India Votes: What Are The Issues Of Indian Muslims As Elections Approach?

Muslim Man, AhmedabadAs another election to the parliament in India approaches, the question comes up “What are Indian Muslims Thinking? What are the issues on the basis of which they will vote for various parties? Are their issues the same as those of other Indians or do they have some distinct issues of their own?

The political, security and social situation in the country has been turbulent in the last one year, to say the least. Several instances of grievous terrorism have caused much tension between Muslims and Hindus. The latest being the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba sponsored attack on civilians in Mumbai in November 2008. Fortunately it did not result in larger Hindu-Muslim conflagration in Mumbai. But the harsh contrived police encounter against Muslim youth in Jamia Nagar and the further harassment of peaceful Muslims in Azamgarh has sent a wave of anger and complaint in the Muslim community throughout North India. Of course the very bad situation of the victims of the 2002 genocide in Gujarat remains unchanged and is causing much consternation in the Muslim community. Continue reading India Votes: What Are The Issues Of Indian Muslims As Elections Approach?

Indian Muslims – Where Have They Gone Wrong?

I was thrilled when a friend’s father gifted me ‘Indian Muslims – Where have they gone wrong?’ by Dr Rafiq Zakaria. The book is an honest attempt by a well respected individual. A congressman to the core Dr Zakaria is a staunch supporter of the principles set by Gandhiji. His dislike of Jinnah and his politics is also something you cannot miss in his work.

But before I talk about the actual book I’ve to mention the absolutely brilliant foreword by another famous Indian writer M.J. Akbar. Continue reading Indian Muslims – Where Have They Gone Wrong?

Vinaash Kale Vipreet Budhi

CPR India Conference Hall Since time immemorial Indians have traded with the known western civilization of its time. The trade in material was two ways but it seems India has given a lot to the world in what one may call intellectual property but has not taken much in return. Since the control of India by the British, the trend has reversed we not only lagged behind in our export of products we also imported heavily in the realm of ideas and philosophies. The modern India that we see today owes a lot to the western civilization.

5 Things Muslims Should Have Done!

Mumbai MorningThe attacks are a direct result of radicalisation of Islam and hatred for anyone who does not share your belief. Unlike the earlier blasts, Indian Muslims have not been blamed for the recent Mumbai attacks. The attacks were too complicated to blame us. Does that guarantee that the recent attacks will not have any repercussions for the Muslim community? The terrorists must have definitely had some form of local support to get such precise details about their target. Continue reading 5 Things Muslims Should Have Done!

Who Shrunk The Muslim Intelligentsia?

Jama Masjid

In recent years I have observed that frequently when there is public discourse in India on the socioeconomic, political and educational issues of the Muslim community, the majority of the Muslim leaders addressing these matters are clerics. Continue reading Who Shrunk The Muslim Intelligentsia?

CK Jaffer Sharief – A Resigned Man

Mr. C.K. Jaffer Sharief has been Member of Parliament for a long time. He has been part of every Lok Sabha from 5th to 13th Lok Sabha except 11th. This means that he has been in the apex body of Indian legislation from 1971 to 2004. He wasn’t part of 11th Lok Sabha so you can take two years out of that and you have an experience of 31 years as an MP. Continue reading CK Jaffer Sharief – A Resigned Man

Should Clerics Dominate The Nation’s Muslim Leadership?

Anti-Terrorism Conference DeobandWhenever I look up the news reports on the issues and problems of the Muslim community, I find that often the Muslim leaders addressing these matters are clerics. The question arises, why is the politics of the Muslim community in India dominated by clerics, many of whom are not even Islamic scholars? Why is the proportion of the community’s leaders from the Muslim intelligentsia so small? Continue reading Should Clerics Dominate The Nation’s Muslim Leadership?

Indian Muslim Organizations And Leadership Disputes

Mahmood MadaniIt is no secret that today India’s Muslims need much help from the Community’s major organizations and parties to lobby with the government, political parties and the power structure to develop and implement programs to uplift the much depressed and backward Muslims. There are about a half dozen such organizations of Muslims in India that are more than fifty years old, that have much credibility with the Muslims as well as the government, the majority Hindu community, media and the nation’s power structure. Continue reading Indian Muslim Organizations And Leadership Disputes

Join The Struggle

garam hawa posterIf you have not watched the movie “Garam Hawa” I will say that you don’t read this post any further because it may spoil the movie for you. I would highly recommend this to any one to understand the situation that Muslims of India were going through post-partition. This movie is based on a short story by Urdu writer Ismat Chughtai.

Story, direction, acting, dialogues everything is excellent in this movie. It has been many years since I watched it and now I am unable to get any DVD of this movie.

Towards the end of the movie when the whole family decides that they had it enough and can not take the discrimination and living in fear and it is time to move to Pakistan. On their way to the railway station they see a group of young men holding a demonstration for getting employment. The son steps down and moves towards them to join them and the father looks on his son approvingly. Giving this message to Indian Muslims if you want to feel at home then you have to join the struggles for a decent life.

Recently Syed Shahabuddin raised similar sentiments in his monthly magazines “Muslim India.”

The Muslims have to participate in the struggle of the common man for a better life and not confine themselves to their own deprivations and grievances. In brief, their political strategy has to be inclusive, for full participation in the quest for justice for all deprived sections of the people.
—- Muslim India, June 2007 editorial.

A natural question at this point is that then why do we need a blogging site like IMB? For simple reason is that joining the struggle and becoming part of the main stream doesn’t mean that we lose our identity. This is the beauty and strength of India that it draws from all different religion, culture and philosophical sources so that all communities feel a part of it and the result of this “manthan�? is our India.

Malegaon Civic Elections: Surprise Or No Surprise?

Malegaon BlastMalegaon, also known as the Manchester of Maharastra because of its powerlooms and textile based economy, was rocked by bomb blasts last September in which more than 30 innocent lives were lost. More than 300 people were injured and as is generally the case in India, the victims still await for justice.

Civic elections were held recently for the 71 out of 72 seats in Malegaon recently. Newly formed Indian Muslim Congress Party (IMCP) pulled off a surprise by bagging 27 seats relegating Congress to the second position with 15 seats. IMCP was formed days before the elections by Mufti Mohammed Ismail, an influential cleric from the city and fought elections on the development plank. Mufti Ismail was also credited helping keeping peace in the volatile city after the bomb blasts last year.

The leaders of the IMCP or the Teesra Mahaz (Third Front), stitched together by Mufti Muhammed Ismael, had fought with development as their agenda. Ismael was among the local community leaders who have been credited with helping the police keep peace in the town after serial bomb blasts hit the town on September 9, 2006. []

Unfazed by the fatwa issued against him by another local priest, Moulana Azhari, and the scorn heaped by stalwarts of the Congress and Janata Dal, Ismail pulled big crowds at his meetings in which he sought votes for his “third front” in the name of development. []

But is the IMCP victory all that surprising? A lot of Muslims in Malegaon were frustated by the lack of proper investigation in last year’s blast and that certainly went against the Congress which is in power at both the state and the centre. It also suffered in the civic elections in the town of Bhiwandi where Samajwadi Party pipped it to the second place with 17 seats.

Maulana Badruddin AjmalThe elections in Malegaon, however, raise some important questions. Is this a move towards formulation of a Muslim party in places where Muslims have a definite say in elections? Indian Muslims till now have had faith in the democratic and electoral process in India. By choice, they didn’t form a party of their own and more importantly, the influential clerics never involved themselves in politics. There have been exceptions in this regard and a relevant example would be the performance of Badruddin Ajmal and his party Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF) in last year’s Assam elections. But such dalliance have been few and far on the Indian political landscape. The very fact that Mufti Ismail projected his party as a third alternative (teesra mahaz), fought on the issue of development and was able to capture the imagination of the electorate shows that something is amiss with our bigger political parties. Also, have the clerics decided that they have had enough with the corrupt politicians and are now joining the electoral fray? More importantly, is this good for India?

Personally, I am against religion based parties in India but then as the BJP has shown, you can ignore two of the biggest minority groups in India and still rule over the destiny of 1 billion Indians for five years. Shiromani Akali Dal is a Sikh party and religion and politics are entwined in Punjab. So, does it helps if you are concentrated in a region, play communal politics and still be acceptable to the mainstream? Or can you be a party of only the majority group and still be fine? And when no political party in India is tackling the real issues of Indian Muslims namely poverty and education, is it really a bad idea to have someone who can fight for their rights and help address their genuine grievances?