Sowing seeds of another partition of our motherland, the Rajendra Sachar Commission Report on the status of Indian Muslims has now been tabled before Parliament and our 'secular' politicians are all set to create another communal divide in the country for votes.
Even if it was a well-known fact for decades that Indian Muslims were backward, the commission has prepared interesting and useful statistics on the representation and performance of our Muslim brethren in almost all walks of life and from that perspective the commission's work shall very much be appreciated.
But the manner in which the Commission prepared the report is highly unacceptable as the Commission just went to Muslims and asked how they felt in Indian society and Muslims shot back saying they were deprived. Had the Commission gone to Muslims in the UK or to Muslims in France or in the United States and asked how they were feeling in their respective country or society where they are a minority, no doubt Muslims there too would have answered that they were being discriminated against. Wherever Muslims are a minority, they say they are oppressed even as it is the minorities of Muslim majority countries who are really and legally oppressed and discriminated against.
The interesting facts here are not what the Commission tried to find out but what it did not try to find out.
Even while pointing out that the literacy rate among Muslims is below the national average and even while unsuccessfully trying to get the statistics of Muslims in the armed forces, the Commission did not investigate, for example, out of a thousand Muslims, how many educated and eligible Muslims were willing to serve the armed forces compared to educated and eligible men or women in other communities. It might have received a very low figure, naturally, since Muslim psychology prevents them from serving the military of a Dar al-Harb (house of war).
The Commission did not try to find out, compared to their counterparts in other communities, how many Muslim girls above the age of eighteen were unmarried. Why should the exchequer pay a commission to find out something that is already known? The Commission did not point out that the Muslim majority district of Malappuram in Kerala has a high number of grand-mothers below the age of thirty and that there are so many women at the age of eighty who have been fortunate enough to have the inheritance of five to six generations and the religion of these sisters of ours might have been a very sensitive one.
Minority rights and special privileges for minorities are part of our constitution and the same grant our minorities the chance to run educational institutions as they desire. Here, the Commission did not want to prepare statistics on how many Muslim educational institutions were serving the country and students compared to the number of Christian educational institutions. The Commission might have felt that Muslim community had so many madrassas before finding and giving us comfort in the statement that these madrassas were not feeding terrorists.
The Commission claimed that students of these madrassas formed just 4.3 percent of Muslim children in India. That may or may not be a fact, but every one knows that, even while not attending madrassas, Muslims kids are given religious education. And the Commission did not see how many Muslim children were getting religious education compared to national average. Here the Commission might have observed that our Muslim children were very much well educated!
We can still have facts and figures that the Commission did not want to have but enough is enough, let us stop here.
Instead of just asking Muslims how they were feeling in our society and instead of just recording their answers, the Commission should have tried to find out the root cause of the Muslim backwardness as well. That the Commission did not do that sincerely may be something good because it might have finally observed that Muslim psychology was the real culprit for their backwardness and might have ended up in the Commission being tagged 'communal' or 'saffronist.'
The impression the Commission wanted to give was that it was because of discrimination that Muslims were being backward in our society. Finally that blame too belongs to our Hindu majority, a society sometimes which is the most religiously tolerant, which constitutionally extended special privileges and rights to a minority community which once proclaimed that they were a different nation and a different people and different civilization with a separate religion, separate language, separate culture, and separate heritage and carved out and bagged the first Islamic republic in history.
In this background we should be taking into consideration not alone the status of Indian Muslims but that of Muslim in their own countries too. The status of Muslims in Pakistan or Bangladesh is as bad as that of our Muslim brothers. They are represented very well or they alone are represented in all the walks of life in these countries and still common Muslims there lag behind. Are they discriminated against? We can have a close watch on the status of Muslims in all the Islamic countries and one will see that no Muslim society without oil revenue except that of the democratic, secular, liberal Turkey has been able to succeed in the way of progress.
Even in the developed western countries like France, UK or Germany, Muslim performance is very bad compared to others. They are immigrants but Hindu immigrants or Sikh immigrants or Buddhist immigrants don't fail in their thrust for education and progress. Furthermore, people of Indian origin in the United States who are mostly Hindus have outperformed all the other groups in that country and are revered as a "model minority." After all our Muslims too were Hindus once.
So the question here is, Is it Islam that blocks the progress of our Muslims brothers? The editor of an Azerbaijani daily recently wrote stating that Islam stands in the way of humanity's progress. No, religion can not and shall not stand in the way of humanity's progress but religionism can. That was the experience of Europe with Christianity and that is known to us as the dark ages. Intellectual performance and education are ingredients of progress, here critical thinking and analysis matter and religionism is obviously an obstacle. Hindus lacked these qualities throughout centuries where caste and other social evils for religion had the upper hand in the society and the Hindu civilization, once the greatest of humanity, faced a natural decline. But now that Hindu society is evolving, the Hindu civilization is all set to regain the glory of past that it once lost in the axis of time for evils in the name of religion.
Having had this analysis it is the Muslim psyche that has to change if they really want to succeed towards progress. Instead of being interested more in the Palestine conflict or the Iraq invasion or in Danish cartoons, our Muslims should be concerned about education and social progress. Again, our Muslims should not give their ears to the ulema who are more interested in the cause of ummah or politicians who are interested only in Muslim vote bank. Ulema and our self-proclaimed secular politicians want our Muslims to be uneducated. It is only then that their purpose is served. That any society which does not give preference to education in general and girls' education in particular fails is the law of nature. But here no one can help out Indian Muslims. No one, no leader, no state, no clergy, but they alone.