Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Prejudice against muslims in public institutions

This news item sheds light on a major issue.That of anti- muslim prejudice which exists in Indian public institutions.Some would suggest that this is a one off case.There is substantial difference in the perception of this issue.Most non muslims tend to downplay it while within muslim circles it is considered a major issue.A prominent Muslim businessman has said (off the record) that if it were'nt for corruption and political connections it would be even more difficult for muslims to do any business due to the communalism and prejudice of the lower bureaucracy and administration.
Admittedly this prejudice has grown due to recent acts of terrorism. Earlier the jan sanghis and assorted rightwing Congressis made life difficult for muslims.They used to go after muslims for revenge against historical Muslim invasions and the partition of India.Now minority appeasement and terrorism are the reasons cited.Some of the prejudice is also due to class bias as there is a huge underclass of muslims. Other reasons cited are treatment of minorities in Pakistan,bangladesh and Saudi Arabia or the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits.
All this talk about muslim appeasement by the rightwing obscures the very real fact that muslims are economically and socially backward.
See for example a recent survey here
A recent article in the Guardian makes the same point.
Some of this backwardness is self inflicted by the lack of interest of many muslim parents in the education of thier children. So what do we do ? Some muslim intellectuals like former IAS Officer Saiyad Hamid have suggested reservation of muslims in government jobs .The AP government had promised reservation but it was struck down by the AP High Court.However public opinion seems to be strongly against reservation so I don't think this will happen.

India Muslims