes resistance but a feeling of belongingness and brotherhood will, with certainty, promote social harmony.
It is getting hard for Muslims to find good jobs, to find accommodation in good localities and send their children to good schools. Some sources claim that there are only eight Muslim police chiefs in India’s 591 districts. If so, that is a dismal 0.1% compared to the 14% of India’s population who are Muslims.
According to a member of the Sachar Committee, Muslims make up only 2.5% of higher levels of the bureaucracy and the situation is little better in other departments. It indicated that Muslims were subject to conditions poorer than that of the SC/STs. The report also revealed a significant prejudice against Muslims in private and public sector employment. Similarly, living in religious pockets is maleficent and largely un-Indian in its approach. We must not allow for such religious frontiers to be born within the confines of our nation.
The nation needs a strong moral voice at the helm of affairs. If the barbaric acts of discrimination are not condemned today, we cannot expect much in the days to come. In these times of social unrest, it is critical for the leader to condemn the wrongdoings of religious sects and radical forces with conviction and clarity. Moreover, factually speaking, intolerance of any kind will interfere with the geopolitical exhibitions India is doing at present. Therefore, in more than one way, the current state of affairs is an impediment to intellectual India, developed India and educated India.
There are times when it is simpler to take part in activities which are evil and unjust, but in such moments, standing alone with the courage to do what is right is far greater than being a part of the unruly mob that is hell-bent on doing the opposite. In such times, as compatriots, your participation and concern for the oppressed can make all the difference. The day you do that, you can be proud of making your own little contribution to the welfare of this nation, just like I did today, in finding the courage to pen my thoughts down.
It is rightly said that the business of the philosopher is to make ideas available, and not to impose them on people. In compliance with the aforementioned, I cannot impose my ideas on you just as the ‘right-winged’ cannot impose their ideas on all of us.
Besides, the fact that I was apprehensive of writing the above statement shows the cautiousness one has to bear in mind while voicing their concerns openly. Very respectfully, I urge you all to show solidarity and explore peaceful measures to make these times easier for people of this country.
Featured image for representation only. Credit: Allison Joyce/Getty Images.