The plight of Muslims in India
There is an outcry in India that the Muslim population in India could outnumber the current Hindu majority before long. Fanatical Hindus point out that Islam, unlike Hinduism, allows polygamy. As such, a Muslim household is likely to have more siblings than a Hindu. The BJP wants to enforce a uniform civil code that prohibits polygamy.
All projections of the phenomenal growth of the Muslim population may not be correct. Above all, the Muslim population in India has always been underrepresented in the Lok Sabha. The Pew Research Center estimated there were 195 million Muslims in 2015. By 2060, Pew estimates there will be more Muslims in India than anywhere else in the world (more than Indonesia), and they will constitute 19% of the Indians.
Riaz Hassan’s study
Riaz Hassan, in his study Indian Muslim: Sociology of a Religious Minority concludes:
The biggest and most consequential change [in population] however will be in India. Its Hindu population will increase by 35%, from 1.03 billion in 2010 to 1.38 billion in 2050, but India’s Muslim population will increase by 76%, from 176 million to 310 million over the same period. This means that the largest increase in South Asia’s Muslim population will occur in India.
India will acquire a new global status in terms of the religious composition of its population. Not only will it be the largest Hindu nation, but also with a population of 310 Muslims, India will become the largest Muslim nation in the world. While Hindus will remain the majority at 77%, the proportion of Muslims will increase from 14% of the population in 2011 to 18% in 2050. This means that nearly one in five Indians will be Muslim (p. 2. , id.)
Disadvantageous dispersion of the Indian Muslim population
Unlike Christians who have their chief minister in a Christian-majority Indian state, Indian Muslims do not have a chief minister. Even the Indian state of Kashmir was illegally converted into a centrally controlled union territory.
Indian Muslims live in all parts of the country, but more than half of them live in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, West Bengal and Kashmir. According to the 2011 Census of India, the states with large Muslim populations are: Lakshadweep (64,473, 99%), Indians occupy Kashmir (12,541,302, 68%), Assam (31,205,576, 34 %), West Bengal (91,279, 27%). %), Kerala (33,404,061, 27%), Uttar Pradesh (199,812,341, 19%), , Bihar (104,099, 542, 17%), Jharkhand (32,988,134, 15%), Uttaranchal (10,086 292.14%), Karnataka 961,095, 297.13%). Delhi (16,787,941, 13%), Maharashtra (132,374,333, 12%), Gujarat (64,739,692, 10%), Rajasthan (68,548,437, 9%).
Legislative voice in the desert
Most of the winning candidates came from opposition parties, while only one candidate from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 303 out of 542 seats across the country. But, only one Muslim candidate (a renegade) could make it to the Lower House (lok sabha, people’s house).
Muslims have always been underrepresented in the Lok sabha. In the 1980 elections, almost 10% of those elected were Muslims. In 2014, it was below 4%.
Due to poor representation in okay Sabha, critical questions about the plight of Muslims in India are never asked. Most questions about Islam are usually asked by Hindu legislators. These questions revolve around rituals like hajj. A set of 276,000 questions were asked in parliament from 1999 to 2017. Few questions are asked about the plight of Indian Muslim women, for example harassment from hijab-wear women in public places. The number of Muslim women is less than 1% of lok sabha.
Majority BJP policies are likely to further reduce Muslim representation. Many Hindu nationalists express the idea that Muslims can never be truly Indian because, unlike Hindus, their holy places are not in India. The growth of the BJP was catalyzed by the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992. In the 2002 riots, more than 1,000 people, most of them Muslims, were killed in Gujarat state (Modi was then the minister head of state).
The Muslim’s Dilemma
During the freedom movement, the Indian Muslim was the vanguard of the All-India Muslim League. With the creation of Pakistan, they lost their charismatic leader, Quaid-e-Azam. The Indian Muslim felt orphaned and leaderless in a Hindu majority state. They had to suffer the hardships of living under a cosmetically secular constitution incapable of protecting their minority rights.
Historically, Jamiyat Ulema-e-Hind, associated with Deoband Seminary, remained affiliated with Congress. The only concern of the Jamiyat was the religious endowments. Key issues such as the Organization of Islamic Countries, Kashmir and Palestine issues remained out of their scope. Likewise, Jamaat-e-Islamai was no longer in a position in post-Partition India to argue that secularism and democracy are alien to Islam. And the Muslim should fight for an Islamic state. In post-partition India, the main Muslim parties, the Muslim League and Ittehadul Muslimeen were able to send representatives to parliament. But, the ML is confined to the northern districts of Kerala and the latter has retained its political base in Andhra Pradesh, generally Hyderabad. The Indian Muslim who during the Pakistan movement fought for a separate homeland still bears the burden of proving that he is loyal to India and therefore worthy of Indian citizenship.
The Indian Constitution and successive governments have failed to provide physical security for the Muslim minority (like other minorities). Since partition, more than 40,000 Muslims have been killed or injured in anti-Muslim riots. During the recent Delhi riots, Muslim homes and shops were bulldozed despite a Supreme Court stay order. The unfortunate Muslim was then forced to participate in a joint Hindu-Muslim meeting Taranga (Indian flag) marching to show that everything was perfect with the law and order situation.
The Sachar Committee
This high-level, seven-member committee, established in March 2005 by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, shed light on the social marginalization of oppressed Muslims. The committee was headed by former Delhi High Court Chief Justice Rajinder Sachar to study the social, economic and educational condition of Muslims in India. The committee, among others, recommended the establishment of an Equal Opportunities Commission to provide a legal mechanism to deal with complaints of discrimination, including in areas such as housing and employment.
The Committee observed:
“Their [Muslims’] conditions are only marginally better than Hindu Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes and worse than Hindus of other backward castes [read mandal Report also]”.
The Sachar Committee found that their marks of identity such as address and names often lead to suspicion and discrimination from people and institutions. Discrimination is persuasive in employment, housing and schooling. Muslim women who wear religious head coverings and face coverings may face particularly acute discrimination. At the same time, most other non-Muslims his fellow citizens consider the socio-cultural characteristics of the Muslim community as the cause of his “backwardness”.
The socio-economic condition of the Indian Muslim, like that of the dalits (the oppressed untouchables) has gotten worse over the years. The golden words of the Indian Constitution on fundamental rights, justice, liberty, equality and brotherhood (Articles 25 to 30 of Part III of the Indian Constitution) remain a dead letter.
The Muslim community should merge with other persecuted communities to forge a movement of the oppressed people of India.