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Why does India’s economic growth need an inclusive agenda


Amir Ullah Khan

Abdul Azim Akhtar

With a Foreword by Amitabh Kundu

Institute of Objective Studies

New Delhi
Why does India’s economic growth need an inclusive agenda

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Acknowledgements Editors i
Foreword Amitabh Kundu iii
Preface Amir Ullah Khan vii
Introduction Amir Ullah Khan and Abdul Azim Akhtar xi

Chapter 1 : Indian Muslims and the Political Landscape: Some Fears,

Some Hopes and Some Advice 1
Muqtedar Khan

Chapter 2 : Family Planning and Indian Muslims – Myths and Realities 9

S Y Quraishi

Chapter 3 : Policy Challenges: Have Development Schemes meant for Muslims

worked effectively? 37
Jawed Alam Khan

Chapter 4 : Politics, Violence and Production of ‘Fear’: Working of

Shiv Sena in Mumbai 53
Abdul Shaban

Chapter 5 : Muslims in Contemporary India: Issues of Security and Equity 71

Ram Punyani

Chapter 6 : Hindutva and Muslims 85

Irfan Engineer

Chapter 7 : Live-Reporting and Democracy: The Non-Publishable Crime

of the Televised anti-Muslim Violence in Gujarat 2002 91
Britta Ohm

Chapter 8 : Handling Communal Violence 101

Vibhuti Narayan Rai

Chapter 9 : Anchoring Behaviour in the Word of God 107

M D Nalapat

Chapter 10 : Muslim Representation in Parliament: A Case Study of

96 Muslim Concentrated Constituencies 109
Shafeeq Rahman

Chapter 11 : Muslim India: Brotherhood in Biradri 131

Abdul Azim Akhtar

Chapter 12 : Forgotten at the Margins - Muslim Manual Scavengers 157

Manjur Ali

Chapter 13 : Employment of Muslim Women Workers in the Indian

Labour Market 169
Rakhshandah Hani
Chapter 14 : Socio-economic Profile of Muslim Women in Maharashtra 183
Vibhuti Patel

Chapter 15 : Influence of Education in Enhancing Social Inclusion of Muslim

Women through Entrepreneurship: Implications and Challenges 199
Broto Rauth Bharadwaj

Chapter 16 : Imperatives of Personal Law Reform and Good Governance 211

Zafar Mahfooz Nomani

Chapter 17 : Stereotypes of Muslim Identity in India's Popular Media and

Entertainment Industry 221
Yousuf Saeed

Chapter 18 : Kashmir Issue: Prospects for Peaceful Resolution 233

Ghulam Nabi Fai

Chapter 19 : Educational Status of Muslims – Focus on Telangana 243

Amir Ullah Khan

Primary Sample Survey 263

National Consultations 301

Annexure : Interviews 315


This project was made possible with support from people across the country. We are thankful to
all people involved as part of the Vision 2025 Project for their support and help.

Dr. Rajiv Kumar chaired our first workshop and gave us the necessary encouragement to start
this ambitious journey.

For organising the Delhi workshop, we are thankful to Mr. Irshad-ul-Haq Khan and all the
participants. Our thanks to Maulana Farooq for organising the Mewat meeting in Hauz Rani area
of Delhi. We are grateful to Bihar Urdu Library staff and Bihar Chapter of IOS for helping us in
organising the meeting in Patna.

We are indebted to Mrs. Ayesha Parvez and Mr. Parvez Akhtar of Arsalan Group of Restaurant
(Kolkata) for supporting and sponsoring the participants at very short notice in an excellent
manner. We are also thankful to CPI-M MP Md. Saleem, SNAP and Mr. Amirul Alam and
others for helping us in organising the Kolkata meet. Our thanks to Mr. Shahjehan Talkudar,
Mr. Jehan , Shri Jyotimory Hazarika, Dr. Zakir Hussain of Law College for helping us in
organizing the meeting in Guwahati on a fine Sunday with full attendance.

We are thankful to Mr. Javed Anis, his wife Bhavna and all participants for coordinating the
Bhopal meeting at very short notice. Our thanks to SDPI Rajasthan chapter, Mr. Md. Shafi, Mr.
Anis Ansari, and Mr. Khalid for helping us in organising the Jaipur meet. We could not organise
Maharashtra and Gujarat meets due to various reasons, but we are thankful to Siasat Gujarat
editor Mr. Abdul Hafiz Lakhani and Begum Sayeed for providing us with feedback on Gujarat.
We are also thankful to former Maharashtra Minority Commission Chairman Mr. Munaf Hakim
and others for providing us with feedback. We are thankful to Mr. Ameen Mudassar for helping
us in reaching out to South Indian audience in Bangalore.

In the end we would like to thank Institute of Objective Studies and its office bearers for their
continuous support. Our thanks are due to all the authors and participants who took part in our
workshops. We are especially thankful to Dr. Saba Bashir for her editing and providing us with
feedback from time to time. Thank you. Without your support, it would not have been possible.

Prof. Amitabh Kundu readily agreed to write a fine foreword. His continuous support has been

Questions may be raised regarding the necessity and significance of focusing on the
development deficits of Muslims and exploring the strategies to mitigate that, while putting
forward a vision of Inclusive India for 2025. Members of Sachar and Post Sachar Committee,
too, have confronted similar questions: why the emphasis in the reports is on inequalities in the
socio-political system, keeping the Muslims in the centre rather than presenting the spectrum for
all sections of deprived population.

The purpose of a Committee or a Commission set up by the government with the intent of
initiating strategic interventions cannot be simply churning out data and discussing the highs and
lows for different groups with studied ‘objectivity’, maintaining equal distance with all, without
prioritising an action agenda. It will fail to make an input in policy making if it does not
endeavor to identify the areas of concern and propose the directions wherein the state actions
are required urgently. A vision of India 2025, for having relevance in policy domain, too, must
put forward a perspective of development interventions to mitigate the alarming inequalities in
the system and propose measures for ameliorating the conditions of the poor and vulnerable.
Any analysis of recent data would demonstrate that Muslims constitute the largest majority in
both the categories.

Muslim identity: From Continuum to Categories

Characteristics of individuals exist and evolve over time, measured generally in a continuous
scale, for the purpose of assessing their levels of deprivation. In general communication and for
decision making, however, these are often perceived and utilized for classifying people into
discreet categories. Classifying persons into categories, such as poor and non-poor, rural and
urban etc., based on the numerical value of the characteristics involves imposing boundary
conditions that are matters of discretion. Building these categories is important not only for
legal, administrative and resource allocation purposes but even for day to day communication.

The logical frame underlying the categories (the assumption being all members are equal within a
category) conflicts with the axiom of continuity. For example, one would not have any difficulty
in accepting the axiom that a transfer of money or asset from any person to another, the latter
being economically better-off, is socially undesirable. However, if we consider people only in
terms of categories such as poor and non poor, we would be ignoring the differences in their
actual income or property levels. Any transfer of money from a poor person to another, who is
better off, then would not be considered unwelcome or perverse if both remain in the category
of poor, even after the transfer. To minimize loss of information, Amartya Sen proposed a
measure of poverty or deprivation based not on the number of persons in these categories, but
their actual levels of income or assets since the variation in these within the identified categories
are often very high.

Sen in his sharply focused volume on Identity and Violence, written partly in response to Samuel P.
Huntington’s thesis of Clash of Civilizations, has argued that every person has several
characteristics that would give him an identity which has inherent multiplicity. This multiplicity
evolves and becomes complex over time as the person exercises choices in socio-economic and
political spheres that make her align with identities of other individuals or groups.

Unfortunately, instead of assessing the exact position of a person within the categories, and
without recognizing the multi-dimensionality of the identity, they are often recognized by one or
two categories such as, religion and nationality. Given that important decisions are to be made
by individuals, group leaders, company executives, government functionaries and political
leaders without spending much time (even the most important stories get only a few minutes of
media coverage), such over simplification of identities is considered a necessity. Unfortunately,
this leads to undermining of the complexities and richness of personalities of both individuals
and communities.

Viewing individuals in terms of their religious faiths has become common in social and political
discourses in recent years. This, unfortunately, is more common for Muslims than other
communities, which undermines their professional, cultural and social identities, creating ground
conditions for discrimination. Furthermore, a person being repeatedly recognized with such
narrow mirror-view leads to destroying their own perception of self which, in turn, can vitiate
the choices they makes. The uneasiness and distress of a person in being persistently seen in
such a narrow prism can indeed lead to behavioral aberrations on their part as well.

The clash of civilizations, predicted to take place in near future, posits religious faiths to be the
central characteristic of differing cultures. Taking that to be the overarching basis of social,
political, and cultural analysis would amount to overlooking all other associations and loyalties.
Besides the conceptual flaw in seeing human beings in terms of only one affiliation, these
civilizational theories are deficient in overlooking the degree and heterogeneity of the so called
‘religious identity’ which characterizes the individuals within the communities.

It is important to take note of the plural identities of people and their interactions with other
groups or people, for purposes of their characterization. Unfortunately, there is an increasing use
of religious identities/affiliations as the principle of classification which has led to much crudity
and vulgarity in social research. The loss of knowledge and information in the failure to
distinguish between individuals based on the degree of affiliation and loyalty to religious
principles or rituals is massive, resulting in absurd deductions. More importantly, oblivion to the
multiple roles and responsibilities performed by them, leads to perversity in policy making. The
Islamic identity, for example, can be one of the identities the person regards as important but
denying the importance of her other identities is a sad caricature of reality. Aside from the
conceptual crudity reflected in such classificatory algorithm, it overlooks the more obvious fact
that Muslims in India differ sharply not only in their political and social beliefs but also their
adherence to religious rituals. The exigencies of political leaders in India on both sides compel
them to underplay these differences to hasten the pace of polarization for electoral and other
political gains. They even tend to ignore simple distinction between a Shia and a Sunni, which is
so very important in the Arab world. The reluctance to go beyond this narrow frame by taking
note of the many professional social and cultural identities of Muslims that are nonreligious, and
ignoring sharp inequalities in their socio-economic conditions, cannot simply be an oversight or
a random error in social analysis.

Explaining the Development Scenario and Social Behaviour

For projecting a vision for 2025, it is important to understand the existing socio-economic
inequality, keeping the poor and vulnerable Muslims in the centre of the analysis. This identity is
critical to the explanatory framework for explaining disparities and discrimination in the country,
as brought out in the present report. The socio-economic correlates of religious identities in the
society, reflected in their poorer outcome from the development process, must be understood
and effectively modified and monitored to move towards the goal of inclusive India. The
categories such as "the Christian world," "the Muslim world," or "the Hindu world," largely
drawn from skewed perceptions of reality, as discussed above, can, however, misleading and
dangerous. Seeing a society as comprising just sets of different religious groups distorts the
understanding of the people, due to the "divisive power of classificatory priority". To see one's
religious or "civilizational" affiliation as an all-engulfing identity in development dynamics in a
country would be a problematic diagnosis. There have been fierce racists and war mongers as
well as great champions of peace, social justice and human rights among devoted members in
each religion. Asking which is the position of a ‘believer" and which is that of an ‘impostor,"
implies acceptance that one's religious faith itself resolves all the decisions in life, including those
concerning her political and social choices. Even the current divisions around the events of beef
ban and triple talaq, have placed Muslims, Hindus and Christians on all sides of the dividing
lines. Instead of asking which is the right position as per a particular religion, we have to
recognize that everyone has the right to choose among several different positions on matters
involving political, moral, and social judgments without having anything to do with the religious
faith. This is very well substantiated in the papers in the volume pertaining to demography,
engagement in economic activities, political participation etc. of the Muslims. Persons of a
particular faith being on different sides of many cultural and political divides should not be an
exception but a normal phenomenon within the vision of Inclusive India 2025.

A couple of authors in the present volume have suggested implicitly that the political leaders on
all sides, using religion as an instrument of political mobilization, want religious responsibilities
of their followers to crowd out their commitments that ensue from their scientific interests,
professional obligations, literary involvements, or political affiliations. The day to day decision
making is systematically fed by an understanding that having a religion would imply alleviating
the need for reasoning, since judgment can then be "locked up" in religious faith. Importantly,
many of the papers in the volume bring out the sharp inequality in access to labour market,
social and political space and the domain of security, not merely across different religious groups
but even among Muslims. While the narrowly defined Islamic identity of the latter partially
explicates their ground conditions and trend of sharpening inequalities in certain spheres, it
provides limited explanation for their behavioral response. The report has done an excellent job
in focusing on these conditions and highlighting the critical explanatory factors behind disparity
and deprivation with empirical rigour. A development strategy envisioning a modern, vibrant
and inclusive India must address these issues with conviction and determination.

Amitabh Kundu
January, 2018


This report started off with a realization after the 2014 elections that India was set to change.
The idea of India itself was transforming and there was a sense of apprehension among all
thinking individuals. The dominant political discourse, that had been one of inclusion earlier,
seemed to have dramatically altered and moved to the other extreme of majoritarianism and
exclusion. Even Aadhaar, a simple long awaited tool that would guarantee social security and
work towards bringing in those who were excluded, would go on to become an instrument used
for keeping people out.

The elections proved all pessimists right. India, smarting from corruption at high levels and an
economic downturn post the global crisis, elected an ultra nationalist government by a huge
margin. The only saving grace was that Prime Minister Modi, the chief architect of a polarised
polity in the new millennium, made promises of ‘sabka sath-sabka vikas’, an India that would
include everyone and work for each community’s growth. Elections over, there was a sense of
anticipation. What would the new governments do now?

The political economy and polarisation

Almost immediately the intentions of the government became clear. There was a definitive move
towards imposing a right wing ideology that came to be defined as Hindutva. The distinction
between a tolerant, inclusive Hinduism and a strident and muscular Hindutva became clearer by
the day. Muslim and Dalit youth were threatened, attacked and even lynched by mobs that then
were allowed to go free, in those few instances where they were even charged with violence.
Matters reached a head when religious mobilization resulted in big wins for the BJP in UP and in

In Uttar Pradesh, the politics was unusually, even for the ruling party, aggressive. The Prime
Minister campaign harped on how Hindu graveyards had been neglected by the previous
government. The cow protection laws were made stricter, specialized police squads were formed
and private armies of cow protection volunteers were unleashed on the streets. In Assam, the
old issue of Bangladeshi migrants was raised. A bill was introduced that would allow non Muslim
asylum seekers to claim Indian citizenship. A national register is already underway that would
identify illegal migrants, a euphemism for Bengali Muslims.

A number of hostile moves have been initiated. Large changes in syllabi and in history text
books. The education board in Rajasthan took the lead in deleting Mughal history and removing
words that could be traced to Urdu or Persian roots from the language. Senior leaders demanded
making Sanskrit compulsory and announcing the ‘Gita’ as a National Book. The Prime Minister
himself led a campaign to popularize Yoga and others, then made to compel schools and offices
to practice Yoga. People were beaten up for not singing the National Anthem or standing up
when it was played. Similar violence was unleashed arguing for all Indians to chant Bharat Mata
Ki Jai and sing the controversial Vande Mataram in offices and institutions.

Opposition to liberal thought

Matters became serious when a number of liberal thinkers started getting killed. Activist
Narendra Dabholkar was the first to get killed after the elections for the Lok Sabha were
announced. Dabholkar wanted an anti-superstition and black magic bill passed, and he was shot
dead in August 2013 in Pune. Govind Pansare, a Senior Communist leader was shot dead in
February 2015. He had written extensively against right wing forces and also on Shivaji, showing
how the Maratha king was secular ruler. This was followed soon after by the killing of an
academic and former vice-chancellor of Hampi University, M. M. Kalburgi, a well-known
Kannada writer who had relentlessly continued his campaign against idol worship and
Brahminical rituals. And then came the merciless killing of another Kannada writer and activist,
Gauri Lankesh in similar fashion.

A number of such incidents have made India an unfamiliar place. The secular, inclusive republic
that celebrated its diversity now appears a monolith where the Union government wants to
create a monolith where one religion and one language would occupy centre stage. An emerging
economy where GDP growth and investments had become part of the common man’s
conversation has now seen an about turn in its political economy framework. Unemployment,
malnutrition and exclusion have been replaced by nationalistic pride in symbols like orange
robes and revenge for perceived historical wrongs.

A vulnerable group: The Indian Muslim

Where does this place the Indian Muslim? The Muslim population in India is already vulnerable,
placed at the lowest level among socio-religious groups on almost all indicators. The BJP had
historically brought up the appeasement issue in the 1980s and the 1990s. The often repeated
complaint was that the Congress and the left parties had disproportionately distributed subsidy
and welfare funds among the minorities, particularly the Muslims. This allegation was made
again and again without any evidence. The Manmohan Singh appointed Sachar Committee,
submitted its report in November 2006, and demolished this baseless slogan that Muslims are
favoured by political parties.

The data was remarkable and poignant. The literacy rate among Muslims at 59% was
substantially lower, than the national average of 64.8%. On the criticism that Muslim children
languish in Madarsas, the Committee found that only 3% of Muslim children go to there. Only
4% of Muslims are graduates or hold diplomas. Muslims constitute 3% of the IAS, 1.5% of the
IFS, 6% of all police constables and 4.5% of railway staff. Muslims are almost as poor as SCs
and STs. This should have finished all claims of appeasement.

This data was then collaborated by the Kundu Committee which showed in 2014 that nothing
much had changed even after 8 years of Sachar Committee recommendations. Several more
committees would show similar results. The Sudhir Commission for Telangana in 2016 also
presented that Muslim poverty is high and that their proportion in employment in Telangana
state is well below their population proportion. However, it is baffling that the same allegation
of appeasement is repeated by Hindutva forces when they say Muslims have been granted
special status in India.

Another recent study that says the same is by Rehnuma, an intervention anchored by the
National Foundation of India and the Centre for Social Justice, set up in 2013 to address
discrimination of vulnerable groups in India. In its new report titled Minority appeasement: Myth or
Reality? Rehnuma asks the same questions that have been asked by the various Commissions
mentioned in the previous paragraph. This report funded by the European Union and UN
Women was released last week. The report presents some interesting findings that are worth

The first major point that the report makes is that the spending on minorities by state
governments is woefully low. Not surprisingly the lowest is in Gujarat. The state of Gujarat
spends just 0.029% on minorities, while the share of minority population is the state is 11.3%.
The highest expenditure is in West Bengal where the state spends 1.9% of its total budget on
28.18% of its population. Telangana spends 0.83% for nearly 16% of its total population that
constitutes the minorities. Also even with these trivial allocations, the only state were the
spending exceeds allocated budgets is Karnataka.

The second important observation made is on housing for the poor. Under the Pradhan Mantri
Awaas Yojana, only 30% of the targeted number of houses for minorities were constructed.
Gujarat again showed a miserable performance, with only 1380 houses constructed against the
target of 7437 for minorities. West Bengal did extremely well and constructed 132468 against a
target of 135074. The story is the same for expenditure under the Rural Livelihood mission.
Gujarat does the worst while West Bengal reaches nearly hundred percent of the target.

One major step taken by the Union government after the Sachar Committee submitted its report
was to provide scholarships to minority students. However, the money spent on these
scholarships has been steadily coming down since 2014. Except for the state of Telangana, there
is still very poor awareness of this scheme among students as well as among school teachers and
principals and district officers. In fact it is in scholarships that the state of stands out for having
given additional scholarships to students who don’t get central assistance. The procedure also is
much simpler and level of awareness is much higher in Telangana state.

The report also studies the impact of beef ban laws on minority populations. Again not
surprisingly it finds that the laws do not really impact beef traders in West Bengal where the ban
has not been imposed. However, it has particularity affected business in Jharkhand. The report
specifically mentions that the ban has hurt small traders in Ranga Reddy district of Telangana.
Large business houses owned by Hindus have not faced any problem. It is the small ones who
are harassed by the goon squads roaming freely and by the police. Animals seized from small
traders are sold again in the market in collusion with the large business houses who are able to
arm twist and bribe law agencies.

The report mentions that the special scheme to support Madarsas is not very efficient. However,
it makes special mention of how the Telangana State Minorities Residential Educational
Institutions scheme is transforming the state’s education sector and the educational levels among
Muslims. There are a few such innovations that can be replicated across the country. Overall the
picture seems bleak, and the irony comes through clearly when despite such widespread
discrimination and lack of access to services, Muslims are seen by some as being appeased.

It makes sense that the ruling party at the centre will try to approach this issue with trepidation.
Anything it does that is seen as supporting the minorities, can result in a number of votes going
away. However, given the relative deprivation where the Muslim neighbourhoods exist, the
question that is difficult to answer is whether this biased behaviour will work counter-productive
for the BJP. Other reports here pointed out to the level of discrimination and the apathy of the
government against Muslims. What are the solutions then? One that is often talked about is to
set aside seats in educational institutions and jobs in the public sector, like those reserved for
SCs and STs.

The case for reservations

Reservations are in the news now and will remain so for the next few years. In 2020, the
reservation clause under the 95th amendment will expire. For reservations to continue the clause
will have to be renewed and the present government will be only too glad to discontinue this
policy. As for granting reservations to Muslims, it is unlikely that the Modi government will give
in easily. At the moment, there are various demands being made. Some OBC groups and
forward castes want to be included, Muslims and Christians and Sikhs want to be included as
religious groups and various states want to revoke the 50% cut off that was imposed by the
Supreme Court.

Let us quickly look at some issues that the reservation policy has thrown up. The price of all
reservation for OBCs has been paid by the Muslims. Surjit Bhalla, an eminent economist and
member of the PM’s Economic Advisory Council asserts that ours has become a Hindu
constitution that has worked for the Hindus and has blatantly given Reservations to Hindus at a
major cost to the Muslims. The draft constitution, produced by the Constituent Assembly’s
Drafting Committee headed by B.R. Ambedkar, included Muslims and Indian Christians among
the beneficiaries of reservations in legislatures. However, it was done away with subsequently.

Vision 2025

It was in this context that a team was set up to study the situation and look at what the
immediate future holds for Muslims in India. It was decided to take an in depth view of what
people perceive and what they think needs to be done to build a perspective and a vision for
Muslims in particular and the minorities in general. A large number of stakeholders were
interviewed and several experts asked to contribute background papers. All this and a
nationwide survey has gone into this report studying both the issues of deprivation and

This large piece of work tries to bring together various views and debates on the subject of
deprivation and discrimination of Muslims. Questions regarding access to education, healthcare,
housing, jobs and livelihood were asked to a large cross section of stakeholders and analysed.
While there was little that was left out in terms of concerns and challenges, what is missing is a
cogent set of solutions. That will probably require additional work and analysis and may be
another study.

Amir Ullah Khan

January, 2018

Amir Ullah Khan and Abdul Azim Akhtar

Need for an Agenda

Vision statement: We envision an India in 2025, where all Muslims are assured of, and have access to, equitable
and inclusive growth through public and private service delivery and are able to pursue their aspirations with the
optimal health, education, wellbeing and quality of life.

This vision will be realised by empowering all Muslims and minorities and their institutions, through building
leadership, capacity, accountability and diverse partnerships, and creating an enabling set of programs, polices and
regulatory environment.

Methodology adopted

Background papers: A large set of senior academics and intellectuals working on issues of inclusion were selected to
write papers on select topics and present them in our first seminar. These papers have been edited and published here
in the report.

National Sample Survey: A large survey was conducted by Bureau of Research on Industry and Economic
Fundamentals (BRIEF). Its entire report is presented in this report.

National Consultation and Workshops: A number of meetings were held across the country. Each of them has
been presented in this report.

Interviews: A broad spectrum of people were interviewed and their answers are also included in this report.

A Vision for 2025

Emerging from this study, is a series of steps that need to be taken to ensure that Muslims in
India are not only made to feel safe and secure, but also made a part of the inclusive growth
agenda. We present here a set of issues that emerge from our study across the country using
sample survey, expert group meetings, background papers and the literature survey.

The background

Incomes: Between 1999 and 2011, the least change in per capita incomes was seen among the
Muslims. This is half the rate for SCs, STs and OBCs. The most disturbing point is that while
the monthly per capita expenditure of Muslims has increased by 60% between 2004-05 and
2011-12 according to the National Sample Survey Office, it has increased by 69% for Hindu
STs, 73% for Hindu SCs, 89% for Hindu OBCs and 122% for upper caste Hindus. The gap is
broadening, especially in urban India, where the proportion below the poverty line is now higher
among Muslim OBCs than among Hindu SCs.

Reservation: The reservation policy was lopsided. While the constitution says that reservations
would only be for social and economically backward classes, Mandal recommendations were
based on caste. A large number of Hindu castes got included and a very complicated and non-
transparent procedure was adopted in a manner in which Hindu castes would get added to the

Literacy: The Post Sachar Evaluation Committee headed by Prof. Amitabh Kundu. In 2014
highlighted that the literacy rate of Muslims (70%) was below that of Hindu OBCs (74%) and
“General Hindus” (86%). STs and Muslims, top the list of large populations that have never
attended any school. Literacy rate across SRCs reveals that Muslims are marginally better off
compared to other SRCs. But they are worse off in higher education. Drop-out ratio is very high
among Muslims and when it comes to higher education, Muslim proportions are abysmally

Women: A majority of rural Muslim women are engaged in tailoring activities. Muslim female
populations are engaged in craft and related trade, skilled agriculture and fishery, and elementary
occupation. In the urban areas also craft and related trade works dominate the occupation for
Muslim females. Very little of the female workforces is engaged as professionals and technicians.
Access to housing, health facilities, to secondary and high schools and to institutions of higher
learning are what Muslim women always demand.

Health: Health outcomes among Muslim children are definitely better than other Socio-
religious groups. This is primarily because of the better treatment of the girl child which means
lower Infant Mortality Rates, lower Maternal Mortality Rates and better nutritional levels.
However, these early advantages get dissipated when adult health is analyzed. This is on account
of poor access to health facilities, poverty and slum like conditions of living. The study found
that Muslim women are more aware of family planning practices and contraception methods
than others. Among children the level of wasting, stunting and malnutrition are lower among
Muslims. Muslims prefer government hospitals over private healthcare providers.

Housing: A large percentage of Muslims live in rented accommodation. There is a strong

feeling of discrimination in the housing market and this is one policy aspect that needs to be
looked at strongly.

Credit: The problems with credit availability were reported by the most number of people. Lack
of access to formal institutions, apathetic banks, poorly staffed and inadequately funded
Minority Finance Corporations, lack of availability of start-up capital etc. were given as the

The Vision for 2025


• There is a special need to improve quality of education in schools. Successful interventions

like the Gyan Shala or the ENH Foundation’s initiatives can be brought in to help primary
schools achieve quality education.

• More schools to be set up and Urdu teachers appointed, with educational inspectors and
administrators, who know Urdu and can supervise the schools.

• Recognise Madarsas as schools by inducting them into the mainstream school systems
without interference in their core syllabi, in collaboration with Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan on a
voluntary basis.

• Mid-day meals schemes must be rigorously implemented and monitored. Mid-day meals
must be provided to all students, whether in recognized or non-recognized schools,
mainstream or community institutions.

Higher Education

• Higher education must be incentivized through providing larger number of scholarships at

the MPhil and PhD levels.

• Both Public and Private Universities must recruit larger number of Muslims in their higher
education programs.

• The Government should establish primary, middle and high schools for girls in all areas with
high Muslim populations. Because a major disincentive for students to continue studies is
that secondary schools are far fewer than primary schools.

• Government need to set up a large number of high schools and junior colleges for girls
through English medium. Because, the percentage of Muslims girls in higher education is

• The Government should establish new models of ITIs in order to train Muslim youths for
employment. However, before providing training, their requirements and skills etc. should
properly be studied and then accordingly training could be provided.


• Improvement of public health facilities by setting up more hospitals in the Muslim

dominated localities is a necessity.

• Collect weight at birth and monitor the same through pre-school and high school.

• Recruit ASHAs, Anganwadi workers and Auxiliary Nurse Mid-wives in Muslim dominated
areas from Muslim community.

• Parks, playground and sidewalks are required for inculcating healthy lifestyle of the
population in urban areas.

• Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) should be hired from among Muslims and given
proper training.

• Interventions are required to reduce the incidence of anemia among the whole population
with particular attention to Muslims.

• Increase reach of Rashtriya Shram Bikas Yojana (RSBY) in both rural and urban areas.

• Proper monitoring of vaccination rates and programs in Muslim areas.

• In the current health insurance schemes, medication for blood pressure and sugar may be
added as this drug required recurring expenditure.

• Universalization of access to drinking water and toilet facilities has to be achieved by 2020.

• Local medical workers who are the lifeline for the poor inhabitants could be given special
training at periodic intervals so that they provide better services.

• The Government should establish primary, Middle and High schools for girls in all areas
with a high density of the Muslim community.

Entrepreneurship and employment

• Most Muslims are engaged in self-employment activities and their participation in

agricultural activity is very low. So, policies for employment generation within the Muslims
should target non-agricultural sectors.

• The consumption expenditure of the Muslims is high accompanied by low monthly income.
So policies should aim at increasing income through some measures like access to
institutional credit.

• Skill development programs for Muslim clusters with private sector participation must be

• The wage differential among the Muslims with other religious groups is high. The Muslims
have to be protected with minimum wage laws in the state being implemented.

• The manufacturing groups where Muslim groups are working should have insurance cover
paid for by the state.

• The enterprise should ensure fair wages as well as other benefits like health cover, provident
fund, educational allowance etc.

• Focus on poverty alleviation and economic empowerment of minorities with special

emphasis on Muslim women.

• Need to provide land for landless Minorities in rural areas.

• Promote Urdu libraries as coaching centers and reading rooms.

• Need for the setting up of a special commission to look into Waqf properties.

• Govt. should make provisions that the Startup program should provide proportional funds
for setting up industries promoted by Muslims.

• Similar provisions may be made to ensure that at least 15% of funds as incentives for
industries earmarked for the units set up by Muslims.


• Government should ensure equity in housing. So, 20% of houses in urban areas and 5% in
rural areas should be allocated to Muslims.

• We have witnessed a huge proportion of Muslims who live in rented houses in urban areas
and face discrimination in the housing market. There should be a proper mechanism to
monitor this, as there have been lapses in the past in this regard.

Credit and Financial Inclusion

• There shall be group lending approach to Muslims who mostly work in informal sectors and
seek petty loans.

• SHGs should be formed by small businessmen/entrepreneurs/artisans and promoted with

finance and productive skills also.

• Access to credit remains the biggest problem for Muslim households and entrepreneurs. The
distortion in priority sector lending must be corrected.

• Organize the intensive training programs for Muslims youth for imparting the productive
skills and financial awareness to increases the demand for credit from within the community.

Government employment

• To overcome the under-representation of Muslims in administrative services like IAS, IPS

and IFS, attempts should be made to fill the gap through promotion quota from cadres in
state service.

• Ensure adequate representation for Muslims in Government Services and educational

institutions, including admission in education.

• There is also a need to increase the share of Muslims women in government employment.
33% of the reservation for Muslims could be given to women.

• In selection panels, there should be adequate representations or at least one member from
Muslim community for direct employment. A senior academic person should be appointed
into that panel.

• Again, in the case of departmental promotion, Govt. may consider nominating one Muslim
member in the case of a promotion of Muslim employees.

• For all competitive exams, there should be a screening test for all including Muslims and the
meritorious minority students should be allowed to choose the coaching centers on their


Over the last ten years, the policy framework in India has repeatedly underscored the plight of
the Muslim population even as the economy soared to unprecedented heights. In the last decade,
GDP growth in India went up to almost 10 percent per annum during 2006 and 2009 and has
remained among the fastest growing economies in the world despite the global downturn.
However, even as the rising tide did lift all segments of the population in the country, the
Muslims remained at the bottom on almost every parameter. The Sachar Committee 1 report in
2006 and the Post Sachar Evaluation report in 2014 underscore this persistent backwardness
among Muslims.

In 2015, India has marginally improved its human development rankings and been placed at the
130th position from 135th last year. India stands behind Maldives, which stands at 103. Maldives
spends 7.2 percent of GDP on education, while India spends only 3.3 percent GDP on
education. India’s ranking in happiness index, transparency and honesty are also not to be proud
of. Credit agencies like Standard & Poor have downgraded Indian position as safe place for
investment, yet the Economic survey is bullish about the projected growth rate for India in next
few years. The survey says, ‘India has reached a sweet spot—rare in history of nations—in which

1 The Prime Minister’s High Level Committee on social, economic and educational status of Muslims, also
known as the Sachar Committee had presented its report in late 2006 and had startled everyone with its
findings on how abjectly poor Indian Muslims were. Let us see how things have changed since then, if at all
they have. findings on how abjectly poor Indian Muslims were. Let us see how things have changed since then,
if at all they have.
it could finally be launched on a double-digit medium-term growth trajectory.2 This is the
fundamental question we are asking in this study, as we seek answers from experts, policy
makers, law makers, bureaucrats, researchers, academics, students, youth and common people.
Being a private initiative, our scope is limited and we are focusing on the last ten years, i.e. 2006-
2015. During this time, we had the Post Sachar Evaluation Committee also known as the Kundu
Committee, making its suggestions in the aftermath of the Sachar Committee Report. As was
expected, the BJP-NDA government, and Ministry of Minority Affairs under Najma Heptullah,
has put the Kundu Committee recommendations in cold storage.

In the recent past, there have been some serious investigations into the state of affairs of the
Indian Muslim community, of which the Justice Sachar Committee Report is considered the
foremost. What all these reports and studies highlight is the plight of the Muslim minorities in
India on all counts. These studies have put to rest, the appeasement narrative that marked most
political viewpoints over the last few decades. However, while the appeasement argument that
political parties used to their advantage in the late twentieth century, is no longer valid, what is
missing is any serious action that would enable the Muslim community in India to share the
economic growth. India has seen and aspires for.

The need for an Inclusive Agenda

The narrative on appeasement in India changed dramatically when the then Prime Minister set
up a high powered group under Justice Rajinder Sachar, asking it to study deprivation among
Muslims. Using government data, the Sachar Committee3 report in 2006 trounced the oft
repeated right wing refrain that Muslims were getting favoured from the state. On the contrary,
the report demolished this veneer of appeasement showing that Muslims were the worst off
among all socio-economic categories. And particularly in states where appeasement was allegedly
the most– West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Bihar and Maharashtra. The Post Sachar
Evaluation report in 20144 better known as the Kundu Committee, underlined this when it
looked at post Sachar data.

Over the last ten years, the India economy soared to unprecedented heights. In the last decade,
GDP growth in India went up by almost 10 percent per annum during 2006 and 2009 and the
country has remained among the fastest growing economies in the world despite the global
downturn. However, even as the rising tide did lift all segments of the population in the
country, the Muslims remained at the bottom on almost every parameter. And over the last two
years, there is an increasing feeling that the government, especially at the centre, does not really
care. A climate of subliminal hate bolstered by lynching, profiling, stereotyping and polarisation
seems all pervasive.

It is in this context that the Institute of Objective Studies, decided to take a proactive step to
envision the future for the Indian Muslim. What would it take to ameliorate the lot of this
deprived community in the next decade? What are the opportunities that exist? How do Muslims
leverage the strengths that Indian democracy and the constitution provide to all its citizens?
Amidst a global sense of insecurity and vulnerability, could there be a plan that would work in
India? The transformation needs to be total; at the social, economic, educational and political

2 Economic Survey 2014-2015, Ministry of Finance & Oxford University Press, N Delhi, 2015, p.1.
3 The Prime Minister’s High Level Committee on social, economic and educational status of Muslims, also
known as the Sachar Committee had presented its report in late 2006 and had startled everyone with its
findings on how abjectly poor Indian Muslims were.
4 The Post Sachar Evaluation Committee chaired by Prof. Amitabh Kundu submitted its report in 2014 and
evaluated the progress made by Muslims in the eight year period between 2006 and 2014. Not much had
level, just as the same is happening across the country. Would these two trends contradict each
other, are they in conflict?

Let us begin by defining the issues that face Muslims in India. Across the country, a
heterogeneous Muslim community that is by and large urban, illiterate and financially excluded,
faces the common problems of unemployment and the inability to access quality health care. It
is important to tackle these problems and a good beginning would be by way of understating the
extent and the nature of these concerns. There is no denying that overall there has been a
substantial increase in wages and incomes and standards of living have gone up too. Poverty
levels have reduced, but the disturbing trend has been the increase in inequalities. The data we
have, tells us that the rate of growth has been impressive indeed. But the growth rate has not
been comparable across communities and the slowest growth in rural India is among the Muslim
population. In large cities too, the worst rate of growth is among the Muslims.

This study seeks to bring up a vision for India for 2025. Inclusive India, will need to understand
how to tackle the problems that its largest religious minority faces today in the backdrop of what
the community sees as its aspirations in the next decade. The vision document focuses on the
social, educational, economic and political upliftment as well as the issue of security for the
Indian Muslim. This document, therefore, seeks to bring together a vision for India for its
Muslim population, focusing on the five critical areas of Education, Health, Political
Representation, Employment and Security.

Where we stand

In 2015, India has marginally improved its human development rankings and been placed at the
130th position from 135 in 2014. India stands behind Maldives, which stands at 103. Maldives
spends 7.2 percent of GDP while India spends only 3.3 percent GDP on education. India’s
ranking in happiness index, transparency and honesty are also not to be proud of. Credit
agencies like Standard & Poor have downgraded India’s position as safe place for investment, yet
the Economic survey is bullish about the projected growth rate for India in next few years. The
survey says, ‘India has reached a sweet spot—rare in history of nations—in which it could finally
be launched on a double-digit medium-term growth trajectory.5

The question a number of analysts have asked is - Can India achieve double-digit growth
without including Muslims—who according to the 2011 Census constitute 14.2 percent of
India’s population? This is the fundamental question we asked in this study, as we sought
answers from policy makers, law makers, bureaucrats, researchers, academics, students, youth
and common people. As former union minister Arif M Khan says, ‘Whether it is the Sachar
Committee or Ranganath Misra Commission, these are constituted on the eve of some political
event like state elections and then their reports remain confined in the official closet till some
resourceful newspaper publishes the document as a leak’.6 Foreign funds are tough to come by.
The Union Home Ministry estimated that Indian Muslims receive around only US $ 250 million
per year as donations from the Gulf and other Muslim countries.7

Others do not accept Khan’s view and believe that the situation demands such work. Former
Union Minister Salman Khurshid writes, ‘In notifying the Sachar Committee in March 2005, the
UPA government used the word ‘Muslim’ and not ‘minority’ for the first time in a government
document’.8 Salman Khurshid cautions, ‘….the well-wishers of the Muslims, must consider
carefully what sort of equality they wish to see Muslims aspire for: the equality of sufferance and

5 Economic Survey 2014-2015, Ministry of Finance & Oxford University Press, N Delhi, 2015, p.1
6 Arif Mohammad Khan, Text and Context, Rupa & Co., Delhi, 2010, p. 126
7 S S Gill, Islam and the Muslims of India Exploring History, Faith and Dogma, Penguin Books, 2008, p. 121
8 Salman Khurshid, At Home in India, Hay House, N Delhi, 2015, p. 36
patronage or the real equality of free expression and self-assertion’.9 Many agree that the
Muslims are facing difficult times post-September 11, 2001. Former minister K. Natwar Singh
said, ‘I believe, and I have said this even on the floor of the Parliament, that one of the major
challenges which the world faces today is, how to deal with the Muslim world. I deliberately do
not use the word ‘Islamic’....10

Our scope in this study is limited and we are focusing on the last ten years, i.e. 2006-2015 that
coincide with the period after the Sachar Committee had submitted its report. Let us begin by
defining the issues that Muslims face in India. While the list will be long and debatable, there are
some clear concerns that would emerge. The historical issues have been the marginalization of
the Muslim voter on the part of the state, the declining markets for handicrafts and handlooms
and a neglect of the Urdu language. New issues include a steep fall of numbers in the political
space, a polarization among voters that seems to be rising across the country, a persistently small
share in state employment, negligible share of employment in critical areas like policing and the
judiciary and the increasing segregation of housing seen across metropolitan India. Today, for
this heterogeneous Muslim community, it is important to address these problems and a good
beginning would be by way of understating the extent and the nature of these concerns.


A detailed literature review was undertaken to bring together the various scholarly works
published in the recent past exploring the ways in which Muslim India has changed. This review
covers the educational, occupational, political and social changes that have been studied by
various experts. The study exploits several datasets in addition to the National University of
Education Planning and Administration (NUEPA) schools’ data, the NSS employment-
unemployment (and education) survey, and the Pratham Education Foundation’s schooling data.
The existing secondary literature on industry, exports, employment, skilling and technical
education was looked at closely. In addition, data on the political structure was analysed to look
for trends in representation and empowerment. Each was independently used to assess
separately the specific lessons on discrimination in various sectors.
The study then engaged a number of subject experts to write background papers on various
specific issues that would confront Indian Muslims in the next ten years. These papers bring up
certain disturbing issues and some happy news for a Vision 2025. These papers would be
published separately in an edited volume. Here we give a short abstract of what the papers and
the experts say. There seems to near consensus on the challenges that India Muslims face today
but there are some policy suggestions made that could help the government.
A large pan India survey was conducted to gather primary data on a set of issues that the
secondary data is silent on. While the data analysis enable a robust backgrounder to the situation
in the country, it was important to follow this up with a rigorous qualitative analysis. Towards
this, the study organised a series of roundtables, one to one interviews and focus group
discussions with experts from all walks of life. Each roundtable, spread across the country
brought together experts from various fields. While the focus was to be on education, health,
employment and political representation, it could also pick up various other concerns surfaces
during the course of the study. Using a mix of the primary qualitative data and secondary data
analysis, a vision for 2025 was written and discussed again with select groups.
Inclusive India will need to understand how to tackle the problems that its largest religious
minority faces today in the backdrop of what the community sees as its aspirations in the next
decade. This Vision 2025 document brings together the popular and the specialist viewpoints on

9 Salman Khurshid, At Home in India, Hay House, N Delhi, 2015, p.121,

10 K Natwar Singh, ‘India and Islam’, 12th Lal Bahadur Shastri Memorial Lecture, Anil Shastri, Modern Thought
Leaders, McGraw hill Education, N Delhi, 2015, p. 74-86
what the Indian Muslim aspires for as the country seeks to regain its economic growth and its
geo-political significance. The vision document focuses on the educational, economic and
political upliftment as well as the issue of security for the Indian Muslim. This document,
therefore, seeks to bring together a vision for India for its Muslim population, focusing on the
five critical areas of Health, Education, Political Representation, Employment and Security.
Background papers
A part of the study, specialists and experts were invited to contribute special papers that are
being published in this edited volume. The topics are varied, though in no way do they cover all
issues that concern the Indian Muslims. Some are controversial, while some are straightforward.
Each paper carries the author’s view that has, in true spirit of freedom, not been edited or
tampered with. The views, of course, are not what the Institute of Objective Studies or the
editors stand for. However, these are some of the most respected voices who speak on social
issues in India and will therefore carry a lot of gravity in what they say.

Dr. Muqtedar Khan, explores the position of Muslims in Indian Political Landscape. He argues
that Muslim lands and Muslim communities are in a state of violent and intense political
transformations across the Muslim heartland.

Dr. S Y Quraishi, examined the issue of Muslims and Family Planning in India. In his paper, he
explores the myths and realities associated with the issue. His paper demolishes many existing
myths associated with population. For instance, the assertion that Muslims are predominantly
polygamous is a myth. The Status of Women in India Report, 1975, had revealed that all the
communities of India are polygamous and Muslims are indeed the least! Population explosion is
a matter of immense national concern. It must be addressed urgently yet sensitively. The paper
provides many answers.

Prof. Abdul Shaban, examines the role of infamous Shiv Sena in his paper ‘Politics, Violence
and Production of ‘Fear’: Working of Shiv Sena in Mumbai’. He examines how democracies remain
prone to negative exploitation of the diversities.

Prof. Ram Puniyani, activist, author and former professor of the IIT-Bombay, discusses the
all-important issues of security and equity for Muslims in contemporary India. He attempts to
outline the steps needed to strengthen the democratic rights of this biggest religious minority in

Dr. Britta Ohm, in her paper ‘Majoritarian Public and Democracy: The Televised violence in
Gujarat 2002’ talks about the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat. This paper engages with the
relationship between the public and democracy in the context of a particularly violent event in

Mr. Irfan Engineer writes on the issue of ‘Hindutva and Muslims’. He argues that the BJP
leaders appear to reach out to the Muslims during elections to confuse the Muslims and corner
some votes.

Prof. Madhav Das Nalapat is an academic, columnist, strategist and an advisor. He calls for
development of Muslims on modern lines in his paper, ‘Muslims in India: Anchoring Behavior in the
Word of God’. He calls on the Muslim community to emphasise the beneficence, mercy and
compassion which suffuses the Word of God and which are explicitly shown to be the defining
virtues of the Islamic faith.

Dr. Broto Rauth Bhardwaj of Bharati Vidyapeeth University, New Delhi discusses the issue of
Muslim women. In her paper, she tries to find the role of education in improving the status of
Muslim women entrepreneurs.

Prof. Vibhuti Patel, Head, Department of Economics, SNDT Women's University, Mumbai
and an authority on gender issues, discusses issues of Muslim women and development in her
paper ‘Socioeconomic Profile of Muslim Women in Maharashtra’.

Ms. Rakhshandah Hani in her paper focuses on gender related issues of labour market. Her
paper titled ‘Employment of Muslim Women Workers in the Indian Labour Market’ argues that labour
force participation rate and work participation rate for Muslim women have shown a declining

Dr. Abdul Azim Akhtar, in his paper on ‘Caste Among Muslims’ discusses the nature of the
divide in the Muslim society and how caste shapes their life.

Dr. Manjur Ali in his paper, ‘Forgotten at the Margins’ talks about Muslim manual scavengers who
live an ‘undignified’ life.

Prof. Zafar Mahfooz Nomani, teaches Law at Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, discusses
issue of personal law reform in his paper titled ‘Imperatives Of Personal Law Reform And Good
Governance.’ India’s continuation of trifocal legacy of recognition of traditional laws, development
of powerful norms and assumption of reform of personal laws by the state is not linked to the
imperatives of inclusive growth and good governance, he argues.

Dr. Shafeeq Rahman in his paper on Muslim Representation in Parliament does a case study of
96 Parliamentary Constituencies to conclude that Indian Muslim are largely underrepresented in
the electoral politics, as was the case during the 2009 and 2014 elections.

Prof. Vibhuti Narain Rai talks about the role of the police during communal riots. He
encountered some disturbing trends himself. According to him, in most parts of the country, the
relationship between the police and Muslims was inimical and community perception of the
police in situations of communal tension was that of an enemy.

Mr. Yousuf Saeed, a filmmaker, in his paper ‘Stereotypes of Muslim identity in India's popular media
and entertainment industry’ discusses the imagery of the Muslims in the popular media. He narrates
that media have been portraying the images Muslims, in somewhat stereotypical way.

Mr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, the US-based Kashmir activist in his paper shares ‘few possible
scenarios that will help settle the conflict through tripartite negotiations and peaceful

Mr. Jawed Alam Khan, in his paper ‘Policy challenges: Have development schemes meant for Muslims
worked effectively?’, highlights the impact of government schemes on Muslims.

Key Indicators

The Muslim population is sparsely distributed across the country, forming a minority in every
state except in Jammu & Kashmir, resulting in low political representation. There is yet no
Muslim constituency despite the community being plagued by persistent socio-economic issues
in the areas of education, health, livelihood generation and security among others.

Muslims across the country have had lesser exposure and access than the average Indian to
primary education, healthcare and credit, and have often fallen prey to discrimination and ethnic
violence. Issues pertaining to inadequacy in education, lack of institutional support, weak
economic conditions, lack of employment and employability, cultural gap, inadequate
representation in administrative bodies, lack of security, lack of adequate reservations, etc. have
cropped up time and again in recent history.

The formulation of a vision statement for the next ten years beckons a detailed analysis of these
factors that have determined the fate of the community over the years. Such an exercise must be
deliberated upon with utmost care and should involve wide consultation. It has to reach out to a
wide constituency across the country to gather clarity on the exact status of and thought
processes related to the various issues faced by the Muslims, and possible remedial actions which
would help in laying a roadmap for their overall development in the next ten years.

Table 1: Population

State/UT Total Population Muslim Population

Lakshadweep 64,473 96.58%

Jammu and Kashmir 1,25,41,302 68.31%
Assam 3,12,05,576 34.22%
West Bengal 9,12,76,115 27.01%
Kerala 3,34,06,061 26.56%
Uttar Pradesh 19,98,12,341 19.26%
Bihar 10,40,99,452 16.87%
Jharkhand 3,29,88,134 14.53%
Uttarakhand 1,00,86,292 13.95%
Karnataka 6,10,95,297 12.92%
Delhi 1,67,87,941 12.86%
Telangana 3,52,86,757 12.68%
Maharashtra 11,23,74,333 11.54%
Gujarat 6,04,39,692 9.67%
Rajasthan 6,85,48,437 9.07%
Tripura 36,73,917 8.60%
Andhra Pradesh 8,46,65,533 8.53%
Andaman and Nicobar Islands 3,80,581 8.52%
Manipur 28,55,794 8.40%
Goa 14,58,545 8.33%
Daman and Diu 2,43,247 7.92%
Haryana 2,53,51,462 7.03%

Madhya Pradesh 7,26,26,809 6.57%
Puducherry 12,47,953 6.05%
Tamil Nadu 7,21,47,030 5.86%
Chandigarh 10,55,450 4.87%
Meghalaya 29,66,889 4.40%
Dadra and Nagar Haveli 3,43,709 3.76%
Nagaland 19,78,502 2.47%
Himachal Pradesh 68,64,602 2.18%
Orissa 4,19,74,218 2.17%
Chhattisgarh 2,55,45,198 2.02%
Arunachal Pradesh 13,83,727 1.95%
Punjab 2,77,43,338 1.93%
Sikkim 6,10,577 1.62%
Mizoram 10,97,206 1.35%

India 1,21,08,54,977 14.23%

Source: Census 2011 Data, Media Reports11

An analysis of the shares of Muslim population in the total population figures of the states/UTs
showed that states/UTs such as Lakshadweep, Jammu and Kashmir, Assam, West Bengal, Uttar
Pradesh, Kerala, Bihar and Jharkhand have higher Muslim population shares as compared to the
share of Muslim population in the country, which stands at 14.23 percent. Share of Muslim
population in Uttarakhand, Karnataka, Delhi, Telangana and Maharashtra were also close to the
national figure.

Table 2: Literacy

State/UT Literacy Rate

Kerala 94.00%
Lakshadweep 91.85%
Mizoram 91.33%
Andhra Pradesh12 91.10%
Goa 88.70%
Tripura 87.22%
Daman and Diu 87.10%
Andaman and Nicobar Islands 86.63%

12 Literacy Rate for residual Andhra Pradesh i.e. Seemandhra provided.
Delhi 86.21%
Chandigarh 86.05%
Puducherry 85.85%
Himachal Pradesh 82.80%
Maharashtra 82.34%
Sikkim 81.42%
Tamil Nadu 80.09%
Nagaland 79.55%
Uttarakhand 78.82%
Gujarat 78.03%
Manipur 76.94%
West Bengal 76.26%
Dadra and Nagar Haveli 76.24%
Punjab 75.84%
Haryana 75.55%
Karnataka 75.36%
Meghalaya 74.43%
Orissa 72.87%
Assam 72.19%
Chhattisgarh 70.28%
Madhya Pradesh 69.32%
Uttar Pradesh 67.68%
Jammu and Kashmir 67.16%
Telangana 66.50%
Jharkhand 66.41%
Rajasthan 66.11%
Arunachal Pradesh 65.38%
Bihar 61.80%

India 74.04%
Source: Census 2011 Data, Media Reports13

Around two-thirds of the states/UTs have literacy rates higher than the national figure of 74.04
percent, with Kerala, Lakshadweep, Mizoram and Andhra Pradesh displaying very high literacy
rates of above 90 percent. The literacy rates of all the states/UTs have been summarized in the
table, and states beating the national literacy rate have been highlighted.
Table 3: Poverty

State/UT Population below Poverty Line

Chhattisgarh 39.90%
Dadra and Nagar Haveli 39.31%
Jharkhand 37.00%
Manipur 36.90%
Arunachal Pradesh 34.70%
Bihar 33.70%
Orissa 32.60%
Assam 32.00%
Madhya Pradesh 31.70%
Uttar Pradesh 29.40%
Chandigarh 21.81%
Karnataka 20.90%
Mizoram 20.40%
West Bengal 20.00%
Nagaland 18.90%
Maharashtra 17.40%
Gujarat 16.60%
Rajasthan 14.70%
Tripura 14.10%
Meghalaya 11.90%
Tamil Nadu 11.35%
Uttarakhand 11.30%
Haryana 11.20%
Jammu and Kashmir 10.40%
Delhi 9.90%
Daman and Diu 9.86%
Puducherry 9.70%
Andhra Pradesh14 9.20%

14 Data for erstwhile undivided Andhra Pradesh provided

Punjab 8.30%
Sikkim 8.20%
Himachal Pradesh 8.10%
Kerala 7.10%
Goa 5.10%
Lakshadweep 2.77%
Andaman and Nicobar Islands 0.04%

India 21.90%
Source: PRS Legislative Research

Chhattisgarh is the poorest state in the country, with around 39.9 percent of the population
below poverty line as per 2011-12 estimates, which is far more than the national figure of 21.9
percent. The other states/UTs beating the national estimates are Dadra and Nagar Haveli,
Jharkhand, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, Assam, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar
Pradesh. States/UTs such as Delhi, Daman and Diu, Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab,
Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Goa, Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar Islands are on
the wealthier side, the population below poverty line being less than 10 percent for these

Table 4: Fertility

State/UT Total Fertility Rate (TFR)15

Bihar 3.4
Uttar Pradesh 3.1
Madhya Pradesh 2.9
Rajasthan 2.8
Jharkhand 2.7
Chhattisgarh 2.6
Assam 2.3
Gujarat 2.3
Haryana 2.2
Orissa 2.1
Jammu and Kashmir 1.9
Karnataka 1.9
Andhra Pradesh16 1.8
Kerala 1.8
Maharashtra 1.8

15 TFR by residence for India and bigger states provided.

16 Data for erstwhile undivided Andhra Pradesh provided.
Delhi 1.7
Himachal Pradesh 1.7
Punjab 1.7
Tamil Nadu 1.7
West Bengal 1.6

India 2.3
Source: SRS Statistical Report, 2013

The Total Fertility Rate (TFR) figure of Bihar is the highest among the bigger states. The other
states with TFR above the national figure of 2.3 are Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan,
Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. West Bengal has the lowest TFR among the bigger states. The
Total Fertility Rates of all the bigger states has been depicted in the table.

Table 5: Crime Rate

State/UT Rate of Total Cognizable Crimes 2013 Inmate Population 2013

Kerala 502.2 7395

Delhi 406.7 13552
Madhya Pradesh 303.8 34708
Tamil Nadu 297.6 14721
Rajasthan 279.2 19293
Assam 277.3 8263
Haryana 273.0 17644
Gujarat 258.8 12058
Chandigarh 254.0 661
Andhra Pradesh17 252.1 14313
Puducherry 244.9 280
Goa 228.8 523
Chhattisgarh 227.3 15840
Karnataka 224.7 18220
Arunachal Pradesh 217.9 92
Jammu and Kashmir 210.5 2352
Maharashtra 201.7 27400
Himachal Pradesh 198.2 1999
West Bengal 185.5 22778
Orissa 172.5 14473

17 Data for erstwhile undivided Andhra Pradesh provided

Tripura 167.2 901
Bihar 166.3 31259
Mizoram 165.6 870
Jharkhand 148.4 14243
Sikkim 135.3 230
Punjab 129.2 27449
Manipur 126.3 660
Meghalaya 121.1 850
Andaman and
Nicobar Islands 116.6 1149
Uttar Pradesh 108.4 83518
Uttarakhand 92.9 3845
Daman and Diu 82.8 56
Dadra and Nagar
Haveli 80.1 35
Nagaland 52.6 487
Lakshadweep 51.3 0

India 215.5 411992

Source: NCRB

The table summarises the rates of total cognizable crimes and inmate population figures for all
the states/UTs. As can be seen, the cognizable crime rates for states such as Kerala and Delhi
are much higher than the national rate of 215.5 per 100,000 persons. The other states/UTs with
cognizable crime rates above the national figure have been highlighted in the table. Inmate
population also forms a criterion for analysis, and the 2013 inmate figures for all the states/UTs
have been depicted in the table.

Table 6: Political Representation

State Name Members of Lok Sabha

Total Muslims

Lakshadweep 1 100%
Jammu and Kashmir 6 50%
West Bengal 42 19%
Assam 14 14%
Bihar 40 10%
Kerala 20 10%
Telangana 19 5%

Tamil Nadu 39 3%
Andaman and Nicobar Islands 1 0%
Andhra Pradesh 25 0%
Arunachal Pradesh 2 0%
Chandigarh 1 0%
Chhattisgarh 11 0%
Dadra and Nagar Haveli 1 0%
Daman and Diu 1 0%
Delhi 7 0%
Goa 2 0%
Gujarat 29 0%
Haryana 10 0%
Himachal Pradesh 4 0%
Jharkhand 14 0%
Karnataka 28 0%
Madhya Pradesh 29 0%
Maharashtra 45 0%
Manipur 2 0%
Meghalaya 2 0%
Mizoram 1 0%
Nagaland 1 0%
Orissa 21 0%
Puducherry 7 0%
Punjab 13 0%
Rajasthan 25 0%
Sikkim 1 0%
Tripura 2 0%
Uttarakhand 5 0%
Uttar Pradesh 80 0%

India 551 4%
Source: Elections in Media Reports18

Except for Lakshadweep, Jammu and Kashmir, West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Kerala, Tamil Nadu
and Telangana, all other states have no Muslim representation in the Lok Sabha.

18, http://indianexpress. Com

What the data says

By 2020, India is projected to be the youngest nation in the world.19 The average monthly per
capita expenditure (MPCE)20 has been going up in India in the last twenty years of economic
growth. There is no denying that overall there has been a substantial increase in wages and
incomes, and the standards of living have gone up too. Poverty levels have reduced, but the
disturbing trend has been the increase in inequalities. The data we have tells us that the rate of
growth has been impressive. But the growth rate has not been comparable across communities
and the slowest growth in rural India is among the Muslim population. In large cities too, the
worst rate of growth is among the Muslims.

The MPCE is what an individual spends on a monthly basis. We have figures for the years 1993-
4, 2004-5 and 2009-10. This data allows us to take a look at changes in economic status over
roughly 20 years of time. As per expenditure figures, in rural India, not much has changed.
Muslims are poorer than other communities and Upper-Caste Hindus and are only slightly better
than off than Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe populations. This is partially because the
Muslim workforce in rural India is less dependent on agriculture than the non-Muslim landless
population in villages. The increase in monthly expenditure too has been rather uniform across
all categories, each one of them now spending about 30 rupees more per month, than they did
twenty years ago.

Urbanisation and Indian Muslims

Urban India is a cause for worry: The disturbing trend is in urban India particularly in large cities
where the population is more than a million. That is where the Muslim population suffers the
most21. In 1993-94, the Muslim population in such cities was earning more than the scheduled
caste and the scheduled tribe populations. It was certainly poorer than upper caste and backward
caste Hindus, but the difference was not as alarming. Muslims are unable to extract any benefit
from the concentration of institutional and infrastructural facilities in urban areas. Data from the
NSSO's 50th and 55th round suggests that over 40 percent of Muslims in urban areas fall in the
poorest 'monthly per capita expenditure class' (MPCE) quintile compared with less than 22
percent of Hindus. The middle class is absent among Muslims as against the Indian middle class
that is growing at a faster pace during the last decade than ever before.

We have traditionally sees urbanisation as the only solution to all our problems. However, the
reality that emerges is quite shocking. 30 percent of populations in Kolkata and Chennai live in
slums that lack basic infrastructure. Also 25 percent of our total slum population lives in our five
big metro towns. What is alarming is that more than 41 percent of Mumbai’s population lives in
slums. Slums are areas that are overcrowded, unhygienic and polluted. They lack educational and
health facilities of any decent kind. It is difficult in most slums for any public service like fire
engines or water tanks to reach. There is an acute gender bias in our cities and that is getting

19 Economic Survey, 2014-15, p. 131.

20 One way of evaluating the levels of economic advancement of various social groups is to compare their
consumption expenditure. In India, we do not have data on how much people earn or what their incomes are.
That is why, the next best method is to see how much people spend (and therefore what they earn) as this data
is available to us at frequent intervals. The National Sample Survey organization provides the Monthly Per
Capita Expenditure or the MPCE, and allows us to compare across SC, ST, Hindu and Muslim populations in
urban and rural areas separately.
21 Over 60 percent of the Muslim population in India lives in five states — Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar,
Maharashtra and Assam. 36 percent of Muslims stay in urban India, while urban Hindus constitute 26 percent
of all Hindus.
Historically, minorities have played an important role in urbanisation. They have been the ones
who have accelerated the development to new cities with their enterprise and entrepreneurship.
However, what is a matter for concern in India today is the declining ratio of minority
engagement in urbanization. The trend that we see is that minority populations, particularly
Muslim minorities are urbanizing at far slower rates than upper caste communities.

Muslims have been more urban than rural. Their share in urban population was 17.3 percent
compared to their share of 12.5 percent in rural areas. 35 percent of Muslims lived in urban areas
compared to 28.6 percent of the general population in 2011. Also more than 10 percent of all
Muslims live in the 5 million plus big metro cities. Overall, urban India’s population has
increased from 23.7 percent in 1981 to 31 percent in 2011. However, Muslim population in
urban areas has in the same period gone up from 34 to 39 percent. What this means is that while
the general population’s urbanisation has been higher than 7.5 percent, the increase in Muslim
urbanisation has only been 5.9 percent.

How does one explain this phenomenon? While the agrarian crisis is responsible for pushing a
large chunk of the general population away from villages to cities, Muslim migration is not
explained through this. The reason is that Muslims do not own farm land except in very few
districts. In villages, the Muslim share of non-farm employment is much higher and with rural
economies underperforming, it is expected that larger numbers of Muslim families would
migrate to urban centres. Strangely, this is clearly not happening.

The obvious reason for this is that our urban centres are no longer welcoming of minorities. In
the period between 2004 and 2011, the increase in urban share of SC population has been 1.4
percent, STs and Muslims at 2.2 percent while it is 3.8 percent for Upper caste Hindus. In
smaller urban centres this tendency is even more stark. In class 3 and class 4 cities, there has
been a marginal increase in Muslim populations over the last decade, going up by only 0.2
percent, while the overall growth has been nearly ten times higher.

The other change that we see when we look at the nature of employment in cities is the decline
in self-employment. In the case of Muslims this decline is sharper than for other groups. What
has gone up is regular employment, but here there is a disturbing trend. Regular employment for
Muslims has gone up in rural areas at a fast pace, but in urban areas it lags behind all categories.
Casual employment however has gone up the highest and at the fastest pace in case of Muslim
populations in large cities.

Urbanisation now is becoming tough for the poor and is also getting exclusionary. Rents are
very high, ghettoes abound and living is more and more insecure with poor law and order
arrangements. The other problem is of course that urban employment now requires a skilled
workforce. Most migrants from marginalized communities like the SCs and STs and Muslims
come with no or irrelevant skills. Therefore, they get further alienated in the existing hostile
environment that characterizes our cities.

Opening up the economy benefited those sections of the society, who are educationally and
financially sound and whose values and norms promotes the risk taking commercial activities.22
Despite the constitutional and legal guarantees, some sections of the citizens are unable to assert
their citizenry due to socio-political and economic impediments. The Muslim community in
general constitutes one such excluded class.23 There is little progress in reforming the police; or
in improving healthcare, education and food security for the millions still struggling for
22 Rajeev Kumar Singh, ‘Citizenship, Exclusion & Indian Muslims’, in S N Tripathy (ed), Issues on Ethnicity,
Discrimination and Social Exclusion, Abhijeet Publications, Delhi, 2010, 110094, p. 292.
23 Rajeev Kumar Singh, ‘Citizenship, Exclusion & Indian Muslims’, in S N Tripathy (ed), Issues on Ethnicity,
Discrimination and Social Exclusion, Abhijeet Publications, Delhi, 2010, 110094, p.294.
subsistence. There is considerable lag in ending discrimination against Dalits, tribal groups, and
religious minorities and protecting the rights of women and children.24

One usual allegation is that Muslims stay away from the Indian mainstream. It is said that
Muslims in India live in their own shell and refuse to be integrated into the Indian mainstream.
There may be isolated cases but a majority of Muslims are very much part of Indian
mainstream.25 One serious hurdle for the Muslims of India is the antagonism of the Sangh
Parivar which forces a reaction from them. After the demolition of the Babri Masjid, while some
members of the political leadership demanded the rebuilding of the mosque and communal
leaders used it as an opportunity to promote their political ambitions, the larger liberal Muslim
constituency abstained from violence and frustration.26

Muslims in India have made much greater progress towards modernization than Muslims in
most other Islamic countries and even the orthodoxy is loosening its grip. The All India Muslim
Personal Law Board has taken some steps to reform the personal law and the leaders have
decided to set up Darul Ifta, a body to check the misuse of fatwas. More importantly, following
in the footsteps of West Bengal and Maharashtra, most Madarsas are modernizing their syllabi,
as the parents of the wards themselves desire their children to study English and the science

Some key issues

Our Vice President is a most successful civil servant and a well-respected scholar. He is the only
one to have been nominated twice to this post. One primary responsibility of his is to run the
Rajya Sabha as Chairperson. In a house that has seen much acrimony and hostility among
members during the last year, there hasn’t been a single complaint against the Chair. The Lok
Sabha, where the ruling party is in a large majority, is often in disarray. There are numerous
complaints against the Chair, who is a long time MP and member of the BJP. Hamid Ansari runs
the RS with a calmness that is fair and firm.

It is not surprising that the lunatic right fringe keeps trying new reasons to run him down. One
such case was downright ridiculous. Ansari was speaking at a function of the Majlis-i-
Mushawarat. He was addressing a large gathering of Muslims and was simply and plainly
berating them for continuing to stay away from modernity and asking them to shun casteism. It
appeared, as if he would be severely criticised by the traditionalists among Muslims, for the
complaint was against their fixation on identity and dignity. He was telling them that they should
move away from self-defeating traditionalism. However, it was the right wing lunatics who

The Vice President was scathing in his comments on how Muslims have behaved. They are,
according to him “trapped in a vicious circle and in a culturally defensive posture that hinders
self-advancement.” He reminded the audience of Jadeediyat and the need to think of modernity
on positive lines, in the true Islamic tradition. Affirmation of faith is just as important as the
wellbeing of the community. He questioned the audience on what they had themselves done as
autonomous efforts with regard to their own identified short comings. His question was- What
has the Muslim community done to redress the backwardness and poverty arising out of socio-
economic and educational under-development?

24 Human Rights Watch, World Report, India, 2011, p. 315.

25 Asghar Ali Engineer, Muslims and India, Gyan Publishing House, New Delhi, 2006, p. 14.
26 S S Gill, Islam and the Muslims of India Exploring History, Faith and Dogma, Penguin Books, 2008, p. 106.
27 S S Gill, Islam and the Muslims of India Exploring History, Faith and Dogma, Penguin Books, 2008, p. 195
A the Shibli Academy at Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh, Ansari had said that the challenge is to
overcome the existing problems "within the framework of the law of the land and the
constitutional rights of life and dignity, equality, and affirmative action in favour of the socially
and educationally backward to ensure equality of opportunity." He has consistently made this
point. That there is legal framework that exists in India and a constitutional obligation to provide
amenities and access to public facilities to all. He made this point again.

Having done this rather plainly and bluntly, the Vice President then asked a similar set of
questions to the state. If the government believes in sabka saath and sabka vikaas, then it cannot
ignore the wellbeing of a large section of its citizenry. The same honesty with which he
questioned the Muslim community was evident, when the Vice President said that Muslims
unfairly carry the historical burden and responsibility for partition and political events and
compromises made early in the 20th century. The trauma of partition is played out even now and
the violence is disproportionate against the Muslims who are unfairly held as the perpetrators of
a political event nearly 70 years ago.
The Vice President then spoke quoting a number of government studies and reports. He quoted
abundantly from the Amitabh Kundu Committee report. The Kundu report uses government
statistics, publicly available data and studies done by various ministries to show that the
condition of the Muslims continues to be miserable. Even after nearly ten years of the Sachar
Committee, the same situation continues. And that is what the Vice President underscored. He
even pointed out that the government had accepted many of these suggestions made. It is the
implementation that is suffering. Hamid Ansari has retired now after an illustrious stint as Indian
Vice President.

The Kundu Committee had said that affirmative action for Muslims is urgently required. It
emphasised that Muslims still lag behind all Socio-religious communities in terms of access to
amenities, and this problem needs to be addressed, irrespective of their better child health
outcomes, due to community characteristics. The Committee proposed the setting up of a
Diversity Index and recommended the formulation and enactment of a comprehensive Anti-
Discrimination Legislation to prohibit discrimination based on disability, sex, caste, religion and
other criteria. Kundu Committee also highlighted a need to focus on specific areas of education,
economic empowerment, health and housing problems.

Health and Indian Muslims

In 17th century, colonial India made a small and selective beginning in public health care.28 The
patients were almost exclusively soldiers of Portugal or from other Christian nations. This is a
point that should be emphasized—at that time, these services were for Europeans only, and only
for certain Europeans. Women and non-Christian men were not allowed in the Royal Hospital.
In 19th century, Muslim Women rulers of Bhopal provided funds for healthcare. A Hospital for
women, where female doctors were employed, was established in Bhopal in the 1880s.29 In 1854,
Sikander Begum founded the Medical Department of Bhopal.30 Important medical reforms were
enacted during Shah Jehan’s (daughter of Sikander Begum) reign, such as vaccination campaigns

28 One traveller recalls, ‘Among the wonders and evils of the exotic places depicted in the Voyage of Pyrard de
Laval to the East Indies (1601-1611), the Royal Hospital of Goa stands in magnificence and grandeur. After a
long journey through the world, the French traveller, Francois Pyrard arrived in Goa in 1608 feeling ill.
Together with some of his shipmates, he was taken to the Royal Hospital’. Christiana Bastos, ‘Together And
Apart, Catholic Hospitals in Plural Goa’, in Fabrizio Speziale (ed), Hospitals in Iran and India, 1500-1950s, Brill,
Leieden, 2012, p.133.
29 Native Christian men could enter the premises as secondary staff: they could serve there, but not be served. ..In
sum, to taken to in as a patient of the Royal Hospital one had to be a high status male and a Christian of old
Stock. Claudia Preckel, ‘Healings the People and the Princes: Hospitals, Hakims and Doctors in Bhopal’,
Fabrizio Speziale (ed), Hospitals in Iran and India, 1500-1950s, Brill, Leieden, 2012, p 191.
30 ibid., p 192.
and regulations for lepers. Shah Jehan supported both western medicine and native Unani
physicians and it was during her reign that the number of dispensaries (either Unani or
allopathic) in the Bhopal Agency rose to seven.

The Begums of Bhopal were among those Indian rulers who vigorously promoted vaccination
of their subjects. Sultan Jahan Begum wrote in the biography of her mother, ‘Nothing has
proved more efficacious in the prevention of small-pox than vaccination; and now the rich and
the poor alike have come to realize its usefulness. But thirty or more years ago, people were
more afraid of being vaccinated. Great difficulty used to be experienced everywhere in getting
vaccinated”. Shah Jehan was however convinced of its utility and forthwith opened a
Vaccination Department at Bhopal, and got her own grandson, Nawab Muhammad Nasrullah
Khan vaccinated first. As a further incentive, she also appointed a special reward for each child
that was vaccinated.31

The next and most important step concerning the establishment of hospital services in Bhopal
city was the construction of the Prince of Wales Hospital, inaugurated in 1878.32 In early 20th
century, the good work of Bhopal rulers found admiration from an American traveller,
Alexander Powell who was there in the late 1920s wrote about the Hospital, ‘I might mention
that the Prince of Wales Hospital in Bhopal, built and maintained by members of the reigning
family, is one of the finest institutions of this kind in India, as up-to-date in its methods and
equipment as any in the United States. I know, because I went there daily.33

Today, Muslim women are reluctant to visit hospitals over issues of seclusion and purdah. In
1880s, Shah Jehan opened a small zanana34 hospital in Bhopal, where veiled women could be
treated by women physicians and nurses. It was later expanded and inaugurated on 24 May, 1892
as Lady Lansdowne Hospital. It was partly funded by the Dufferin Fund, which was established
in 1885 to promote medical care of Indian women.35 Sultan Jehan ordered the staff of Lady
Lansdowne Hospital to visit the zanana apartments of the city regularly, to provide basic hygiene
training and medical care for women in purdah and for children living with them36.

Hamdard also played an important role in providing affordable health care. The first Hamdard
hospital (Shifa Khana) was located at Asaf Ali Road, near the Turkman Gate.37 One of the first
realizations of the new pharmacy, bound to become an overall and lasting success was a sharbat
called ‘Ruh-Afza’. Abdul Majid introduced Ruh-Afza in the first list of drugs of Hamdard, as a
drink whose qualities were mainly medicinal. Hakim Ustad Hasan Khan, the first processor of
Ruh-Afza was a resident of Saharanpur.38 Hamdard actuated a true modernization in the field of
medicine, by reorganizing existing institutions and adapting and justifying new ideas by drawing
on tradition.39

The present

31 ibid., p 193-194.
32 ibid., p.195.
33 ibid., p. 196.
34 All women.
35 Claudia Preckel, ‘Healing the People and the princes: Hospitals, Hakims and Doctors in Bhopal’, in Fabrizio
Speziale (ed), Hospitals in Iran and India, 1500-1950s, Brill, Leieden, 2012, pp 200-201.
36 Claudia Preckel, ‘Healing the People and the Princes: Hospitals, Hakims and Doctors in Bhopal’, in Fabrizio
Speziale (ed), Hospitals in Iran and India, 1500-1950s, Brill, Leieden, 2012, p.210.
37 Anna Vanzan, ‘Hamdard, How to Share Pain in a Muslim Way’, Fabrizio Speziale (ed), Hospitals in Iran and
India, 1500-1950s, Brill, Leieden, 2012, p.217.
38 Anna Vanzan, ‘Hamdard, How to Share Pain in a Muslim Way’, Fabrizio Speziale (ed), Hospitals in Iran and
India, 1500-1950s, Brill, Leieden, 2012, p. 219 .
39 Anna Vanzan, ‘Hamdard, How to Share Pain in a Muslim Way’, Fabrizio Speziale (ed), Hospitals in Iran and
India, 1500-1950s, Brill, Leieden, 2012, p.228.
Despite low spending on public healthcare, India has not done badly in terms of achieving
health goals. It is noteworthy that India’s total fertility rate (TFR) has been steadily declining and
is now at 2.3. India is set to reach the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) with respect
to maternal and child survival.40 The decline in TFR means that all communities including
Muslims are experiencing this. The hype about rise in the Muslim population is not based on
facts but is part of the rhetoric meant for social and political gains. Compared to a number of
developing countries, Indian family planning programmes appear to have finally been reasonably

Health status among Muslims is better than among other communities, despite the lack of access
to healthcare facilities. This could be explained by the relatively large urban population among
Muslims and higher respect for the girl child. Some studies done on various socio-religious
categories highlight this point. For example, on study of Thyroid related diseases states that
these are being reported in larger proportion than before. It appears that thyrotoxicosis is more
common among Hindu women than Muslim. According to this field survey in Mirzapur, there
were 18 male Hindu (90 percent) and 52 female Hindu (94.5 percent) patients against zero
Muslim male patients and 3 female patients.41 It is concluded that illness may produce stress in
many ways as it hampers the capacity to perform physical and social functions. Also, it affects
the economy of the family by reducing the capacity of an individual to earn, and by causing the
continuous expenditure on the treatment of the sick person.42

Another study looks points out that Bengali Muslim and Meitei women have lower BMI than
overall BMI reported for Assamese. CED (Chronic Energy Deficiency) malnutrition is higher
among the Muslims while overweight women are more among the Meiteis. CED malnutrition is
higher among the Muslim. More than 40 percent of illiterate women of both the communities
have CED malnutrition. CED malnutrition is more among Muslim house wives compared to
their Meitei counterparts. CED malnutrition is higher among the women of both communities
who live in small and nuclear families.43


The world of modern communication and interchange requires basic education and training.
While some poor countries in the world have made excellent progress in this area (countries in
East Asia and South-east Asia are good examples), others (such as those in South Asia and
Africa) have tended to lag behind. Equity in cultural as well as economic opportunities can be
profoundly important in a globalizing world. This is a shared challenge for the economic and
cultural world.44

Muslim students suffer from several disadvantages. Most would like to see education imparted in
Urdu, their mother tongue, but few schools accommodate this. In 1958, Dr. Zakir Hussain
presented over 10,000 signatures to the UP Education Minister requesting that children be
educated where the medium of instruction should be Urdu. In 1954, the Anjuman Taraqqi-e-
Urdu presented a memorandum, signed by 20, 50,000 adult citizens, demanding the recognition

40 Ibid., p.138.
41 Shashi Rani Agarwal, Social Stress and Thyrotoxicosis, Vishwavidyalaya Parkashan, Varanasi, 1983, p.32.
42 Shashi Rani Agarwal, Social Stress and Thyrotoxicosis, Vishwavidyalaya Parkashan, Varanasi, 1983, p.105.
43 A F Guelenur Islam Barbhuiya, ‘Nutritional Anthropometry with Reference to Bio-Social Aspects among Adult
Muslim and Meitei Women in Assam, Ulimiri V Somayajulu, S Siva Raju, T V Sekher, C P Prakasam, (ed),
Regional Disparities and Social Development, Serials Publications, N Delhi, 2013, pp.415-416.
44 ibid., p.241.
of Urdu. In 1956, a similar representation was made in Bihar. In 1965, 104 MPs demanded equal
and just treatment to Urdu as was given to other languages.45

The British had started promoting communal text books in schools, colleges and universities.
Premchand said about this, ‘That day will be auspicious when history will be excluded from
courses from educational institutions’.46 Similarly Gandhi said, ‘There cannot be amity among
Hindus and Muslims as long as those history books are not taken back from educational
institutions which are based on Hindu-Muslim communalism.47

Muslim households face the additional charge of having a bias against secular education and
being hostile to the idea of educating their daughters. One insightful study from Kolkata in 2014
shows that 94 percent of the respondents were interested in educating their children—
irrespective of gender. Only 1.81 percent said that education was important only for boys, and
4.07 percent held that education was unimportant.48 Low levels of education attained by slum
dwelling children are not expected to help their children to secure jobs. The respondents believe
that there is a bias against Muslims in the job market, both in the private and public sectors. The
ability to read and write helps them to read and sign agreements, understand monetary contracts,
perform simple calculations in the market, and undertake various similar activities that are
essential in daily life. Improved marriage prospect is also an important factor. 49

Contrary to common belief, this study pointed out that the common medium of instruction of
Muslim slum dwellers was not Urdu, but Bengali. A significant proportion of the households
also opt for English. The choice of medium of instruction was found to be primarily dependent
on the mother tongue.50 In the high income slum, parents felt that the quality of education in
government-aided schools was not good enough. Hence, respondents displayed a strong
preference for private schools. On the other hand, cheaper option of government schools
attracted students in medium and low-income slums.51

Children among the minorities often face harassment and ridicule, and rising religious tensions
lead to their alienation from school. Lower education attainment of Muslim students may also be
associated with Muslim concentration in self-employment.52 There is also the lack of quality
schools both in the private and the public sector. Another cause of concern has been the
doctored and biased history text books and propaganda, which glorifies regional players against
nation builders. The communal and sectarian twist given to history has become a major
contributory cause of mutual distrust between the Hindus and Muslims. The Saiyadain
committee on text books also observed that the text books are overweighed with Hindu
mythology while the prose and poetry selections are actually prayers to Hindu deities.53

The Indian higher education system is one of the largest in the world in terms of the number of
colleges and universities. From 350 universities and 16,982 colleges in 2005-06, the numbers
have gone up to 713 universities, 36,739 colleges and 11,343 diploma-level institutions in 2013-

45 Moin Shakir, A trend report and Bibliography, Parimal Prakashan, Aurangabad , 1974, p.30.
46 Sheikh Md. Ghyasuddin, Firq Wariyat Aur Urdu Hindi Afsane, Educational Publishing house, Delhi, 1999, p. 31.
47 Sheikh Md. Ghyasuddin, Firq Wariyat Aur Urdu Hindi Afsane, Educational Publishing house, Delhi, 1999, p. 32.
48 Zakir Husain, Primary Education among low income Muslims in Kolkata: Slum Dwellers of Park Circus, Institute of
Development Studies, Kolkata, July 2014, p. 8.
49 Zakir Husain, Primary Education among low income Muslims in Kolkata: Slum Dwellers of Park Circus, Institute of
Development Studies, Kolkata, July 2014, p. 8.
50 ibid., p. 13 .
51 ibid., p. 14 .
52 Sonalde Desai and Veena Kulkarni, Unequal Playing Field Socio-Religious Inequalities in Educational
Attainment,, in Rakesh Basant & Abusaleh Sharieff, Handbook of Muslims, Empirical and Policy, Oxford
University Press, 2010, p. 273.
53 ibid., p. 33.
2014. There is need to match the supply with demand and to dovetail education policy to
employment opportunities.54 There has also been a rise in enrolment in higher education. From
4.9 million in 1990-91, the enrolment growth in higher education rose to 29.6 million in 2012-
2013 (provisional).55

Noting that the minority intake in minority institutions has been restricted to 50 percent, with a
view to encourage national integration, the Commission (Ranganath Misra Commission)
recommended 15 percent seats for minorities (10 percent for Muslims and 5 percent for other
minorities) in non-minority institutions.56 The data from the Ministry of Human Resource
Development says that enrolment in schools has gone up, and the enrolment of Muslim girls has
shown a significant increase. More than 2 crore scholarships for students from the first standard
to the PhD level have been given since 2007 to minority students and about 2 lakh classrooms
have been built in Muslim dominated districts. New colleges have been set up and new
universities been built.

However, there is still a large gap between access to secondary and tertiary education for upper
caste Hindus versus Muslims, SCs and STs. In Muslim Concentrated Districts, literacy and
education has not witnessed improvement. One such example is the Seemanchal region in Bihar
consisting of Araria, Kishanganj, Katihar, Purnea and Supaul. Akhtarul-Iman says, ‘Pothia Block
in Kishanganj has the highest number of illiterates in Asia. In 2011, the region fared worse in
education. And it did not improve in 2015, as is proved by the class 10 result of Bihar School
Examination Board (BSEB). At the state level, 75 percent students succeeded, while in the
Seemanchal region, the ratio of successful students is between 63-69 percent’57.

He adds that even in terms of schools, Seemanchal region fares worse. For instance Kishanganj
has only 17 High Schools compared to Munger (88) and Kaimur (46). Similarly, Katihar has only
46 High Schools, while Begusarai has 75 High Schools.58 What is not clear is whether the quality
of education has improved or not. In fact, data from other sources suggest that the quality of
education, particularly in government schools is remarkably poor and that learning levels among
school students are really bad.59 While this poor quality is secular in its prevalence, in Muslim
dominated areas, it is worse than the average.


While the global economy is expected to witness a shortage of young population of around 56
million by 2020, India will be the only country with a youth surplus of 47 million (Report on
Education, Skill Development and Labour Force (2013-2014) Vol. III, Labour Bureau, 2014).60
The main issue to address then is not just providing employment but increasing the
employability of the labour force in India...Thus, any solution to the problem lies in a well-
designed education and training regime that sets out to meet these objectives.61 Self-employment
continues to dominate, with a 52.2 percent share in total employment. What is critical is the
significant share of workers engaged in low-income generating activities.62

54 Economic Survey, 2014-2015, p. 134.

55 Ibid., p. 137.
56 Salman Khurshid, op.cit.,, 2015.
57 Akhtarul Iman, ‘Talimi Maidan mein Picharta Seemanchal..’, published in Urdu daily Pindar 28-06-2015
58 Ibid..
59 The Annual Survey of Education report that is carried out by PRATHAM for the last ten years gives definite
evidence to the poor quality of education in our schools.
60 Economic Survey, 2014-2015, pp. 131-132.
61 Ibid., p.132.
62 Economic Survey, 2014-2015, p. 135.
Over the recent years, it appears that more and more of urban Muslims have shifted to self -
employment as a major source of household income. During 2011-12, the percentage of rural
households living on self-employment among Muslims was 49 percent close to the national
average of 50 percent. However, about 25 percent of rural Muslim households lived from
earnings from self-employment in non-agriculture as against 14 percent for Hindu households.
In the urban areas, 50 percent of the Muslim households are self-employed against only 33
percent among the Hindus. The livelihood of Muslims is mostly dependent on self-employment
in informal sector63.

The Scheduled Tribe population in urban India now earns roughly 65 percent more than the
urban Muslim does. Other Hindus are way higher in terms of monthly earning and expenditure,
spending nearly twice as much as their Muslim counterparts do. The urban Muslim today spends
just as much money, or marginally more in some cases, than the urban scheduled caste
population which is historically the poorest section in the class hierarchy everywhere and for
centuries now. In comparison with the rest, the Muslim and the scheduled caste are at least 50
percent poorer that the scheduled tribe and are at levels that are 100 rupees lesser than the
average in terms of monthly expenditure.

Information Technology & The Digital divide - It is also important to look into one area that has been
relatively unexplored in the literature. The role that Information and Communication
Technology has played in providing access to public goods is well-known across the world. And
while it is true that the digital divide exists in India, it is particularly exacerbated where Muslims
are concerned. Scholars have documented a number of instances in far flung areas where
entrepreneurs, livestock owners, farmers, non-farm labour have all used the power of ICT to
mobilise self-help groups, create awareness, come together for information sharing and
collectively negotiate for better returns. In societies where marginalized groups find it difficult to
venture into markets, ICT applications offer the ability to transact with strangers and also enable
transactions to take place at convenient timings. In addition to all, this is the manner in which
suitable content can enable literacy.

Discontent and hope- Across the country today, there is discontent despite large fiscal deficits
outlays for rural development. Subsidies and handouts have gone up and all this has increased
the levels of corruption at the village level, a disease many thought was restricted to the urban
elite of the country. The second urban affliction is a cynicism towards the future. Aspirations
have risen because of wider exposure, but rural youth see negative returns in agriculture, forest
covers going down, water bodies disappearing; in all a preview to a dismal future. This, at times,
results in acute distress giving rise to self-inflicted violence or in violent attacks against the
establishment or whatever is seen as being parts of the entrenched system. There is enough
agreement from those watching rural life changes in recent times that the manner in which
youth, especially Muslims have slid towards negativity doesn’t augur well for the country.

In this gloomy picture, there is enough reason to celebrate too. The positives are many and
pervasive. Infrastructure has improved; roads reach places that were considered far too remote
by any standards. Access to information has become much easier, bandwidth has gone up and
more than 80 percent of India is connected by wireless. The Right to Information Act (RTI) and
has helped this trend grow considerably and has also resulted in an awareness of the need for
Good Governance, an understanding of rights and therefore a gradual shift towards a demand
for better delivery of services. Rising aspirations may cause negativity sometimes, but they have
helped articulate genuine demands from wider constituencies in rural India. Such demands have

63 This is also evident from the lower share of households living on earnings from regular wage employment (28
percent households for Muslims versus 43 percent households for Hindus and 42 percent for the overall urban

put pressure on the polity resulting in large scale poverty alleviation programs like the Rural
Employment Guarantee Programme and Bharat Nirman. Forest policy and tribal rights have
been reviewed and access to health care has now received a thrust never seen before.

Low levels of education, low exposure to media, prevalence of the purdah system, poor
organization and lack of awareness about existing financial schemes are some of the factors
which account for the low work force participation rate of Muslim women.64 There is sufficient
evidence to indicate that caste disparities in economic outcomes, for instance, in occupational
attainment are neither mainly a hangover from the past, nor are they mainly a result of
educational or skill gaps.65 The only difference in the resumes were the easily identifiable names
of applicants and three categories were used: Hindu upper caste, Hindu Dalit and Muslims. So
for each job advertisement, several sets were sent and the idea was to see how many candidates
were called for an interview.66

The study revealed significant differences in call-backs between Hindu upper castes and the
other two categories. Dalit applicant’s chances of a call back were 0.67 that of Hindu upper
castes, whereas Muslims fared even worse with their chances of call back being 0.33 that of
Hindu upper castes. Siddique (2009) conducted a correspondence study in Chennai during 2006
for jobs posted online which has similar findings.67Both international evidence as well as
economic theory suggests that discrimination is compatible with a market economy. There are
studies of hiring practices which emphasize the role of networks and that of informal and
personalized recruitment, where ‘who you know’ is often more important than ‘what you know’
(Deshpande and Newman 2007; Royster 2003).68

In a conversation, Mulk Raj Anand asked Ambedkar about why the right to work had not been
made a fundamental right in the Indian Constitution to which Dr. Ambedkar laconically replied,
‘I was only one of the members of the drafting committee.’ The right to work ended up in the
Directive Principles of the Constitution, along with other economic and social rights as the right
to education and the right to health. The Directive Principles of State Policy were expected to be
fought for politically. Article 37 of the Constitution explicitly states that they ‘shall not be
enforced by any court’.69

To analyse the issue of unemployment and underemployment in the rural sector, one can study
an example from yet another state– Assam. The problem had a serious impact upon the
economy of Assam.70 The proportionate representation of Muslims in entrepreneurial activity in
Vishakhapatnam is almost as high as for the Vaishyas. Perhaps, Muslim representation can be
explained partly because of limited alternatives in the civil service, and the absence of traditional
barriers to occupations that are polluting to Hindus, such as shoemaking and rope

South Asian migrants in the Gulf, are preferred than Europeans and Americans since they do
not demand high wages, even for specialized jobs. They do not lead a costly way of life, speak
good English, have good health, and are generally bachelors. The Indian government would not
allow elsewhere the ill treatment meted to its citizens. But in the Gulf, it has a policy of tolerance
and encourages migration and entertains remittances. The policy is not to discourage the

64 M B Mistry, S Ahmed, M N Bari, ‘Socio Economic Exclusion of Muslim Women in India’, S N Tripathy (ed),
Issues on Ethnicity, Discrimination and Social Exclusion, Abhijeet Publications, Delhi, 2010, 110094, p 264-265.
65 Ashwini Deshpande, Oxford India Short Introductions, Affirmative Action in India, OUP, 2013., p.30.
66 ibid.., p. 35.
67 ibid., p.36.
68 Ashwini Deshpande, Oxford India Short Introductions, Affirmative Action in India, OUP, 2013., p. 36.
69 Reetika Khera (ed) , The Battle for Employment Guarantee, OUP, N Delhi, 2011, p. 3-4.
70 K Alam, The Development Experience in Assam, Dutta Baruah & Co., Gauhati, 1983, p. 267.
71 E Wayne Nafziger, Class, Caste and Entrepreneurship , University Press of Hawaii, Honolulu, 1978, p. 78.
professionals either to migrate in addition to the skilled and the semi-skilled labour power
migrating from India.72

The Asians in the Gulf labour market started their predominant role in the third phase of Middle
East labour migration around 1975.73 The most common understanding of the employment
scenario among Muslims is that they are mainly engaged in self-employing activities, also pointed
in the Sachar Committee Report. The so-called upper caste Muslims were equally likely to be in
casual wage work in agriculture or non-agriculture.74

More than half, in fact 56 percent of the Muslim self-employed women working at home in
urban areas undertook work through a contractor or middleman…women employed in home-
based work were in the manufacturing sector and concentrated in specific industries like-
agarbatti75 making, bidi 76 rolling, and garment and kite making.77

There is a substantial difference in the incidence of poverty among them. While the overall
poverty ratio was 22 percent in 2004-05, that of the Muslim population was 27 percent…The
low level of decline in poverty among Muslims was, however, the most disappointing, it was
lower than the SC/ST population.

Muslim workers were least likely to be in the coveted high-paying public sector regular jobs. One
can surmise that in general Muslim men and women in both the formal public sector and the
private enterprises were in inferior jobs. Such jobs could be as clerical or Class IV employees,
compared to the Hindu men and women who were more likely to hold managerial or
professional posts…The consequence of lower salaries in private jobs, particularly among
Muslims, is clearly poverty for the households of these workers. Here we can see a clear link
between informal employment and poverty.78

Economic exclusion of the disadvantaged groups is driven primarily by three important factors:
i) skewed distribution of assets (land and capital), ii) unequal access to education and skill
endowment, and iii) discrimination in the labour market. These factors, taken together result in
unequal access to ‘good’ and ‘quality jobs’ in the labour market perpetuating a vicious circle of

According to NSSO, 68th Round, upper caste Muslims comprised 5.9 percent of the share of the
workforce. Of this, 32 percent were engaged in agriculture, 24.5 percent in manufacturing, 16. 6
percent in trade, hotel and restaurant, and 12 percent in public administration, health, and
education (NSSO, 68th Round). Upper caste Muslims have high share because of their greater
presence in urban areas compared to other communities. This shows that socially excluded
groups are mainly occupied in sectors that are less productive, with poorer income streams.80

Among Muslims, there is high inequality in terms of income and access to education, but the
disparity is less than that among the upper caste Hindus and the category ‘others’.81 There has
been a decline in poverty across all socio-religious groups, with the largest decline observed

72 Afzal Sharieff, Indian Muslim Labour, Anmol Publicaions Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi, p.37.
73 Afzal Sharieff, Indian Muslim Labour, Anmol Publicaions Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi, p. 40.
74 Jeemol Unni, ‘Informality and Gender in the Labour Market for Muslims’, in Rakesh Basant loc. Cit, p. 222.
75 Incense sticks.
76 Hand made local cigarettes.
77 Jeemol Unni, _______, in Rakesh Basant loc. Cit., p. 225.
78 Rakesh Basant, loc. cit., p. 226-227.
79 Indian Labour and Employment Report 2014, Workers in the Era of Globalisation, Academic Foundation, 2014, p. 75.
80 ibid., p. 79.
81 ibid., p. 85.
amongst the SCs, STs, OBCs, and upper caste Muslims.82 The attitude towards cattle ensures
that their commercial contribution is relatively small to the cost of maintaining them. The refusal
to slaughter cattle obviously reduces current food supply. It also affects disastrously the
prospects of improving the quality of livestock and agricultural methods generally. Selective
slaughter is impossible.83


On 28 May 2015, Noorjahan and her daughter were raped and killed at Churamba village of
Dharuvar area in Bed District84. This could not make to the headlines of electronic media
operating from metros and Delhi-NCR region! In the heart of Delhi, Shahnawaz Chaudhary
died in Nand Nagri area of Delhi in custodial death on September 7, 2015. Justice Siddarth
Mirdul hearing the case expressed concern over rise of intolerance in the country and said,
‘custodial torture is naked violation of human dignity and degradation’85.

Conflict and sense of personal insecurity have pervasive adverse impacts on human
development and leave billions of people living in precarious conditions. Many countries in the
bottom tier of the Human Development Index are emerging from long periods of conflict or
still confront armed violence.86 Higher income alone are not enough to reduce vulnerability to
conflict and personal insecurity. Persistent vulnerability which generally can be allayed only over
long periods requires multiple policy interventions and norm shifts that build tolerance and
deepen social cohesion.87

In Kashmir, Muslim youth are targeted by the security agencies and armed force. The security
forces are using pellet guns and many youth are blinded88. From the RTI application filed by
Mannan Bukhari in 2013-14, it was revealed that more than 300 pellet-gun hit patients were
treated in the government hospitals of Srinagar during 2010-2014. Many of these patients lost
their sight completely89. It may be mentioned that the pellet guns were introduced in 2008-2010
in Jammu & Kashmir to quell insurgency. In the recent past, a number of Kashmiris have been
killed and pellet guns used by security forces have injured hundreds.

According to statistics of the Home Ministry from the year 1954 to 1992 (39 years) 13,356 anti-
Muslim communal riots took place. It means on the average one riot a day. In this context, J B
D Souza says that it is ironical that more people are killed in communal riots in India, than
during the oppressive rule of the British imperialism.90 The Indian Muslim at present carry a
double burden of being labelled as anti-national and being appeased at the same time. The
environment of insecurity and fear ridicule the very purpose of the formation of the state
(security). This also negates the assertion of basic civil rights which the constitution of India

82 Indian Labour and Employment Report 2014, Workers in the Era of Globalisation, Academic Foundation,
2014, p.93.
83 P T Bauer, Indian Economic Policy Development, Vol. 27, Routledge Library Editions, P.24.
84 Siraj Arzu report, Bed, published in Pindar, dated June 10, 2015.
85 The Times of India, Delhi, dated October 21, 2015.
86 Human Development Report, UNDP, 2014, p.4.
87 Human Development Report, UNDP, 2014, p. 4.
88 Jammu Workshop 2/4/2015 & Abhishek Saha , The Silent Struggle, Hindustan Times, 23/12/15.
89 Ibid.,
90 Rajeev Kumar Singh, ‘Citizenship, Exclusion & Indian Muslims’, S N Tripathy (ed), Issues on Ethnicity,
Discrimination and Social Exclusion, Abhijeet Publications, Delhi, 2010, 110094, p. 293-295.
91 Rajeev Kumar Singh, ‘Citizenship, Exclusion & Indian Muslims’, in S N Tripathy (ed), Issues on Ethnicity,
Discrimination and Social Exclusion, Abhijeet Publications, Delhi, 2010, 110094, p.294.
Last year, at least two reports on the exclusion of minorities were released. The Centre of Peace
Studies focused on the Muslim community in its report titled ‘Broken Promises’ and ‘how
nothing has changed since the Sachar Committee report’ was released. The Centre for Equity
Studies in its India Exclusion report, showed how all vulnerable minorities in India are kept out
of school education, urban housing, labour markets and legal justice in relation to anti-terror
legislations in India. Ever since the new government has taken over, there is a feeling that the
numbers of communal incidents have gone up and various issues that are taken up by the fringe
right wing groups go a long way in increasing the sense of insecurity within the minorities.

Last year, another report released was authored by three Director Generals of Police, based on a
survey done in South India, with key inputs from three states with sizeable Muslim populations,
and intelligence from state police chiefs in 2013. This study concludes that if the perception of a
bias against the Muslim community is not corrected immediately, it would affect the country’s
internal security. The report, prepared by the DGPs of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil
Nadu, and a senior IB official, has been submitted to the central government.

The Sachar Committee in 2006 had pointed out to the poor representative of Muslims in the
police force. However, ironically the number has only reduced further. In 2007, there were 1.01
lakh Muslims in the police force across the country. This meant that the representation was at
7.55 percent. The total number of policemen at that time was a 13.4 lakhs strong force. In the
next six years, the force grew by 24 percent and is now at 16.7 lakh. However, the Muslim
representation had actually fallen by one percentage point to 6.5 percent.

Among the 326 lakh policemen added across all states since the Sachar Committee, only 7,132, or
2.18 per cent, were Muslim. The total number of Muslims in the police has therefore increased
marginally from 1.01 lakh to 1.08 lakh. What is surprising is that the worst performing states have
been Rajasthan and Assam, where the number of Muslim police personnel actually fell by 56
percent during 2007-12. Assam which has the largest proportion of Muslims in the country, with
nearly 31 percent of whose population now has only 2,388 Muslim police personnel, just about 4
percent of the force. And in Rajasthan there are only 871 Muslims in the entire state.

Gujarat and Chhattisgarh are not far behind. The decline in Gujarat was 32.74 percent, while
there were 4530 Muslim policemen in 2007, there were 3047 in 2012. The point however, is
really not whether there are enough Muslims in the police force. That by itself is no guarantee
for even handed behaviour by what is considered to be a most apathetic and corrupt institution
in the country. The recent report written by three DGPs, makes exactly this point, that the
police force is insensitive and untrained to handle India's diverse populations and often makes
the mistake of treating Muslims badly.

One of the most critical factors that make any country's economy grow is the law and order
situation. Countries that do well are those, where there is a sense of justice and stability, especially
among the more vulnerable populations. It is only when the state is able to provide a sense of
security to the population that economic activity improves. In most states in the country, women
feel extremely vulnerable and crimes against them have been increasing almost everywhere. Such
gender insensitivity actually discourages investment, particularly from foreign countries.

The same is true for other minority populations. The police report talks about how there is
widespread discrimination in societies. It mentions the disturbing situation where Muslim
tenants are not given houses in majority dominated areas, leading them to ghettoisation. It also
talks about how police stations that carry visible symbols of Hinduism through idols kept inside
the station and of policemen performing pujas within the office send, out unwelcome signals to
members of the minority community. The report also blames thoughtless comments that are
made by members of the police force who haven't been trained properly.
Of the events that have shaped a persecution complex among Muslims are the Ram Janma
Bhoomi agitation and the Rath Yatra that spread terror for the first time in the south and east of
India too. The report makes a special mention of the Godhra incident and its role in making the
Muslim community fearful of the police and suspicious of its secular character. It also blames
the social media, the NGO sector and activists in spreading this suspicion among the Muslim
community against the police force. The interesting point the report makes is that wherever in
the country the Muslim population exceeds 15 percent, that locality is communally surcharged
and susceptible to riots.

It is for the first time that such a report has been publicly seen and reported on by mainstream
newspapers. Senior members of the force admit to the role that the police itself has played in
giving the Muslim minority a feeling of persecution. It is now the responsibility of the Home
Ministry indeed, to ensure that this is remedied. The easy way out is to go for mass recruitment
among Muslim neighbourhoods and get some more representation in police forces across the
country. But that will not be enough, for the numbers won't increase significantly just because
there is a targeted recruitment drive. Given the low literacy rates, it is often difficult for Muslim
youth to even meet the eligibility criteria.

What is required is rather for existing police forces to understand how their actions result in
persecution, real and perceived. It is also important for the police to realise that there is a strict
rule of law in the country and wrongful arrests and confinements carry harsh penalties. It is also
critical to simplify procedure so that those who are arrested could easily file bail petitions.
Relatives could easily ask why charge sheets are delayed and most importantly where both
information and forms are available online in all our languages. It is not easy for anyone, leave
alone a marginalised minority citizen, to walk into a police station. We must quickly move
towards online FIRs.

The politicians of our country, most importantly, must realise that the police is not an agent for
spreading one ideology or the other. The police cannot be partisan, it cannot be used to make
political statements or target opponents. If indeed good days are to come, it is important the law
and order situation improves and all citizens have equal confidence in the forces that maintain
peace. If this government is keen on attracting foreign investment in large measures, and wants
large multi-natural firms to divert their capital to India, it must convince them that this is a
democratic country that protects the rights of all citizens and treats each of them equally.

Violence and Human Right

There are independent reports about human right violations. The Human Right International in
its report says, ‘there were repeated allegations of unlawful detention, torture, and other ill-
treatment by Police to secure confessions in response to such attacks. In several cases, the police
themselves appear to have drafted the confessions. The suspects suffered further abuses, while
in jail awaiting trial and justice even in court’.92

Delivery of justice for mass violence against Muslims in Mumbai in 1992-1993 and in Gujarat in
2002, has been slow.93 The process of slow emergence of a tolerant and integrated Indian nation
which was gradually evolving over the centuries has received a rude shock with the demolition
of the mosque at Ayodhya at the hands of vandals, perhaps against the wishes of the leaders of
Kar Seva.94

92 Human Rights Watch, World Report, 2011, p.316.

93 Human Rights Watch, World Report, 2011, p. 317.
94 A M Khusro, Unfinished Agenda, Wiley Eastern Ltd., New Delhi, 1994, p.76.
Communalism is not primarily a problem of north India. It is also a serious issue for western
India. Gujarat and Maharashtra have not only a greater rate of deaths and incidents per million
of population, but also have a large number of total deaths in riots than Uttar Pradesh and

Except for Godhra, all towns in the list are Class I cities, i.e. their populations are above
1,00,000. Communal violence at its most intense and persistent seems to be a phenomenon of
India’s larger towns. Communal tensions may exist in Class II towns (50,000 to 100,000) and
Class III towns ( 25,000 to 50, 000) but they do not lead to high levels of violence. It may be
that communal tensions flare up less in smaller towns, for they lack relative anonymity of India’s
largest towns, larger cities may produce greater incentives and opportunities for criminals who
stand to gain from fomenting riots.96

Figure 1: Riots reported in 2013, Source: NCRB 2013

As shown in Fig. 1, communal riots continue to take place across the country. Even then the
Communal Riots Bill was not allowed passage in the House, due to opposition from the BJP and
other parties, not even in West Bengal, which is ruled by the TMC, communal clashes have
increased over the last few years (see Fig. 2). In 2013, which was the year preceding the 2014
Parliamentary elections, the incidents of communal clashes almost doubled. This explains the
winning of very few seats of the BJP in West Bengal.

Figure 2: Communal Clashes in West Bengal, Source: West Bengal State Police

95 Ashuthosh Varshney & Steven / Wilkinsson, Hindu Muslim Riots 1960-93, RGICS, 1996. p. 16.
96 ibid., p. 28.
Crucial in the transformation of conflict had been the intervention of disgruntled sections within
the Congress who sought to gain a following in their struggle with the socialists. Religion
became a counter in the game of intra party politics. Aligning with the Congress became
indicative of aligning with a wider ‘Hindu’ identity. This was the natural outcome of a nationalist
politics which had come up against the problem of caste inequality in its attempts to create unity
and had seen the solution in a ‘Hindu’ politics of equality. Communalism in the form that it
emerged was an offshoot of nationalism.97

Terrorism and prisons

The political significance of terrorism has been vastly exaggerated in the view of Walter Laqueur.
The Chairman of the ‘Research Council of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies’
examines and refutes a succession of what he calls ‘myths’ about terrorists - that they are a new
phenomenon, that they are left-wing and revolutionary, that they represent genuine and
legitimate grievance, that they are desperate people, and that their actions are effective. His
conclusion, ‘Terrorism is of course a danger, but magnifying its importance is even more
dangerous’.98 In India, particularly in states with hostile government towards Muslims, there has
been a rise in a number of Muslim youth being picked up by the security agencies and lodged in
prison. In many cases, there has been no charge against them and they are picked up on mere
apprehension. BJP, Shiv Sena and VHP people often come with their own version of terrorism
and talk of ‘various module’ and ‘sleeper cells’. Such rhetoric becomes common during elections
or some crisis. No wonder, the proportion of Muslim inside jails is more than their population.

Figure 3: States with High Muslim Detenu, Source: NCRB-2012

As shown above (Fig.3), Gujarat whose development model has always fascinated some
intellectuals tops the chart with 151 detenu (any person held in custody). This may explain the
theory behind the sacking of police officers and many fake encounters, which are still being
probed by various agencies. In most states, the number of Muslim under trials is also high and
more than their share of population. In Assam, Muslim population is 33 percent, while 37 percent
are under trials in jails. In Delhi, 22 percent Muslim are under trials against their population share
of 13 percent. In West Bengal, 47 percent Muslim are under trials against their population of 27
percent. In Gujarat, 23 percent Muslim are under trials against their population of 10 percent. In
Madhya Pradesh, Muslim under trials is 13 percent against their population of just 7 percent. In
Maharashtra, there are 26 percent Muslim under trials against the population share of around 12
percent. Kerala perhaps may be the only state where Muslim under trials (23 percent) are less than

97 Dilip M Menon, Becoming ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’: Identity and Conflict in Malabar, 1900-1936, Centre of Developing
Studies, Thiruvananthpuram, 1994, p. 27.
98 Walter Laqueur, The Futility of Terrorism, HarperCollins, 1976, p 99-105
their share of population (27 percent). With so many Muslim youth languishing in jails across the
country, it is matter of concern for their family members and the community.
At another level, it is found that the vulnerable sections of Indian society are the ones who are
languishing in jails. As shown in Fig. 5, Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis - who together are around 39
percent of the population, share 53 percent of the prison space among them. Is it because of their
poverty, or there is a caste and communal bias against the three most backward sections of the
society? We cannot say and it is for the officials to introspect over this alarming trend.

Figure 4: Muslim Under trials in Various States, Source: NCRB & Census 2011
It would be in the interest of the community at large, if it becomes a reason of worry for the
state, judiciary and the concerned officials. If that happens, campaign against terrorism will not
only be the job for the security officials, but every citizen will be a part of this.

Figure 5: Communities Share in Population and Prisons, Source: NCRB 2013, Census 2011

Neither property nor power is a legal excuse for crime notes. Greater temptation does not
excuse from responsibility or make punishment unjust.99 Machines able to perform simple
human tasks are now installed throughout the world.100 If the state government is determined to
prevent violence, no communal riot can occur and it does, it can be checked before it spells
disaster. The best examples of this are states of West Bengal and Bihar. In West Bengal, no
major communal riot has taken place for last 27 years since the Left Government is in power.

99 Ernest Van Den Haag, No Excuse for Crime, annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Plenum
Press, NY, 1976, p 133-141
100 James Albus and John Evans, Robot Systems, Jr. Scientific American, February 1976, pp 76-86
Similarly, ever since Lalu Yadav took over in Bihar, no riots have occurred, though Bihar was a
highly sensitive state. The last major riot in Bihar took place in Sitamarhi in 1993.101

What needs to be done it that unity has to be evolved from the womb of diversity? If an
endeavour is made to unite people on the basis of one religion, one language, one culture and
one civilization, the unity would be artificial and the nation would disintegrate as the USSR and
Pakistan.102 Another reason for the communal riots in cities like Kanpur, Meerut, Varanasi,
Aligarh and Moradabad have been analysed and discovered that they are due to economic

The struggle against terrorism is a contest for the hearts and minds of the people. In this contest,
if the west is going to prevail, it cannot do so by dispensing with its most cherished values of
tolerance, individual freedom, and adherence to the rule of law. In our quest for victory, it seems
important for us to know what we are fighting against, it is important to keep in mind what we
are fighting for.104 Even a highly decorated officer like K F Rustamji was not spared. He recalled,
‘My own problems in the sub-division arose out of my circle inspector’s proximity to the DIG. I
suspected his integrity and his tendency to instigate the Hindus against me, stating that I was
pro-Muslim. I recommended him for punishment in a gambling case where he fudged the
figures of the amount seized, but the DIG wrote back, ‘I am not going to punish an experienced
Inspector on the recommendation of an ASP with three years’ service’.105

In his opinion, the strained relations between Hindu-Muslim began early. He explains, ‘To my
mind the relations between the two communities began to get strained after the 1937 elections,
to the provincial assemblies when the Congress came to power in the Central Provinces. Small,
insignificant incidents were given a communal colour. The Muslim Sub-Inspector, who was
punished on a Hindu Circle Inspector’s report, would always ascribe wild motives’. 106

Not only the administration has this tendency to be callous towards Muslims, even in hours of
tragedy, if the victims happen to be Muslims, the attitude is different, as was the case in Bhopal
Gas tragedy, when thousands of people perished and are struggling with their daily life. From
what happened on December 2-3, 1984, here are some first-hand accounts of such moments
drawn from the Bhopal Group of Information and Action (BGIA) newsletters. As described by
Bano Bi, ‘the night when the gas leaked, I was sewing clothes sitting next to the door. It was
around midnight. My husband had just returned from a poetry concert. He came in and asked
me, ‘what is it that you burning which is choking me?’107

Describing the moment, Bano Bi said, ‘So many years have gone by and yet my hair stands on
end, whenever I look back and remember those scenes! We left the door of our house open and
began to run. We joined the surging crowd. We ran blindly. Everybody was running. Those who
were weak and gasping for breath, fell down. We did not stop to pick them up.’ Hazra Bi is
more analytical, ‘the fact is that we were running without any sense of direction. If only
somebody had told us not to run in the direction of the gas. The children were groaning so

101 Asghar Ali Engineer, Muslims and India, Gyan Publishing House, New Delhi, 2006, p. 283,
102 S Omprakash (ed), Roots of Riots , Essays in Community Psychology, Kanishka Publishers & Distributors, New
Delhi, p.25
103 ibid., p 26
104 Dipak K Gupta, Understanding Terrorism and Political Violence, The life cycle of birth, growth, transformation, and demise,
Routledge, 2009, p. 206
105 P V Rajgopal (ed), From the Diaries and Articles of K F Rustamji, The British The Bandits and The Bordermen, Wisdom
Tree, Delhi, 2009, p. 53
106 P V Rajgopal (ed), From the Diaries and Articles of K F Rustamji, The British The Bandits and The Bordermen, Wisdom
Tree, Delhi, 2009, p.56
107 Suroopa Mukherjee, Surviving Bhopal, Dancing Bodies, written Texts, and Oral Testimonials of women in the wake of
Industrial Disaster, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, USA, p 44
much that we just picked them up in our arms and joined the masses of people. Believe me, it
seemed like the end of the world.’108

Archival sources (BGIA newsletters) provide the most graphic descriptions with purely visual
attributes. Razia Bi narrates, ‘My three year old daughter Nazma, had swollen up so much like
she would burst. We took her to Hamidia Hospital. We stayed with her in hospital for fifteen
days and then the doctors said she would not survive. We were feeling so helpless because there
was no doctor around, who knew how my daughter could be saved. She died on the fifteenth
day.’ It is the fear and helplessness of witnessing the death of near and dear ones that gets
repeated in narrative after narrative. Zubeda Bi said, ‘My grandson was one year old then. I put
him on my chest to protect him as much as possible. But his face swelled to twice its size, his
eyes were puffed tight. We were really scared.109 Bhopal offers a unique example of a vision that
grows from community struggle, which has been scripted by people who are actively part of the
struggle. The vision is by no means complete. It will change and grow in the future. It is equally
significant that the vision is clearly defined in an open letter to the PM, which is collective
document drafted.110

The Violence around Conversion

Conversions are nothing new in India. It was in 6 B.C. that countless of Hindus converted to
Buddhism. The Shankaracharya set about purification of Hinduism and restored many souls to
Hinduism again. As a result of the Sankaracharya’s efforts, Buddhism remained alive only in
foreign countries where had been exported from India.111 The Janta government introduced the
Freedom of Religion Bill in Parliament in 1979. In February 1981, most of the Hindu Harijans—
oppressed more by social atrocities than economic subjugation embraced Islam en masse, in
Meenakshipuram, a Tamil Nadu village in South India and not out of any great fascination for
the principles of Islam. The upper caste abused them…Thimir Pidicha Pallan (you insolent low
caste).112 Observers have pointed out that H M Patel as Finance Minister, informed the Lok
Sabha that the RSS owed the Income Tax Authorities one crore and ten lakhs. Subsequently, the
Finance Minister let the RSS quietly off the hook. The tax arrears of the RSS shrunk suddenly
from over one crore to just about five thousand. It is speculated that this could not have been
done without the concurrence of the then Prime Minister, Morarji Desai. And this could be
done only after RSS was treated as a political organization.113

In the communal riots at Jamshedpur, the RSS Ministers and MLAs of Bihar were involved.
Their plan was to malign the former Chief Minister of Bihar, Karpoori Thakur. The riot took
place because Mr. Thakur was asked to seek a vote of confidence of the Janta MLAs. It was
planned in a systematic way, Shri Balasaheb Deoras, leader of the RSS held a rally in Jamshedpur
and made a speech that was full of communal venom. So the RSS is ‘Revivalist, communal and
obscurantist’.114 Home Minister, H M Patel was good enough to admit in Parliament in May
1979, that there had been a noticeable rise in communal riots over the last two years that the Jan
Sangh dominated Janta Party had been in power. Between April 1, 1977 and September 30,
1978, there were no less than 323 communal incidents, in which more than 250 people were
killed. Add to that the 100 odd persons who died in Aligarh and the estimated 300 deaths in

108 Suroopa Mukherjee, Surviving Bhopal, Dancing Bodies, written Texts, and Oral Testimonials of women in the wake of
Industrial Disaster, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, USA, p 47
109 Suroopa Mukherjee, Surviving Bhopal, Dancing Bodies, written Texts, and Oral Testimonials of women in the wake of
Industrial Disaster, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, USA, p 49-50.
110 Suroopa Mukherjee, Surviving Bhopal, Dancing Bodies, written Texts, and Oral Testimonials of women in the wake of
Industrial Disaster, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, USA, p. 182-183.
111 Brojendra Nath Banerjee, Religious Conversions in India, Harnam Publications, 1982, New Delhi, VII.
112 Brojendra Nath Banerjee, Religious Conversions in India, Harnam Publications, 1982, New Delhi, p.62-63.
113 Brojendra Nath Banerjee, Religious Conversions in India, Harnam Publications, 1982, New Delhi, p.133.
114 Brojendra Nath Banerjee, Religious Conversions in India, Harnam Publications, 1982, New Delhi, p.136.
Jamshedpur. What make the statistics more ominous is that over 95 percent of those killed were
Muslims. Most of the Hindus died were killed because of mistaken identities.115

A New York correspondent in New Delhi some years ago, observed, ‘If a Muslim leader makes
a speech about the plight of the untouchables, he may be congratulated for being a good
nationalist. But if he talks about the plight of his fellow Muslims, he is told he is being
communal and a Pakistani agent.’116 No wonder most Muslim leaders prefer to maintain silence
on issues concerning Muslims, although they win election from Muslim majority areas but serve
the interests of their respective parties and leaders. Government officials, Rajahs and Mahajans-
all threatened the missionaries and they simultaneously asked the Adivasi converts to re-embrace
Hinduism. Against this mass conversion, the first enactment came to be known as Rajgarh State
Conversion Act of 1936, and reasons given in the preamble to the Act were that of mass
conversion leading to communal riots. By this Act, the Hindu Rajah of Rajgarh banned the
preaching of Christianity and prohibited the entry of Christian missionaries into the former
Kingdom of Rajgarh, Jashpur, Surguja etc., of Chhotanagpur areas. A missionary was also
sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for the violation of the recent ban.117

The next Hindu kingdom to follow the anti-conversion bill was the state of Surguja. In 1945, it
enacted the Surguja State Hindu Apostacy Act of 1945, which gave no reason for enactment and
described all Adivasis belonging to the Hindu faith and identified Christianity as an alien
religion.118 The next Hindu princely state to enact anti-conversion law was Udaipur with the
enactment of the Udaipur State Conversion Act of 1946. The Act required all conversion from
Hinduism to Christianity to be registered officially.119

The Zamindari Association formed in Bengal in 1837 was the first organization with which
constitutional politics may be assumed to have begun. Educationally, economically and
politically, the Hindu upper classes were on the ascendant. They deplored the disloyalty of
Muslims to British rule.120 Similarly, the Hindi-Urdu controversy was very old. Hindus never
forgave Urdu, written in Persian characters, for keeping Hindu out of courts of law. Hindi
protagonists had fought many a losing battle for the promotion of Hindi to the status of Urdu. 121
Communal fraternity maybe of two kinds: Sentimental and intellectual. The former implies
religious fusion and the latter mutual love for the languages and literatures of each other. Both
these interrelated aspects of communal harmony became manifest during Muslim rule in India.122

Partition and after

The protagonists of the two–nation theory propagated for many years that religion was the basis
of nationality and adherence to a common homeland could not constitute the main basis. It was
on this issue that the country was partitioned. But it is now clear that there are virtually no
adherents to the theory of nationhood based on religion anywhere in the world, not even in
Pakistan. The Saudis will not give Saudi nationality to anyone just because he or she is a Muslim;
nor would the Pakistanis do so.123 The occurrence and intensity of communal riots have been a
subject of much public and academic discussion. On the basis of a study of communal violence
in India between 1950 and 1995, Ashutosh Varshney has argued that the perception of Hindu-

115 Brojendra Nath Banerjee, Religious Conversions in India, Harnam Publications, 1982, New Delhi, pp 153-154.
116 Brojendra Nath Banerjee, Religious Conversions in India, Harnam Publications, 1982, New Delhi, p. 157.
117 Brojendra Nath Banerjee, Religious Conversions in India, Harnam Publications, 1982, New Delhi, p.193.
118 Brojendra Nath Banerjee, Religious Conversions in India, Harnam Publications, 1982, New Delhi, p.195.
119 Brojendra Nath Banerjee, Religious Conversions in India, Harnam Publications, 1982, New Delhi, p.199.
120 Ram Gopal, Indian Muslims, A Political History 1858-1947, Asia Publishing House, New Delhi, 1959, p.61.
121 Ram Gopal, Indian Muslims, A Political History 1858-1947, Asia Publishing House, New Delhi, 1959, p. 262.
122 Jatindra Bimal Chaudhary, Muslim Patronage to Sanskritic Learning, Idarah-i-Adbiyat, Delhi, 1981, p. Vii.
123 A M Khusro, Unfinished Agenda, Wiley Eastern Ltd., New Delhi, 1994, p. 69.
Muslim violence as an essentially urban phenomenon is confirmed. Less than 4 percent of the
people who died during communal riots were from rural areas.124

Regimes committed to social reform in the Third World face the danger of alienating both the
lower and the upper classes—the upper classes because their interests are endangered, and the
lower ones because the reformists promises may not be fulfilled.125 Perhaps the first communal
riot which took place in Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh in 1961, after a decade of communal peace,
reflected this basic efficiency of the Indian polity at that stage rather than a mere aberration
caused by a local event. The fact that a Hindu girl of a bidi manufacturer eloped with a Muslim
boy of another bidi manufacturer could cause a sense of humiliation in the Hindu community
and that the two communities had developed business rivalry due to competition of two bidi
manufacturers merely indicated lack of trust between the two exclusive communal alignments. 126
Killings at Hashimpura, Maliana (1987) and Bhagalpur (1989), set a new record of riot toll in
independent India. In the last year of the decade, there were 18 major riots taking a toll of 1174
lives (as per written reply of then Union Home Minister, M M Jacob in Rajya Sabha on July 17,

In January 1987, a television serial based on the epic ‘Ramayana’ was aired on state-run channel,
Doordarshan at 9:30 on Sunday mornings. ‘Ramayana’ episodes became the most popular
programme ever shown, attracting millions of viewers. Sundays are now recalled as streets being
deserted throughout India. Even in villages, TV sets were installed outside some shops. Also, in
cities, shops with TV and TV stores windows and doors became the most popular spots for
rickshaw pullers and labourers to hang on. Ten months after the Ramayana series, the Vishwa
Hindu Parishad called on Hindus throughout India to make holy bricks, inscribed with Rama’s
name, to be used at Ayodhya, to be used for the Ram Mandir. The walls across the country were
painted with anti-Muslim provocative slogans. The Babri Masjid destruction and ensuing
violence tells us something about the making of ‘ancient hatreds: that they are being made in
Lebanon, Bosnia, the republics of the former soviet union, Iraq, Israel, South-Central Los
Angeles, and Crown Heights—all those places where neighbours and friends and have turned
into foreigners and enemies’.127 The doctrine of ancient hatreds may become the post-Cold
War’s most robust mystification, a way of having an enemy and knowing evil that deceives as it
satisfies. The hatred is modern, and may be closer than we think.128

Badauni also quotes an alleged saying of the Prophet showing disapprobation of cow slaughter.
After observing ironically that ‘among the ordinary people, their (Muslim) faith is not held to be
firm unless they eat beef’, he (Badauni) exclaims: ‘God be praised, where has the cause of Islam
come to be!’129 Syed Ahmed Khan in his Asbab-e-Baghawat-e-Hindustan (1859), admonished the
British for keeping Hindus and Muslims in the same military units, thereby fostering brotherly
feelings among Hindu and Muslim sepoys, that proved to be so effective in spreading mutiny
within the Bengal Army.130

124 Mukesh Williams & Rohit Wanchoo, Representing India , Literatures, Politics, and Identities, OUP, New Delhi, 2008,
p. 221.
125 Atul Kohli, Democracy and Development in India, From Socialism to Pro-Business, Oxford University Press, New Delhi,
2009, p. 249.
126 Balraj Puri, Indian Muslims since Partition, Institute of Objective Studies, New Delhi, p.10.
127 Lloyd I Rudolph & Susanne Hoeber Rudolph, Modern Hate, in ( How Ancient Animosities get invented,
Lloyd I Rudolph & Susanne Hoeber Rudolph, The Realm of the Public Sphere Identity and Policy, Vol III,
OUP, N Delhi, 2008, p. 404.
128 ibid., 405.
129 Quoted in Irfan Habib, ‘Indo-Islamic Thought and the Issue of Religious Co-existence’, in Rakesh Basant loc.
Cit., p. 31.
130 ibid., p. 33.
Armed conflicts impose enormous costs on individuals, communities and countries. In addition
to the loss of lives, they destroy livelihoods, generate insecurity and disrupt social services,
institutions and markets. Conflicts can also cause large population displacements. 131

The protagonists of the two–nation theory, for many years propagated that religion was the basis
of nationality and adherence to a common homeland could not constitute the main basis. It was
on this issue that the country was partitioned. But it is now clear that there are virtually no
adherents to the theory of nationhood based on religion anywhere in the world, not even in
Pakistan. The Saudis will not give Saudi nationality to anyone just because he or she is a Muslim;
nor would the Pakistanis do so.132

Political Representation

Ambedkar said on 26 January 1950, ‘In politics we will have equality and in social and economic
life we will have inequality. In politics, we will be recognising the principle of ‘one man one vote
and one vote one value’. If our social and economic structure continues to deny the principle of
one man one value, how long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions? This question
is more relevant to the Muslims, whose vote share declined because of delimitations and value
declined because of polarisation of majoritarian vote towards one political party. The scare of
naked majority was staring the minorities in the victory of a dispensation, which prided in its
anti-Muslim rhetoric and work. For the first time, Muslim could not make to the Lok Sabha
from Uttar Pradesh. Modi, in his election speech after winning from Vadodra called ‘Bharat is the
land of Gowalkar and Savarkar’ and took pride in his party not having any Muslim elected to the
Lok Sabha! Modi’s win from Varanasi proves the point that ‘elections are all about caste and
religious affinity.’

When power is the sole purpose for a political party to contest elections, it will attempt to
perpetuate the same and side with issues which will help it in winning and clinging to power. 133
The majority has might—unhappily—but right it has not. I and a few others are right. The
minority is always right!134 And talking of nationalist parties, they may say anything verbally but
promote communalism. During elections, they give tickets to Muslims, Sikhs and Christians
from seats where those communities are in large numbers. Thus, they encourage voters to cast
votes according to religious affinity.135 During these days no community is extending help to
country merely on the basis of religion. So, while it was wrong of Indian Muslims to have
political relations with Muslim countries and were expecting moral and financial support in
freedom struggle, the existing norm of severing ties is equally wrong.136

More than ever before, post-May 2014, Muslims and other minorities are feeling that democracy
is bringing the government to power, which is only concerned about the majority. The
nomination, selection and election of candidates from across the country present a trend which
is alarming for what has been called ‘vibrant democracy’ of the world. After a clean sweep of
2014 Parliamentary elections, Gujarat duo of Modi-Amit won Haryana, Maharashtra and
Jharkhand. The winning streak was stopped by Aam Admi Party in Delhi. Bihar Assembly
elections in 2015 were the talk of the nation and ‘secular forces’ succeeded in forging an alliance
to defeat BJP-led NDA. Muslims were expecting a better representation, but that did not
happen, as can be seen in Fig. 6. In the November 2015, Bihar Assembly elections, Muslims

131 Human Development Report, UNDP, 2014, p. 49.

132 A M Khusro, op.cit.,, p. 69.
133 Sugato Hazra, Influencing India, Bridging Borders, Kolkata, 2011, p. 225.
134 M Manuel , M S Samuel (ed), A Mirror of Modern Life, A Selection from Twentieth Century Prose, Carleton
Kemp Allen, The Majority Principle, p. 11.
135 Syed Abid Hussain, Musalman Aur Asri Masayil, Makhtaba Jamia, New Delhi, 2011, p.140.
136 Syed Abid Hussain, Hindustani Musalman Aiyana Aiyam Mein, Makthaba Jamia, New Delhi, 2012, p. 363.
with 17-19 percent population could only win 23 seats, while Yadavs with 12-15 percent
population went on to win 61 seats. This means that Yadav as a group, can itself be influential in
the Assembly.

Figure 6: Bihar Assembly-November 2015, Source- Authors Research

Even in selection of ministers, Yadavs played dominant role and grabbed the bulk of ministerial
berths and key positions in the cabinet (Fig.7). There are seven Yadavs, five SCs, and four from
the Muslim community. Interestingly, Kurmis-Koeris, also called Luv-Kush share between them
six cabinet births.

Figure 7: Key Position Holders in the Cabinet, Source- Bihar Cabinet November 2015.

As shown in Table 1, the representation of Muslims in most states has not been in proportion to
their population. Asghar Ali Engineer wrote, ‘Muslim representation in state legislative
assemblies and parliament is disproportionately low as compared with the size of their
population…in these fifty years it has never gone beyond 8 percent’.137 This may be due to
various factors, one of them being spread of bigotry among the Hindus. This has played an
important role in the rise of the BJP and Shiv Sena over the years. The 2004 Lok Sabha
elections, testify to the fact that bigotry has been shown its place. The people’s verdict is for
harmony and tolerance rather than discord and disunity.138 However, the trend is alarming, as
137 Asghar Ali Engineer, Violence Memories and Peace Building ; Citizen Report on Minorities in India and Pakistan, South
Asian & Research Centre, (2006), Islamabad, p. 233.
138 K Natwar Singh, India and Islam, 12th Lal Bahadur Shastri Memorial Lecture, Anil Shastri, Modern Thought
Leaders, McGraw hill Education, N Delhi, 2015, P. 86.
former Sri Lankan minister said, ‘If we continue to live with the current mindset, where even
genuine people in desperation begin to feel that the only answer to extremism is more
extremism, democracy as we know today may surely be doomed to be confined to the pages of
history as yet another tried, tested and failed political system’.139 Election results should reflect
the cultural diversity and the decision of the vulnerable sections of the society.

Table: 7

State Year Total Assembly Muslims % Share of

Seats Elected Elected
Assam 1962 105 15 14
1985 126 25 20
2001 126 24 19
Kerala 1960 114 17 15
1987 140 21 15
2001 140 22 16
West Bengal 1962 252 28 11
1987 294 39 13
2001 294 38 13
Uttar Pradesh 1962 430 29 7
1985 425 52 12
2002 403 45 11
Bihar 1962 318 21 7
1985 324 31 10
2000 324 35 11
2005 236 24 10
2010 243 19 8
Source: Election Commission of India, and other reports.

As the former Sri Lankan minister said, ‘The South Asian societies, their leaders and their
intellectual elites need to face these issues clearly, unravel their full implications and deal with
them, they have to find answers which can appropriately integrate religio-political dimension
into the democratic plural modern societies that must take shape’.140

In the Hindu view of political economy, what is of importance, is not the form of government
or who forms the Government but the quality of the ruling elite. As Atharva Veda (11-15-17)
points out, 'That nation is protected whose ruler (ruling class) is enlightened and abstemious.’ 141
Immediately after the Partition, the influential section of the Muslim leadership began to realize

139 Mangala Samaraweera, 14th Lal Bahadur Shastri Memorial Lecture, Anil Shastri, Modern Thought Leaders,
McGraw hill Education, N Delhi, 2015, p. 64.
140 Godfrey Gunatilleke, 5th Lal Bahadur Shastri Memorial Lecture, Anil Shastri, Modern Thought Leaders, McGraw
hill Education, New Delhi, 2015, p. 161.
141 N K P Sinha, Islam in India, Synthesis of Culture, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1996, p. 70.
the blunder of carrying on the separatist politics. Choudhary Khaliquzzaman held that the two-
nation theory proved positively injurious to the Muslim in India. The views of Shaheed
Suharwardy and Nawab Ismail Ali Khan were not very much different.142

An earlier survey done among Muslim showed no political party worked in the interest of the
Muslims. On the question whether guarantee for democracy is majority rule or independent
judiciary, 60 percent posed trust in majority rule, and 40 percent showed trust in independent
judiciary. On the question of participation of Muslim in politics, 88 percent believed that it was
in their interest. Almost 64 percent believed that there was no internal democracy in political
parties. On the question of separate party for Muslims to safeguard interest, 43.5 percent
responded in affirmative. A large proportion (72.6 percent) believed that no political party
worked in the interest of Muslims. On the question of how much security has been provided by
the government, the views are divided, with 52 percent saying ‘yes’ and 48 percent saying against.
The elite believed that there has been change in lifestyle over last ten years, 88 percent believed
that there has been development. But only 59 percent agreed that there was development of
Muslims as well.143

In recent years, Hindu nationalist leaders have cynically and occasionally successfully
manipulated religious mythology to mobilize political support, resulting in a substantial increase
in communal divisiveness.144 ‘The inability of the BJP to dent this bipolarity is both a result and
the close competition between two coalitions and contributing factor to it. It polled 6 percent of
the votes—not a negligible share of votes in a bipolar competition.145

What is the state of the party system on the eve of the bicentennial? Are new party alignments in
the offering? Is a party organization crucial to a candidate’s success in the age of the electronic
media? Schier argues that the party system has been regarded in profoundly ambiguous ways
throughout US history. He then reviews the wide range of explanation for the current weakening
of party loyalties and considers the implications not only for this election year but for the
future.146 Democracy is a form of government where everyone has the right to put forth his
point of view. In tune with this spirit of governance active participation of the Muslims should
be ensured at every level of representation. For this, election process and the system should be
suitably moulded to avoid the majority tyranny.147

The history of digital democracy is littered with great hopes, dashed expectations and broken
promises. We remain information rich, yet poor knowledge, which is a great shame because
digital democracy promised so much (but has delivered so little).148 ‘If a key indicator of the
health of a democracy is the state of its journalism and the standard of its media, I cannot help
but feel we are in trouble. There may be a problem of integrity in modern politics but I have no
doubt there is an even bigger problem of integrity within the modern media. Don’t let the media
fool you that they are the good guys who protect you from the predatory politicians.149

142 Moin Shakir, A trend report and Bibliography, Parimal Prakashan, Aurangabad , 1974, p. 2.
143 Ali Ashraf, The Muslim Elite of Bihar, (Urdu Trnsl.), Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1996, p. 47-
144 Pranab Bradhan, Scarcity, Conflicts and Cooperation, Essays in the political and Institutional Economics of Development, The
MIT Press, London, p. 181.
145 K M Sajad Ibrahim, ‘Kerala’s Electoral Pendulum Swings Back and Forth’, Yogendra Yadav, Suhas Palshikar,
K C Suri, (ed)., Party Competition in Indian States, OUP, New Delhi, 2014, p.512.
146 Richard Schier, Is the party over, Intellect, 1976, pp 290-292.
147 Rajeev Kumar Singh, ‘Citizenship, Exclusion & Indian Muslims’, S N Tripathy (ed), Issues on Ethnicity,
Discrimination and Social Exclusion, Abhijeet Publications, Delhi, 2010, 110094, p. 296-297.
148 Matther Flinders, Defending Politics, Why Democracy Matters in 21st Century, OUP, 2012, p. 160.
149 Matther Flinders, Defending Politics, Why Democracy Matters in 21st Century, OUP, 2012, p. 166.
The media offers great potential for enhancing democratic mobilization, engagement and literacy
but it also has a destructive quality that must somehow be kept in check.150 ‘The stories
‘Tablighis’ can only be understood in the light of the stories they tell about Prophet Mohammad,
the Companions of the Prophet, and those who have followed them. The stories assert that the
high standard set in the Hadith is gone and that it is again the time of Jahiliya’s time of

‘The perception that Muslims are becoming victims of the Indian states ‘politics of exclusion’
lacks empirical validity. Rather, affirmative policies by state and central governments have
benefited Muslims at the lower strata’.152 The emergence of the All India Backward Muslim
Morcha, must be seen as a product of the growing strength and influence of the Dalit
Movement in India as a whole in recent years. The AIBMM can be credited with the coining of
the term ‘Dalit Muslim’ seeking to bring all the previous ‘low caste groups’, who together form
vast majority of the Indian Muslim population, on to a common platform.153

The history of Muslim politics of the last one hundred years reveals that the Muslim leaders of
north India always imposed their politics over the country. This ignores the local problems and
situations. The problems of all the Muslims in all the states cannot be identical…there cannot be
any common language and common culture for all the Muslims in the country.154 The Muslim
communalists are keenly interested in the affairs of other Muslim countries. It is because of the
transnational character of Islam and not because of lack of patriotism.155

Among other issues, the debate over Uniform Civil Code, right of Muslims to pray in what has
been classified as ‘Protected monuments’ by the ASI, minority character of the AMU, Jamia
Millia Islamia, the state of Urdu in digital world are some of key issues. Recently, the apex court
asked the opinion of the Central Government on the issue of the UCC. In August-September
2015, Jain community protested against Gujarat High Court Order which declared ‘Sinthala’
suicide. The community forced the court to review the order with street protests, and was given
due coverage by the media. Nowhere, it was written that it was an issue of Personal Law of Jains.
On 23 April 1985, Chief Justice granted maintenance to the Muslim woman from her separated
husband under Section 125 of IPC, which is applicable to all communities. It was followed by
never ending rallies all over the country by Muslims.156

Prof. J. Duncan M. Derrat warned in 1968, ‘if there is frontal attack on the personal law in India,
it will survive with tenacity it has been unable to show in countries where the majority of the
population are and always have been Muslims.’157 As far as Muslim assertion is concerned, it was
pronounced on three main issues which emerged as symbols of the Muslim identity, namely
Aligarh Muslim University, Urdu language and Muslim personal Law.158 One of the grievance of
the Muslims is that they are discriminated against with the result that they are economically
worse off that the Hindus. Humayun Kabir, educationist and politician, admitted that there was
a lot of discrimination against Muslims.159 Muslims have been victim of the Hindu-Muslim strife.

150 Matther Flinders, Defending Politics, Why Democracy Matters in 21st Century, OUP, 2012, p. 168.
151 Barbara Metcalf, ‘Travellers’ Tale in the Tablighi Jama’at’, David Taylor (ed), Islam in South Asia, Routledge,
2011, p.176.
152 Anwar Alam, ‘Political Management of Islamic Fundamentalism, A view from India’, David Taylor (ed), Islam
in South Asia, Routledge, 2011, p.287.
153 Yogender Sikand, ‘A New Indian Muslim Agenda’, David Taylor (ed), Islam in South Asia, Routledge, 2011,
154 Moin Shakir, A trend report and Bibliography, Parimal Praksahsn, Aurangabad , 1974, p.3.
155 Moin Shakir, A trend report and Bibliography , Parimal Praksahsn, Aurangabad , 1974, p.6.
156 Balraj Puri, Indian Muslims since Partition, Institute of Objective Studies, New Delhi, p.17.
157 Balraj Puri, Indian Muslims since Partition, Institute of Objective Studies, New Delhi, p.13.
158 Balraj Puri, Indian Muslims since Partition, Institute of Objective Studies, New Delhi, p.13.
159 Moin Shakir, A trend report and Bibliography , Parimal Praksahsn, Aurangabad , 1974, p.10.
The Muslims, however, support Raghubir Dayal Commission recommendation of establishing
‘inter-religious board’ to promote mutual understanding.160

Today, many Muslim localities across the country are denied bank loans as they are ‘blacklisted’
by the banks. Many years ago, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, confessed of unequal treatment meted
out to Muslims in respect of loans and licenses for the industry.161 Under the false notion that
Muslims alone were responsible for the creation of Pakistan, the misguided fanatics make use of
every available opportunity wrecking vengeance on the members of the community. 162 On
October 13, 1968 the all India federation of Muslims along with scheduled castes and backward
classed was set up under auspices of Muslim Majlis.163 Legislators and officials …have yet to
repeal laws providing effective immunity from prosecution to government officials, including
soldiers and police, responsible for human rights violations.164

Today, Muslim polity is not only facing the problem of Muslim Personal Law, but there are
more causes of concern. For instance, the issue of Babri Masjid, the right of Muslims to offer
congregation prayers in mosques designated as ‘protected’ monument by the Archaeological
Survey of India, Aligarh Muslim University and now Jamia Millia Islamia.165

Conclusions and Recommendations

Education, employment, self-employment schemes, minority schemes etc., poverty and literacy
of the community are the main issues. Health has been a concern for Muslims as many men
working in hazardous industry. On education, the state should take proper care of existing
schools, madarsas, maktabs, and ensure that the SSA schools have an equal presence in MCD.
The overall standard of education is well below global standards. Muslims are way behind the
national average. People call for strengthening the education base amongst Muslims at all levels.
Indian Muslim should be educationally, intellectually, socially and economically well advanced.
More educational institutions, like the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) should be established.
Modern and meaningful education should be given to all. The drop-out rate among boys and
girls should be checked. In areas, and regions, which do not have school and college, the
government should take special initiatives and open institutions. Also, community initiatives
should be encouraged to provide affordable quality education. There should be 100 percent
literacy among Muslims.

The elite and educated section of the community has to come forward and shoulder some
responsibility. Madarsa education should be modernized. Madarsa students should be eligible to
write all entrance exams, and be provided with all the facilities on par with other students. For
example, they should get the same concessions in railway, bus and air travel that other students
get. Students should learn to avail the government schemes for scholarships, boarding schools,
and other schemes on time. The ideal teacher student ratio should be maintained. In places like
Assam and Jammu & Kashmir, which faces inadequate power supply, solar plants and lamps
should be installed.


Skill development is critical today for a large number of youth, especially among Muslims, both
men and women. The use of simple ICT techniques built into any intervention allows for

160 Moin Shakir, A trend report and Bibliography, Parimal Praksahsn, Aurangabad, 1974, 19.
161 Moin Shakir, A trend report and Bibliography, Parimal Praksahsn, Aurangabad, 1974, p.10.
162 Moin Shakir, A trend report and Bibliography, Parimal Praksahsn, Aurangabad, 1974, 12.
163 Moin Shakir, A trend report and Bibliography, Parimal Praksahsn, Aurangabad, 1974, 26.
164 Human Rights Watch, World Report, 2011.
165 Mushirul Haq, IIIrd Sir Syed Lecture, 5 October 1988, Maktaba Jamia, 2011, p. 31.
capacity development through well designed training programs and professional trainers. This is
one investment that can be made quickly, and is something that is widely accepted by all
communities in all locations and brings quick results. Given the growth rates we see in UP (7.5
percent for nearly 5 years) and Bihar (11 percent for the last five years), there is a great need for
skilled labour and therefore the demand creation is not a bottleneck. In fact, supply is far from
catching up with the demand that is being generated and this gap can be quickly closed through
well designed skill development initiatives. The skill development program would take local
needs, available skills and local language capabilities into account.

Backwardness among the Muslims has to be seen in the framework of democratic polity, which
necessitates full participation of the community in the public platforms of the wider society. The
Vision 2025 envisages inclusive development of the Muslim community in Maharashtra with the
objective of empowering the community for their active participation in the development

This study underlines the extremely unfortunate and sad condition of the Muslims in India.
Their socio-economic condition makes one wonder about their strategies of survival. Their
educational status is extremely low, not equipping them with skills necessary to procure jobs in
liberal market economy. The infrastructural condition of the areas in which they reside is
extremely pathetic. They lack access to basic resources. Even the community resources do not
reach the extremely poor and the needy. Above all, a larger section of the Muslims is either not
aware of government schemes/programmes or does not possess emotional, intellectual,
financial, physical and social resources necessary to benefit from them.

Cases of discrimination form a collective perception of discrimination, further damaging the will
of Muslims to assert and gain from the public resources. We feel that mere attempts to provide
material goods and support to the community will not help. What the community needs is a
three dimensional approach. The first refers to the attitude of the wider society and the second
to that of the Muslim community. These have impact on the access of the community to
resources and its capacity to negotiate for the same. We feel that only once there are attitudinal
changes in the community and the wider society, the third dimension, that is, measures
supporting development in the community would be effective. The following recommendations
are made in the light of the preceding submissions.

A Diversity Index, as suggested in the Sachar Committee Report, would be an effective

measure towards initial attitudinal change in the wider society as well as the Muslim community.
The diversity principle entails an annual social audit through an independent organization like
the state level Equal Opportunities Commission to determine whether the equality and non-
discrimination principle is being followed in government departments, schools, employment
agencies, public and private sector etc. This would ensure dispersal of the minority community
members in all walks of life. The dispersal of Muslims and their acceptance in the public would
wean them away from ghettoized conditions of living.

The Diversity index should include mapping of representation of the community at every public
platform/departments especially those which involve participation in the decision making
process. This representation can be ensured by having proportional quota in the State offices.
However, in the private sector, it can be encouraged by linking incentives to the presence of


Muslims in India live in an atmosphere of aggression and suspicion having overpowering

feelings of insecurity and discrimination. Legislative actions like Anti-Discrimination Acts in
other countries have been found to be effective to deal with prejudiced behaviour of the
members of the wider society. The Government should take initiative to enact legislation on
communal violence on the line of the Communal and Targeted Violence (Prevention, Control
and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill 2011, drafted by National Advisory Council.

While such punitive steps are essential, one has to imbue them with preventive measures. This
necessitates a campaign towards repealing stereotypes against the community. Media and
educational institutions can play an important role in this regard. Measures should be taken to
scrutinize activities and programmes in these institutions and to make them responsible towards

Arrests of Muslims after every terrorist act should also be stopped with immediate effect. In fact,
nobody irrespective of caste, class and creed should be arrested without proper evidence.
Community policing should be encouraged as this would strengthen trust of the minority in the

A strong well channelized administration is necessary for ensuring inclusive growth for the
Muslims and also for addressing the issue of discrimination. The Minorities Ministry
Department and Minorities Commission are two active offices already working towards minority
affairs. Need is to further strengthen them. There is a need to develop efficient lateral (local
level) monitoring and facilitating system which can be met with establishing regional offices of
MDD in each district of the state. These offices would function as public relation office would
disperse information on government programmes. These offices would also assist in facilitating
implementation of the government schemes and programmes.

More specifically, these offices should assist in helping the community members in applying and
getting loans, scholarships, BPL and ration cards etc. Due publicity should be made for
government schemes/programmes for minorities. These should not only be advertised in
newspapers of national, regional and minority languages but also on televisions and radio.
Procedure for applying for and utilizing from the schemes/ programmes for minority should be
made simple. Paper work on these should be reduced and regional minority office should help
the community members in applying and utilizing from these schemes and programmes.

Transparency should be maintained in dealing with minority affairs. Data bank should be made
and should be accessible to all. This might be done through regional offices on minority affairs
and NGOs. The most efficient mechanism, however, would be to maintain information on
websites accessible to every citizen of India. Although, women share problems with men, some
problems remain exclusive to their domain. Understanding and dealing with these problems
require presence of a sensitive woman officer in each and every office dealing with minority
affairs. A women cell in the Minorities Commission is strongly recommended. Among the two
posts of Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson, Minorities Commission, at least one is
recommended to be filled by a woman.

Poor infrastructure like roads, public facilities, electricity supply, street lighting, water supply,
sanitation, availability of schools colleges and hospitals in Muslim concentrated areas is identified
as a major reason for higher poverty and deprivation among the community. The access to these
infrastructures would make a positive impact on the Muslims and would help in improving their
socio-economic conditions. Need is for the local bodies to focus on the Muslim concentrated


Discrimination against the Muslims in the housing markets is conspicuous. This results in
pushing Muslims to Muslim concentrated areas, many a time, making them purchase flats in
illegal buildings. The stay in illegal buildings makes it difficult for this population to extend
documents like address proof for accessing government institutions and schemes, thus
furthering their deprived socio-economic status. The situation demands that the Government
should intervene in the housing market and assure that at least 8 percent houses in the housing
stocks of the government agencies go to the Muslims.

There is also a need to sensitize private builders and housing societies in this regard. The
builders and housing societies can be provided some tax/monetary incentive on the basis of
religious diversity of flat owners in the housing societies that they maintain. This will encourage
better inter-community interactions and hence higher possibility of reducing misunderstanding
against stereotypes that may result in communalism and communal riots. Legal measures and
fines should be taken and imposed on the people who are found to be discriminating on the
lines of religion in selling and renting of property.

It also has been found that the Muslims face difficulties in getting housing loans from the banks.
Most of the Muslims concentrated areas are often informally marked as negative areas for the
bank loans. The studies on Muslims have reported misconceptions about Muslims among the
bank employees who often perceive them negatively. This necessitates sensitizing programmes
for the bank employees. As such a sensitizing process would take time, a share of total housing
loan (a minimum of 8 %) be ear-marked for the Muslim.

There is an urgent need to develop the Muslim concentrated areas and slums by implementing
the various government schemes such as, Basic Services for Urban Poor (BSUP) under
JNNURM, Integrated Housing and Slum Development Programme (IHSDP), Slum
Development Programme (SDP) and Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan. There is a need to remove
infrastructural bottlenecks in Muslim concentrated Industrial towns. Towns in Western UP, for
example, have a high concentration of Muslim entrepreneurs, traders and industrialists.
However, the reports show hardships in their running the business. There is frequent disruption
of electric supply, while water supply remains erratic.


Banks and credit providing institutions are in short supply. Road and transport infrastructure are
adverse as well as training and skill development institutes are absent. Further, the hospitals and
health care facilities in these areas are inadequate and not equipped to deal with diseases that can
be considered as occupational hazard. The multi-sectoral development scheme as a part of
Prime Minister’s 15-point programme, should be implemented as a top priority in all minority
concentrated areas/ towns.

This study as well as recent researches on Muslims shows a desire in the community for formal
education. The data as shared in the chapter on education, however, reports that a large number
of community members quit education by the middle level of education. Recognizing that
education is essential in today's world for maintaining minimum quality of life and also for
upward mobility, the study group recommends all possible measures to enhance educational
opportunities for Muslims.

The Area Intensive scheme as proposed in VIII Five Year Plan involves locating districts/
blocks having high concentration of educationally backward minorities and to generate
educational programmes for them. The programmes are supposed to address local needs and are
expected to be multi-dimensional, covering measures for general, community specific and skill
oriented education. The Area Intensive scheme should have a time bound implementation plan
(10 to 15 years) with a focused approach wherein all the available resources, existing government
schemes and government mechanisms should be put to use in the selected districts/blocks. This
scheme should be implemented in all minority concentrated blocks, with special emphasis on
rural and poorest parts (slums) of cities/ towns.


Strengthening education of Muslims at upper primary and secondary levels is a key for the
educational upliftment of the community. This requires provision of government/ municipal
schools at secondary and higher secondary levels. Intensive campaign on getting children into
the education net is necessary. A policy on Public Private Partnership should be put in place.
The need of the hour is to tap the private initiatives at community, corporate and NGO levels
for providing quality education and infrastructural support.

Establishment of quality educational institutions in minority concentrated areas with the

mandate of providing admission to the candidates belonging to the minority community needs
to be popularized by the grant of extra FSI, registration, land etc. Regular RTE inspection
should take place in the schools especially in minority concentrated areas. Measures should be
taken to either recognize or close down the not ‘recognized’ schools as these schools extend a
high possibility of providing bad quality yet expensive education. High rate of failure and
difficulty in receiving returns from education generate a fatal attitude in the minorities. These
can be damaging as these have higher probability of strengthening perception of discrimination
among the minorities.

Minority Education Institutions provide space to the minorities to integrate their cultural
requirements with those of the formal education system. It is important to note that these
institutions are not isolating as the Supreme Court has made it obligatory for the minority
Institutions to keep 50% enrolment for the general category. Petitions made to the Study Group
reflect problems that the Minority Education Institutions face in establishing and administering
educational Institutions. Need is to expedite solving these problems and to grant state
recognition and support to the Muslim Minority Educational Institutions (MMEI).

There is a greater need for educational institutions which are open to all religious, regional and
caste groups to promote multiculturalism. Proportional allocation of the seats in these
educational institutions should be made for the Muslims and other minorities in the area to
facilitate inclusion of these minorities in the formal education system. A number of Muslim girls
opt out of higher education due to the unavailability of schools in their vicinity. Hence, there is a
need to open more secondary schools and colleges in Muslim concentrated areas.

Residential schools/colleges especially for girl students and the children of shifting population
like construction labour, can help in furthering their education. We recommend establishment of
more residential schools/colleges. Adequate ICDS coverage in the minority concentrated areas is
required. Medium of instruction in these centres should be either home language of the children
or the dominant language of the area.

Keeping in mind the discrimination that the Muslim youth faces in getting accommodation,
there is a need to provide hostels to the Muslim students in the government run institutions.
However, care should be taken for intermingling of students of different religions and not
ghettoization of Muslim students by creating separate hostels for them. The medium of
instruction is an important issue that requires adequate research, as medium of instruction bears
on the identity issue as well as has implications for the job market. We recommend proper
facilities to the Urdu medium schools for teaching English language in Muslim concentrated

Opening of Urdu Pre-school classes in schools run by the government or working out a
partnership with private players for Urdu preschools is important. This would encourage the
community for education from an early age. Even though a small number of students take
education exclusively in Madarsas, we recommend establishing Madarsa Education Board at the
state level. This would facilitate higher education for the madarsa educated. The Board should be
linked with the central and state boards of primary and secondary education. Nevertheless, the
registration should not be made compulsory for the madarsas and their joining the Board,
should remain a voluntary effort. Further, Modernization of Madarsa scheme cannot replace
programmes and schemes for the Government recognized formal education.

Lack of awareness about scholarships particularly among the Muslim residents of rural and
urban slum areas is also observed. The need is for information dissemination through
information centres/community centres at the grass root level. Further, many deserving students
from the Muslim community are finding it difficult to apply for the scholarships as they are
unable to procure documents required for application. We recommend relaxation in the
requirement of documents in case of deserving students. Formation of action groups within the
community and utilization of the already existing action groups (having both Muslims and non-
Muslims) would be essential to implement and follow-up on the scholarship schemes.

Need to improve and secularize contents of the school textbooks is acutely felt. It has come to
notice that Muslim students are unable to meaningfully relate themselves and their past to what
is taught in the school and colleges. Periodisation of history is often done on religious lines,
showing Muslims as aggressors. However, these are myths and fallacies of deliberate creation
and need to be overcome through secularising the content of school textbooks and making them
reflective of unbiased facts.

Provision of reading rooms and libraries in Muslim concentrated areas is essential. Majority of
Muslim families living in one room houses in urban areas face space crunch, which specifically
affects the studies of the children. It is therefore, recommended that government should provide
spaces and also monetary assistance to set up libraries and reading rooms in Muslim
concentrated areas. The information and career counselling centres recommended above can
also be housed in these libraries.

In Muslim concentrated areas, the quality of the existing schools is reprehensible and in no way
the schools have the capacity to allow the talents to blossom. There is an irresistible urge on the
part of the students, teachers and well-meaning people in these poverty ridden hovels to make
the students reach their full stature by imparting them high quality education. While the
ambience of these government and Urdu medium schools can be enriched, it would be more
expedient and appropriate if one or two existing schools in every Muslim concentrated area
could be upgraded and modernised with full government support for the remodelling and
reconstruction of the academic and infrastructural facilities.

This scheme of modernisation and remodelling of schools should have the definite objectives
of making schools the centre of modern and creative learning. While making the selection of the
schools for modernisation, the selection may be made with circumspection to upgrade only
those schools which are in dire need of remodelling. Quite inevitably these schools when
remodelled will remain accessible to the students on merit-cum-need basis. These schools should
be made residential schools with the provision of adequate facilities.


Unemployment is high among the Muslim men and still higher among Muslim women. The
government based employment programmes should be suitably implemented in cities and rural
areas, giving priority to the underdeveloped and higher unemployment prone Muslim
concentrated areas. Given that most of the Muslims are self-employed, there is a need to
establish ITIs and Polytechnic institutions in Muslim concentrated areas. The government needs
to strengthen the marketing networks and open new avenues for export of products by Muslim
artisans. This will strengthen the household economy of Muslims and provide them
employment. The quality of training provided in the ITIs should not be compromised.

The situation requires that the government encourages NGOs and community based
organizations to strengthen the marketing of the products and eases the regulatory frameworks
to allow the export of products to other countries. This will raise demand, thereby raising wages
and help Muslims overcome economic hardship that they are presently facing. The share of
Muslims in the government employment specifically in the administrative and police services is
significantly lower than the share of their population in the state. The situation requires that the
government should prioritise the issue of Muslims' share in the government employment. It is
recommended that the government should reserve 10% or a minimum of 8% of government
jobs for the Muslims.

Various analysts suggest that the OBC list for the Muslims should be expanded to include all
deprived sections of the Muslim population. A survey to this effect is strongly recommended
involving the community and academic institutions of repute. Muslims have considerably lower
share in comparison to other religious minorities in bank credit. One of the reasons for the same
is blacklisting of the Muslim concentrated areas. Such a blacklisting should be prohibited. RBI
should strictly monitor the distribution of bank credit to Muslims. Strict action should be taken
in cases of non-cooperation and religious bias in the disbursal of credit. Given the poverty of the
Muslims, the issue of collateral requirements, subsidy and interest rates should be duly

Attempts should be made to establish and promote micro-finance institutions in Muslim

concentrated areas to overcome the small credit crunch. There is a need for the government to
take stock of PHCs, UHCs, hospitals etc. in these areas and to provide these services as per the
government norms. Care should also be taken to have adequate surveillance on quacks and
measures should be taken to prohibit their services. There is a need to look into the grievances
of Muslims against the hospital administration and health officials. The discriminatory treatment
of Muslims should be prevented and officials and doctors should be suitably sensitized to
address the issue.


The health care issues of Muslims women are important. Studies on Muslim concentrated areas
show that Muslim women are reluctant to approach male doctors. Adequate provisions should
be made to appoint female doctors in public health institutions. A strong perception of
discrimination and ill treatment has been widely reported, especially by those women who go for
gynaecological treatment. Adequate sensitization programmes should be organized for in-service
staff of the medical institutions. A sensitizing module should be an integral part of the medical
courses for doctors, nurses and other medical staff. Disciplinary action should be taken on any
reported discriminatory practice in order to prevent such practices and to address the perception
of discrimination among the Muslims. Counselling and mental health services should be
extended to those suffering from trauma of discrimination, communalism or any kind of
More ICDS centres, balwadis and anganwadis are required in Muslim concentrated areas. These
provide platform for taking care of health of children, adolescent girls and lactating mothers.
Urban health planning should not only focus on providing primary health care as well as health
issues emerging due to occupational hazards. State must take concrete steps towards improving
the living and livelihood environment through ensuring better housing and working conditions,
clean surroundings, better drainage and access to potable water.


The Muslim community is especially faltering on women's rights and freedom. The triple talaq
issue, property rights of women, right of women to choose the occupation they like etc., need to
be taken up by the community leaders to overcome the conservative elements within the
community. The economic and social empowerment of women will go a long way to cure many
ills that the Muslim community is presently facing. There should be a special provision for
Muslim women within the gender budgeting of the state.

Lack of adequate transport services restrict women mobility required to access quality
educational institutions and occupation especially in the atmosphere of insecurity that the
Muslims experience. In such an atmosphere, provision of good secured transport facilities would
go a long way to help the women in being mobile and in utilizing from the state resources thus
contributing towards the cause of development. Muslim women suffering from domestic
violence must get unbiased protection from police, protection officers, public hospitals and
counsellors under Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

The rules governing the acquisition of ration cards and BPL cards should be relaxed for
divorced women, widows and women headed families as such women find it difficult to procure
the same from their families (both parental and in-laws).The number of Muslims in prisons is
alarmingly high in most states among the Muslims. However, it has been revealed that most of
the Muslims imprisoned in jails are due either to false cases against them or to lack of economic
capabilities to hire quality lawyers to fight their cases. Further, the police discrimination against
the Muslims, causes them to file cases of magnitude even for inconsequential matters. We
recommend establishment of a committee to go through the processes prior to filing of the
charge-sheet and to give its recommendations to the government to overcome over-
incarceration of Muslims. This committee should function in close association with the
Minorities Development Department. Any prolonged detention of Muslim youth in custody
should follow the legal procedure.


Police and judicial systems in many states are understaffed and overloaded, reducing the
possibilities of arrest, prosecution and conviction of the perceived rioters. The police and
judiciary should be sensitized on issues of minority identity and state politics. Need is to make
the two systems strong enough to resist instructions from politicians to either drop or go slow in
investigating cases of mob brutality and damage to property.

The Police Complaints Redressal Authority/Cell should be immediately constituted at the state
and district levels as recommended by the National Police Commission (NPC). The structure
was envisaged to deal with complaints of the public who are not satisfied with the police action
taken whether as complainants or accused.

Trained social workers to be appointed at police stations. Social workers would provide psycho-
social and rehabilitative support to complainants, victims, accused and their families, who
approach the police. The presence of such social workers would help the police in discharging
their duties more effectively and bridge the gap between the police and citizenry. The committee
report had made it clear that these social workers would not interfere with police investigations
and would only focus on providing guidance and information on welfare schemes and NGOs
while extending counselling and psycho-social support to the victims and the accused.

The police officers being guided by biases rather than professionalism should be weeded out.

Required qualifications and the method prescribed for recruitment in the police at all levels viz.
Constable, Sub-Inspector, Deputy Superintendent of Police and the Indian Police Service,
should be given wide and sustained publicity, particularly in areas where there is a sizable Muslim

Muslim youth should be encouraged to complete formal education at least up to 12th standard
and to join the police through a systematic campaign. Community leaders and educational
institutions should take lead in this campaign.

Police department can hold regular training camps for the Muslim youths to prepare them for
recruitment in the police. These camps should be held at all those places where there is a sizable
Muslim population. While the police and the community get into the process of orienting
themselves towards Community Policing, persons trained in conflict resolution could be
appointed at each and every place known to be communally sensitive. Persons so appointed may
be called Community Relations Officers, who should have an independent office. It should be
mandatory for the local police to maintain a close liaison with the Community Relations Officer
while dealing with a conflict ridden situation besides having regular consultation with her/ him
on maintaining peace, harmony and public order.

Absence of accurate data on the socio-economic conditions of the Muslims has been identified
as a major pitfall. There is a need for the government to promote and financially support
collection of data on various socio-religious categories at regular interval. This data is needed to
be collected from micro spatial units like wards, gramsabhas or tehsils, with the help of
concerned government departments.

Provocative media coverage has often caused communal riots, breaking down the social fabric
of religious tolerance. The media coverage of the sensitive issues should be adequately
scrutinized and monitored. Several studies have examined in graphic details the problems
confronting the Waqf properties, erosion of Waqf endowments and even dilution of the concept
of Waqf under which valuable Waqf assets have disappeared. It has been averred by several
analysts that the prized Waqf property has been misappropriated for consideration other than
merit, violating the undisputed maxim, “once a Waqf will always remain a Waqf”. There should
be a separate cadre of Waqf administrative and subordinate services, so that dynamic people
could be recruited at the appropriate age. Only experienced and knowledgeable people should
remain in the sphere of Waqf administration, Waqf promotion, and Waqf property preservation.
A Committee consisting of a chairman and an expert member can be constituted to work out
detailed modalities of the Waqf Administrative and Subordinate Services Act.

Existing Waqf properties should be used for generating maximum returns to the community.
The properties should be used for developing colleges, universities and other community
oriented services. It is undeniable that the Muslims overwhelmingly, nearly 82%, are living in
sub-human conditions and they will continue to slide further down in terms of living index.
They are not able to access quality education and their due share in employment. It is
recommended that Muslims should be provided reservation in proportion to their population.

It is felt that the communal riots can be controlled effectively, if the composite nature of the
police force deployed in the riot affected areas is insisted upon and for this the present meagre
presence of Muslims in the police force should be enhanced to 10% or a minimum of 8% as
recommended for all the services. Muslims at many places are finding it difficult to get land
allotted for mosque and burial grounds due to sheer indifference of the local authorities
including the police or objection by some socio-political groups. It violates fundamental rights
guaranteed by the Constitution and requires immediate corrective action from the State

The Indian Economy is in a state of transition. In emerging economies, small scale businesses
and the unorganized sector have a huge role in creating a dynamic market environment and this
contributes in a big way to economic and social development of the country. It is also realized
that these small entrepreneurs are the drivers of economic growth, innovation, regional
development and job creation. Small scale businesses in India run by Muslims comprise a
substantial percentage of overall business in the unorganized sector making enormous
contributions to the Indian economy.

Some steps can be taken up immediately in this direction. To begin with, a mapping exercise
needs to be taken up to identify clusters where Muslim artisans and entrepreneurs thrive. This
can be done quickly as some of the data already exists. These clusters can then be taken up for a
multi-pronged strategy that would enable units there to upgrade their design skills, develop their
business models, build marketing capacity and establish a broader presence in the market. This
background has enabled civil society across the world to develop a complete portfolio of social
investments that have been tried and tested in various scenarios. The same can be attempted
specifically for Muslims and areas where Muslims predominate. Growth with equity has been the
focus of Indian economic policy since the 1960s. By 2020, India is projected to be the youngest
nation in the world in terms of size.

More job opportunities needed to uplift the India Muslim upto the standard of the main stream
other community. The presence of Muslims in government jobs is negligible and in private
sector, it is worse. Muslim should be asked to develop educationally and become employable.
While the global economy is expected to witness a shortage of young population of around 56
million by 2020, India will be the only country with a youth surplus of 47 million. (Economic
Survey, 2014-2015) The main issue to address then is not just providing employment but
increasing the employability of the labour force in India. Thus, any solution to the problem lies
in a well-designed education and training regime that sets out to meet these objectives. Self-
employment continues to dominate, with a 52.2 percent share in total employment. What is
critical is the significant share of workers engaged in low-income generating activities.
(Economic Survey, 2014-2015).

An overwhelming 95 percent of the Muslims are self-employed. Efforts should be made to

cover them under health insurance and general insurance. The educated Muslims face
discrimination in the job market. Fear about getting job along with there being no provision for
Muslim reservation is there. Some analysts and experts have been arguing that reservations are a
must for the Muslim community. They have felt that reservation along with affirmative policies
at the primary and secondary schools will enable a proper feeder system to higher levels of
education and jobs.

Muslim youth should get reservation and this should be followed by categorization, where
women can get advance education in vocational training. There has been a demand to remove
Article 341 or extend the reservation to Muslims. The question raised is why do we have
reservation for Hindus on religious basis and the same extended to Sikhs and Buddhists? There
is bias in selection committees and Muslims should be made members of Selection Committees
to ensure there is no discrimination in the process. Muslims should find place in Grade III & IV
jobs. Muslim artisans who lost their livelihood due to reforms, and government’s ‘Clean Ganga
Plan’ should be rehabilitated. In Jammu & Kashmir, the tourism industry should be developed
and timber industry should get better price from the market. Efforts should also be made to
promote saffron and other cultivation among the Kashmiris. Muslims associated with rag
picking, and other menial jobs should be rehabilitated.

Across all classes and regions of the Muslims, there prevails a deep sense of insecurity and
mistrust for the lawmakers and government agencies, which seems a core issue. Policemen on
beat in Muslim areas drop lines like, ‘Chacha SIMI chhor Di?’ (Uncle, when did you leave
SIMI)? Muslim youths are asked to comment on ‘ISIS’. During cricket matches, and Indo-Pak
clashes, deliberate efforts are made to provoke Muslims and their neighborhood. The lynching
of Akhlaq in Dadri, Shahzad in Jammu, killings of a toddler and infant in Faridabad, attacks on
Dalits, murders of rationalist thinkers Dhabolkar, Kalaburgi and Pansare in Karnataka, and
Maharashtra have rekindled the dangers posed to scientific thinking in Indian society. The ink
attacks on people in Mumbai and Delhi, attacks on Churches show that there is tussle among
Hindu fanatics to claim the space for ‘Rashtrabhakt’. The issue of holy cow has been deliberately
raised in states where cow slaughter is banned for decades. This has been done to target Muslims
and polarize majority class for electoral gains. The rise in cases of rape against women, girls,
minor girls, and even infants in the heart of the National Capital have exposed the claims of
India being land of ‘Ahimsa’. Human development or growth is not possible in an atmosphere
of insecurity, and fear. As the 2014 Human Development Report says, ‘Conflict and sense of
personal insecurity have pervasive adverse impacts on human development and leave billions of
people living in precarious conditions. Many countries in the bottom tier of the Human
Development Index are emerging from long periods of conflict or still confront armed conflict.
Religious Freedom should be ensured for the Muslims in BJP-ruled states too. One culture
should not be enforced upon the people and young minds should not targeted for cultural war.
Muslims girls should not feel insecure in moving out alone. During communal riots, there
should be a check that the administration should be impartial to all, and not pick on Muslims.
The security and intelligence agencies should not discriminate against the Muslim youth.
Muslims should not be scared of going to the police station and lodge an FIR. The issue of
refugees/migrants should be dealt with equity and justice, and Muslims should not be singled
out. The representation of Muslims in police forces should be in proportion. Muslim youth
should not be provoked with irrational queries. There should be regular interaction between
Muslims and Hindus and other communities at mohalla levels based on mutual trust and respect.
Small groups of like-minded people in the Muslim community should gather to have interfaith
meetings on regular basis to have more understanding. Deficit of trust between the two
communities should be reduced. The attitude of ‘immigrant issue’ should be changed and it
should not be used to intimidate poor Muslims in states like Assam and West Bengal.

Political Empowerment

It is agreed that the Delimitation Commission failed to address the issue disproportionate
representation of Muslims in the gram panchayats, local bodies, state assemblies and Lok Sabha.
Muslims did not protest against the Delimitation Commission of Justice Kuldeep Singh, which
has reshaped and redesigned the constituencies across the country. The Muslims feel that the
delimitation has harmed the case of Muslim representation throughout the country, and it has
split the Muslim votes in different constituencies for municipal, assembly, Lok Sabha in such a
way, that lesser number of Muslims make to the state assemblies and Lok Sabha. Delimitation
Commission did not work in Assam because of opposition from (AASU).

Working with all political parties for ensuring proper share in state resources and development is
the agenda for all. Many want to produce a prime ministerial candidate and overcome all
challenges. A total empowerment of Indian Muslims along with other marginalized people by
using available resources at all levels. Muslims have to be powerful in politics and have political
empowerment which should translate into numbers in Assemblies and Lok Sabha. If the
Parliament passes law to reserve seats for women, there should be reservation within that quota,
for Muslim women. In urban local bodies, and gram panchayats, the representation of Muslims
should be ensured by training Muslim women for such roles. The issue of Uniform Civil Code
has been target Muslims, though every section including Buddhists have their personal laws in
place. Muslims should join with other minorities for the protection of their interests while not
allowing such issues to affect the vision of the Muslims. There was also suggestion to replicate
the Kerala-model of political empowerment in other states, so that Muslims are not even

Democracy should ensure that minority views, opinion and votes are not ignored when
governments are formed by the majority principle. In the Hindu view of political economy, what
is of importance is not the form of government or who forms the government, but the quality of
the ruling elite. Muslims should be politically aware to foil any attempt by certain quarters to
divide their vote and ensure victory of non-Muslim candidates from the Muslim-dominated
areas. There has to be a solution within the democratic structure to ensure proportional
representation for every section. The political future of Muslims lies in alliance with Dalits,
Adivasis and other weaker sections. Muslim leadership and organisation should work as center
and take fellow communities on the basis of proportionate representation at all levels.

In South India, where Muslims are comparatively better off than in Northern India, response
was to not expect much from the Government and depend more on self-initiative. There was a
concern for sectarian divide within the community and respondents called for unity within the
community. Every Muslim has to think of ways to bring in a change in the community. Also,
internal clashes within Muslims has given power to communal forces– this too needs to be
checked. Lack of Muslim leadership is blamed for many of the existing problems. Muslim, as a
community should make sure that everyone is educated, they help each other and stay united. If
this can happen, Muslim as a whole will be a significant community in India-nation.

People in the community were asked as to the kind of reforms that they would expect. Many
suggestions poured in from within the community for better results and development of
Muslims at large. Some of the most common suggestions in the interest of the community were:

 Muslims should be motivated to join government services, especially in the field of

education and police. Even in judiciary, the Muslim presence should be increased.

 It is also hoped that the community will find ways to deal with rampant corruption
existing in Waqf Boards across the country. Waqf Board officials should be held
accountable for its activities and it should be dealt with sternly.

 Similarly, Haj Boards should be reformed to accommodate the public view. Haj Boards
and Waqf Boards should not be headed by political appointees but professionals who are
accountable to the community and nation.

 The issue of Jammu & Kashmir should be resolved.

 The name ‘Pakistan’ should not be used to stigmatise Muslims of India. The right wing
groups’ attempts of linking Muslims of India with Pakistan should be nipped in the bud
once and for all.

 Former Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh once talked of introducing Islamic
banking in India, but it was turned down by the RBI. With Indian banking gradually
shifting towards interest-free banking, Islamic finance and banking should be introduced
in phases in consultation with the RBI.

 Mainstream economy excludes Muslim from benefits of economic growth and

development. That should be looked into.

 There is a need to organise a team, like the missionaries, to work for the cause of the
community for the upliftment of the community and growth of the country.

 To make use of mosque, marriage/function hall for moral construction for maktabs.

 Over all, Muslims need to be optimistic and there is wider scope for voluntary reforms
within the society. Muslims definitely have bright future in India, but they must change
their mindset and must give top priority to modern scientific education.


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Chapter 1


Muqtedar Khan


We live in the age of Islamic turmoil; perhaps we can call it the age of the third fitna. The early two fitnas led to
the cleavage of Islam into Shia and Sunni. Muslim lands and Muslim communities are in a state of violent and
intense political transformations across the Muslim heartland. States are destabilized, national identities are being
deconstructed, sectarian and ideological fault lines are getting exacerbated and radicalism, extremism and state
oppression is escalating. The paper attempts to look into the despair of Muslims living in the world, including

Indian Muslims in the Age of Turmoil

Living in the age of Islamic turmoil, it can perhaps be called the age of the third fitna. The early
two fitnas, led to the division of Islam into Shia and Sunni. Muslim lands and Muslim
communities are in a state of violent and intense political transformations across the world.
States are destabilized, national identities are being deconstructed, sectarian and ideological fault
lines are getting exacerbated and radicalism, extremism and state oppression is escalating. Even
in stable and democratic states such as Turkey, political discontent and hardening of ideological
postures can be witnessed. In this ocean of despair, one finds the Indian Muslim community, an
island of calm moderation. It is not a small island either - Indian Muslims are about 180 million
and constitute nearly 15 percent of the Indian population. If Indian Muslims of today were an
independent country, they would be the fifth or sixth most populated country in the world.

What is remarkable about Indian Muslims is not that both extremism and radical politics in the
community is on the decline, but that this moderation is emerging in spite of worsening
existential conditions and heightening political provocations1. By all accounts, India’s economy
has done extraordinarily well in the past 20 years, but Muslims not only enjoy a lesser share of
these gains their relative economic condition compared to everyone else has suffered
significantly in spite of spectacular national growth. India is growing but it is leaving behind its
largest minority. It should be obvious to anyone who looks at macro indicators that Indian
Muslims will constitute a bigger and bigger share of the population while simultaneously holding
a smaller and smaller share of the economy.

In addition to lagging behind in the economic sphere, Muslims are also falling behind in their
share of the national political pie. The victory of BJP and the current reign of Narendra Modi as
PM are emboldening many of the fringe and radical elements of the Sangh Parivar – the broader
Hindutva movement. Media reports from India are reading more and more like that from
Pakistan and Afghanistan during the heydays of the Taliban. Minorities harassed on a regular
basis, violence and forced conversions, enforcement of Hindu dietary laws on the rest of the
nation are frequently the themes in the news headlines. This trend cannot promise stability and
sustain Muslim moderation for an extended period. There is a limit to the extent that
disenfranchisement, marginalization and harassment of a large minority can be sustained without
causing irreparable damage to the body politic.

Consider the Ghar Wapsi programme that seeks to convert minorities to Hinduism2. Trying to
convert 200 million people maybe a tall order, but it is not deterring the Hindu groups. They
have launched their effort in earnest. In a rather troubling development an offshoot of the ruling
Hindu nationalist party, BJP, converted nearly 200 Muslims from the poorest segments of the
society en masse to Hinduism using coercion and the promise of providing ration cards. Ration
cards are a right of all citizens. These people should automatically get those ration cards. But
now that Hindu nationalists are in power, the Hindu extremists are able to use the state and its
benefits as a religio-political leverage.

It appears now that the levers of power are in the hands of a “moderate Hindu party” which
continues to provide democratic cover using the language of good governance, the extremists
are free to persecute without fear of prosecution or even condemnation from the elected leaders.
This phenomenon of moderates and extremist religious groups becoming partners in
democracies to harass religious minorities, is not limited to India alone. In Egypt and Tunisia,
when the moderate Islamic parties were in power, extremists– Salafi groups became empowered
and unleashed violence against Copts, Sufis and secularists. The Salafi mobs ruled the streets in
Egypt and Tunisia only when the so-called moderate Islamists were in power. The extremists
provide votes and street power to the moderates and the moderates when in power provide legal
and political cover for the extremists. Unfortunately, the only solution to this problem is for the
ruling moderates to curb and marginalize the extremists as was attempted in Tunisia, but only
after the Genie was out of the bottle. If the moderates do not act firmly against their theological
and political cousins, the situation will necessarily deteriorate and lead to violence and instability.

India, despite the persistent presence of extremists of every hue, is a nation that has a very long
and strong tradition of religious pluralism, tolerance and syncretism. It is also an enduring
democracy that has sustained itself despite poverty, religious, ethnic and political differences and
has never succumbed to the temptations of authoritarianism. Therefore, in order to achieve their
impossible goal of creating a 100 percent Hindu India, Hindu extremists will have to first
trample on India’s very soul before they unleash a systematic persecution that will make the Nazi
holocaust look like a picnic. It is therefore imperative that this idea of a 100 percent Hindu
India dies an immediate death in order that no innocent life is sacrificed in its pursuit.

I fear that the double whammy of the economic development and empowerment of the majority
community so lavishly and garishly paraded in public, and the rapid underdevelopment of the
minority community that not only has to cope with relative deprivation but also suffer violence
harassment will engender an ethic of resentment in the minority psyche. Indian Muslims unlike
many other places have not responded to the Arab uprising by calling for their own Indian
spring or Indian Intifada, and this is a testimony to both the enduring culture of democracy in
India and the deep rooted political and religious moderation of Indian Muslims. The Hindu
majority and the secular society must realize that this more or less stable and semi-harmonious
condition can be maintained only through power and wealth sharing with Muslims and not
through marginalization and disempowerment of Muslims.

India is on the verge of a major breakthrough. Its economy is growing rapidly. It has become a
major hub of scientific and management knowledge along with a large pool of technically
competent people. A global diaspora gives it a global reach both in terms of investment potential
but also in terms of access to latest developments in science and management. India can join the
developed world, if it does not allow religious strife and violence from undermining international
investor confidence and also domestic focus on development. The politicians are on the right
verbal track with slogans such as sab ka sath, sab ka vikaas, progress together, and with emphasis
on good governance. Now they need to walk the talk. But India can progress only if all Indians

progress. It cannot become a developed nation, if a large segment of its population remains
backward, poor and disenfranchised.

Perception to Reality

Since the partition of India, the reconstitution of the nation and religious identities has
engendered communal discourses fights over monuments and interpretation of history. The
majority Hindus try to justify their ill treatment of Muslim minorities in the light of past
injustices and the minorities seek to drown the past grievances by focusing solely on current
crimes. At some point Indian Muslim must deal with Hindu grievances, which are all historical
even as they demand that Indian government addresses their current plight.

The publication of the Sachar Commission Report in late 2006 and subsequent surveys,
confirmed what many had feared or suspected, that Indian Muslims were lagging behind the rest
of the country on nearly all indicators of development, income, education, representation in state
institutions and in government. Perceptions were now an unquestionable reality. The economic
and developmental boom that India had experienced since the 1990s had bypassed the Indian
Muslim community. Many Muslims who were part of the educated middle class and had
benefitted from family members working in the Gulf were forced to acknowledge that while
their personal circumstances maybe tolerable the overall economic condition of Indian Muslims
was deplorable.

The Sachar commission also hinted at what was becoming increasingly apparent to Muslims that
not only they were economically left behind, they were also politically and socially marginalized.
A second rate India was emerging where Muslims resided, like the second rate professional
schools were the best and the brightest of Muslims went or the second rate neighborhoods were
the elite of the Muslim community resided, banished from even socio-cultural fraternization with
the dominant Hindu elite. While Muslims and others were expecting a bad report from the
commission, what was not expected was the startling finding that Muslims were doing even
worse than the so called backward and scheduled castes communities.

The report also debunked several important myths about the community. Three of the most
important myths that were busted were (1) that Muslims had significantly high birthrates, (2) that
Muslims preferred to send their children to madarsas – only 4 percent of Muslim children went
to madarsas and only in areas where there were no viable alternatives (3) and that Muslims were
enjoying a high quality of life as a result of foreign remittances. Ultimately, what was clear from
the Sachar Commission Report was that there were structural discriminatory factors that were
keeping Muslims from enjoying equal opportunity in key areas of education, employment and
access to government services and jobs. These factors were slowly but steadily under developing
the community and enhancing the contrast between the quality of life of Muslims and others.

The Sachar Commission report also helped undermine the factual basis of many Hindu
grievances against Muslims. One could summarize Hindu grievances as follows: (1) Muslim
invasion of India and conquest and a millennium of rule makes Muslims former oppressors.
This perception often justifies what would otherwise be considered as shocking treatment of a
vulnerable minority. (2) Partition of India; many Hindus squarely blame Muslims for the
partition. They need to read India’s history and recognize that Muslims, Hindus and the British
were all culpable for the partitioning of India. (3) Many Hindus, especially those under the
influence of the Sangh Parivar, think of Muslims as pampered and taking a disproportionate share
of state benefits like the Hajj subsidy. (4) Muslims are seen as a demographic threat to India. (5)
Sometimes, even as the fifth column. The Sachar Commission report debunks 3 and 4. But
Hindutva narratives continue to exploit 1, 2, and 5 and tensions with Pakistan keep 3 and 5 alive.
Some readers might argue that the Sachar Commission report is outdated, but the more recent
report by the Kundu Committee not only confirms that the condition of the minorities remains
precarious but also exposes the negligence of the government and inadequacy of its response to
the Sachar report3.

Transformation of Indian Muslim Politics

The Sachar Commission Report has had a huge impact on Indian Muslim activism and political
thinking both at home and abroad. First of all, the report has now become the starting point of
all discussions on dealing with the Muslim question. It is the benchmark against which policies
towards Muslim minorities are now calibrated. For example, when the governments at State or
Central level speak about Muslim issues they do so in reference to the Report. They point to one
or the other deficiency and advance programs to address them. So far only meagre resources
have been directed towards the fund that is supposed to help Muslim minorities advance their
education cause4.

The Muslim political mindset too has been influenced significantly. The report by highlighting
the state of underdevelopment of the Muslim community has reprioritized Muslim political
goals. Symbolic and identity issues such as the Babri Mosque, support for Urdu, and Muslim
Personal Law protection do not resonate as much with Muslims as jobs, education and political
participation. Development and no identity has become the more important goal across the
spectrum. In the last two-to-three decades, the Indian Muslim community has invested heavily
in education as this is evidenced by the emergence of many minority professional colleges,
especially in the South.

There is a growing awareness among the younger Muslim elite that they are being left behind by
a rapidly developing and advancing India and the negligence of the Indian government towards
Muslim backwards means they must fend for themselves. This sensibility is affecting how Indian
Muslims are thinking about mainstream political parties and also explains the emergence of
some of the new Muslim political parties such as the Welfare Party. Both old and new Muslim
parties from the Mallis in Hyderabad to the Welfare Party increasingly are framing their political
goals in the context of material and economic underdevelopment of Muslims rather than in
religious terms. Still, we must note that Muslim parties are not always on the same page. For
example, the Welfare Party supported creation of the Telangana State but MIM (All India Majlis-
e-Ittehadul Muslimeen) opposed it. Both framed their arguments in terms of whether the
division benefitted Muslims in politics. If the Welfare Party argued that it would strengthen
Muslim power in Telangana, MIM argued that it would benefit BJP and in the long-term reduce
Muslim influence.
There are still two trends, which depart from this emerging consensus that Muslims must focus
on economic issues. There are many Muslims with pan-Islamic interests, such as the Student’s
Islamic Organization. They are more galvanized by events in Cairo and Gaza than in Chennai
and Goa. But this is a rapidly diminishing constituency as the harsh realities of Muslim life in
India intrude often and loudly in their daydreams about Caliphate and global Muslim unity.
Muslim presence in Politics and Governance
Even though Islam and Muslims are a major political issue both on the domestic as well as the
international front, Muslims generally play a very diminished role in politics and in governance.
Muslims constitute anywhere between 14-16 percent of the population but enjoy only 6-8
percent representation in elected offices. This is not an accident since Muslims are excluded

4 Here is a government report with a list of actions it has taken as follow up to the Sachar Commission report:

from competing for seats, which are reserved for Backward Classes 22-27 percent in the national
and regional assemblies limiting the size of the pie for Muslims. Additionally constituencies
where Muslims have significant population and can therefore win elections are designated as
reserved for some class and thus effectively disenfranchising them through Indian style
gerrymandering.. There are issues of lack of resources, media access and poor quality of
leadership that further subvert the prospects of Muslims in governance.

Three Trends in Indian Muslim Political Engagement

For many decades the pattern of Muslim political participation was simple. On the national level
they supported the Congress and is some places like Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, Muslims voted
for regional parties like Majlis-e-Ittehad Al-Muslimeen and Indian Union Muslim League. These
parties are secular, pro-Muslim and loyal to the Indian constitution. With the emergence of the
BJP the Indian Muslim Vote bank became one of the key strengths of the Congress as it fought
of the Hindu nationalists. Muslims started to vote not for Congress but against BJP and as the
only viable national party Congress continued and continues to cash in.

Starting in the 1990s in the Hindi belt, Muslims disillusioned by Congress started voting for
regional parties such as Samajwadi party (Mulayam Singh) Bahujan Samaj (Mayawati) and
Rashtriya Janata Dal (Laalu Prasad) heralding a new era of charismatic leaders seeking and
winning Muslims away from the Congress and an emerging political alliance between Muslims
and lower and backward caste Hindus. The third and recent trend is the emergence of regional
Muslim parties with secular goals that seek to share power locally and share representation
nationally. The two examples of this trend are the Welfare Party established by the Jamaat-e-
Islami of India that operates in their traditional strongholds and the AIUDF (All India United
Democratic Front) in Assam. AIUDF now boasts an MP like MIM (their leader Badruddin
Ajmal) and has 18 MLAs.

But the election of 2014, which brought Narendra Modi and BJP to power in what is clearly a
watershed moment in both Indian and Hindu politics. Muslim, for the first time, realized their
relative inability to impact national politics. According to most analysis Muslims voted just as
much for BJP (7-8 percent) as they did in 2009 and they did not abandon the Congress either.
Just as many Muslims voted for the congress (around 38 percent) as they did in 2009. BJP won
the elections based on shifts in upper class Hindu voting and the overwhelming incompetence
and corruption of the Congress. I suspect that this is reversible because the BJP is probably just
as corrupt and incompetent and comes with the additional problem of Hindu radicalism that
undermines domestic harmony and international image of India5.

The lesson from 2014 elections for Indian Muslims is very clear. Unless they become very
cohesive and united, that is that they do work like a monolithic community and vote in great
percentages, say more than 80 percent, to a single party they cannot become a decisive force that
can sway politics. American Muslims for example have in the last four Presidential elections
voted nearly 80-90 percent to one party, but that is possible in a system, which has only two
parties. In India where there can be as many parties as voters such political discipline is difficult
to muster.

An additional political danger of vote bank politics by minorities is that it hurts the minority. In
the US, African Americans vote in large numbers for the Democratic Party. So Republicans do
not even try to seek their vote and when they are in power their policies hurt the minority
community. The Democrats confident that they have the black vote in their pocket do not really
care for the community when in power or otherwise. So Muslims if they always vote for

Congress, Congress will take them for granted and if they always oppose BJP that party will not
seek their vote and will hurt them when in power. So what can the Muslims do? The answer can
be philosophical and not tactical. Think national but act local. Vote for the candidates and
parties that have a track record of supporting Muslims in their constituency. Ignore ideology and
emphasize governance and delivery. Make policies and not politics the basis for their political support.

A Political Vision for Indian Muslims

Political strategies are transient and local and should vary from constituency to constituency
both in their goals and tactics. But Indian Muslims do need a political vision that can help guide
their politics. In this brief section, I want to suggest a few principles that can possible help to
guide Indian Muslim politics. Indian Muslims must contemplate upon, articulate and internalize
a concept of India. What kind of India do they want? What is their vision of India? This vision
must appeal to most Muslims and a vast majority, of the majority for it to have a chance.

An India that is a secular democracy with pluralism as a vital public principle will best suit to
everyone, in my humble opinion. A secular democracy is already a national aspiration for many,
Muslims just need to get on the bus and help those who are already working to defend India’s
secularism. It will require Indian Muslims to alter their own internal political discourse to use
secular idioms and secular benchmarks for analysis and conversing about politics. Pluralism is a
principle that allows religious values to enter the public arena without privileging one religion
over another. Pluralism will allow Muslims to assert their Islamic values in politics without
undermining secularism and it will also allow other faith communities to advance their own
politics in the light of their beliefs. As long as there is mutual respect and tolerance this model
works fine, but if there is coercion and desire for domination then the model will fail.

There is a lot of significance attached to symbolic and identity politics in India. Politicians
should be judged on their capacity for delivering on promises made about governance and the
common good. Before Indian Muslims vote for anyone, they must ask the question, is the
candidate is capable of good governance and is the candidate good for most of us and not be
swayed by religious or partisan rhetoric. But until a culture of good politics is not instituted good
governance will not be the product of the political system.

Finally, Indian Muslims need to take ownership of India. Indian Muslims are Indians too. They need
to internalize this reality. In every lecture, rally and sermon that I hear from all the stars of the Indian
Muslim firmament, I see an overwhelming emphasis on the Muslim part of the Indian Muslim
identity and very little attention is paid to the Indian part. What is Indian about Indian Muslims? I
interact with Muslims from the Arab World and they always talk about Arabs and Islam as if they are
two separate identities and they make sure to privilege and express pride in their Arab identity. I
found this true of Turkish Muslims as well as Iranian Muslims. This is possible because they remain
deeply connected to their history and their languages besides their religion.

Indian Muslims are diverse ethnically and cannot think of one language as central to their
identity as Arabic is for Arabs, Turkish is for Turks and Persian is for Iranians. But they do have
a long history of Islamic mystical tradition that engendered a culture of tolerance and religious
harmony. Indian Muslims must draw from the shared Indo-Muslim heritage and rediscover who
they are. The Muslim is well defined what needs to be unveiled is the Indian in Indian Muslim.
Final Thoughts: Vision 2025
Smart social scientists never make predictions, especially long-term ones. Many unanticipated
events can fundamentally and very rapidly alter the trajectory of things and make social scientists
look foolish. But good and serious social scientists understand both the limits of forecasting and
also the necessity of forecasting regardless of its many perils. So in the interest of helping shape
public policy and civil society initiatives, I shall hazard a few prognostications. Recognize that
these are guarded and reluctant predictions.

The following things are most likely to happen by 2025. India will become the world’s most
populous country; it will either draw on par with China or surpass it 6. India will remain a
democracy but with looming threats from both disenchanted minorities and angry and intolerant
radical groups from the majority community. Five years of Modi and BJP rule will make BJP the
party to beat and it could continue to rule through tortured coalitions. Narendra Modi will
probably look more and more like Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, lamenting the problems created
by millions of Palestinians (Muslims inside India) and the existential threat of a nuclear Iran
(Pakistan to India). He could use this discourse to rally the global Hindu diaspora to bankroll his
campaigns in India and cement the Hindutva vote bank at home making him and his ilk immune
to electoral judgments on the effectiveness of his governance.

The wealth and prosperity gap between Hindus and Muslims is likely to expand primarily
because I have very low expectations from the current regime. I do not expect it to invest the
necessary finally resources and devote the needed political attention to rectify the negative trends
in the Muslim community. But what will be more shocking are the income and opportunity gaps
between urban and rural Muslims, between the middle class and the backward class
(economically speaking) Muslims. Those with access to education, urban markets and
international job opportunities will do well but those who cannot make it to the cities will suffer.
Indian Muslims will be well on their way to becoming the biggest Muslim population surpassing
Pakistan, Indonesia and Bangladesh7.

If the political uncertainty in the Arab World engulfs the Gulf and Saudi Arabia, many Indian
Muslims will be returning home reducing the foreign remittances that have so far kept the
community in the game. These returning NRIMs (Non-Resident Indian Muslims) rather than
expanding the Muslim presence in the market and service sector could end up cannibalizing the
sources of income from Muslims who are at home. If the NRIMs return and they are not guided
properly this Ghar Wapsi could further undermine the fragile economy of Indian Muslims.

Tipping Point

India is growing and there is enormous wealth available both to the state as well as the civil
society and if good will prevails a fraction of it can be used to correct the negative trajectory of
Muslim reality in India. The state can not only provide the resources to jump start Muslim
development, but it can also do more to protect them from extremist movements acting on
prejudice. Muslims too are acting sensibly at the moment, maintaining moderation and trying to
move away from constructivist politics based on identity to rational politics based on
materialism8. While the former can exacerbate identity politics the latter can align rival and
diverse groups in pursuit of wealth and prosperity.

But I fear that if the current government of Narendra Modi allows radical groups to unleash
violence and intolerance towards religious minorities without taking strong measure to restore
law and order, we might reach a tipping point9. A tipping point where Muslims will be forced to
accept a subordinate status combined with various levels of routinized and institutionalized
discrimination or to trigger a nationwide movement either like the Arab uprising or the more

hind us- and-muslims/
dangerous ISIS like rebellion. We are not there yet. Terrorism is globalizing10 but it has not
engulfed India in the kind of violence that Pakistan and Iraq suffer. ISIS has no appeal for
Indian Muslims11. India’s growth and the hope of trickle down are also stemming the possibility
of an uprising.

The tipping point is quite far, but I fear that the window of opportunity to address the Muslim
question in India is shrinking. I hope commonsense prevails and this government, which made
promises of good and inclusive governance, will ensure that we never reach that dreaded tipping

To be honest, Indian Muslims need to be taken care of by the state and helped to find a
foothold in the market place and in the public sector. An economically backward, less educated,
politically insecure community cannot alter its own destiny in a society that is mildly hostile to it.
It needs a helping hand. Every study about the Muslim situation screams for government
attention. It is in India’s national interest to have an economically thriving minority. It will invite
investments from rich Muslim nations and in general create a positive investor environment.
Politically secure minorities are an indication of the health of any democracy. Comfortable, safe
and a happy Muslim minority is a necessary ingredient of a strong, vibrant and thriving India.

Dr. Muqtedar Khan is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and International
Relations at the University of Delaware. He lives in the United States and is from Hyderabad. His website is

Chapter 2



S. Y. Quraishi


There is a widespread belief that Muslims in India produce too many children which is disturbing the demographic
balance. A serious propaganda is that this is part of a deliberate plan to capture political power. The author
argues that Islam has not prohibited family planning and is in fact the forerunner of the concept. This paper
explains the comparative position of major religions on the subject and argues that though the prevalence of family
planning is the lowest among the Muslims, but Islamic injunctions are not the reason. It's also significant to note
that the assertion that Muslims are predominantly polygamous is a myth. The Status of Women in India Report,
1975, had revealed that all the communities of India are polygamous and Muslims are indeed the least! The
myths need to be broken but since this is a highly sensitive subject, the approach has to be rational, rather than
emotional, informative rather than didactic, and most importantly persuasive rather than antagonistic. Population
explosion is a matter of immense national concern. It must be addressed urgently yet sensitively. The paper
provides lots of answers.

Current Level/Trend of FP

The practice of family planning among the Muslims has been a subject of a lot of debate and
speculation for decades, ever since the growth (or explosion) of population started getting public
attention. It did not take very long turning into a blame game among communities. In fact, in
the absence of a serious and informed analysis, the debate got too distorted and murky.

India is a multi-religious society with Hindus constituting 79.8 percent, Muslims 14.2 percent,
Christians 2.3 percent, Sikhs 2.08 percent (Census 2011). All minorities together constitute 20.2
percent. The multi-religious character of Indian society, with a large segment of Muslim
population provides an interesting case to study. (Table 1)

Table 1: Ratio of different religious communities over censuses starting from 19511

All Hindu Muslim Christian Sikh Buddhist Jain

1951 100 85 9.9 2 1 0.74 0

1961 100 83.4 10.7 2.4 1.8 0.5 0.4
1971 100 82.7 11.2 2.6 1.9 0.5 0.4
1981 100 82.3 11.7 2.4 1.9 0.5 0.4
1991 100 81.5 12.6 2.3 1.9 0.4 0.4
2001 100 80.5 13.4 2.3 1.9 0.4 0.7
2011 100 79.8 14.2 2.3 1.7 0.7 0.4
Source: Census of India, 2011

Ever since 1951, the country’s total population has grown from 361 million to 1210 million, a
growth of nearly three and a half times, cutting across all communities. However, the ratio of
growth has not been uniform with some communities having recorded a net increase in their
population (Table 1). The share of Hindus in India’s population has come down marginally from
80.5% in 2001 to 79.8% in 2011– a decline of 0.7%. In 2001, Muslims constituted 13.4% of the
country’s population. This has gone up marginally to 14.2% - an increase of 0.8%. The share of
Sikhs and Buddhists in population has gone down.

Population and Family Planning

The growth of population depends mainly on fertility behavior of the country, besides reduction
in mortality rate and migration. Economic status is largely determined by the rate of work
participation. It is a paradox that while expressing anxiety over the high birth rates among
Muslims, commensurate concern about addressing the contributing factors like literacy, income,
work participation and service delivery levels of the community is not being shown. Some
people attribute political motives to the high birth rate of the Muslims. It is, therefore, important
that we objectively study the demographic dynamics. Let us first look at the level of adoption of
family planning among Muslims and how it compares with other religious groups in India. The
latest available information is the third National Family Health Survey 2005-06 (Table 2) in
India. This table brings out the following scenario:

Table 2: Use of any method of contraception NFHS 3 (2005-06)

Hindu Muslim Christian Sikh Buddhist Jain Others

All India 57.8 45.7 57.6 66.5 67.7 75.4 25.3

Source: NFHS 3 (2005-06)

While the population is counted by the Census every ten years, fertility practices are specifically
studied by professional surveys. Since 1997 Operations Research Group (ORG) was conducting
such survey every 10 years. This was repeated by National Family Health Survey (NFHS) by
1105 from 199. Both organisations have done three surveys each. These surveys together throw
light on complex issue of fertility behavior across all communities in all the states of the country.

Muslims have indeed the lowest level (45.7 %) of family planning practice. Even among the
Hindus, the proportion of acceptors (57.8 %) is less than most other communities. Minorities
other than Muslims have fared rather well. The most significant finding is that Hindus and
Muslims are not on the opposite ends of the spectrum, but are on the same end with the lowest
contraception prevalence though the gap between the two is undoubtedly wide. It is noteworthy
that the adoption of family planning by different communities shows enormous interstate
variations across the country which has important lessons, as analyzed herein. (Table 3)

Table 3: Current use of any method of contraception by state NFHS 3 (2005-06)

State Hindus Muslims

Andhra Pradesh 68.1 62.2
Assam 61.3 46.2
Bihar 36.9 19.0
Chhattisgarh 53.1 50.8

Delhi 67.9 51.7
Gujarat 67.0 60.9
Haryana 65.9 18.0
Himachal Pradesh 72.7 75.4
J&K 56.6 49.9
Jharkhand 40.5 26.8
Karnataka 64.7 56.2
Kerala 74.3 54.6
M.P 55.5 54.9
Maharashtra 68.0 58.3
Orissa 51.0 44.1
Punjab 62.2 49.3
Rajasthan 47.8 38.8
Tamil Nadu 61.5 57.1
Uttarakhand 59.5 52.8
Uttar Pradesh 46.3 29.6
West Bengal 75.1 61.1
Source: NFHS-3, 2005-06 State Reports

In terms of religious community-wise use of contraceptives, this table reveals interesting pattern:

• No generalization can be made for the country as a whole, since there are wide variations
among States and Union Territories (UTs)−with the rate of Muslim acceptors ranging
from as low as 18 % in Haryana and 19 % in Bihar to as high as 75.4 % in Himachal
Pradesh, 61.1% in West Bengal and 60.9% in Gujarat. The range for the Hindus was half
as wide (36.9 % - 75%) in one state (HP), the Muslims acceptors are even higher (75.4%)
than their Hindu counterparts (72.7%).

• In 12 States, there are more Muslim acceptors than Muslim non-acceptors.

• More significantly, Muslim family planning acceptors in as many as 17 States are higher
than Hindu acceptors in Bihar (Table 3), and in 14 states higher than UP, two most
populous states in the Hindi heartland indicating that socio-economic situation of the
region rather than religion is a causative factor.

Two things clearly emerge: Muslims are not a homogenous or monolithic group but differs
widely in terms of their socio-economic and demographic behavior in different regions of the
country. There is no such thing as a 'Muslim family planning behavior'. Regional factors
outweigh religious ones as Hindu and Muslims show more similarities with each other within
regional demographic regimes than they do with co-religionists elsewhere in the subcontinent
(Dyson and Moore, 1983). Thus, the Muslims are closer to Hindus in their socio-economic and
demographic behavior within each region in the country (Ahmad 1999; Jeffery and Jeffery 2000,
2002) as will also be evident from the discussion that follows.
Signs of change

While Muslim acceptance of family planning is the lowest among all the communities, there are
signs of change. The data of the last 6 surveys (3 ORG and 3 NFHS) shows that the total
fertility rate among Muslims has been steadily declining as a result of which the gap between
Hindus and Muslims is narrowing, coming down from 1.1 to 0.4. (Fig.1)

Figure 1: Total Fertility Rate by Religion over 3 rounds of NFHS


2.9 2.8 3.1
2.4 2.7

Hindu Muslim Christian Sikh


Source: NFHS

The consistent decline of total fertility rate among all communities has been possible with
increasing use of contraception (all methods Table 4 and sterilization Table 5).

Table 4: Use of any method of contraception over 3 rounds of NFHS (in percent)

Community NFHS 1 NFHS 2 NFHS 3 % Change

Hindu 41.6 49.2 57.8 7.6 8.6

Muslim 27.9 37 45.7 9.3 8.7

Source: NFHS1, 2 and 3

The trend shows that from NFHS 1 to NFHS 3, the rate of increase of the use of Family
planning (any method) among Muslims (64%) is higher than Hindu (39%) during the same
period(Table 4). However, for sterilization, the rate of growth is much lower for both
communities particularly among the Muslims (Table 5).

Table 5: Trend of female sterilization over NFHS 1, 2 and 3

NFHS 1 NFHS 2 NFHS 3 % Change NFHS1 to NFHS3

Hindu 29.0 36.2 39.9 38%
Muslim 14.4 19.6 21.3 48%

It is very significant to note that there has been a growing acceptance of sterilization among
Muslims (from 14.4 in 1991-92 to 19.6 in 1998-99 and to 21.3 in 2005-06), despite an
overwhelming religious opinion against it (as explained in detail later).

Unmet Need

The most important factor in analyzing the family planning behavior is the men’s and women's
desire to restrict the number of births, or, conversely, resistance to the idea. Those who desire to
restrict should be promptly given facilities to do so or in other words, to meet their needs.
Unmet need for family planning is an important indicator for assessing the potential demand for
the family planning services. The prevailing unmet need for modern family planning service is
high among all communities and indeed, surprisingly, highest among the Muslims.

Table 6: Use of contraception & unmet need for contraception by religion, 2005-06
Religious % of couples (15-49 yrs.) % of couples (15-49 % of couples (15-49
group protected by any yrs.) protected by yrs.) having unmet
modern method sterilization need for any modern
Hindu 50 41 12
Muslim 36 21 19
Christian 49 41 12
Sikh 58 54 06
Jain 69 41 07
Total 48 37 13
Source: National Family Health Survey-3 (2005-06), IIPS, Mumbai, 2007.

The contraceptive figures would have been even better, if the demand of the Muslim community
for family planning services had been met. The unmet need of the community continues to be
more than any other community (Table 7). This underscores the need for better delivery of
Table 7: Total ‘wanted and unwanted’ fertility rates by religious groups

TFR Unmet Unwanted TFR Unmet Unwanted
Hindu 2.78 2.08 0.7 2.65 1.9 0.75
Muslim 3.59 2.54 1.05 3.09 2 1.09
Christian 2.44 2.07 0.37 2.35 1.9 0.45
Sikh 2.26 1.62 0.64 1.96 1.5 0.46
Neo/Buddhist 2.13 1.57 0.56 1.96 1.5 0.46
Jain 1.9 1.7 0.2 2.02 1.7 0.32
Source: NFHS 2 and NFHS 3

The above descriptions lead to the following conclusions:
1. Muslims are lagging behind all other communities in family planning practices.
2. They are, however, neither oblivious nor averse to family planning and are trying to
catch up and fast.
3. Religion does not seem to be a deterrent for them to accept family planning as evident
from the fact that their adoption of family planning is quite high in almost half of the
states. If religion was the decisive factor, they would be shunning it totally in all parts of
the country. Even the sterilization is fairly considerable despite overwhelming religious
opinion that it is un-Islamic.
4. The fact that the Hindus stand second, shows that it is not the religion that is holding
them back (as well as the Hindus) but other important factors (like literacy, income,
service delivery etc., as analyzed in detail later in this report.).
The Fig. 4 shows that the use of family planning (any method) is steadily increasing in
both communities. In fact, it is faster among the Muslims. As a result, the gap between
the two communities has been narrowing from 13.9 in NFHS 1 to 12.2 in NFHS 2 and
12.1 in NFHS 3 (Fig. 2.)

Figure 2: Trend of use of any method of family Planning by religion

Hindu Muslim

49.2 57.8

41.6 45.7

27.7 37.


Source: NFHS 1, 2 and 3

Figure 3: Decreasing gap between Hindu and Muslim level of FP users

12.5 12.2 12.1 Difference

Source: NFHS 1, 2 and 3

The trend has been persistent as clear from the three NFHS results (Table 8).

Table 8: Rate of decadal increase in family planning acceptance

(All methods) in NFHS surveys


Hindu Muslim Hindu Muslim

7.6 9.3 8.6 8.7
Source: NFHS 1, 2 and 3

Table 9: Rate of change in Family Planning Acceptance (Sterilization)

NFHS-1 NFHS-2 NFHS-3 Percentage Points Percentage Change

1992-93 1998-99 2005-06 Change
to to NFHS2 to
Hindus 32.7 38.3 32.0 5.6 -6.3 17.1 16.4
Muslims 16.0 20.4 17.5 4.4 -2.9 27.5 14.2
Christian 33.8 38.6 28.0 4.8 -10.6 14.2 27.5
Sikh 32.9 31.8 24.2 -1.1 -7.6 -3.3 23.9
Buddhist 42.2 57.5 48.6 15.3 -8.9 36.3 15.5
Jain 36.0 43.7 34.2 7.7 -9.5 21.4 21.7
Other 29.1 27.1 13.6 -2 -13.5 -6.9 49.8
Source: NFHS 1, 2 and 3

It is significant that sterilization is being increasingly adopted despite an overwhelming Islamic

interpretation against it.

Change in Attitudes

The increase in acceptance of family planning would not have been possible without a change in
attitudes. This change was noted among the Muslims as much as in other communities right
from the decade 1971-80.

Table 10: Attitudes of Eligible Couples towards the practice of

Family Planning: 1970 & 1980 Percentages

Hindus Muslims Others

1970 1980 1970 1980 1970 1980
Approving FP 60 83 53 65 67 85
Disapproving FP 40 16 47 33 33 15
Source: Operations Research Group, Baroda Family Planning Practices in India - Second All India Survey (1980)

The acceptance and use of family planning among the Muslims has increased sharply, keeping
pace with all their compatriots and in fact, in many cases has been much faster than others. R.B.
Bhagat and Purujit Praharaj, in their journal published in the Economic and Political Weekly on January
29th, 2005 observed, “Although a Hindu- Muslim differential in fertility has persisted in India, it is no
more than one child, and even this gap is not likely to endure as fertility among Muslims declines with
increasing levels of education and standards of living. While the lower level of contraceptive use among
Muslims is the most important factor responsible for the fertility differentials, the use of contraceptives
has increased faster among Muslims in recent times. However, the relatively higher fertility among
Muslims cannot be understood independent of its socio-economic and political contexts.”

Part A: Real Factors Influencing Family Planning

It is indeed imperative to deal with the issue of family planning practice with reference to the
socio-economic conditions of the communities involved. As Dr. Banerjee2 has pointed out, ‘The
decision-makers committed a very fundamental and almost a fatal mistake in taking a very
narrow view of the problem of rapidly rising population growth. They did not realize adequately
that for containing population growth, a family planning program forms merely a component of
a wider spectrum which embraces a combination of programs dealing with different social and
economic problems of the country. Population control was considered, rather simplistically, to
be a precursor of development in other social and economic fields”.
Evidence is recurrent that the factors that have the maximum influence on family planning
practices are socio-economic and cultural in nature like- literacy, income, awareness and service
delivery. There is an interplay of other factors too like work participation that adds to income on
one hand and delays the marriage on the other. In turn, both these happen with increase in literacy.
A study by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Govt. of India, of 90 districts having the
highest birth rate also revealed that literacy, especially among women, IMR, income, and age of
marriage were the crucial factors influencing the family planning acceptance. Religion as a factor
for high birth rate was not found relevant, as quite a few of these districts virtually had no
Muslim population.3

Social Factors Influencing Family Planning Behavior


All studies over the decades have indicated the decisive negative correlation between literacy and
fertility rate. As the level of education goes up, the TFR goes down (Fig. 4).

Figure 4: Fertility by educational background

3.55 TFR
2.45 2.51
2.7 2.23 2.08
0.9 TFR

No <5 years 5-7 years 8-9 years 10-11 years 12 or more
Education complete complete complete complete years

Source: NFHS 3, 2005-06

2 D. Banerjee, Family Planning in India-Some Inhibiting Factors” in Population in India’s Development 1947-
2000 (ed.), Vikas, 1974, pp 405-14.
3 National Survey of 90 Districts under Social Safety Net Scheme, sponsored by Ministry of Health, New Delhi
Age at Marriage

The next critical factor with a distinct impact on Total Fertility Rate (TFR), is the age at
marriage. The women who marry early have a longer period of exposure to pregnancy as well as
a greater number of lifetime births on an average. This is evident from Fig. 5.

Figure 5: Impact of Age at Marriage on TFR

5. 4.61 4.67
4.06 4.12
4. TFR (Rural)
TFR (Urban)
3. 2.52

Below 18 years 18-20 years 21-23 years 24 and above

Source: NFHS-3, 2005-06

The age of marriage in turn, is itself influenced by the core factors like education and economic
status. There is ample evidence to show that an increase in education delays the age of marriage
(Fig. 5). The difference between women of age 25-49 with no education and women with at least
12 years of education is as high as 4.8 years. The patterns are similar for men.

Figure 6: Median age at first marriage among women (age 20-49) and men (age 25-49),
by current age, according to Education, India 2005-06

25. 22.9
21.4 21.8
20.3 19.7
21.4 18.7
16.5 17.3
17.8 15.5
14.1 Women Age 20-49
No 5 years 5-7 years 8-9 years 10-11 years 12 or more
education complete complete complete complete years

Source: NFHS-3 2005-06

Media Exposure

Exposure to family planning messages helps in bringing about an understanding on issues

pertaining to contraceptive use. NFHS surveys have shown women are much less exposed to
family planning messages—61% women as compared to 92% men. Education of women plays a
key role in this.
Figure 7: Exposure to FO Messages goes up with education

Exposure to Family Planning messages

goes up with education(Women)


No education <5 years 5-7 years 8-9 years 10-11 years 12 or more

Exposure to Family Planning messages

goes up with education(Men)

96.4 97.8 99.3


No education <5 years 5-7 years 8-9 years 10-11 years 12 or more
Source: NHFS-3, 2005-06

Exposure to family Planning messages is also influenced by the income factor—with prosperity
the level of exposure goes up.

Figure 8: Exposure to Family Planning messages goes up with Wealth index

Exposure to Family Planning messages

goes up with Wealth index (Women)


Low SLI Second Middle Fourth Highest

Exposure to Family Planning messages

goes up with Wealth index (Men)

97.6 99.4


Low SLI Second Middle Fourth Highest

Source: NHFS-3, 2005-06

Lower exposure to electronic media could be due to lower ownership of radio and television
which in turn is the result of their inferior economic status. Further, lower exposure to
newspaper, magazines, wall paintings and hoardings is obviously due to their lower literacy.

Economic Factors

Economic factors equally play a decisive role in family planning acceptance. The income-fertility
correlation is clearly evident. As the income grows, the TFR goes down (Fig 9).

Figure 9: Impact of Income on Total Marital Fertility Rate (rural and urban)


5.75 5.72
4.78 TMFR Rural
4.5 4.62
TMFR Urban


Rs. 50 and below Rs. 51-100 Rs. 100 +

While income is one criterion of looking at economic status, another perhaps more effective,
way is the expenditure. It was found that with increasing per capita expenditure GMFR goes
down. (Fig. 10)

Figure 10: With increasing per capita expenditure GMFR goes down

189. Urban

107.5 110.8

Rs. 50 and below Rs. 51-100 Rs. 101 and above

Source: NFHS 3

This nexus is re-emphasized by another set of statistics which show that the people with work
have a lower fertility than those without work (Fig. 11).

Figure 11: Workers have lower fertility than Non-workers (Rural and Urban)

5. 4.76
3.75 3.24
Non Workers Workers

Rural Urban

Source: SRS: 1990

Part B: Socio-Economic Determinants and the Muslims

Socio-economic determinants of Family Planning

Having seen that socio-economic factors rather than religion, influence the family planning
behavior in India, let us now see how different communities fare on this score.

1. Education Level

The educational level of the Muslims has been lower than all other communities all through the
decades. A national survey conducted by the Ministry of Home Affairs, GOI, in 1970-71, in 35
districts of 14 states showed that in every category of education, Muslims lagged behind all other
compatriots (Gopal Krishna, 1971). Two decades later, the same pattern was evident for all age
groups for males and females, (Fig. 12).

Figure 12: Lower number of Muslims currently attending educational Institutions per
1000 persons by age-group, in rural India



600 590 Hindus



200 155
82 79
42 7 6
0 to 4 5 to 9 10 to 14 15 to 19 20 to 24 <25
Source: ‘Sarvekshna’ National Sample Survey, 43rd Round, 1990

The pattern of lower attendance of Muslim children in school has continued till the latest NSS,
2013 (Fig. 13) Low enrolment and attendance and high dropout rate leave many children out of the
education system. The malady is the highest among the Muslims.

Figure 13: More Muslim children (10-14 years) out of education system
(Never attended and dropout), 2007-08

16.5 14.9
11. 8. 8.4
5.5 Male Female
Hindu Muslim Christians Others

Source: International Research Journal of Social Sciences P-8; Vol. 2(5), May 2013; ISSN2319-3565

Figure 14: Percentage of children (15-19 years) out of education system

(Never attended and dropout) by religion, 2007-08


60. 58.1

46.7 45.7

31.3 30.7
30. 25.5 26.7
23.6 Male Female


Hindu Muslim Christians Others

Source: International Research Journal of Social Sciences P-8; Vol. 2(5), May 2013; ISSN2319-3565

Low school attendance has an obvious bearing on literacy levels. Muslims compare unfavorably
in this as well (Table 11).

Table 11: Rate of Literacy (general and women) among Muslims is lowest

Religion Literacy Rate Female Literacy Rate

Hindus 65.1 53.2
Muslims 59.1 50.1
Christian 80.3 76.2
Sikhs 69.4 63.1
Buddhists 72.7 61.7
Jains 94.1 90.6

However, in whichever state the enrolment of Muslims corresponds to their population ratio or
is higher, their use of family planning is greater than the national average (74.04 % as per 2011

2. Age at Marriage

The level of literacy also influences knowledge and compliance of the legal age of marriage
across all communities. According to NFHS 3, Hindu and Muslim women have the lowest and
same level of median age at first marriage of 16.7 years. Although, currently the age at marriage
for women and men among both Hindus and Muslims is identical (16.7 and 22.5 years), it is
lower than other communities. This needs to be addressed seriously as every year of delay will
help in reduction of TFR as seen earlier in Table 7.

3. Exposure to Media

In direct proportion to their low literacy, Muslims have been found to have a lower exposure to
family planning messages in various media (Table 3/4) like the radio/television/newspaper/
magazine/wall painting/hoarding. The data collected from different religious groups shows that
absence of exposure was the highest for the Muslim men and women. (Table 12) Gender
disparity is also stark.

Table 12: Muslims have the least exposure to Family Planning messages
(Men and Women)
Religion Men Women
Hindu 8.0 38.0
Muslim 9.9 46.1
Christian 8.3 30.8
Sikh 2.2 26.8
Buddhist/Neo 3.9 32.1
Jain 0.0 7.9
Source: NFHS-3 2005-06

4. Service Delivery

In the adoption of family planning practices, personal counseling by doctors and para-medical
staff plays a vital role. Health workers, therefore, are required to visit, inform and counsel all
women and men within the reproductive age about family planning especially the most
appropriate contraceptive methods.

The Table 13 indicates that the knowledge of contraception methods is lowest among Muslims.
The biggest contributing factor for this is that they have not been reached by the health workers

Table 13: Muslim non-users of family planning have least exposure to FP methods

Religion Percentage who were ever told by a health or family

planning worker about any method of family planning
Hindu 18.5
Muslim 17.2
Christian 23.0
Sikh 18.3
Buddhist/Neo 22.0
Jain 25.1
Source: NFHS-3 2005-06

5. Unmet Need

The lesser public knowledge about the people and places delivering health advice and services,
and the contraceptive options leads to a large unmet need and low satisfaction of demands for
services. The number of currently married women age 15-49 with unmet need for family
planning and percentage of demand unsatisfied both amongst Hindus and Muslims, is
unacceptably high and needs to be addressed urgently (Table 14).

Table 14: Unmet Need for family planning among currently married women
(15-49 years) based on religious affiliation

Religion Unmet: For Unmet: For Unmet: Total Percentage of

spacing limiting demand not satisfied

Hindu 5.8 6.1 11.9 17.1

Muslim 8.6 10.2 18.8 29.1
Source: NFHS-3 2005-06

The higher unmet need for family planning of the Muslims is directly attributable to lesser reach
of health workers in the community.

Figure 15: Relative services availed by Muslims are lesser


80. 76.9 Hindus Muslims


42.5 35.6 36.3
23.75 18.4 20.3
15.4 17.3
TT Injection POD-Publice POD-Private Doctor Midwife Vaccination

Source: NFHS-3, 2005-06

Among all religious communities, child births amongst Muslim mothers are least likely to take
place in a health facility (33%). This also is the result of poorly outreach of health workers
among the community (Fig. 16). Both in terms of service delivery (TT injection and vaccination)
and access to doctors and midwives Muslims fare poorly.

Figure 16: Percentage deliveries a health facility are the least among Muslims

Percentage delivered in a health facility

100. 93.1

58.3 58.8

Hindu Muslim Christian Sikh Buddhist/Neo Jain

Percentage delivered in a health facility

Source: NFHS-3, 2005-06

6. Economic Factors
Work Participation
According to the Census 2001, Muslims have the lowest work participation rate in the country
(Fig. 17).

Figure 17: The rate of work participation among Muslims is the least



40.4 40.6
40. 39.7 39.1
37.7 Total

Hindus Muslims Christians Sikhs Buddhists Jains Others India

Source: Census of India, 2001

The above discussion brings out the main reason for the high fertility rates among Muslims in
India, is their socio-economic backwardness. This underlines the need to invest more in things
that create development, education, awareness, skills, healthcare, roads, power, banking and
credit facilities et al. But, any move to step up investment in Muslim-majority areas, as the
Planning Commission has made, is immediately branded as minority appeasement.

Polygamy as a factor
On top of the misinformed campaign is the propaganda that all Muslims take multiple wives to
produce a multitude of children (“hum paanch, humaare pachchees”). While Muslims are
assumed to be synonymous with polygamy in India, it is important to note that the data reflects
otherwise (Fig. 18 and Table 15). The fact is that polygamy has been practiced in India for
centuries among all communities and is therefore, more attributable to cultural norms rather
than any religious ideology.

Figure 18: Polygamy prevalent in all communities and is least among the Muslims


8.00% 6.72% 5.80% 5.70%

Tribal Buddhists Jains Hindus Muslims

Source: Towards Equality: The Report of the Committee on the Status of Women in India, 1974, Ministry of Social Welfare.

Even in the earlier decades, polygamy was found prevalent among Muslims and non-Muslims.
Between 1931 & 1960, while it has gone up among the Tribal community (and they are not
Muslims), it has come down significantly both among Muslims and the Hindus. (Table 15)
Table 15: Polygamous Marriages in India across different communities

Incidence of Polygamous Marriages in India

Community 1931-40 1941-50 1951-60

Tribals 9.53 17.53 17.93
Hindus 6.79 7.15 5.06
Muslims 7.29 7.06 4.31
Source: Census of India 1961 (Incidence of Polygamous Marriages in India)

Is there a political motive behind high TFR of Muslims?

While significant number of Muslims mentioned Islamic belief in their reluctance for practicing
family planning, no evidence of political motive was found as alleged by the right wing. On the
contrary, the right wing keeps on prodding the Hindus to shun family planning and produce as
many children as possible to ensure that Muslims cannot outnumber them any time in the

Hindus are regularly exhorted to start having more children or else they will become a minority
in India in the near future.4

Contrary to the public perception of family planning being a Hindu versus Muslim issue, the
reality is that both communities are on the same end of the spectrum– being lowest and second
lowest in family planning practice. Muslims and Hindus have the highest TFR (3.09 and 2.65)
while all others are lower than 2.35.

Total Fertility Rate which is used as a measure to estimate the population growth is the highest
among Muslims at 3.10 followed by that of Hindus at 2.65 (NHFS-3, 2005-06)

Figure 19: TFR of Muslims and Hindus is the highest among the religious communities

3.2 3.09


2.1 1.96 1.96 2.02 TFR


Hindu Muslim Christian Sikh Buddhist Jain

Source: (NFHS-3) 2005-2006, MOHFW, GOI

4 T.K Arun, Muslim population myths; TOI, October 30, 2013.

Lowest Practice of Family Planning

Muslims have the lowest level (45.7 percent) of family planning practice. This is followed by the
Hindus whose proportion of acceptors (57.8 percent) is less than other communities barring
Christians with a 0.2 difference.

Figure 20: Contraceptive use among Muslims and Hindus is the lowest
across all religious groups


66.5 67.7
57.8 57.6

50. Use of any

45.7 method of


Hindus Muslims Christians Sikhs Buddhists Jains

Source: NFHS-3, 2005-06

7. Highest Infant Mortality Rate

The reason why Hindus and Muslims are at the bottom is that their socio-economic indicators
are identical. They have highest Infant Mortality Rate (IMR), lowest median age at marriage,
lowest literacy, highest school drop-outs, lowest media exposure. Even in polygamy, they share a
common place– Hindus 5.8, Muslims 5.7. It is therefore important that the problem of high
birth rate is not viewed from a communal angle but as a socio-economic issue where both
communities are almost similarly placed. Backwardness of both must be addressed.

Part C: Religious Beliefs

It is a widely held view that Muslims do not accept family planning on the ground of their
religious beliefs. The first National Family Health Survey tried to probe whether this was a
decisive factor among currently married women, who were not using any method of
contraception and also did not intend to use it in the future. It is found that only 3.5% cited
family planning being against their religion (NFHS-1, 1992-93). The NFHS-2 found a much
higher percentage of Muslim women (12.5%) reporting this belief (NFHS-2, 1998-99).
However, NFHS-3, 2005-06 found that 5% of all respondents (not just Muslims) stated that they
did not intend to use family planning because their (respective) religions prohibited its use.

It may be noted here that, it was only during NFHS-2 that the data among different religious
groups was studied. This is a lacuna of the survey that in spite of religion being considered a
major factor that influences TFR, no adequate research has been carried out to investigate its
impact. It was therefore, considered necessary to carry out an empirical research that could shed
some light on this much talked about yet least explained phenomenon.

The study was carried out in three states representing three zones with sizeable Muslim
population - Alwar in Rajasthan, Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh and Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh.
While the trends found in other studies, particularly National Family Health Survey, were by and
large re-confirmed, the study threw a new light on religion as a factor. All studies in the past had
not touched upon the religious beliefs as the cause of resistance to family planning among the
Muslims, it was decided not to duck the issue and take it headlong.

Attention was more focused on Muslim eligible couples who were asked whether the use of
temporary family planning methods like condoms, IUD, pills, etc. is against religion. Their
response was almost equally divided. While 47 percent of the couples said that it is not against
religion, 44 percent think otherwise, with 9 percent undecided.

The analysis of data turned up highly revealing new information: Muslim eligible couples out
step their Hindu counterparts in the use of temporary family planning methods. While 65
percent of Muslim couples were taking recourse to temporary methods, only 55 percent of
Hindu couples reported doing so. The reason for this unexpected trend seems to be their
reluctance to adopt sterilization, widely considered un-Islamic, and depending entirely on
temporary methods.

Family Planning Methods and Religious Ideology

Muslim thinking in family planning is not identical and across the board, a lot of regional
variations were seen regarding temporary contraceptive methods. More than 56 percent of the
Muslim eligible couples from Alwar think that the adoption of even temporary methods of
family planning is against religion, nearly 58 percent from Lucknow think it is not. Asked to
recall the name of the religious leader who opined that the use of temporary family planning
methods is against religion, 58 percent mentioned neighborhood imam or some local Maulana.

More than three-fourths of the Muslim couples are given to the idea of permanent family
planning methods are against Islamic faith, 18.2 percent do not think so and 6.7 percent are
undecided. Alwar appears to be the most conservative in that 83.7 percent of the Muslim
couples consider these methods as un-Islamic. In contrast, Lucknow is found to be a lot more
liberal— nearly a fourth of the couples think that the adoption of these methods is not against
the religion.

Why do Muslim couples think that the adoption of permanent family planning methods is
against the religion? Most couples (20.2 percent) state that it is forbidden in Hadith (without
citing one), followed by those who refer to discourse of some religious leader (without
mentioning name). Besides, quite a few couples mentioned to have heard about this prohibition
in talim or religious sermons (8.7 percent), to have been instructed by the elders in the family (7.9
percent), and several other mixed and garbled reasons.

Opinion leaders’ views are on the same pattern. Their reasons: The adoption of permanent
methods of family planning is forbidden in Hadith (53.8 percent); it is forbidden in religion (26.9
percent); or simply ‘Maulana told so’ (7.7 percent). Apparently Muslim opinion leaders too
would need some orientation.

Significantly, not only the beliefs of the Muslims as a class were studied but an attempt was
made –the first ever –to see the comparative beliefs of different sects and sub-sects, as Muslims
are not a monolithic group, as is generally perceived.

Adoption of Family Planning among Firqas

Like many other religious groups, Muslims too have sects and these sects are often categorized
into sub-sects or firqas. Adoption of family planning among various firqas is guided by their own
set of beliefs and norms. The trends in adoption of family planning among firqas show that
Barelvi (38 percent) are highest users of family planning methods, followed by Jamaat-e-Islami (22
percent) and other firqas (11 percent). It is notable that 11 percent currently using family
planning do not have any firqas affiliation. On the other hand, those who are adherents of
Nadwat-ul-Ulema (Lucknow), Deobandi School or Tableeghi Jamaat are noticeably less inclined
towards family planning. A concerted IEC campaign with these and similar groups is called for.

The fact may not be missed that as many as 38 per cent do not think that Islam prohibits
temporary family planning methods. In the adoption of temporary methods of family planning
among different Muslim firqas the adherents of Jamaat-e-Islami (28 percent) are found to be on
the forefront, followed by Barelvies (24 percent) and Deobandis (11 per cent) and Ahl-e-Hadees (11
percent). It is quite encouraging that adherents of some of conservative firqas, too, are turning
towards small family norms.

Views of health workers

Health workers, involved in the delivery of family planning services often face, during routine
consultation in the hospital or during their field visits, challenging situations, including
ideological resistance by their patients and religious leaders. Quite a few of them reported that
they have often been told that even temporary methods of family planning contravene religious
values. It is a matter of concern that these workers are not equipped to field such questions.

Permanent Family Planning Methods and Religious Ideology

Now, we see the factors which play significant role in adoption of family planning. We will
examine social, economic and education factors and how they affect the choice of the people.
More than three-fourths of the Muslim couples are given to the idea that permanent family
planning methods are against Islamic faith. Opinion leaders’ views are along the same pattern.

Part D: Islamic Edicts and Family Planning

Having seen that the prevalence of family planning among the Muslims is the least due to their
being at the bottom of the ladder in education, economic status and the access to health
services- the main influences - let us see if religion has been the contributor too.

In order to properly appreciate this, we need to focus on the following questions:

▪ What does Islamic law prescribe with regard to family planning?

▪ What is the opinion of Ulema or religious scholars in India and other countries about
family planning?

Polygamy and Islam

At the center of the debate is the belief that Islam encourages polygamy which leads to a spurt in
population growth. The reality is that Islam does permit polygami, but discourages it. Even this
permission has to be understood in context. Though, the Qur’an allows marrying up to four
wives, it is in the context of marrying orphans. Surah 4:2 says, “And give to the orphans their
property and do not substitute worthless (things) for (their) good (ones) and do not devour their
property, this is surely a great crime”. The next verse (4:3) goes on to secure the position of the
orphans even further, “And if you fear that you cannot act equitably towards orphans, then
marry such women as seem good to you, two and three and four, but if you fear that you cannot
act equitably (between them) then (marry) only one.”

It is obvious that the permission to have more than one wife has often been abused by some
Muslims who do not realize that it is a conditional permission. In fact, it is subject to not one
but two conditions: marrying orphans and equal treatment. The emphasis of the Holy Qur’an is
very clearly on having one wife. One has to understand the historical context of the time i.e. the
presence of a large number of orphan girls and widows as a result of constant tribal wars in pre-
Islamic and early Islamic years. The permission to have more than one wife was given with a
view to rehabilitating these orphans and widows. Scholars are also of the opinion that, in an age
where men of means, used to have multiple marriages, the Qura’nic injunction (“permission”)
had actually put a ceiling on the number of wives. In his highly respected English commentary
on the Qur’an, Abdullah Yusuf Ali remarks- "the unrestricted number of wives of Jahiliyya
(the age of ignorance) was now strictly limited to a maximum of four, provided you could feed
them with perfect equity in material things as well as in affection and immaterial things. As these
conditions are more difficult to fulfill, I understand the recommendation to be towards

The second question is whether on account of the so-believed permission for polygamy,
Muslims actually have more than one wife. The reality is that only a few have. The report of the
Committee on the Status of Women in India, 1974, revealed that polygamy was not exclusive to
Muslims but was prevalent in varying degrees among all the communities of India (Fig. 21). In
fact, the Muslims were the least polygamous. (Source: Towards Equality: The Report of the
Committee on the Status of Women in India, 1974, Ministry of Social Welfare.)

It is interesting to note that the Muslims were found to be the least polygamous. The report also
quoted census data which corroborates the finding (Table 15). In addition, it indicated that the
incidence of polygamy among Muslims has been significantly less than the Hindus and has been
steadily coming down, while it has increased among the tribals.

Yet another indicator of low prevalence of polygamy is the male-female disparity ratio. The
2011-Census showed that there were only 940 females per 1000 males in India – the highest ever
in 50 years. In such a situation, polygamy is statistically impossible. The Report of the
Committee on the Status of Women in India (CSWI) also stated that whatever be the other
implications of polygamy, it cannot lead to high birth rate, since the number of polygamous men
would leave an equal number of men unmarried. It is observed that second wife of a man has
lesser number of children than the first/only wife. Studies show that the average number of
children from the second wife of Muslims was only 1.78 % as compared to 4.67 % from the first
wife (Rao, 1974).5 Thus, it is clear that the presumption of prevalence of high polygamy rate
among Muslims is unfounded and polygamy is not a factor in high birth rate among Muslims.

What does Sharia’h say about family planning?

Qur’an and Hadith are replete with verses and traditions supportive of the concept of family

It is extremely important to note that nowhere has the Qur’an prohibited Family Planning! There
are only interpretations, for or against.

5 Rao, Kamala Gopal, Studies in Family Planning: India, New Delhi; Abhinav Publications, 1974.
Anti-Family Planning Interpretation is based on the following concepts: Tawakkul (Reliance on
Allah), Qadr (Predestination), and Rizq (Provision).

Do not kill your children (for fear of poverty); We make provisions for you, and for them too.
(Surah 6:152)

Do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We make provisions, for them and for you too.
Verily, the killing of them is a severe crime. (Surah 17:31)

And Allah has made for you, your mates from yourselves and made for you, out of them,
children and grandchildren. (Surah 16:72)

Your wives are as a tilth unto you, so approach your tilth how you wish. (Surah 2:223)

Marry and multiply, for I will make a display of you on the Day of Judgment (Authenticated by
Abu Dawoud).

Clinching verse of the Qur’an

Let those who do not find the wherewithal for marriage, keep themselves chaste, until Allah
gives them means out of His grace. (Surah 24:33)

This is amplified by the Prophet:

O young men! Those of you who can support a wife and household should marry. For, marriage
keeps you from looking with lust at women and preserves you from promiscuity. But those who
cannot should take to fasting, which is a means of tampering sexual desires. (Authenticated by

Another Hadith goes to endorse the method of birth control. On the authority of Abu Saa’d,
who said ‘A man came to the Prophet to ask about the practice of al-azl with his mate. He added
“I do not like her to get pregnant and I am a man who wants what other men want. But the Jews
claim that al-azl (withdrawal) is minor infanticide.” The Prophet categorically denied such a
contention by the Jews. (Authenticated by Abu Dawoud, lbn Hanbal and al-Tahawi)

The first is the Qura’nic injunction, second the elaboration of the same by the Prophet and the
third prescribes the method of birth control. I consider this a complete prescription for family

The following narrative based on Qura’nic verses and traditions of the Prophet reinforces the

Islam is a Religion for Ease

Allah desires for you ease (yusr). He desires not hardship (usr) for you. (Surah 2:185)

No soul shall impose (upon it) a duty but to its capacity, neither shall a mother be made to suffer
injury on account of her child, nor shall he to whom the child is born (be made to suffer) on
account of his child. (Surah 2:223)

And know that your wealth and your children are a persecution (or trial) (fitna). (Surah 8:28)

Your wealth and your children are indeed a test (fitna). (Surah 64:15)
The most grueling trial is to have plenty of children with no adequate means. (Authenticated by
al-Hakim on the authority of Abdullah lbn Omar)

A multitude of children is one of the two poverties (or cases of penury), while a small number is
one of the two cases of ease. (Authenticated by Quda’ei in Musnad al- Shahab)

Purpose of Marriage is Conjugal Tranquility

And one of (Allah’s) signs is, that He has created from you mates from yourselves, that you may
dwell in tranquility with them, and has ordained between you Love and Mercy. (Surah 7:189)

It is He who created you from a single soul (nafs) and there from, did make his mate that he
might dwell in tranquility with her. (Surah 7:189)

Islam is a Religion for Quality

How oft, by Allah’s will, has a small force vanquished a numerous force. (Surah 2:249)

Allah has given you victory in many battles, but on the day of Hunayn, when you exalted in your
multitude, it availed you naught. And the earth, vast as it is, became tight for you, then you
turned back in retreat. (Surah 18:46)

The right of a child on his parent is to be given good breeding and good name. (Authenticated
by al-Baihaqi)

There is nothing better for a parent to leave for his child (in inheritance) than good breeding.
(Authenticated by al-Tabarani)

To leave your heirs rich is better than leaving them dependent upon people’s charity.
(Authenticated by al Bukhari)

Right of children to breastfeeding (spacing)

And mothers shall suckle their children two full years to complete breast-feeding. (Surah 2:233)

And a child’s weaning is two years. (Surah 31:14)

Gender Equality

Men and women are equal halves. (Authenticated by Ahmad and Abu Dawoud)

Do not hate having daughters, for they are the comforting dears. (Authenticated by Ahmad and

It is a woman’s blessing to have a girl as her first child. (Authenticated by Mardaweih and ibn
Askir). Based on their understanding of the Islamic law, the opinion of the great Imams is
supportive of family planning.

It is well known that many Indian, driven by the traditional son preference, continue to have
children ending up with a large family. Islam enjoins gender equality.

The opinion of the great Imams

Interpreting verse 4:3 of the Holy Qur’an, Imam Shafei, opined that more children should not
be produced if they cannot be properly supported.

Imam Raghib, interpreting 17:31 verse of Qur’an, says that it is not only the physical killing of
children which is prohibited in Islam, but also killing them spiritually and intellectually. The
denial of access to education, for example, amounts to killing them intellectually.

"Those few (qalil)", records Hadith, “who are virtuous are superior to those many who are
undesirable". It implies that the number of children should be restricted to the capacity of
parents to make them virtuous.

Imam Ghazzali, a sufi of great eminence, mentions a tradition from the Prophet: Smallness of a
family (qillat al'ayal) is a facility (yusur) and its largeness (kathrat) results in faqr (indigence,

The opinions of contemporary Ulema

Opinion of Haji Nasiruddin Latif (Indonesia, 1974):

There is no verse in the Qur’an forbidding the wife or husband to practice family planning. “I,
for one, do not feel that Islam interdicts family planning to ward off hardship in Muslim married

Opinion of Sheikh Abdel Aziz (Jordan, 1985)

Family Planning in Islam starts with the choice of the wife and puts a great emphasis on raising
children physically, educationally and spiritually, that is why quality is favored over quantity.

Several Hadiths listed by Imam Ghazali underline benefits of ‘azl’: (1) preservation of wife’s
beauty and charm; (2) protection of her health and life; (3) shielding her from hardship (kathrat
al-haral) on account of child birth; and (4) keeping away financial hardship to the family.

The famed Indian scholar Shah Abdul Aziz (1864), states in his monumental Tafsir
(commentary) of the Qur’an:“Al-azl is lawful on the basis of authentic and well-known traditions
of the Prophet. The use of medicines before or after coitus for preventing conception is as
lawful as Al-azl”.

Fatwa of Sheikh Mahmoud Shaltout, Great Imam of Al-Azhar (1959):

● Strongly endorsed the use of contraceptives on an individual basis for health, social or
economic reasons.
● Under certain conditions contraception becomes mandatory. Fatwa of Advisory Council
on Religious Matters (Turkey, 1960).
● Contraception allowed with the wife’s consent - Even without wife’s consent in case of
war, turmoil or conditions where bringing up children becomes difficult.

Opinion of Sheikh Sayyid Sabiq (Saudi Arabia, 1968):

The use of contraception is allowed, especially if the husband already has a large family, if he
cannot bring up his children correctly, if his wife is weak or sick or has repeated pregnancies, or
if the husband is poor.

Opinion of Indian ulema is on the same lines: Allama Shah Zaid Abul Hassan Farooqi, Delhi:
● All the four Imams regard ‘Azl’ as permissible. However, in one Hadith, a condition has
been prescribed that it should be done only with the wife’s consent.
● Ibn Abidin, Tahtawi and Abus Saud opine that, even a woman has the right to shut off
the mouth of her uterus without the permission of the husband to avoid pregnancy.

● Anti-pregnancy pills and medicines are also permissible. However, for using any
contraceptive medicine, it is advisable to consult an experienced doctor.

Maulana Masood Ahmad Qasmi, Nazim-e-Deeniyat, Aligarh Muslim University:

● When permissibility of ‘Azl’ is proven, the use of other comparable measures (like
condom, etc.) stands automatically endorsed.

Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani, Sadar Mudarris, Dar-ul-Uloom, Sabeel-ul-Islam, Hyderabad:

● Preventing conception temporarily which does not lead to permanently impairing the
capability is legal.

● Use of loop (IUDs) and Nirodh (condom) is equivalent to the practice of ‘Azl’.

Maulana Jamil Ahmed Naziri, Jamia Arabia, Ahya-ul-uloom, Mubarakpur, Azamgarh:

● To prevent short space between children which will make them naturally weak, use of
temporary contraceptive methods like loop (IUD), Nirodh (condom), medicine or
ointment is valid.

Mufti Zafir-ud-din Miftahi, Mufti, Darul-Uloom, Deoband:

If there is a valid reason or disease because of which a woman cannot bear the hardship of
pregnancy, in such a situation, Shari’at allows temporary birth control measures.

It is thus amply clear that Islam is fully supportive of the temporary methods of family planning.
However, sterilization or irreversible methods are disallowed by almost all sections of the Ulema
though some Ulema have a positive interpretation about sterilization too.

Islam and Irreversible Family Planning Methods

Fatwa from the Fatwa Committee of Al Azhar (1953):

The Committee permitted contraception or reversible family planning methods, on health and
other grounds, but disallowed permanent sterilization.

Fatwa of Haji Abdel Jalil Hassan (Malaysia, 1964): Contraception is permitted but sterilization is

Mufti Shamsuddin, Delhi:

● It is wrong to regard vasectomy as castration.
● Vasectomy and tubectomy do not amount to terminating birth cycle but to keep it limited.

Islam on Abortion

Even regarding abortion, many scholars feel that, it is permissible for health reasons but before
ensoulment of the fetus- within 120 days of pregnancy. However, some scholars like Maulana
Jamil Ahmed Naziri, Jamia Arabia, Ahya-ul-uloom, Mubarakpur, Azamgarh says that abortion is
not allowed even within 120 days, if it is for medical determination of the sex of the fetus.

With such explicit opinion of the religious authorities, jurists and scholars, it would be thus a
truism to say that Islam is, in fact, the forerunner of the concept of family planning. It is
important to note that fourteen hundred years ago, when Islam appeared on the scene, there was
no population problem anywhere on the globe, even then, Islam directly or indirectly
encouraged family planning.

Prof. Abdur Rahim Omran (1992) of the most respected Islamic University, Al Azhar, observes,
"It is a wonder to the thinkers of today that Islam should give so much (importance) to child
spacing and family planning so early in human history, and in the absence of compelling
population pressures".6 He, however, clarifies that the term family planning as used in his text,
refers to the use of contraceptive methods by husband and wife with mutual agreement, to
regulate their fertility with a view to warding off health, social and economic hardships, and to
enable them to shoulder their responsibilities towards their children and society. Such a choice
should be voluntary with no coercion or law fixing the number of children a couple should


The above analysis should cause a rethink among those who tirelessly condemn the entire
Muslim community for producing large families with political motives. No such motive is in
evidence. Muslims are indeed most backward in family planning practices but the reason lies in
their socio- economic backwardness. Literacy, income and better delivery of health services hold
the key. And those Muslims who think that Islam is opposed to family planning should, on the
contrary, understand that it is indeed the forerunner of the concept. The future of the country
and all its constituent communities lies in the quality of upbringing of their families, with
education as the key strategy.

Dr. Shahabuddin Yaqoob Quraishi is a former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) of India. An IAS
officer of 1971 batch, he has occupied other key positions. He has been election observer in many countries. Dr.
Quraishi has written extensively on elections, democracy and population related issues. Recently, he was the
FICCI Fellow at King's College, London. Like civil officers of colonial period, he has deep interest in research
and academics and divides his time sharing experience and intellect at Universities, seminars and workshops with
students and others in India and abroad.

6 Abdel Rahim Omran, Family Planning in the Legacy of Islam, Routledge, London 1992.
Chapter 3



Jawed Alam Khan


The Constitution of India, in its Articles 14, 15, 29 and 30, lays emphasis on the protection and promotion of
rights of religious minorities. Among the religious minorities, the Muslims are largest group with more than 70
percent share. The paper assesses the policy initiatives and its design, adequacy of financial resources, fund
utilization, physical performance and status of implementation. It highlights that largely Muslims have not been
benefitted from the schemes and programs meant for them, and the community faces exclusion in planning,
budgeting and implementation processes of development programs at various levels of governance.


The Indian constitution talks about the idea of equality among its citizens and prohibits
discrimination on the grounds of religion. It has also committed for preservation, protection and
assurance of the rights of minorities (Article 14, 15, 29 & 30). Unfortunately, Muslims have for
long been counted among the most backward sections of the population. The Muslim
constitutes 15 percent of India’s total population and the largest share – more than 70 percent
among the total religious minority population.

The socio-economic and educational backwardness among large sections of Muslim population
in India is owing to their extreme poverty and lack of modern education both in the pre and
post-Independence period. The partition of the sub-continent led to many problems relating to
issues of identity and security which the Muslim community in India faced in the form of
communal riots in the recent past and discrimination in almost every sphere of life. The issues of
identity and security, both historically and in the recent past, have emerged as a major hindrance
for addressing equity-related issues. Further, there has been continuous neglect on the part of
the Union and State Governments in addressing the development deficit among Muslims.

Therefore, it was expected that the needs of Muslims too would have been recognised separately
by the Union and State governments and some policy provisions made in the national or States
Five Year Plans (FYPs) for their development. However, an analysis of FYP documents since
1951 shows that this was clearly not the case for Muslims until 10th FYP. Nonetheless, in 2006,
Ministry of Minority Affairs (MoMA) was set up as the nodal ministry for the welfare and
empowerment of the religious minorities. In addition, two development strategies designed to
address the development shortfalls faced by the religious minorities are being implemented – the
Prime Minister's 15 Point Programme (15 PP) and the Multi-Sectoral Development Program

The paper assesses how development schemes meant for Muslims worked effectively in terms of
policy initiatives, adequacy of financial resources, fund utilization and physical performance,
policy design, and status of implementation. In terms of methodology, the paper heavily relies
on secondary level data sources. An assessment of seven years of policy implementation in this
direction shows several gaps with respect to policy design and budget allocation, utilization of
funds, and implementation of government programs specific to the development of minorities.
It also highlights that Muslims have not benefitted from the schemes and programs meant for
them, and the community faces exclusion in planning, budgeting and implementation processes
of development programs at various levels of governance.
Policies and Programs

In 2005, for the first time after fifty-five years of development planning, Government of India
realised that there is a need for a comprehensive policy-driven intervention for the development
of Muslims. But it was noted that there was a dearth of authentic data and information about the
social, economic and educational condition of Muslims in India. In light of this situation, Prime
Minister’s High Level Committee under the chairpersonship of Justice Rajindar Sachar was
formed in 2005 to assess the social, economic and educational status of the Muslim community
in India. The Committee found that issues related to development deficit faced by the Muslims
are diverse, but very similar to the ones faced by other backward sections of society like the
Scheduled Castes (SCs) and the Scheduled Tribes (STs). However, SCs and STs have been given
reservation in government jobs and educational institutions and a separate plan strategy SCSP
and TSP were devised to give benefits to SCs and STs in the Union and States Budgets in
proportionate to their population.

The report presents its recommendations under two broad categories - General Policy Measures
and Specific Policy Measures. In order to address the specific problems of backwardness among
the Muslims, the Sachar Report advocates special attention to developmental issues within the
Muslim community in the areas of education, economic development and access to basic
amenities. Further, the general policy initiatives such as setting up a National Data Bank, an
Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) and constructing a Diversity Index aimed at to promote
inclusion of excluded communities in public institutions. In this regard, although the reports of
working groups on setting up of an EOC and constructing a Diversity Index have been
submitted, but no headway has been made in terms of actual implementation so far.

Further, the 11th Plan through its core approach of ‘faster and inclusive growth’ adopted a four-
pronged strategy- educational and economic empowerment, access to public services,
strengthening of minority institutions and area development program. 15 PP for the welfare of
minorities focuses on enhancing opportunities for education, equitable share in economic
activities and employment, improving the conditions of living of minorities and prevention and
control of communal riots. The target for development of minorities under 15 PP has to be
achieved with a definite goal in a specific timeframe. The 15 PP envisaged earmarking 15 percent
of total allocations and achieving the physical targets under select flagship programs for
development of minorities. Except MSDP, all the schemes run by MoMA are also part of 15 PP
which are 100 percent meant for the development of minorities. There were two important
commitments made under 15 PP- one by the ‘department of personnel and training’ with a
promise to ensure 15 percent share in public employment; and another by ‘department of
financial services’ with targets to disburse 15 percent of the annual ‘priority sector lending’ (PSL)
to favor minorities.

Currently, eleven Union ministries/departments claimed to be involved in implementing the 15

PP, including Ministries of Rural Development, Water and Sanitation, Urban Development,
Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Labor and Employment, Home, Finance, Women and
Child Development, School Education and Literacy, Personal and Training, Minority Affairs.
The selected schemes from eleven Union ministries/departments are Indira Awas Yojana (IAY),
Ajivika, National Rural Drinking Water Program (NRDWP), Urban Infrastructure and
Governance (UIG), Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns
(UIDSSMT), Integrated Housing Slum Development Program (IHSDP), Basic Services for
Urban Poor (BSUP), Swarna Jayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SJSRY), Priority Sector Lending to
Minorities, Integrated Child Development Services(ICDS), Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs),
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalay (KGBV). These schemes are
amenable to earmarking at least 15 percent fund for minorities.

There are other programs under 15 PP which are exclusively implemented for the minorities like
Madarsa Modernization Program, scholarship schemes and Maulana Azad Education Foundation
(MAEF) that aim at addressing the education deficit among the minority community. These
schemes include the (i) Pre-matric for up to Class X, (ii) Post-matric for Class XI to PhD, (iii)
Merit-cum-Means for technical and professional courses at undergraduate and post-graduate
levels, (iv) Free coaching and Allied Scheme for competitive examinations, and (v) Maulana
Azad National Fellowship for minority students pursuing M.Phil. and PhD. Some of the
common features of all these scholarship schemes such conditionalities as - that the student
should have secured not less than 50 percent marks in the previous final examination;
scholarship will not be given to more than 2 students from the family. Further, the parent’s
annual income must not exceed Rs 1 lakh in the case of Pre-Matric while it is Rs 2 lakh for Post-
Matric; the limit is Rs 2.5 lakhs for Merit-Cum-Means while the same is Rs 4.5 lakh for Maulana
Azad National Fellowship.

Box 1: New Schemes Introduced in the Union Budget

In the run up to the 2014 general election in the country, the BJP manifesto had promised to
give adequate focus on the development of minorities, particularly Muslims. The important
promises made in the manifesto by new government included modernization of Madarsas,
empowering Waqf Boards in consultation with religious leaders, taking steps to remove
encroachments on and unauthorised occupation of Waqf properties, preservation and promotion
of Urdu and ensuring a peaceful and secure environment where there is no place for either the
perpetrators or exploiters. However, the manifesto did not focus on the real development issues
such as low budgetary allocation, poor utilization of funds, exclusion in planning and budgetary
processes, low share in public employment and educational institutions, poverty and illiteracy.

In terms of the new announcement in the budget 2015-16, an integrated education and
livelihood scheme called ‘Nai Manzil’ will be launched this year to enable minority youth who do
not have a formal school-leaving certificate to obtain one and find better employment. Further,
to show-case civilization and culture of the Parsis, the Government will support, in 2015-16, an
exhibition, ‘The Everlasting Flame’. In budget 2014-15, the government introduced a new
scheme “Up-grading the Skills and Training in of Traditional Arts/ Crafts for Development
(USTTAD)” for promoting and preserving the traditional craft, arts for development of
minorities through skill up-gradation. In terms of budget, Rs 0.45 crore was allocated for
USTTAD in the 2014-15 RE, whereas Rs 17 crore has been earmarked in the 2014-15.

In terms of institutional strengthening, the Government promises to strengthen the National

Minorities Development Finance Corporation (NMDFC), the Maulana Azad Education
Foundation (MAEF) and the Central Waqf Board. To promote access to credit among the
backward sections within minorities, the NMDFC was established in 1994. The NMDFC
focuses on providing microfinance to the poorest of poor among minorities through NGOs,
educational loans to persons belonging to minority community, facilitating vocational training
programs among the minority community and finance tailor-made market assistance options to
artisans and crafts persons. The NMDFC receives contributions from the Union Government
(65 percent), State Governments (26 percent) and individuals / organisations (9 percent) towards
its share capital. 15 PP also focuses on opening more branches of banks in areas that have a
concentration of minority population and distributing 15 percent of total credit to minorities
under priority sector lending as per the RBI Master Circular, 2006.

A year after introducing 15 PP, MoMA launched the MSDP in 2007-08 in 90 Minority
Concentrated Districts (MCDs) that adopted an area development approach with a bouquet of
schemes to address deficits related to a number of issues like male-female literacy and male-
female work participation, housing, drinking water and electricity. MSDP was also seen as a gap-
filling measure or top up approach to expedite the development deficits in MCDs. In the 12th
FYP, MSDP was extended to 710 Minority Concentrated Blocks (MCBs) of 196 districts and 66
Minority Concentrated Towns (MCTs) having at least 25 percent minority population.

Allocation of Financial Resources, Utilization and Physical performance

Budgetary Allocation for Minorities in the Union Budget, 2015-16

Looking at the budgetary allocation for minorities in the Union Budget, it may be noted that
only 0.26 percent of the total Union Budget 2015-16 has been earmarked for development of
minorities. The ministries and department allocated fund for minorities include MoMA, School
Education Department, Ministry of Civil Aviation and Ministry External Affairs (Table 1). The
total expenditure reported for minorities by the central government through 15 PP and MSDP
accounted 2 percent in the total expenditure in 2012-13, although the religious minorities
constitute 21 percent of total population as per census 2011.

Table 1: Budgetary Allocation for Minorities in the Union Budget, 2015-16

(Amount in Rs crore)

Ministry/Department 2015-16 Budget Estimate(BE)

Ministry of External Affairs 5.28

Ministry Civil Aviation 500.00
School Education Department 375.50
Ministry of Minority Affairs 3738.00
Total Allocation for Minorities 4618.78
Total Union Budget Allocation 1777477.00
Share of Minorities in Total Union Budget (%) 0.26
Source: Compiled by CBGA from Ministry of Minority Affairs, Govt. of India

Allocation and Utilization by MoMA

The budget total allocation (in absolute number) under MoMA has increased marginally from Rs
3,734 crore in 2014-15 (BE) to Rs 3,738 crore in 2015-16. Further, the allocation has declined to
Rs 3165 Crore in 2014-15 (RE). Table 2 analyses the performance of MoMA in terms of fund
utilization which has been unsatisfactory in the 11th Plan. The ministry was able to utilize merely
78 percent (average) of the total outlay (Rs 7000) earmarked in the 11th Plan period. In the first
year of 12th Plan, the percent of utilization is found to be as low as 60 percent in 2012-13 but it
has gone up to 86 percent in 2013-14. The MoMA noted that poor utilization has primarily been
due to a delayed start in implementation of major schemes such as Pre-Matric scholarship and
MSDP for select MCBs and MCTs.

Table 2: Status of Fund Allocation and Utilization under Ministry of Minority Affairs
(In Rs Crore)

Year Allocation Expenditure Utilization*

B.E R.E (in %)
2007-08 500 350 196.7 39.3
2008-09 1000 650 619.1 61.9
2009-10 1740 1740 1709.4 98.2
2010-11 2600 2500 2080.9 77.3
2011-12 2850 2750 2292.3 80.4
2012-13 3155 2218 2157.9 60.4
2013-14 3531 3131 3026 86.0
2014-15 3734 3165 - -
2015-16 3738

Source: Compiled by CBGA from Ministry of Minority Affairs, Govt. of India

Note: *Utilization has been reported taking into account BE figures.

RE: Revised Estimate
BE: Budget Estimate

Table 3 shows scheme wise details of expenditure/allocation under MoMA since 2012-13 (first
four years of the 12th FYP). The total expenditure and allocation of fund during the first four
years in the 12th FYP amount to Rs 12018.25 crore, which is 69 percent of the total proposed
allocation of Rs 17,323 crore. Further, the analysis of the allocation and utilization of each of the
schemes for the same period shows that major schemes such as MSDP, Pre and Post
Scholarships, Women Leadership Scheme, Support for Students clearing Prelims conducted by
UPSC, SSC have had very low fund allocation and utilization. Schemes like Research,
Monitoring and Evaluation, Leadership Development, Merit-cum-means scholarship and Post-
Matric Scholarship have not been able to achieve 70 percent targets of 12th FYP, which is a
major cause of concern in terms of effective functioning.

Table 3: Scheme-wise Plan Allocation by MoMA in 12th Five Year Plan (in Rs. Crore)

Schemes/Programs 12th Plan 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 Total

Proposed (Actual) (Actual) (RE) (BE) Allocation/
Allocation Exp. as % of
Allocation for
12th FYP

1 2 3 4 5 6 7=3+4+5+6/
Maulana Azad 500 0 160 113 113 77
Free Coaching and 120 14 23.68 29.17 45 93
Allied Scheme
Research/Studies, 220 31.05 42.42 23.47 44.75 64
Monitoring and
Merit-cum-means 1580 181.18 259.9 317 315 68
Pre-Matric 5000 786.14 962.99 1017 990 75
Post Matric 2850 326.43 515.67 538.50 550 68
MSDP 5650 641.26 953.48 769.72 1232 74
Maulana Azad 430 66 50.02 0.9 44.85 38
National Fellowship
Grants-in-aid to 10 0 2 1.8 1.8 56
Support for Students 75 0 1.95 2.1 3.6 10
clearing Prelims
Leadership 75 10.45 11.95 12.5 14.13 65
Development of
Minority Women
Computerization of 17 0.89 2.98 3.15 3.15 60
records of State
Waqf Boards
Strengthening of the 25 0 1.91 3.6 6.08 46
State Waqf Boards
Interest subsidy on 10 0 0 3.5 4.19 77
Educational Loans
for overseas studies
Skill Development 60 0 16.99 41.4 64.22 204
NMDFC 600 99.64 0 27 107 39
Total Plan 17323 2157.98 3007.49 3140 3712.78 69
Allocation under
Minority Affairs
Source: Compiled by CBGA from Ministry of Minority Affairs, Expenditure Budget Vol. II

Multi- Sectoral Development Programme

The MSDP have seen a major revamp in terms of increase in geographical coverage and positive
changes in implementation and planning strategies in 12th Plan. But in terms of expansion of
activities in MSDP and making some kind of flexibility in the guideline of CSS for preparing
tailor made projects as per local felt need was not done at the desired level. As per the data
reported by MoMA, in the initial 2 years and 9 months of 12th Plan, government was able to
release only 34 percent of total proposed allocation in 12th Plan in MSDP and actual expenditure
data made available on MSDP for the same period shown disappointing picture (Table 4).

Table 4: Financial Achievement under MSDP in 12th Plan as on 31.12.14

12th Plan Proposed Allocation (In Rs Crore) 5650.00

Total Cost of Project Approved in 12 Plan (In Rs Crore) 3257.37
Fund Released for projects approved (In Rs Crore) 1933.00
% of Fund Released over Approved Fund 59.34
% of Fund Released over 12th Plan Proposed Allocation 34.21

Source: Compiled by CBGA from Ministry of Minority Affairs

From table 5 below, it can be seen that there has been a very low achievement in physical
outcomes across the components of MSDP. The components like education, skill building,
health, Anganwadi Centre (AWC), drinking water supply, IAY and income generating
infrastructure have poor completion rate against the unit sanctioned under the MSDP project
and many activities under the MSDP have not yet started. Table 5 shows that the water supply,
IAY and income generating infrastructure have poor completion rate against the unit sanctioned
under the MSDP project and many activities under the MSDP have not yet started.

Table 5: Physical Achievement under MSDP in 12th Plan as on 31.12.14

Unit Unit Work in % of Completion

Sanctioned Completed progress against
sanctioned units
A. Education
Degree College 12 0 0 0.0
School Building 520 3 29 0.6
Additional 7070 419 3319 5.9
Hostels 449 21 132 4.7
Computers 881 373 16 42.3
Lab Equipment 27 0 0 0.0
Toilet and Drinking 3330 39 464 1.2
Water in School
Teaching Aid 313 0 0 0.0
Free Cycle 10860 0 0 0.0
Digital Literacy 170005 0 0 0.0
Skill Development
ITI Building 71 0 36 0.0
Polytechnic 14 0 8 0.0
Skill Training 124985 1175 307 0.9

C. Health 1265 39 221 3.1
D. AWC 6970 746 3268 10.7
E. Drinking Water
Hand Pump 11841 4505 1426 38.0
Drinking Facilities 9892 2621 2388 26.5
F. IAY 35501 1049 17320 3.0
G. Income 56 6 39 10.7
H. Miscellaneous 2381 0 235 0.0
Source: Compiled by CBGA from Ministry of Minority Affairs/

Allocation and Utilisation in - PM’s New 15-Point Programme

The MoMA collates scheme wise information on the 15 PP. There are only few schemes which
report the financial achievement. Theutilization rate for the period 2006-07 and2013-14 is found
to be low in IAY (70.53 percent), SJRSY (53.08) and ITI (68.20 percent) with some degree of
variation whereas the disbursement in Priority Sector Lending (102 percent) shows over
achievement (Table 6). However, Muslims have largely not benefited from this program.

Table 6: Financial Achievement under 15 PP (2006-07 to 2013-14) (Rs in Crore)

Schemes Financial Target Financial % of Financial

Achievement Achievement
IAY 12522.66 8832 70.53
SJRSY 355.62 188.76 53.08
ITI 219.95 150 68.20
Priority Sector 235016.00 240383 102.28
Source: Ministry of Minority Affairs, Govt of India.

The scheme wise information on the 15 PP like SSA, KGBV, ICDS, and SGSY (renamed as
Ajivika), only the data on physical achievements is reported without the information on their
financial performance. The component related to JNNURM (UIG, UIDSSMT, IHSDP and
BUSP) and Madarsa Modernisation Programme did not report the data on fund utilisation and
physical outcomes. Table 4 shows that important schemes like ICDS (59 percent), SGSY (61
percent) and IAY (82 percent) have low physical achievements whereas SJRSY has higher
physical achievement. The physical achievement in SSA is found to be low with some degree of
variation across the components (Table 7).

Table 7: Physical Achievement under 15 PP (2006-07 to 2013-14)

Schemes Physical Physical % of

Target Achievement Achievement
Operationalization of ICDS center 118775 70371 59.25
Formation of Self Help Groups 1889556 1157381 61.25
in SGSY/Ajivika

IAY 3135049 2572132 82.04
Micro Enterprises in SJRSY 97596 115483 118.33
Skill Training under SJRSY 363848 365034 100.33
Primary Schools (SSA) 21726 15939 73.36
Upper Primary School(SSA) 10326 8151 78.94
Additional Classrooms 281671 230639 81.88
Number of Teachers 186229 125386 67.33
KGBV 1192 555 46.56
Source: Ministry of Minority Affairs, Govt of India.

The scholarship schemes during last three years have shown over achievement in terms physical
targets despite the low utilisation funds. The data on over achievement in scholarship schemes
reflects both fresh and renewal scholarships distributed among minority students. The data on
physical achievement in scholarship schemes should be reported in two separate columns as
fresh and renewal case. Here it is worth noting that scholarship schemes and NMDFC are
providing the beneficiary data on the basis of religious bifurcation.

Design of the Schemes and Programs

The objectives and design of 15 PP reveal that somehow government’s intent was to provide
policy-driven benefits for minorities akin to the budgetary strategies such as the SCSP and TSP.
The SCSP and TSP promises Plan allocations to SCs and STs in terms of their proportion within
total population through central ministries/departments and State government departments. The
15 PP was aimed at channeling public resources equitably to minorities. However, the guidelines
do not mention clearly 15 percent, as the targeted share for earmarking benefits for minorities
and it says certain percentage of the physical and financial targets will be earmarked for poor
beneficiaries from minority communities’. This does not provide any clarity on the specific
numbers/share of beneficiaries and leads to confusion at the time of operationalization of the

Also, the share of fund flows to minorities through 15 PP is not based on the proportion of
minority population. It is also found that the minorities have not been included in budgetary
process of either the Union or the State government. In terms of expenditure reporting and
accounting at the Union, State and district level, the SCSP and the TSP are better placed than
the 15 PP. The allocation for SCs and STs are reported through budget (minor) heads 789 and
796 in the Detailed Demand for Grants in the Union and State budget documents.

The existing rigid policy guidelines of CSSs covered under the 15 PP do not allow for tailor
made interventions for minorities/Muslims within the general sector program. In the reporting
format, there is scant scope to monitor and track the benefits accruing to Muslims. The
concerned ministries under 15 PP should be urged to report their achievements, both physical
and financial, under their respective schemes for the benefit of minorities. The same needs to be
reported on a regular basis to the MoMA or introducing a budget statement, to maintain this
information on fund allocation, utilisation and beneficiaries. The reporting of expenditure under
15 PP by the Union ministries has been more in the nature of ‘retrospective budgeting’, where
the allocations for minorities are earmarked after the budgets for the schemes have been
finalised without any special measure taken for minorities during the budget preparation phase.
The schemes and programmes in 15 PP should prepare exclusive action plans for minorities
considering the specific needs and challenges particularly faced by Muslims.

Box 2: Problems in Policy and Programme Designs

o 15 PP has a very narrow policy approach in terms of coverage of the program and schemes
for development of minorities focusing only on few departments/ ministries related to basic
public services. The ministries like IT, industry, trade and commerce have been kept out
from the preview of 15 PP.

o In terms term of allocating the fund (15 percent wherever it is possible) under the 15 PP, the
proportional share of minorities in total population was not kept into consideration which is
21 percent as per the census, 2011.

o It is allocating the funds in few ongoing schemes, it has not asked the ministries/department
to initiate new schemes/programs which suites to need of minority community.

o In sum, the design of 15 PP is not appropriate in terms of comprehensive coverage of

minority population and addressing their development needs until and unless government
initiates/design some exclusive schemes /program for minorities. Further, it is focusing just
on the Centrally Sponsored schemes without any changes in the guidelines of those CSS.

o Under 15 PP, there is no specific policy focus on the development of Muslim community.

o No clear instructions given to states to implement 15 PP through their own state plan
scheme or even in the CSS about fund allocation to districts from states.

o There is no provision for awareness and sensitisation at sates level among the officials those
who are implementing the 15 PP as well as for beneficiaries.

o Have the enough scope of fund diversion to non- minority under the infrastructure related
project; diversion is less in beneficiary driven schemes.

o The States government and Panchayats have not been given any kind of clear role in annual
district planning and implementation of 15 PP.

o Minorities have not been included in budgetary process of either the Union or the State
government by opening a minor head in detailed budget book and introducing a budget
statement on minority related programs.

Lack of Clarity in Allocation of Fund

Most of the CSSs that are part of the umbrella program have not been altered in any way (by
way of bringing about changes in the scheme guidelines) to cater to the specific disadvantages
and needs of the community. The State and district level implementing agencies do not have
adequate clarity on the share of allocations available towards the program due to the lack of
disaggregated data in most schemes. Weak implementing mechanisms with the State level
functionaries and PRI representatives remaining unclear about their role in the district-level
planning process and subsequent implementation of the program contribute to the concerns
about the design of the program.

Lack of Local Need Based Plans

Under the 15 PP, the IAY, SJSRY and SGSY are beneficiary-driven schemes, while the other
schemes have followed an area-based approach for infrastructure development. Under the area-
based approach, districts were considered as the unit of implementation and planning of
infrastructure projects and not minority-dominated hamlet or ward. Hence, in 11th Plan, in many
places, (like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana) the ITIs, AWCs, school buildings are located in
non-minority areas with only a handful of beneficiaries from the minority community. The 12th
Plan document suggested that the annual targets and outlays for 15 PP/MSDP should be broken
down to hamlet/ward level. It is expected that in the revised MSDP guidelines the emphasis
should be on local need-based plans to overcome deficits.

Activities related to ensuring girls’ education, technical education and income generation
activities (as proposed by the district administration in many MCDs) that are essential to advance
the educational and economic conditions of the community have been neglected by MoMA. For
instance, in Darbhanga district in Bihar the proposed scheme of building additional classrooms
in recognized Madarsas got shut down by the MMA on the grounds that SSA guidelines do not
sanction Additional Class Rooms (ACR) to Madarsas. The baseline survey conducted for MSDP
in Mewat district in Haryana suggested more focus be given to programs promoting female
literacy in rural areas but the district administration built additional classrooms, staff quarters and
a hostel in Mewat Model School that already had adequate and quality infrastructure. Another
concern relates to the diversion of benefits of MSDP to non-minority areas as evinced in the
infrastructure projects in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana in 11th FYP.

The vital objective pertaining to building neighborhood schools for Muslims girls with female
teachers and promoting gainful employment among the Muslims could be furthered by
apportioning adequate outlays for creation of artisan clusters in MCDs across the country.
Needless to add, the success of these interventions would largely depend on the extent and
scope of community participation in planning and implementing the services.

The 15 PP should have adequate coverage of schemes, desired allocation and enough scope for
tailor made interventions that suit specific needs of the community. However, very few
departments/ministries are allocating the requisite funds and reporting physical targets in
disaggregated form. A large number of schemes under the 15 Point program focus on essential
services and employment generation while critical sectors such as - information and technology,
commerce and industry, and micro, small and medium enterprises - that would address long
term development of minorities, remain out of the programs ambit.

Exclusionary Nature of Identification Criteria

In MSDP, the criteria for identification of MCDs tend to be more exclusionary leaving a
significant proportion of the minorities out of the program in 11th Plan. The 12th Plan
recommended for expansion of the coverage and scope of the 15 PP over a large number of
programs and also for expanding the coverage of MSDP to more MCDs. The population
criterion to identify MCBs and MCTs was suggested to be brought down from 25 percent to 15
percent of a block as unit of planning and implementation. The new guidelines of MSDP for 12th
Plan would target a large number of the Muslim population through MCB and MCT. MSDP was
designed as an umbrella program in order to priorities the developmental needs of the
minorities, specifically Muslims, in critical sectors. However, when it comes to the selection of
activities by the districts, the bulk of the spending is directed towards construction of IAY
houses, AWCs, school buildings and health sub-centers- provisions that would cater to the
common populace and are not exclusive to the minorities.

Lack of Disaggregated Data

There are also instances where funds meant for minorities get diverted to non-minority areas
due to lack of clarity in the guidelines of MSDP and 15 PP. With regard to providing housing
facilities, the District Magistrate (DM) of Barabanki in UP had thought that 15 percent of the
houses should be allotted to minorities following IAY guidelines for both MSDP and the 15 PP.
With regard to provision of housing facilities under MSDP, there is no data available at national
level on minorities who have benefited from IAY. In Barabanki district more than half of the
total benefits have gone to the non-minority communities owing to non-inclusion of Muslims in
the BPL list in 11th FYP. Thus, the flaw in program design, making the BPL category a
prerequisite, leads to exclusion of the targeted community benefitting from the program. As a
result, a majority of the BPL Muslims are not counted in the first place. Further, there is absence
of a separate minor head, a budget statement and physical reporting under minority related
programs which makes it difficult to track the funds flowing for minorities’ welfare across
schemes and programs in various sectors (Khan and Parvati 2012).

Cumbersome Rules and Procedure

The scholarship schemes are ridden with many basic, design-related problems particularly the
application procedures that are cumbersome and time consuming. Most of the scholarship
schemes entail opening bank accounts and providing supporting documents such as income
domicile and religion certificates. Related concerns of absence of clear-cut institutional
mechanisms for submission of application forms, unrealistic unit costs in terms of amounts
provided as admission, tuition fees and maintenance costs, and prevalent eligibility norms of
supporting not more than two students from a family for the scholarship constrain effective
implementation and comprehensive coverage of beneficiaries.

Implementation and Monitoring

The assessment of implementation of 15 PP and MSDP during last seven years shows that the
policy initiatives of the government towards the development of minorities, in general, and
Muslims, in particular, leave a lot to be desired. MSDP being the largest area development
program to address directly the socio-economic deficits among Muslims was allocated largest
share of the total MoMA budget in the 11thand 12thFYP. However, non-submission of DPR by
the State governments for MSDP due to poor capacity at the district level and delays in the
submission of Utilization Certificates led to delay in undertaking and completing projects under
the program. Further, factors like inadequate institutional arrangements for implementation at
the district level, lack of planning capacity, shortage of staff and required infrastructure and
insufficient funds to monitor the programs have crippled the effective working of these

Poor Coordination between Line Departments

The MoMA monitors the implementation of the 15 PP, the MSDP and other schemes. Based on
scrutiny of available data and perceptions of officials at the State and district level, it is felt that
MoMA has not been consistently proactive in terms of strengthening the implementation. The
coordination with other line departments at the Union government level (such as the 15 PP and
the MSDP) is also found to be weak. At the State level too, the Minority Welfare Departments
are starved of financial and human resources and implement schemes without a clear policy
mandate or conducting regular needs assessment of the community. Poor coordination between
line departments mars scheme implementation even at the sub-State level.

In order to effectively monitor schemes like the 15 PP and MSDP, the scheme
guidelines1provided for setting up Central (Committee of Secretaries), State and District level

1 Guidelines for implementation of PM’s New 15 Point programme that are accessible at:
committees to report progress on a quarterly basis for various schemes. A scrutiny of the
notifications by the governments of Bihar and Haryana reveal that State Level Committees
(SLCs) were formed only on August 10, 2010 and June 03, 2010 respectively, which was with a
delay of more than three years.

Box 3: Implementation Issues

o Delay in submission of Detailed Project Report (DPR) by the State governments for MSDP
due to poor capacity at the district level.

o Delays in the submission of Utilization Certificates led to delay in undertaking and

completing projects under the program.

o Further, factors like inadequate institutional arrangements for implementation at the district
level, lack of planning capacity, shortage of staff and required infrastructure, delayed
submission of DPR and insufficient funds to monitor the programs have crippled the
effective working of MSDP.

The implementation of many programs are poorly monitored despite having the provisions for
establishing monitoring mechanism at Centre, State and District level and the mandated
involvement of Members of Parliament, State Legislatures and NGOs in the monitoring and
review processes. In terms of monitoring the implementation of MSDP and 15 PP, State and
District Level Committees have been constituted in 20 States and UTs, but these monitoring
committees have not been functioning properly. Except in Jharkhand, State level meetings in the
19 MCD states have not been held as per the program guidelines which stipulate the holding of
a meeting at least once every quarter (GoI, 2011-12).

Apart from the delays in constituting the SLCs, the norm of holding quarterly meetings have
also not been adhered to in most MCD states2. At the district level too, although the District
Level Committees (DLCs) are constituted, they lack representation from the minority
community. Lack of clarity and proper awareness among government officials is also believed to
inhibit effective implementation of schemes exclusively for the welfare of minorities. Further,
the prevailing perception among government functionaries that interventions focusing only on
Muslims might lead to social disruption also compounds the problem.

Box 4: A Case Study from Barabanki and Mewat on Access to Benefits

In Barabanki and Mewat, enrollment of Muslim children in government school at primary and
upper primary level found to be more than 80 percent but with high dropout rates. The parents
showed preference to sending their wards to Madarsas or private schools because of their
perception of poor quality of education in government schools. When quizzed about other
facilities such as scholarship, uniform, books and mid-day meals, respondents shared that these
were not provided on time. Overall, the access to school-related services and entitlements by the
community was weak.

In Barabanki, access to credit support was also non-existent as none of the 160 respondents
(from all four GPs) had been provided credit through Priority Sector Lending for Minorities or
the 15-PP. Lack of awareness among the community was seen to be the single-most important
factor. With regard to functioning of the NMDFC, it was seen as a total failure in Barabanki due
to inadequate administrative support and staff. Issues such as poor outreach, low involvement of

2 Two meetings of the SLCs have been held in Assam, two in Bihar, three in Haryana, six in West Bengal, and
nine meeting in UP have been held since early 2007.
the bank in providing credit, unrealistic and antiquated loan support and eligibility criteria have
all contributed to this failure. The landless weavers with no collateral shared how they found it
hard to get loans with the continuing mind set of officials to discriminate against Muslims.

There is an absence of awareness among the Muslims of any policy initiatives exclusively for
Muslims such as MSDP or 15 PP in Barabanki and Mewat. The community is mainly confronted
with low levels of girls’ education and inadequate health facilities (nutrition and health check-ups
for children up to six years). The long distances to the school have encouraged the trend of
sending girls to Madarsas. With regard to livelihood-related problems, access to credit was cited
as a key factor by all respondents through NMDFC and Priority Sector Lending (PSL).

In this regard, the onus lies with the MoMA to actively engage with other departments and push
for greater attention to concerns of the Muslims in schemes falling within the 15 PP. Lack of
availability of social group-wise disaggregated data also affects tracking coverage of Muslims
through government jobs – another commitment of the 15 PP. In this regard, although the
Department of Personnel and Training directed the Union ministries/ departments to provide
disaggregated data on recruitment of Muslims, the MoMA website does not provide any

Policy Recommendations

From the analysis, it is evident that promises made in the Election Manifesto and the
commitments made in the 12th Plan in terms of policy priorities and budgetary allocations have
not been fulfilled yet. The need of the hour is to put in place targeted, well designed
interventions and need-based strategies for the overall development of the Muslims. Certain
corrective measures have taken pertaining to budgetary allocations, fund utilization, design
problems and implementation of 15 PP and MSDP. The adequate focus has to be given on the
development of Muslims through special provisions for inclusion of the community in public
policies and programmes. In order to ensure adequate funds, the existing guidelines of
earmarking 15 percent wherever possible was revised to 15 percent and above in proportion to
the size of minority population.

Further, it is suggested that MSDP and 15 PP should work in synergy rather than the former
duplicating the latter. Also, 15 PP should take care of sectoral investments/ongoing Centrally
Sponsored Schemes (CSSs) while MSDP should fill gaps amongst those particular communities
or settlements which have not been covered under existing CSS. Minority concentrated
villages/towns (having a total of 50 percent minority population in the total population) outside
MCDs should have a separate program. Further, it suggested regular revision in the unit cost of
scholarship schemes to be to factor in the effects of inflation. Moreover, government should do
away with the two child norm in scholarship schemes and all eligible minority students could be
covered following a demand driven approach.

Assessing the implementation of the provisions under the 12th FYP, not much headway has been
made, except regarding expansion of coverage of MSDP from 90 to 196 MCDs and planning
and implementation of MSDP at the block and town level. However, the design of MSDP and
the 15 PP do not have much scope for creating a tailor-made project that suits the needs of the
Muslim community. In both these programs, the norms and guidelines of the existing CSSs are
being adopted which are not flexible for addressing the needs of the Muslim community. The
government has to improve the governance and performance in service delivery 15 PP and
MSDP through better transparency and effective implementation mechanism (preparation of
disaggregated data, adequate human resources, decentralized need based planning and strong
monitoring and evaluation).

Considering the problems in the guidelines and designs of the schemes, the 15 PP could be
implemented along the lines of the SCSP and TSP. It would also help to include minorities in
the budgetary processes through introducing separate minor heads for minorities and “separate
budget statement” on minority related programs in the Union and States Budget as is already
being done in the case of SCs and STs (for expenditure reporting). The Plan funds for minorities
should be allocated in proportion to their population. And out of these fund allocations a larger
share should be utilized for need based projects exclusively aimed at the development of

The process of setting up a National Data Bank and implementation of Equal Opportunity
Commission (EOC) need to be expedited and the recommendations on study Diversity Index
need to be applied in private and government run institutions related to jobs and education.


1. Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (2014): “Has the Tide Turned?-Response
to Union Budget 2014-15”, CBGA, New Delhi
2. Government of India (2011-12): Report of the Steering Committee on Empowerment of
Minorities, Planning Commission.
3. Government of India (2011-12): Twenty Seventh Report on Parliamentary Related Standing
Committee on Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment R on MSDP.
4. Government of India, 2006, “Prime Minister’s High Level Committee, Social, Economic and
Educational Status of the Muslim Community of India”, Cabinet Secretariat, (Sachar
5. Government of India, 2009 Report of the “National Commission for Religious and
Linguistic Minorities”, (Ranganath Mishra Committee Report), Vol. I-II, Ministry of
Minority Affairs, N. Delhi.
6. Government of India, 2009, National Commission for Minorities Handbook Statutory Rule
– 1,
7. Khan Jawed A and Pooja Parvati (2012): “Government’s Commitment towards Development
of Muslims –A Post –Sachar Assessment of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana” in India Social
Development Report 2012, Oxford and Council for Social Development, New Delhi.
8. Khan, Jawed A and Subrat Das (2014): “Exclusion in Planning and budgetary Processes” in
India Exclusion Report 2013-14, Books for Change, New Delhi.

Mr. Jawed Alam Khan is an M. Phil in Economics and is now a Ph.D. scholar at JNU. He is currently
working as Senior Research Officer at Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA) New Delhi,
focusing on rural development, fiscal decentralization and responsiveness of budgets to disadvantaged groups like
minorities, Dalits and Adivasis. He has 12 years of experience in field-work based research in areas like fiscal
decentralization and utilization of funds in social sector programs.

Chapter 4


Abdul Shaban


Socio-cultural and racial diversities provide richness and the colour the humanity can have. However, they also
make available the schism and layers on which politics can operate, divide people and sustain violence. The paper
examines how the democracies remain prone to negative exploitation of the diversities. It also attempts to
investigate identity politics, which can be practiced and interest groups which can be mobilised. Among others, the
recurrent communal violence and polarisation of religious groups around certain political parties in the post-
independence period remain consequence of this. The deprivation and access to socio-political institutions still
remains an issue to the lower castes.


Socio-cultural and racial diversities provide richness and the colour the humanity can have.
However, they also make available the schism and layers on which politics can operate, divide
people and sustain violence. The democracies remain prone to negative exploitation of the
diversities along which the identity politics can be practiced and interest groups can be
mobilised. The migration from one region to another in search of livelihood opportunities may
further add to this negative use of the diversities (Katzenstein 1973). In order to consolidate the
diverse groups and their identities, the ‘unity in diversity’ has been advocated in India. However,
the diversity and identity of ethnic and linguistic groups have become rich source of regional,
communal and national politics and very productive to political parties to secure their votes even
at the cost of violence – looting and killings. The fault line along religion, language, caste and
region had started manifesting themselves in the country in the national movement for freedom
from the British rule. The British also used the Indian social diversity and complexity for their
advantage and to sustain their rule.

The religious division was to be first utilised by the British. The mutiny of 1857 made them
believe that the Muslim Mughal king was the symbol around which different communities
mobilised themselves to oppose the colonial rule. As a result, Muslims were the first target of the
British. Muslims were not only discriminated against in the government civil and military
services but their entry to Delhi was restricted in the subsequent years. The ‘divide and rule’
policy of the British gave rise to the ‘two nations’ theory and subsequent division of the country
on the basis of religion. Among others, the recurrent communal violence and polarisation of
religious groups around certain political parties in the post-independence period remain
consequence of this. The deprived lower castes of India also started demanding the separate
electorate under leadership of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar which was later abandoned by his pact (Poona
Pact) with Mahatma Gandhi. However, the deprivation and access to socio-political institutions
still remains an issue to the lower castes. In 1990s, caste divide further accentuated due to
provision of reservation for lower castes in government services.

The regional issues also remain alive in the country. They also have their root in partition and
accession to Union of India, or reorganisation of states in 1956 on linguistic basis. The present
paper attempt to study the ‘son of the soil’ movement and politics around it by Shiv Sena in
Mumbai. Although, Bal Thackeray, the founder of the party, passed away in 2012 (under whose
leadership the party grew leaps and bounds only contracting in later years) and the party now
seems to be adopting more universalistic values and less oriented to violence, it demonstrates the
possibilities of extremes in political innovations, threats and violence along religious, caste,
regional and linguistic lines not found in any other states of the country. The paper highlights
and underscores the productivity which diversity of Indian could have for political party like
Shiv Sena to mobilise their votes and perpetuate violence against constructed ‘others’. It first
discusses the context in which Shiv Sena emerged and later examines its reaction to democracy,
‘othering’ strategies, political innovations, violence, and inherent contradiction in its political

Birth of Shiv Sena

The formation of states in India on linguistic basis provided much needed base to sub-national
groups to unite and assert their identities in democratic peaceful ways or otherwise. The
movement for Maharashtra and Mumbai as its capital started by socialists and some of those
associated with Indian National Congress through Samyukta Maharashtra Movement (SMM)
resulted in consolidation of the identity of those speaking Marathi. Whereas ‘Marathi’ as an
identity unified some but at the same time it also differentiated and divided them from others.
This is what exactly happened in Maharashtra. The identity of ‘Marathi’ cultivated by the SMM
has been much utilised by the extreme right wing parties like Shiv Sena and recently by
Maharashtra Nav Nirman Sena (MNS) for ‘othering’ and violence. Once the Maharashtra State
on linguistic basis was achieved and Mumbai became its capital, the SMM died out and
important issue became that of employment and livelihood. Given the influx of educated and
skilled workers from other parts of the country (particularly from Tamil Nadu), the Marathis
(Maharashtrians) especially found it difficult to get middle and upper level jobs in industries and
service sector in 1950s and 1960s. Bal Thackeray, a cartoonist and acid tongue right-wing
journalist, sensed the opportunity to use unity of native people against those from outside the
state (Joshi 1970). Bal Thackeray wrote in Marmik:

"As a class they (Maharashtrians) feel that in the State of Maharashtra, they, who are the
sons of the soil and as such must get full opportunities to develop their look of life, do
not get them even in small measure. They find their interests woefully neglected (Marmik

Though Shiv Sena’s definition of Maharashtrian initially was reasonably wide but the party
interpreted it on its own term and as per the occasions. In Shiv Sena’s conception,

“not only includes Marathi-speaking Maharashtrians, but extends to all those of all
castes, creeds and religion, who look upon Maharashtra as their home-land, who have
been living here for generations together carrying on trade or business, contributing to
the welfare and prosperity of Maharashtra and above all co-mingling their wails and
woes with those of the sons of the soil” (Marmik 1967:8).

This movement in turn gave birth to a political party, Shiv Sena. The emergence of Shiv Sena
and its rise and fall has drastically impacted the social spaces, crime and violence, relationship
between people from other states and those ‘sons of the soil’ or Marathis {also called Marathi
manoos (marathis), or dhartiputra (sons of soil)}; the relationship between Muslims and Hindus, and
also the relationship between dalits (mostly those neo-Buddhists) and caste Hindus. The ‘sons of
the soil’ movement run by Shiv Sena has also impacted the relationship between dalits (the lower
caste of the Hindus, treated at untouchables) and Muslims. Most importantly, the antagonistic
relationship of Shiv Sena with other groups has often translated into violence: killing, looting
and murders, creation of ‘mass fear’ and ‘enmity’.

The seed of violent-cultural-regionalism was sown by the SMM in the latter half of 1950s, when
it expressed its demand for Maharashtra State and Mumbai (then Bombay) as its capital through
violent ways – by strikes and emotional political speeches full of regional sentiments. The left
wing labour trade unions in the city had also united the workers and taught them how to express
their demands in violent ways. These two components combined together to form the base of
the success of Shiv Sena in keeping itself alive and kicking.

The growth of Shiv Sena can be divided into the five phases. Phase I (1966-75), Shiv Sena rose
as anti-Communist and anti-South Indian movement and remained limited to Mumbai-Thane
urban belt. Phase II (1975-84), the period of first decline of the party when its popularity shrank
mainly due to influence of Datta Samant on mill workers and its support to emergency (Dhawale
2000). Phase III (1984-99), the period of rapid expansion due to failure of Datta Samant’s led
mill workers strike and manufacturing of Muslims as new ‘others’ leading to major riots in
Bhivandi in 1984 and in Mumbai in 1992-93.

This period also coincided with rapid rise of Hindu Nationalist sentiment at the national level
due to rath yatra (travel on chariot) undertaken by BJP and VHP, and their support by the RSS.
The Shiv Sena learned much politically and ideologically from the above right wing organisations
and effectively utilised the same against Muslims in Maharashtra and elsewhere. It formed
coalition with BJP in Maharashtra, won assembly election and ruled the state in alliance with BJP
during 1995-99. This phase also marks its growth in other states like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi,
Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh due to its adoption of Hindu Nationalist

This got combined with its ideology of violence and became attractive to the youths who already
were ideologically fed by right wing cultural and political organisation. Phase IV, from 1999 to
2012 was a period of decline and split in the party due to a family feud. The party got defeated in
Assembly Election in 1999, 2003 and 2008. The internal war between cousins, Raj Thackeray
(nephew of Bal Thackeray) and Udhav Thackeray (son of Bal Thackeray) to control the party
began as Bal Thackeray due to old age was unable to attend meetings and control the party
effectively. In the feud between the cousins, Bal Thackeray supported his son Udhav as Shiv
Sena leader leading to relegation of Raj Thackeray to the secondary position. Raj Thackeray felt
dissatisfied with this development and separated from Shiv Sena launching his own political
party, Maharashtra Nav Nirman Sena (MNS).

MNS adopts symbolic truce with dalits (the schedule caste population in India) and Muslims by
including green (colour generally associated with Muslims) and blues (a symbol of dalits), and
recruiting a few of Muslims and dalits in the party and putting hoarding in the city with their
names. The MNS in order to establish itself has also adopted the Shiv Sena’s nativist agenda.
The MNS, along with sloganeering against north Indian, has also attacked major film personality
like Amitabh Bacchan and Sharukh Khan for their expressing loyalties and associations with
their native places, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, respectively. This period also saw resignation of
two other prominent and politically virulent leaders of Shiv Sena, Narayan Range and Sanjay
Nirupam as their ambitions despite all their innovations and loyalties to Bal Thackeray could not
be satisfied. Both of them have interestingly joined the Congress party, which is strategically
using them against Shiv Sena and the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).

The IVth phase also reflects the corporatisation of few individuals in Shiv Sena due to amassed
wealth. Some of them are presently engaged in real estate business, most important being the
buying of Kohinoor Mill land in Mumbai for millions of rupees by a few from the party. Phase
V of the party can be identified after the death of Bal Thackeray, that 2013 onwards. In this
period, the political rhetoric of party chief, Udhav Thackeray, has been more temperate though
some senior leaders of the party who occupied important positions in Bal Thackeray regime
have been shooting their pernicious statements against Shiv Sena’s usual ‘others’. In this phase
the party has also electorally done well by winning 63 state assembly seats in 2014 election.

The formation of a unilingual state of Maharashtra, with Mumbai as its capital, was achieved on
1st May, 1960 only after a long and bitter mass protest for five years (1955-60) by the Samyukta
Maharashtra Samiti, which mainly comprised of the socialists, communists and other democrats
(Dhawale 2000). Bal Thackeray who was working as a cartoonist in the Free Press Journal, the
English daily in Mumbai, separated himself from the newspaper in 1960 and started publishing
Marmik (that which grapples with the essence), a Marathi weekly journal of cartoons, political
comment and humour (Lele 1995). In Marmik, he wrote scathingly against communists, South
Indians and plight of bhumiputras (the Maharashtrians) in employment. Here, he first
conceptualized outsider (non-Maharashtrians) and insider (Maharashtrians) perspective, which as
an instrument was first used against South Indians, then Muslims, and now those from North

The launching of Marmik, which became a precursor to the formation of the Shiv Sena, took
place against the backdrop of a huge mass movement, as mentioned earlier, for Samyukta
Maharashtra, i.e., a united Maharashtra inclusive of Mumbai, Konkan, Western Maharashtra,
Vidarbha and Marathwada regions but exclusive of Gujarat. On 20th October, 1966, the day of
Dussehra, Shiv Sena organized its first rally (RSS also organizes rally on Dussehra day at its
headquarter in Nagpur) at Shivaji Park. The support was immense and since then every year on
day of Dussehra, Shiv Sena’s rally is held at Shivaji Park. The reasons for the formation of Shiv
Sena were many ranging from politico-cultural to economic.

The party was formed to fight against the perceived injustice in employment and other matters
faced by the Marathis in Mumbai. For instance, between April and September 1967, the
Marmik, a Marathi cartoon weekly edited by Bal Thackeray, carried lists of persons in
executive positions in some 40 leading Industrial Houses in Bombay and some
Government Departments (Joshi 1970). The lists showed that "out of 1500 executives on
the rolls of those establishments, only 75 were Maharashtrians, while an overwhelming
majority (about 70 percent) were South Indians. It also revealed that from higher to
lower categories the staff was found cent per cent of the same community” (Thackeray

North Indian seths (businessmen and industrialists) used to call Maharashtrian workers by
derogatory names like Ghatis (dwellers of hills) and Hamals (head loaders). This no doubt had
hurt the sentiments of those belonging to the state. Further, as has been mentioned earlier, the
middle class Maharashtrians had tough time in getting employment as South Indians were
proving better skilled for employment. In fact, that is why many claim that Shiv Sena is an
outgrowth of middle-class job competition (Katzenstein 1973). The trade union movements in
Mumbai was largely controlled by the leftist from South India and this further infuriated Bal
Thackeray who used abusive languages in Marmik to describe the leftist trade union leaders.

The Gujarati seths could somehow escape from the violence of Shiv Sena but South Indians
became the target. Shiv Sena started coining derogatory words for South Indians and started
building animosity against them among Marathis in the city. It started branding South Indians
with abusive words like ‘Yandu Gundus’ (a meaning abusive term), and ‘Lungi Wallas’ (those
wearers of lungis – an unstitched cloth hung from waste) and arousing Maharashtrians to attack
South Indians with slogans like ‘Uthao Lungi Bajao Pungi’ (lift lungi and blow air between legs). At
this juncture, Shiv Sena started demanding 80 percent reservation in government jobs and 80
percent houses for Maharashtrians in Housing Board colonies which further widened its support
in native population and intensified attacks on communist leaders and trade unions controlled by
South Indians.
Innovations and Mobilisation

Shiv Sena has shown very resilient and innovative character to Indian politics. It has always
attempted to use the opportunities and symbols on its disposal to its political advantage and to
initiate violent events and processes for ‘othering’. It creates myths, and then involves people in
imagining and searching the facts for these myths. It massifies the myths, and dispossesses them
by religious belief or mob-mentality (Lele 1995; Heuze 1995). This mass is then used for
violence. It survives on its innovations– terminology, symbols, new methods of violence and
threat to new groups. It remains perpetually busy in seeking enemies. If they come themselves
before it, it welcomes otherwise it constructs and makes them. The same method is now being
adopted by the MNS.

The symbol of Shivaji’s persona, his youth and physical and political prowess against fighting
with Mughal Empire, have been used to motivate youths. The events of 17th and 18th Century
AD are glorified and interpreted out of context to strengthen the religious and cultural
sentiments of Hindus and particularly Maharashtrians. Now, it uses Shivaji as a symbol of
power, political strategist, masculinity, and virility, and attempts to bring ‘Chhatrapatiraj’ (the
benevolent dictatorship). Till late 1990s, motor cycle rides of party youths which symbolises
horse riding of Shivaji further fascinates many for involvement in the party and being part of
such rides. It often celebrates Shivaji Jayanti, to mobiles youths and takes advantage of Bal
Gangadhar Tilak initiated Ganapati worship, Janam-ashthami (birthday of Krishna) and
Dussehra (the symbolic day of murder of evil Ravana of Lanka by Rama). The Ganapati worship
is an example of ‘little tradition’ being used by Bal Gangadhar Tilak in Maharashtra to mobilize
people against the British rule in India. The small one day worship of believers was turned into
an elaborate 14 days worship to mobilize people. Now Shiv Sena has almost taken over more
than 70 percent of Ganesha Pandals in the city and the occasion is now used to impart cultural
nationalist ideology rooted in ‘national-Hindu’ ideology of V.D. Savarkar” (Heuze 1995: 215)
and recruitment of unemployed poor youths in the circuit of this violent ideology.
Dussehra day had been usual occasion, when Bal Thackeray himself delivered speech in Shivaji
Park of the city to his followers and it was this day when the first rally of Shiv Sena was
organized in Shivaji Park in 1966. There has also been vicious association of capitalist class with
Shiv Sena and those with right wing ideology. They (capitalist class) actively participate and help
the party by providing generous donations and putting big hoardings on roads and streets.
English and vernacular news papers and electronic media owned by big media barons, publish
and highlight photos and events associated with these festivals in order to capture viewer-ship
and market. This further, strengthens trust and belief of common man in the rituals and ideology
those advocated by the culturo-religious nationalists.
Further, under the leadership of Bal Thackeray, Shiv Sena has also been able to the use the
grievances and plight of common Maharashtrian in Mumbai to its political advantage. The Shiv
Sena has over the years struggled through violent ways to create respect for Maharashtrians as
they had often been called with derogatory names by the people from other regions. As most of
the Maharashtrian workers were engaged in lower and menial jobs in 1960s and 1970s. Given
that Shiv Sena attempted to provide a respect to common Maharashtrians and their culture, it
appealed to common man and number of its supporters surged. In fact, Shiv Sena was initially
not much inclined to Hindutva ideology as towards nativism but in 1970, this ambivalence was
abandoned by Bal Thackeray, who declared:
“Our victory is a victory of Hindu-ness, the victory of true nationalism. What is
shameful in it? Jan Sangh, Hindumahasabba, R.S.S. and Swatantra were with us. I thank
them.” (Marmik 1970)

After Marmik, Bal Thackarey started Saamana (meaning ‘confrontation’), a Marathi daily. The
bold and virulent writing in the paper by its editors and sponsors against its invented enemies
keep on appearing in the news paper. In fact, the party leaves no opportunity to publish such
type of write ups. This keeps the ideology of the party whizzing around. This also has kept the
mobilized flock of the party-men together over the years and motivates the youth to join the
party. Although, many a times, civil society has attempted to drag the newspaper to the court
and get it gaged for publishing such news. However, the overt and covert supports by the
administrators of the city to the thinking propagated by the party have every time rescued the
newspaper from judicial strictures. In fact, “Bal Thackeray has combined media techniques that
portray him as an incarnation of Shivaji, as a deliverer of unfulfilled promise with purely
instrumental alliances and have targeted Muslims, elite Marathas and Mahar dalits as the enemy”
(Lele, 1995: 209). The violence perpetuated by it has often left behind the trail of human

To recruit, organize and mobilise youths and supporters, Shiv Sena has had a well-established
structure. At the lower level, it has ‘gata’ (small organization). A number of ‘gata’ combine
together to form ‘shakhas’. It has borrowed the organizational efficiency and structure much
from the RSS. Youths spend a long hours at shakhas or vyayamshalas (gymnasium) and get
exposed to its ideology of hatred. The unemployed and uneducated youth, form foot soldiers or
army of the activists. In addition to the support of upper caste, white-collar workers and
professionals, the Shiv Sena needed an army of activists to give credence to its name (Lele 1995).
It has believed in a strategy that “at least a part of the cadres, have to be young, perpetually new
and assertive and involve themselves in political work that is continuously considered as ‘a
struggle’ (Heuze 1995:215).

Shiv Sena (now its splinter MNS as well) has often been involved in using emotional themes
through any kind of tactics for building and maintaining the unity of its followers. It propagates
fascistic concept of cultural nationalism and to the aim of achieving a ‘Hindu Rashtra’.
“Hindutva has become a convenient ideology in sustaining this posture in number of ways”
(Lele 1995: 204). Issues and occasions have often been chosen and manipulated, so as to retain
the core supporters and provide new vigour and enemy to the violence workers. It had engages
in, for creating homogenous Hindu consciousness and construction of stereotypes and
demonisation of ‘others’. It has also represented, as we see later, a new capital-state-crime nexus
and is involved in fostering and being fostered by predatory capitalism.

To attract potential candidates for recruitments, Shiv Sena has also been engaged in many
philanthropic works. It offers social services, like ambulance services, in slums. The recruitments
of followers, in the past, had generally been through demonstration of force of violence in riots.
It also uses family and local associations, mitra-mandals (friendship organisation), and network of
clubs to recruit its sympathizers and army. In fact, many say that the party comprises of those
who want to take political advantage of common man expressing their feeling of powerlessness
through violence (Heuze 1995). Association with Shiv Sena provides common man an informal
power and gives a sense of ‘virility’.

By acid tongue and blistering speeches, Bal Thackeray through his chromatic leadership had
been able to mesmerize both educated and uneducated marathi youths (Katzenstein 1977). In
fact, Dipankar Gupta in 1980 wrote, “Bal Thackeray…is in many ways a typical charismatic
leader which allows him to exercise complete dictatorial authority over the organization”
(p.24) and use the mass power for his political ends. The petty goons, who otherwise would be
afraid of the police, have found shelter in the Shiv Sena, and the party needs them in order to
physically express its virulent ideology. The informal power or acceptance and omission of
criminal acts what the petty musclemen needed and that what Shiv Sena has been able to
provide them.
In Mumbai, Shiv Sena “organizes presently some 40,000 hardcore activist and perhaps 2,00,000
sympathisers through 210 shakhas (urban branches), about 100 sub-shakhas (gata shakhas) and
several mass organizations, especially trade unions, the Women’s Front (Mahila Aghadi) and
Sthanya Lok Adhikar Samiti that tries to procure job for educated unemployed” (Heuze
1995:214). Shiv Sena has also shown extreme opportunism with regard to its victims. It engaged
in violent clashes against the Muslim League and the Dalit Panthers but also sought their
support for mayoral election in 1980s. It initially called South Indians as enemies, and then
moved to Savarkarian Ideology of Hindu Rashtra perpetuating violence against Muslims.

It has further widened its scope and attacked North Indian migrants along with Muslims. North
Indian Hindus in the city, in fact, had helped Shiv Sena in precipitating violence against Muslims
in 1992-93. South Indian surrendered to Shiv Sena in 1970s and became friendly to it. In
Dharavi, where most of the lower income group South Indians and dalits reside, Shiv Sena held
special recruitment drive. These Dalits were later used as instruments for killing Muslims in
1992-93 riots. A large recruitment of South Indians in the party was carried out in Dharavi in
late 1970s and early 1980s. Thus, the enemy has changed for Shiv Sena. The usual prey (South
Indians) now feels secure. Shiv Sena chooses its enemies as opportunities require.

Shunning Democracy and Plurality

As the ideology of Shiv Sena (now that of MNS as well) remains that of dictator, which wants to
homogenize people to one culture, one nation, one religion, one region and one belief, obviously
often finds it odd to appreciate Indian democracy which propagates and assures diversity,
respect for all, and to live and earn livelihood anywhere in the country, irrespective of birth
place, belief or culture. Shiv Sena under the authoritarian grip of its supremo Bal Thackeray, had
never disguised his contempt for democracy and adulation of dictatorship (Dhawale 2000). It
supported emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi in 1970s. But many also believe that the
support was mainly due to the fear that Shiv Sena office bearers would be rounded off and put
in prison like those from Rashtra Swayamsevak Sangh (a Hindu cultural organisation) and
Janasangh (political wing of RSS till 1980s when it was renamed as BJP) by dictates of Indira
Gandhi. The emergency was perhaps the only occasion when the ideology of Shiv Sena and
those in RSS and presently in BJP (BJP comprise mainly those from Janasangh party) diverged
so much.

“Under the Emergency, the Sena relegated to the background its earlier attacks
on Congress and applauded Mrs. Gandhi’s ascending power. It is said that when
Sanjay Gandhi passed through the city, Thackeray showed his respect by touching
his feet. During the pre-election campaigns this March, Thackeray overruled those
in the Sena ranks who supported the Janata and declared the Shiv Sena's open
alliance with Mrs. Gandhi’s Congress.” (Katzenstein 1977:246-247)

Shiv Sena (now MNS as well) has also shown occasional praise to and glorified Adolf Hitler,
Nathuram Godse (who killed Mahatma Gandhi), and Sangh Parivar (the RSS, Vishwa Hindu
Parishad (VHP), and Bajarang Dal, whose ideology remains of Hindu Rashtra and cultural
nationalism). Occasional criticism and mocking of parliament and its elected representative have
been regular appearance in its news paper Saamana.

Many Victims

The hall-mark of Shiv Sena has been its ability to perpetuate violence. The ability that it has
bestowed to its cadre to engage in violence through its ideology is noteworthy. Since its birth in
1966, it has always expressed its ideology in violent ways. Of course, the state machineries have
often looked other side and thus supported it covertly. While returning from the first rally
organized by Bal Thackeray in 1966, Shiv Sainiks (supporter of Shiv Sena) targeted South Indian
establishments, looted and burned down restaurants. They also kicked and attacked South
Indians on their way to the rally and while returning from the same. The Maharashtra-Karnataka
boarder dispute provided another opportunity to Shiv Sena to display its power in Mumbai in
February 1969.

The riots against Kannadigas led to loss of 59 lives, 274 persons wounded, 151 police men
injured and property worth millions destroyed and looted. It was the first and the last time that
Bal Thackeray was arrested (Dhawale 2000; Heuze 1995; Lele 1995). Another major event was in
1984 in Bhiwandi where it killed hundreds of Muslims and looted their property. The anti-
Muslim riot in 1984 and 1992-93 are chilling reminder of the support base of the party and its
penetration in the Police. Wherever its political leaders could not reach (like those in Muslim
ghettos of Byculla, Nagpada, J.J. Marg, and Pydhoni) to kill Muslims, the police did the job for
Shiv Sena. On occasions it has been engaged in violent protest against the people from other
states in the city. It has specifically targeted North Indian (those from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh).
Bengalis have been scoffed as ‘useless’, and ‘lowly’, and Muslims from West Bengal have often
been innovatively targeted as Bangladeshis. As mentioned earlier, Shiv Sena have not even
spared the film personalities like Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, and Shabana Azmi from
its violence. The art and media are its favourite targets. It has also violently targeted on occasions
new year celebration and celebration of Valentine’s Day, as it regards them of western origin and
pollutant for Hindu culture.

Shiv Sena has shown tremendous ability of political innovation and at the same time translating
the innovations into violence in order to eradicate ‘others’. One of the main targets of Shiv Sena
have been communists and leftists. The party used its regional and religious agenda so effectively
that communist movement which was extremely strong in Mumbai disappeared within two
decades (by 1985). Shiv Sena set up Bhartiya Kamgar Sena (BKS) on August 9, 1968. It needed
to break other unions in order to establish its supremacy in working class. Through violence and
muscle power, it succeeded in breaking the labour unions having communist support. Some
major examples of communist-led unions that were broken in this manner were the AITUC
unions of Larsen and Toubro, T. Maneklal and Parle Bottling Plant in Mumbai, and the CITU
unions of Devidayal Cables, Wyman Gordon and Surendra Industries in Thane (Dhawale 2000).
The Congress led governments and the capitalist class (mill owner and media baron) actively
supported Shiv Sena in its project. The climax was reached on June 6, 1970, when armed
members of the Shiv Sena murdered the sitting MLA of the Communist Party of India (CPI),
Krishna Desai. Krishna Desai was a popular militant mass leader in the textile belt and had been
elected as municipal corporator four times before he was elected to the state assembly in 1967
(Dhawale 2000).

Targeting Minorities

Shiv Sena has constantly changed its enemies except that of Muslims. Many from South India
(South Indians were once targeted by Shiv Sena) have become a part of Shiv Sena and are now
its violent workers and foot soldiers. Many North Indian Hindus have been actively siding with
Shiv Sena over the years and more so, when South Indian were targeted. Against Muslims, both
North and South Indian Hindus and even those belonging to dalit community (as in Dharavi)
were utilized in 1984 and 1992-93 riots. Shiv Sena has not willingly pitched these regional,
religious and caste groups against each other, but for saving themselves from the violence of
Shiv Sena and ideological convictions within have led these groups to behave in such a manner.
By associating with Shiv Sena, they feel more secured, as they have experienced and seen failure
of the state to provide them security.

Further, religious divides and conflicts lead these regional and caste groups to unite with Shiv
Sena (and other Hindutva ideologues like RSS, VHP, BJP, etc.) to target Muslims. Shiv Sena uses
religious occasions and festivals for political ends. They serve as platform for continuously
keeping in touch with masses and keep the masses ideologically intoxicated. Major festivals like
Durga Puja, Ganesh Chaturthi, Shivaji Jayanti and Navratri are used to spread the Hindutva (to
turn the Hindus against its imaginary religious enemies) and regional ideology (to divide them on
regional line to garner local votes) and recruit people in party fold.

A large section of Muslims in Mumbai lived and continue to live with precarious livelihood and
lack of appropriate shelter (Shaban 2010). Shiv Sena never ran the analysis of employment
situation of Muslims vis-à-vis Maharashtrian Hindus as it did for South Indians. The attacks on
Muslims was based on perceived sense of their being Pakistan supporters, Bangladeshis and fear
that they through their population growth will take over the Hindu population.

“Indeed, the Sena did not claim (nor would it have rung true) that Muslims were
taking jobs or educational places or housing away from Maharashtrians as the Sena
had claimed about South Indians in the 1960s. No exposes about Muslim economic
encroachment, similar to the 1960s lists of South Indian company employees, ran
in the pages of Saamna, Shiv Sena's daily. Rather, there were at best vague allusions to
the burden that must be borne by the taxpayer who has to support ever the
allegedly rising numbers of illegal (Bangladeshi) immigrants and to the Muslim
(Bangladeshi) hawkers who crowd the roads and to the thousands who occupy
scarce space, preying on urban services in an already overcrowded city. Muslims were
not portrayed as traders whose wily ways were suspect or as privileged professionals who
dominated the higher rungs of the city's white-collar occupations. What Muslims were-
according to the Sena’s creed- were seditious. It was their presumed lack of political
identification with the Indian nation rather than their societal position that was the
subject of Shiv Sena's diatribes”. (Katzenstein, Mehta and Thakkar 1997: 376)

In 1980s and 1990s, India-Pakistan relations became major determinants of Hindu-Muslim

relations, particularly in urban areas in the country. By targeting Muslims, the right wing Hindu
groups enjoyed vicarious feeling of punishing Pakistan. For Muslims, it became difficult to
watch live telecasts of cricket matches between these two countries particularly in offices, hostels
and other public places. Appreciation of game and players for their ability, and if they belong to
Pakistan and the appreciators were Muslims, was construed to be anti-national. Those who
celebrated win of Pakistan were considered gaddar (disloyal) to the nation and needed to be
punished at appropriate time. Then there were also those Muslims who celebrated winning of
Pakistan team. The appreciation or support of team slowly translated into religious hatred. The
vent often came out in the form of riots against Muslims.

Shiv Sena (even BJP, VHP and Bajarang Dal) understood the potential which the cricket
matches offered to them besides other issues like Ram Mandir at Ayodhya and Shah Bano case.
This ideology later also got combined synergistically with the U.S. ideology of pursuance of war
against terrorism. As such, Shiv Sena has systematically targeted Muslims and sometimes other
minorities as well in a cynical attempt to build its mass support. Involvement of Shiv Sena in
anti-Muslim riot in Bhiwandi (a suburb of Mumbai) in 1970 led to the death of 43 people. The
riot also spread to Mahad and Jalgaon (where 39 people were killed). The property, mainly of
Muslims, of millions of rupees was destroyed.

“The early eighties in Maharashtra, as elsewhere in the country, saw the first stirrings of a
new drive launched by the forces of Hindu communalism, which was spearheaded by the
RSS-controlled Sangh Parivar. Capitalising on events like the Meenakshipuram
conversions, terrorism in Punjab and Kashmir, Christian missionary activities in the
north-east and so on, the VHP began to make direct appeals for Hindu consolidation to
meet these challenges. Ganga Jal yatras were taken out across the country and the Ram
Janma bhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute was deliberately raked up. The communal cauldron
was being stirred up by the saffron brigade” (Dhawale 2000).

Shiv Sena took up the Hindu revivalist tendency in Maharashtra more prominently. It started
translating the ideas which Savarkar, Hedgewar, Golwalkar and latter RSS propagate. Invigorated
with communal ideology propagated by the BJP, VHP and RSS and yatras (travel) for Ram-
Mandir, Shiv Sena unleashed its violence against Muslims in Bhivandi Riots in 1984.

“The provocation for the riots was a public speech by Bal Thackeray, wherein he made
derogatory remarks against the Prophet, Paigambar Mohammed. These remarks were
printed in exaggerated form by some Urdu papers. As a reaction to this, in far-off
Parbhani in the Marathwada region, a Congress MLA, A.R. Khan organised a large
protest in which Thackeray's photo was garlanded with shoes. This ignited the fuse
which led the Shiv Sena to unleash massive riots in which at least 258 people were killed,
thousands injured and property worth millions destroyed. The riots were replete with
terrible instances of cruelty, the most heinous being the Ansari Baug massacre at
Bhiwandi.” (Dhawale 2000)

The venomous attacks on Muslims who have always been seen as traitors and anti-Hindu by
right wing Hindu parties and their sympathizers provided the needed platform to Shiv Sena for
its resurrection in mid-1980s. In 1986, Shiv Sena in order to capture the loyalties of Hindus in
villages started ‘Saffron Week’ all over Maharashtra. Opening up of the lock of Babri Mosque
during the same time by Rajiv Gandhi led regime and subsequent further polarization of Hindu
and Muslim masses helped Shiv Sena in propagation of its brand of Hindutva more

Another opportunity came to attack Muslims in 1992-93. On December 6, 1992, Babri Mosque
in Ayodhya was attacked and demoslished. Muslims started protesting against the government
which could not prevent it and those who did it. Violence started in Mumbai. An unprecedented
attack started on Muslims, only to be repeated in Gujarat riots in 2002. Great brutality and
dehumanisation were displayed by Shiv Sainiks. It led to the counter violence by Muslims
(largely by criminals and underworld) through serial bomb-blast. This was also first time in
Mumbai’s history that such a coordinated and managed bomb-blast took place, as were riots.
The violence has often helped the Shiv Sena in its political game plan, for which, in fact, it uses
the violence. In 1995, Shiv Sena in alliance with BJP emerged as victorious party in state
assembly. Thus, riots paid up. Later Sri Krishna Commission Report on Mumbai Riots in 1992-
93 thread bared the involvement of Shiv Sena in killing of Muslims in the city (Punwani 2010).

Although, attacks against dalits, tribals and Muslims had occurred, independent of each other,
before and during the seventies. They continued in the eighties. A highly publicized event in
1981 placed the fear of rising subaltern militancy in the larger context. With the conversion to
Islam of a thousand dalits in the South Indian village of Meenakshipuram, the fear of loss of
hegemony of savarna (upper and middle-ranking castes) elites came to be expressed as danger
lurking of Hindus being reduced to a minority in their own country. Discrete local acts of
defiance by dalits and Muslims could now be explained as a part of nationwide conspiracy
financed by foreign powers. The support received by the janajagaran movement of the Vishva
Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the popularity of the slogan ‘Say with pride, I am a Hindu’ (gurve se
kaho hum Hindu hain) bear testimony to the fact that the changing conditions of material life
were providing an easy breeding ground for an old ideology in a brand new manifestation (Lele
1995: 201). And this is what the Shiv Sena has used effectively for its political end. Further,
repeated propaganda for dehumanization and demonisation of Muslims has been carried out.
Threatening Dalits

Shiv Sena is a party with brahminical, Kshatriya and kayashtha loyalties. It has got supports from
other Hindu castes because of their loyalties to Hinduism and lack of independent thinking from
system in which they are embedded. The Dalit Panther was set up by Neo-Buddhist dalits in
1972 and it attacked the perpetuation of caste system by attacking Hindu Gods and Goddesses.
The first flash point came in January 1974, when there was a violent clash between Shiv Sena
and Dalit Panthers. Shiv Sena unleashed riots and violence against dalits in Bombay
Development Directorate (BDD) chawls (poorly made residence where most of dalit workers live)
in Mumbai. Dalit Panther leader Bhagwat Jadhav was brutally killed by Shiv Sena musclemen.
Since then, the animosity between Shiv Sena and radical dalits continues. In rural Marathwada
and Vidarbha, the attack on dalits continues. They are attacked for their encroachment on fallow
land or water bodies. The Mandal Commission controversy in late 1980s and early 1990s further
brought to the fore the anti-dalit character of Shiv Sena. Bal Thackeray opposed caste-based
reservation. This in turn assured him loyalties of upper caste Hindus not only in Maharashtra but
all-over India. In 1988, the publication of Dr. Ambedkar unpublished work ‘Riddle in Hinduism’
further provoked Shiv Sena which started abusing Dr. Ambedkar for assault on Hindu Religion
and breaking it up. The attack on Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, another great champion of radical
social justice, by RSS leaning journal Sobat around the same time further crystallized the upper
castes and widened its wedge with lower castes (Dhawale 2000). The renaming of Marathwada
University after Dr. Ambedkar provided other opportunities to Shiv Sena and its right wing
alliance parties to carry out violent suppression of dalits.

Many Linkages

Shiv Sena has overtly and covertly been in alliance with a number of petty and hardened
criminals. The links of the Shiv Sena with mafia gangs, organised crime, extortion rackets and
corruption scandals are notorious.

“By the early eighties the most characteristic feature of Sena was its image as nothing
more than a network of gangs which thrived on extortion of protection money from
hawkers, businessmen, shopkeepers. It also became known for extortion from and actual
involvement in the various illegal deals in the larger construction, contraband and drug-
trafficking industries (Lele 1995: 199).

Shakhas of Shiv Sena paved the way of entry of criminals. As mentioned earlier, shakhas recruit
urban unemployed and underemployed youths. Many petty criminals and those ambitious to
find political power join the shakhas. The extra-legal authority of Bal Thackeray also provide
legitimacy to violent acts of the criminals and position/status within the urban power hierarchy.
Through Shiv Sena for the criminals “opportunities were opened for individual material gain
through collective action of rioting, looting and extortion” (Lele 1995: 199). However, 1995
onwards (when it came to power) there has been gradual disillusionment of middle class white-
collar workers from the party. Presently “the most abiding core of Shiv Sena activism is located
most firmly in Bombay’s lumpenized youth”(Lele 1995: 200). Some of them now represents

Shiv Sena has also been blamed for having its active link with underworld and crime mafia. Bal
Thackarey himself declared, “If they (Muslims) have their Dawood Ibrahim, then we have our
Arun Gavli” (Dhawale 2000). Gavli who belongs to lower castes and fell out from Shiv Sena due
to his loyalty toward Chhagan Bhujbal, a lower caste Shiv Sena leader who came out from Shiv
Sena due to its opposition to Mandal Commission recommendations and promotion of
Manohar Joshi by Bal Thackeray against Bhujbal. Later on underworld dons, Amar Naik and
Ashwin Nayak (two brothers) got patronized by Shiv Sena, and when Amar Naik was killed by
the police in an encounter, Samanaa denounced it as selective killing of Hindu and Marathi mafia
dons by the police and leaving out Muslim don Dawwod Ibrahim.

Shiv Sena also nominated the wives of these dons for Municipal Corporation of Greater
Mumbai (MCGM) election, and one of them was also promoted for Assembly election. After
the serial-bomb-blast in Mumbai in 1993, Shiv Sena has tried to patronize Chhota Rajan gang by
declaring him as a Hindu don. In fact, 1980s and early 1990s were peak periods of relationships
between Shiv Sena and Organised Criminal Gangs within the city. In this period, Shiv Sena
accumulated power through local neighbourhood and criminal networks. Several well established
gangsters, major slumlords, and dadas (goons) ran on Shiv Sena Tickets (Lele 1995; Hansen

Since the beginning, Shiv Sena stood against the communists. It often sided with capitalists to
break the trade unions run by the organized labours. “It in fact described some big capitalists as
annadatas (food givers) of Maharashtrians, while describing ‘all lungiwalas’ (South Indians) as
criminals, gamblers, illicit liquor distiller, pimps, goondas and Communists” (Lele, 1995:190). In
late 1960s and 1970s attacks on South Indian establishments became a regular feature, and it was
then that the extortion racket under the name of ‘protection money’ began. In 1968, cinema
theatres screening Hindi films brought out by South Indian producers were attacked and the
shows brought to a halt. The shows began only when considerable sums of money changed
hands. “…attacks on property were easily transformed into a protection money racket and were
made a source for financing many shakha activity.”(Lele 1995: 195)

Corruption charges have repeatedly been made against many leaders of Shiv Sena by Gandhian
activist and social reformer, Anna Hazare. The list of corruption included names of Bal
Thackarey, Pramod Mahajan, Manohar Joshi, Narayan Rane (now in Congress (I) Party),
Shashikant Sutar, Babanrao Gholap, Mahadev Shivankar, Nitin Gadkari, Shobha Phadnavis (all
Shiv Sena-BJP ministers in Shiv Sena– BJP government during 1995-99), Kirit Somaiya, Raj
Thackeray and many others. In some cases, the High Courts and Inquiry Commissions passed
strong indictments, due to which Shiv Sena ministers Sutar and Gholap were forced to resign
from the Cabinet (Dhawale 2000). In fact, the muscle power of these leaders is such that media
has been afraid of seriously taking up the charges and police due to its own corruption, religious,
caste and regional loyalties have looked other way.

The ‘Maharashtra Times’ of January 13, 1994 published a shocking report, which was never
denied by Shiv Sena sources, that a fund of five crore rupees was being collected by the Shiv
Sena through large-scale extortions and other means, and that this fund would be presented to
Bal Thackeray on his 67th birthday, the following week. Compulsion was made that every Shiv
Sena MLAs in Maharashtra must give rupees one lakh, every corporator Rs. 50,000 and every
shakha pramukh Rs. 25,000 to this fund. The report said that even the previous year, a similar
fund was collected. All this, was before the Shiv Sena came to power. After coming to power, all
these haftas (weekly extortion) were hiked much further, and all Shiv Sena ministers were also
included, with much higher ‘haftas’ which were fixed taking into account which ministry they
headed! (Dhawale 2000). However, the ideology of Hindutva and its real-time demonstration
keeps people loyal to Shiv Sena. The police and media both remain under its influence.

Overpowering Media, Judiciary and Creative Class

Shiv Sena has always successfully bullied the media to its favour. Further, recognising the danger
of opposing Shiv Sena, and the market Shiv Sena represents, media has also willingly sided with
Shiv Sena and facilitated its political agenda. The media and literary persons who attempted to
deviate the line of submission have been attacked. Shiv Sena’s first attack was on P.K. Atre, a
Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti leader and communist. Bal Thackeray hated communists as they
stood between his ideology and people. He started attacking Atre by derogatory names. In
Marmik he used to refer Atre as “that pig from Worli” (Dhawale 200). The location of office of
Maratha which Atre was publishing was in Worli. In 1967, Atre was attacked in a meeting by
Shiv Saniks but escaped. In October 1991, three journalist (including two women) were
assaulted for protesting against Shiv Sena attack on Marathi eveninger for writing editorial
against Shiv Sena’s involvement in digging pitches prepared for India-Pakistan cricket match.
Later on Shiv Sena’s Dophar Ka Saamna (noontime Saamana) started attacking women journalist
by characterising them as ‘prostitutes’ (Dhawale 2000). Shiv Sainiks attacked Nikhil Wagle,
editor of ‘Mahanagar’ in 1993, when he was addressing a seminar and in 1994 they assaulted a
dozen of journalist in Aurangabad in February 1994. Subsequently ‘Lokmat’ (Marathi daily)
office was vandalized by Shiv Sainiks.

Justice Srikrishna, who headed the commission of enquiry on Mumbai 1992-93 riots was
attacked by Samanaa as ‘biased, anti-Hindu and pro-Muslim’, Shiv Sena also attacked Vijay
Tendulkar, a playwright, for his plays ‘Sakharam Bunder’ and ‘Ghasiram Kotwal’, as the plays
exposed the degenerated ways of the Peshwas, Brahmin rulers of Maharashtra. Dilip Kumar, the
famous film actor, was declared as ‘Pakistani’, when he defended Deepa Mehta’s film ‘Fire’
which depicted lesbian relationship and also accepted Nishan-e-Pakistan (an award for his
achievements). Even High Court decisions are not spared. Bal Thackarey attacked the judgment
of high court which ruled to unseat some BJP-Shiv Sena MLAs. In a speech in 1991 he termed
high courts and judges as ‘corrupt’ and ‘partial’ (Dhawale 2000). In September 2008, Raj
Thackeray imitating the style of his uncle Bal Thackeray, challenged a Mumbai police officer,
with the statement - ‘He (the police officer) should come out without his badge and uniform and
he will know to who Maharashtra and Mumbai belongs to. The police officer had protested and
cautioned Raj Thackeray against the threatening email sent by him to every shop-owner in the
city to put their signboard in Marathi. The statement, the police officer gave, was that Mumbai
belong to none but every Indian and so they can put their signboards in the language they wish.

Contradictions Within

Shiv Sena is an amalgam of contradictions and opportunism. It uses the tools which suits its
most to further its ideology and political ends. Playing religious and regional cards, it brought
workers associated with the left to its own fold. It sided with capitalist class against communists
in the city and latter started attacking them for not recruiting enough Marathis. It has tendency to
shift from parochial and local issues to Hindutva and all India nationalism as situation desires. It
uses cultural symbols of god and goddess to pull people from all-walks of life and also degrades
common man by calling them with regional and cultural derogatory names like Biharis (those
from Bihar state), Bhayyas (those from Uttar Pradesh) and lungiwallas (those from South India). It
is led by regionalism and simultaneously nationalism, it is guided by national Hindusim but
becomes parochial and attacks even Hindus on regional basis.

Shiv Sena is an interesting phenomenon. It promotes agitations and riots in the name of order. It
engages in garnering political power but hates democracy, politicians and gives adverse remarks
on the Parliament. It hates communists and socialists, but directly inherits their ways of
protesting, organizing and vandalizing. The communist worker unions have taught many tactics
to Shiv Sena and it now uses it with utmost brutality. It promotes masculinity through
vyayamshalas (gymnasiums) and speeches of its leader by calling congressies (followers of
Congress Party) chhakka (eunuch) and offering them bangles, but it also equally thrives on
Mahila Aghadi, many of who assisted in perpetuating violence on women of minorities and
looting in 1992-93 riots. The women supporters have not only been used to block the arrest of
several of its leaders in the past but during 1992-93 riots also “prevent fire engines from going to

Muslim areas engulfed in flames, and even loot stores and attack Muslim women”. (Banerjee

Shiv Sena perpetuates ‘dada culture’, ‘gundaraj’ (rule by criminals and musclemen) but aspires for
‘Chhatrapatiraj’ (benevolent dictatorship) (Lele 1995; Hueze 1995). It has converted the poor
and vulnerable into marauding mass.

“Shiv Sena leaders are among the most vociferous in condemning criminal activities,
hooliganism, smuggling and so on. Usually they say that it is not ‘their people’ who are
involved, but only Muslims or other ‘alien’ (in their view) people.” (Heuze 1995: 226)

Bal Thackeray condemns the violence by the Communist trade unions but he himself led the
violent mobs against others. He wrote:
“The Communists in India desired to bring to this country Communist rule by
violent ways, to organize country-wide strikes, to bring about destruction, to
create disorder . . . and to establish red dictatorship.” (Marmik 1961)
It attempts to provide roop (shape) to the city. The roop for them is ‘beauty’ but engages in
violence, riots and looting. It is called by Heuze as “a monster of ambivalence” (1995:230) and
“a place where bad can become good (Heuze 1995:226, emphasis in original).

Shiv Sena after Bal Thackeray

Has the ideology and practices of Shiv Sena changed after Bal Thackeray? Have the pernicious
and evocative statements of Shiv Sena against those it considers other side of its ideology and
practice changed? Is the new leadership able to effectively take forward the people’s
mobilization strategy for which Shiv Sena was known during life time of Bal Thackeray? How
does one see the future of the city Mumbai, which remained the battle ground and in ideological
grip of Shiv Sena under Bal Thackeray? These are a few questions which have been attempted to
deal with in this section, by examining a few events and the reactions that came to these events.

Bal Thackeray, the architect of Shiv Sena and its chief since its birth in 1966, passed away on 17th
November, 2012. On the very next day of Bal Thackeray’s death, a significant incident happened
that shows how ideologues of the party would like to preserve the ideology and practices of Bal
Thackeray. On the day of the funeral, bandh was called in a locality by some Shiv Sainiks. Reacting
to the calls of bandh one girl wrote on her Facebook page, “… one should not observe bandh for
Thackeray's funeral. We should remember Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev" (India Today, 2012). As
reaction to this statement, she was arrested by the police and her uncle’s clinic was attacked by
Shiv Sainiks. To take the case to the extreme, one of the girl’s friends was also arrested for liking
the post on Facebook. This happened during the Congress government in the state and that goes
on to show that how much Bal Thackeray captured the public mind and also how much the
personnel manning the institutions which are to safeguard individuals’ liberty and freedom
provided under the Constitutions are also affected by Shiv Sena’s ideology. The girls were released
on bail and later on the case was withdrawn by the police after enormous protest by civil liberty

On 17th July 2014, Shiv Sena’s Member of Parliament (MP), Rajan Vichare, with other 10
colleagues, forced feed a Muslim Employee, Arshad Zubair, who was fasting (during Ramadhan)
in Maharashtra Sadan, New Delhi, on alleged issue that a Government caterer was not making
proper and Marathi food. On this Shiv Sena run newspaper on 23rd July wrote: “If speaking up
against such tyranny is a crime, then our ‘mards’ have committed this crime“ (Times of India
2014: 6). Reacting to the incident, Social activist Teesta Setalvad said:

“The politics of justifying violence through the logic of action and reaction is not new to
the Shiv Sena...and has been used well before the Gujarat riots. This logic has been
disproven by the Justice Srikrishna Commission report on the 1992-93 riots in
Mumbai” (Times of India 2014: 6).

What is important here is to understand the events and actions which divide the communities on
the basis of religion and perpetuate hate mongering. For instance, reacting to incident a leader of
Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), said “The Shiv Sena believes in jungle raj. Their MPs
behaviour proves it once again. They have thrived on hate and will not leave any opportunity to
insult Muslims” (Times of India 2014: 6). Quoting as senior poet, Phadke writes:

“The MPs need to think about how they would react, if they were fasting during say,
Shravan, and someone force fed them meat. I fail to understand why there continues to
be such little tolerance for someone else's religion here. The Sena has often acted in this
manner… (Phadke 2014: 2)

Many still blame that ineffective governance was responsible for many untoward actions by Shiv
Sena in the past and the current governments are still ignoring the issues. “The Sena went
unchecked in the 1960s and 1970s, during which time it attacked trade unions and destroyed
Left politics in Maharashtra…The Congress has remained a silent spectator and was unable to
check the Sena” (Mukherjee 2014: 6). Shiv Sena has always been associated with muscle power.
Quoting a senior journalist, Mukherjee writes, “A string of former Congress CMs have used the
Sena for their gain” (Mukherjee 2014: 6), while other put it as Shiv Sena’s “behaviour is quite
consistent with their political philosophy…Why is everyone surprised?” (Phadke 2014: 2).

Many claim that the current government in Delhi may further embolden Shiv Sena to attack its
opposition. Quoting Teesta Setalvad, Mukherjee writes:

“The silence on the part of the political leadership in Delhi is frightening, as silence
normally means consent. We saw a similar silence when a young Muslim was murdered
in Pune. The silence comes from a PM, who ran a highly proactive campaign where he
spoke of every issue under the sun” (2014: 6).

Many blame that India’s democracy has been such that it is favouring those who wield muscle
power and money. While those who want to question them are afraid of their safety. Not only
many do not write against such parties and their actions, but also publishers do not publish due
to fear. The fear is very evident from the fact that two students who spoke against not allowing
such public representatives to govern cities requested that their names be changed as they were
“afraid of how the Sena will react” (Phadke 2014: 2). Many claim, “Such violations of
fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution, by lawmakers who have been entrusted with
upholding civil liberties, make a mockery of democracy” (Phadke 2014: 2) while other view,
“The Sena MPs did it because they think they enjoy impunity from law and can get away with
any misconduct” (Wajihuddin 2014:2). The Times of India put it:

“The muted response from a large section of the BJP and the central government
indicates it values its uneasy political alliance with the Sena more than it respects the law
of the land. The state government's role, too, will not bear scrutiny; it would be difficult
for it to explain why it waited for the media to first focus on the issue before enacting
the probe charade (Times of India 2014: 6).

While summing up the events DNA newspaper wrote, “Terrorizing, vandalism, gunda-gardi, and
rioting, communal polarization, inflammatory speeches are legendary synonyms for Shiv Sena”
(DNA 2014: 2). Shiv Sena has not hesitated to attack Muslims in post-Bal Thackeray phase as
well. Party veterans have repeated the arguments of Balashaheb Thackeray which violate basic
citizenship rights of Muslims. During the run up of Municipal election in 2015, some Shiv
Sainik’s demanded:

“Voting rights of Muslims should be revoked as the community has often been used to
play vote bank politics….If Muslims are only being used this way to play politics, then
they can never develop. Muslims will have no future till they are used to play vote bank
politics and thus Balasaheb had once said to withdraw Muslims voting rights” (Press
Trust of India 2015).

Besides lampooning its so called oppositions and its ‘others’, it also sometimes displays certain
empathies, but on its own terms. A section of Muslims around the world are known to be
sympathizers of Palestinian’s cause and so one finds a section of Muslims supporting the cause in
Mumbai too. Shiv Sena’s minority wing also finds opportunity to display messages in support of
Palestinians against Israeli occupations and oppressions. In first week of August 2014, against the
Israeli attack against Palestinians, a Shiv Sena hoarding in Urdu language in Mumbai displayed:

“From all Muslim Shiv Sainiks’ it is entreated from all brothers of Islam to pray from God
for Palestinians in Ghaza against Jewish (Israel’s) oppression and that God keeps Muslims
safe from Satanic activities of Jews. Ameen! Mohammad Asif Qureshi” (see Figure 1).

What is peculiar to this hoarding is the fact that it requested only Muslims to pray and singled
out Jews not Israel State. This shows that Shiv Sena’s par excellence in political manoeuvring still
survives. The ideology of Shiv Sena still remains the same of masculinity, regionalism and
parochialism. It uses the same method of attack, as it used during Bal Thackeray’s regime on its
‘others’. However, a very significant difference is noticeable. Whereas during days of Bal
Thackeray, the attack on opposition and their lampooning was led by Bal Thackeray himself.
The new chief of Shiv Sena, Uddhav Thackeray, son of Bal Thackeray, has kept himself largely
away from these attacks and his deputies coming mainly from past politics have largely been
involved in such attacks. Further, Shiv Sena has overcome the split in the party (Nav Nirman
Sena floated by his cousin Raj Thackeray) after the death of Bal Thackeray and still holds its
popularity, as it has alone won 63 seats in Assembly Election of Maharashtra in 2014.
Figure 1: Shiv Sena’s hording on Israel’s action against Palestinians in Aug 2014

Source: Photograph by the author

This provides an indication of changes in practice and it is possible that these slow changes in
the party may further get momentum as new generation leaders take larger command of the
party. Further, the party has largely kept away from its usual aggression, strike and beating its
‘others’ in the Mumbai, except for a few occasions. This augurs well for the city.

Summing Up

Shiv Sena has been the master of political innovations, derogatory terminologies and violence. It
has been sporadic but predictable hunter. It changes its targets and attacks victims with its
ferocious force. It is also a bundle of contradictions. At each stage till now it has overcome these
contradictions through political and social engineering. Although it involves in act of violence,
killing and crime, it has its most loyal friends and sympathisers in police and administrations. It
has inherited the ideology of Hindutva and preaches cultural-regionalism/nationalism which
threatens the existence of minorities and people from other cultures. The fertile grounds for
Shiv Sena have been provided by the failing successive governments in delivering development
to the people. The marginalisation of lower class over the years has further added to its
advantage. It has been said that:

“One of the major reasons for the success of the communal appeal, whether of the Shiv
Sena or the BJP, is … the fertile soil provided by the deepening economic crisis resulting
from the policies of successive Congress governments. Another important reason has
been the ruling class tendency of compromising with the communal forces, at both
national and state levels. In the case of the Shiv Sena…this tendency has been exhibited
with a vengeance” (Dhawale 2000).

Mumbai as a city of diversity has for a long time remained threatened with the ideology of
cultural homogeneity propagated by Shiv Sena. The post-Bal Thackeray phase, though, has
shown many continuity in the ideology and practice of Shiv Sena, there are significant changes
visible as the party Chief has himself kept away from the usual pernicious statements. This
indicates that Shiv Sena may acquire some significant changes as new generation of leaders take
control of the party.


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of the Shiv Sena.Asian Survey, 36(12):1213-1225.
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3. DNA (2014). Old habits die hard. DNA (Bangalore) 25 July.
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one. Social Scientist, 8 (10): 22–37.
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for Modern India, ed. Sujata Patel and Alice Thorner, pp. 213–47. New Delhi: Oxford
University Press.
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get bail.
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9. Katzenstein, Mary F. (1973). Origins of Nativism: The Emergence of Shiv Sena in
Bombay. Asian Survey, 13(4):386-399.
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50 (2): 231–248.
11. Katzentein, Mary F., U.S. Mehta and U. Thakkar (1997). The Rebirth of Shiv Sena: The
Symbiosis of Discursive and Organizational Power. The Journal of Asian Studies, 56(2):371-
12. Lele, Jayant. 1995. Saffronization of the Shiv Sena: The political economy of city, state and
nation. In Bombay: Metaphor for Modern India, ed. Sujata Patel and Alice Thorner, 185–212.
New Delhi: Oxford University Press.
13. Marmik (1961). Editorial. Marmik Cartoon Weekly, Diwali Issue.
14. Marmik (1967). Shiv Sena Speaks. Bombay: Marmik Cartoon Weekly.
15. Marmik (1970). Editorial. Marmik Cartoon Weekly, Diwali Issue.
16. Mukherjee, Anhita (2014). Activists decry Sena tactics, slam BJP. The Times of India, 25 July,
17. Phadke, Mithila (2014). Shocked Mumbaikars slam `lawlessness by lawmakers'. The Times of
India, 24 July, Mumbai.
18. Press Trust of India (2015). Revoke voting rights of Muslims to put an end to vote bank
politics: Shiv Sena. Times of India, Mumbai. India/
RevokevotingrightsofMuslimsShivSena/articleshow/46896066.cms?prtpage=1 (accessed
on 24 August 2015).
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Mumbai Riots and Its Implications, in Abdul Shaban (ed), Lives of Muslims in India: Politics,
Exclusion and Violence, pp.187-207. New Delhi/London: Routledge.
20. Shaban, Abdul (2010). Mumbai: Political Economy of Crime and Space. Hyderabad: Orient
21. Times of India (2014). Sena `mards' spoke up against tyranny: Saamna. The Times of India, 25
July, Mumbai.
22. Wajihuddin, Mohammed (2014). Suspend, arrest Sena MPs, say outraged state Muslims.
The Times of India, 24 July, Mumbai.

Abdul Shaban is a Professor, at School of Development Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Deonar,
Mumbai. He has published 3 books and over 35 papers have been published in various refereed journals and
edited books.

Chapter 5



Ram Puniyani


The problems of Muslim community have a long legacy. From coming of Islam to India, the conversions to Islam,
the process of rise of communal streams as a parallel and opposite to the freedom movement have laid the basis
discrimination of Muslim community in India. From last four decades the process has worsened due to the rise of
Hindu communal forces and the provocations provided by the Muslim communal stream. The result has been an
all-round demonization of Muslims, impacting their security, equity and social status. The situation has been
worsened by the global politics of oil, which has given birth to the likes of Al Qaeda and its clones. The popular
perceptions about Muslims only worsen the scenario.

This paper traces the origin of the Muslim community in India, its politics during last century and attempts to
outline the steps needed strengthen the democratic rights of this biggest religious minority in India. The focus on
education and employment along with social reform have to be given importance to steer out of the difficult times
being faced by this community.


Indian Muslim community is under multiple discriminations. The occurrence of regular

repetitive violence against them has left them with a deep sense of insecurity on one hand and
on the other, their representation in the employment, political bodies has been continuously
declining. The social indices about their literacy, economic conditions, employment status and
other parameters show a very dismal picture. These have been well reflected in two reports,
those of Rajinder Sachar and Rangnath Mishra Committees. The situation has come to such a
pass that when Sachar Committee was working, it faced a diverse responses, “While many
welcomed and appreciated this initiative, there were others who were skeptical and saw it as
another political ploy. There was a sense of despair and suspicion as well. “…‘tired of
Memorandums’ many wanted ‘results’. The non-implementation of several earlier commissions
and committees has made the Muslim community wary of new initiative.” (Sachar, 2007, p3).
Rangnath Mishra Committee observed “Muslims are behind other religious communities in
areas of literacy and education, industrial promotion and economic pursuits.”(Misra, 2007)

Their state of social ‘security’ is reflected by the increase in the ghettoisation of the community.
With the rise of communal violence from the decades of 1980s, the community has not only
been demonized in different arena of society, but due to being subject of communal violence of
increasing intensity they have been forced to ghettoize in different cities, cut off from the social
interaction and social facilities like education, trade and banking. “The message of communal
agenda manifested through violence and through creating difficult situation for minorities is now
isolating them in most parts of India. So one can see the trajectory of violence as follows: it
begins with pre-violence biases, stereotypes, then violence, post violence neglect, isolation,
ghettoization and finally leads to partitioning of the national community at emotional and
physical level.”(Puniyani, 2010)

Today, the Muslim community stands at a crossroad. On one side there are states, where
Muslims are already being treated as second class citizens, on the other there is an overall
atmosphere in the country due to which they feel intimidated and marginalized. The
consideration of condition of Muslims is very crucial to the very concept of secularism in India,
“The status of the Muslim minority is fundamental in any consideration of India as a secular
state,…the treatment meted out to religious minorities is the best gauze of any state’s
commitment to secularism; in the case of Muslim minority in India, however this test is
absolutely crucial.”(Smith, 1963, p 411)

Indian Muslim Community: Formation

The formation of Muslim community in India took place at various stages. To begin with, it
started emerging along the Malabar Coast when the Arab traders used to come for trade during
the 7th century A.D. The social interaction and influence of Sufi saints were the major factors in
spread of Islam in India. A large section of untouchables converted to Islam to form a bulk of
Muslim population. The Muslim community was not a monolithic one. There were different
economic strata, majority being low caste poor peasants, and another group belonging to traders,
and a very small number of landlords. The difference in interests of elite and poor was very vast.

After the great rebellion of 1857, British held Muslims responsible for the revolt and punished
them severely, tried to keep them out of government jobs and deprive them of other facilities.
The newly introduced modern education and government jobs were initially filled mainly by
Hindus. The Muslim intellectuals noticed this and criticized the British Government for this,
“Even when some Muslim intellectuals began to notice that Muslims in some parts of the
country were lagging behind Hindus in modern education and Government jobs, they
blamed…the Government’s anti-Muslim policy and neglect of modern education by upper class
Muslims.” (Chandra,1989, 414) Later, with Sir Syed’s initiative the matters changed slightly but
the difference in the status of Muslims and Hindus as communities continued. Muslims had
more of poor, uneducated sections, while section of Hindus was able to take good advantage of
the educational and employment related opportunities.

The perception of interest between the elite and the poor Muslims was that the former shared
different cultural values having aspirations for higher number of jobs and wanted to make a
compromise with ruling powers for their social and economic aspirations. The upper and middle
class aspirations got channelized through the politics of people like Sir Syed Ahmed and Jinnah,
while those of the lower castes were represented through the politics of people like Badruddin
Tyabji, Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.

Freedom Movement: Communal Politics

The rise of communalism in India has been a very complex process. Colonial policies generated
the growth and economic domination of merchant-money lenders (by and large Hindus).
Hindus could take maximum advantage of modern education and accordingly, a place in
bureaucracy. Post 1857, anti-Muslim bias of the British gave slight edge to Hindus, who took to
modern enterprises/professions with great keenness. While the British historians used the
categories Hindu, Muslim, and Brahmin etc., Indian historians picked up only two of these
categories, Hindu and Muslim. Indian leadership used religious consciousness to inculcate
'Modern nationalism’ amongst the people, for example, Ram Rajya, Khilafat. This resulted in
two processes: (a) arousal of nationalism (b) arousal of communalism. We will shortly see that
communalism arose due to the politics of Muslim feudal lords, Hindu zamindars and British
policy of divide and rule.

With the introduction of modern education, industries and new transport and communication,
there took place a deeper process of rise of new classes, while the old feudal classes, princes
continued their existence. These two groups of classes threw up different politics during
freedom movement. “It is not an accident that feudal elements were the leaders of both Hindu
and Muslim communal forces. The leadership of Muslim League and Hindu Mahasabha were in
the hands of upper castes and big landlords. These elements used communalism to promote
their class interests.” (Rai, 1998, p 48)

Partition was a multi-factorial tragedy which led to Muslim Communal politics, Hindu
Communalism and British policy of ‘divide and rule’ played the central part. Muslim League was
representative of the interests of Muslim elite. It wanted to appropriate maximum privileges for
the rich Muslims. It stated that Muslims are 25 percent of the population, but for passing any
legislation 2/3 majority is necessary, Muslims should be granted 1/3 representation in
legislatures, so that they can prevent anti-Muslim legislations, Congress rejected this demand.
Jinnah emerged as the major leader of Muslim League. Two nation theory was simultaneously
accepted by Muslim communalists (Chowdhary Rahmat Ali, Muslim League) and Hindu
Communalists (Hindu Mahasabha, RSS,) Along with the birth of Congress, began two opposite,
but in some way similar trends which were opposed to the secular politics of Congress. The first
of these was expressed by Sir Syed Ahmed, who opened this campaign in 1887, and the second
was the Hindu revivalist streams.

The Communal Triangle

With the formation of Indian National Congress (INC) and its representation of the cause of
‘rising classes’, and methods of ‘protest’ vis-a-vis loyalty, criticism of British crown, Sir Syed got
alarmed and kept aloof from the Congress. His focus of promoting education among Muslims
was the hallmark of his work. After the formation of INC, Sir Syed determined to hold aloof
and instead he set out to organize the Jagirdari elements amongst Muslims, and along with his
followers, he propagated that Congress is meant for the interests of the Hindus and ‘low born’
classes. In contrast to the Congress demand for representation, he was for nomination of elite
by the British and said that the British are the best guardians of the Muslim interests in India.
Later, with the formation of Muslim league, a political party came up which stood for the
interests of Muslim landlords and Nawabs of Riyasats.

Simultaneously, the principles of the Congress were being opposed by another section also. This
again was the section of Hindu zamindars, baniyas, (traditional tradesmen) and the rajas of
riyasats (rulers of the princely states). From 1870s, a section of Hindu zamindars, money lenders
and middle class professionals began to arouse anti-Muslim sentiments, simultaneously opposing
the Congress goal of a single nation, of a common nation irrespective of religious identities.
They talked of tyrannical rule of Muslim rulers and of the role of British in giving liberation
from that. They came up with the formulation, that ancient, pre-Mughal, age was the golden age
of India. The leader of Arya Samaj, Pandit Lekh Ram went on to condemn all forms of Islam
and demanded that either Muslims should be expelled from India or converted to Aryanism.
They founded the Punjab Hindu Sabha and were hostile to Indian National Congress. According
to them, INC's role of uniting people of different religions into a single nation meant sacrificing
Hindu interests to appease Muslims. According to them, the religion came before the nation - a
Hindu was a Hindu first and then an Indian. The culmination of these efforts led to the
formation of Hindu Mahasabha and later the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

In addition to these old classes, a section of emerging middle classes also supported communal
politics in later period. Some of these were ideologically influenced by the emotive appeal of
religion based politics and its exhortation to one’s religion being in danger while others felt
insecure for their professional careers these were especially from amongst the sections of
Muslim middle classes. Mushirul Hasan points out, ‘The swiftness with which the idea (of
Pakistan) succeeded in becoming actualized and the intensity of emotions involved had more to
do with political and economic anxieties of various social classes than with profound urge to
create an Islamic/Muslim state. Both in its conception and articulation the Muslim League’s
demands summed up the fears and aspirations of the newly-emergent professional groups,
especially in Punjab, Sindh and UP, and industrial magnates of western and eastern India.”
(Hasan, 2001, p 56) One recalls that after the partition, it was mainly this section of Muslims
which migrated to Pakistan.

British Policy of Divide and Rule

British rulers realized the differences between Hindu and Muslim elite and embarked on the
policy of divide-et-empera (divide and rule). “As far back as 1821, a British officer writing under
the name of ‘Carnaticus’ in the Asiatic Review of May, 1821 was declaring the ‘divide-et-empera’
should be the motive of India Administration, whether political, civil or military.” (Engineer,
1994, p 100) With the formation of the Indian National Congress, they were very uncomfortable
with its demands. Sir Syed’s opposition to these demands came in handy for them and they
encouraged Sir Syed and his elite followers in their ‘communal demands’. British played their
cards well and taking advantage of Hindu Muslim divide, they tried to snub the INC times and
over again. They recognized a group of Muslim nawabs and jagirdars (Shimla delegation 1906) as
the representative of Muslims, and similarly encouraged the Hindu Mahasabha and RSS. None
of these organizations undertook any anti-British agitation, neither were these subject of
repression by the British.

“The British rulers took advantage of the aspirations of the elite Muslims for playing their
devious game of ‘divide and rule’. As the expression of loyalty to the united platform of
Congress began to abate, a communal platform appeared to express the loyalty to British more
vehemently, their thinking being that in the space for concessions more loyal had greater chance
to win…Shimla (Muslim) delegation under Prince Aga Khan, which was the beginning of so
called ‘Muslim separatism’, was comprised only of nawabs and zamindars. In demanding
separate electorates and excessive representation they were in councils, they were in fact angling
for greater share of for Muslim elite.” (Gadkari, 1999 p 18)

Thus, there are three major factors which resulted in the partition of the country. First was the
British policy of 'divide-and-rule'. Second was the Muslim communalism representing the
interests of Muslim zamindars, nawabs and other elite? The third was the Hindu Communalism
(RSS Hindu Mahasabha and partly through Congress) which represented the interests of Hindu
zamindars, brahmins and baniyas.

Partition Tragedy: Impact on Muslim Community

The Partition took place on a strange basis. The Muslim majority areas were demarcated as
Pakistan, West and East, and the scattered Muslims all over India were given the option and
right to stay in India with full citizenship rights. The elite section of Muslims, landlords,
bureaucrats and businessmen migrated to Pakistan with the hope of getting greener pastures.
Many of them were accommodated and compensated in Pakistan, but later the other Muslims
going from India to Pakistan were not welcome and were relegated to the life of subjugation. A
large number of them were deprived of basic rights and social facilities and are still called as
mohajirs. The Muslims who remained in India were more from the poorer sections, large
number of them illiterate, poor artisans and landless labour. They were heaped with the stigma
that it is because of them that India has been partitioned. “Radical change in the political order,
amidst bloodshed and carnage was accompanied with threat to old ways of living…They feared
the worst. As in 1857, their loyalty to the new state was suspect. They felt helpless and forlorn as
they experienced distrust and hostile discrimination in their daily lives.” (Noorani 2003, p1)

Time and over again, the Hindu communal forces assert that they are foreigners and the right
place for them is to be in Pakistan. “For Muslim communities that remained in India, partition
was a nightmare. The demographic picture changed drastically in Punjab and Bengal, two
provinces that had largest concentration of Muslims in South Asia.” (Hasan, 2001 p.6). Hasan
further points out, “Lawyers, doctors, engineers, teachers and civil servants were comfortably
ensconced in Lahore or Karachi either in response to Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s clarion call or to
bolster their career prospects. On the other hand, the so-called Islamic community in India,
which had no place in Jinnah’s Pakistan, was fragmented, and left vulnerable to right wing Hindu
thoughts.” (Hasan, P 7, 2001, p. 7)

As different writers have pointed out, there is a great diversity in the culture, language and
economic life of Muslims in India. Rafiq Zakaria in Widening Divide: An Insight into Hindu Muslim
relations points out that while a small section of Muslim community, traders and industrialists are
well placed, the majority of them are impoverished laborers or landless peasants. Hasan sums it
up as “The fortunes of Muslim professionals dwindled and their influence waned after partition,
yet some of them have prospered during recent decades owing to expansion of trade, commerce
industry and services in medium sized urban centers and some have benefited from powerful
social and class factors, and political and family ties.” (Hasan, 2001 p 6)

Communal Violence

Communal violence is the bane of Indian society, the superficial manifestation of the
communalism prevalent in India. It began during the colonial period. The British policy of
divide and rule had a great role to play in this phenomenon. Communal violence has been
preceded by the ‘hate propaganda’ which the communal organizations spread against the other
communities. The Muslim League spread the venom against Hindus and the Hindu Mahasabha-
RSS spread the same against the Muslims in particular and lately against the Christians also in a
big way.

With India adopting a secular constitution, the stench of communal violence, which was worst
in the post partition riots, was supposed to die down. As a matter of fact the decade of 50s
witnessed a great amount of calm, though the undercurrents of hate ideology continued even
during this period. The Jabalpur riots of 1961 reminded the nation that communal ideology was
not dead. And since then, it kept visiting this or that part of the country at frequent intervals.
The situation in the country was like a saturated solution, ‘solution of communal hate’, in which
any small or large crystal can spark the process of violence. The decade of 60s saw the riots in
Jabalpur, sparked by the elopement of a Hindu girl with a Muslim boy. Incidentally the parents
of both happened to be bidi merchants and also trade rivals in a sense. Two other factors
provoked riots during this phase. “A series of major communal riots followed the Jabalpur riot.
Riots took place in this phase mostly in Eastern India, in Jamshedpur, Rourkela, Ranchi and
other places. In Rourkela, some Hindu workers threw Muslim workers into steel furnaces and
their bones were also not found.” (Engineer in Benjamin, 2006 p 40). In Eastern India, in
Jamshedpur, Rourkela and Ranchi, most of riots were sparked by the tales of refugees coming
from the East Pakistan.

By late 60s, the communal riots went up in India, “It was said in the late 60s that a riot a day
takes place in India which also included minor riots. It was on the basis of the report placed in
parliament by the then home minister.” (Engineer, 2006, p 39). Inder Malhotra, an eminent
journalist pointed out, “The strength and influence of avowedly communal and objectionable
militant Hindu parties has grown alarmingly. This cannot be utterly unconnected with distressing
rise in the number of communal incidents and riots.” (Malhotra, 6th Oct, 1969)

In Ahmadabad, Gujarat the riots were engineered due to opposition to the policies of Indira
Gandhi, the policy of Bank nationalization and abolition of privy purses, to which many in
Congress were opposed, and they were supported by Bhartiya Janasangh, the previous avatar of
the BJP, and the then prevalent right wing party, Swatantra party. At the same time riot was
sparked in Bhivandi due to a provocative speech by Bal Thackeray, the Shiv Sena chief.
“Bhivandi and Jalgaon in Maharashtra were shaken next in 1970 and Shiv Sena played a major
role in engineering communal violence in which unofficially death toll was more than 300 most
of whom were killed in villages around Bhivandi and Jalgaon. (Engineer, ibid, p 40). Riots in the
late 70s in Jamshedpur, Aligarh and Benaras, were mainly due to instigation from the RSS, which
wanted to assert its presence during the 'dual membership' issue. Business rivalry was one of the
major factors in the Moradabad riot.

In the initial period, the sensitivity towards riots was minimal, “Even major riots like that of
Bihar Sharif, in which hundreds of innocent people are brutally done to death, do not seem to
evoke a heartfelt response least of them from our intelligentsia committed to secularism and
democracy.” (Engineer, 1991). On the barbarity of the violence Hussein Shaheen points out,
“Seeing the horrifying nature and extent of communal riots which have occurred during the post
partition period in India, one cannot but wonder whether the people of India, have made any
progress at all…”. (Hussein Shaheen, In Engineer, 1991, p 166)

The precipitating factors of violence have been changing. Despite all this the victims of the
violence have been Muslims to a large extent, “During the colonial period, the nature of the riots
was…reciprocal between two groups, with British-officered police intervening to restore
normalcy. But since the achievement of independence in 1947, the nature of the riots has
changed. In every riot since independence, no matter when or where or how the riots take
place…in the end victims are mainly Muslims, whether in the number of people killed, wounded
or arrested.” (Khalidi, p 17). This is largely due to communalization of state apparatus and the
attitude of the police force in particular. V.N. Rai in his book Combating Communal Conflicts based
on the study of major riots concludes that police are partial in most of the riots. They do not act
as a neutral force but act more like a ‘Hindu force’. “It is basically the behaviour of police in
communal strife which makes the members of a minority community like Muslims view it as an
enemy…”.(Rai, ibid, p 89)

The discrimination is obvious in preventive arrests, enforcement of curfew, treatment of

detained persons at police stations, reporting of facts and investigations, detection and
prosecution of cases registered during riots. Hindus view the policemen as their friends. The
popular slogan shouted during communal riots has been “Hindu-Police Bhai-Bhai, Beech main Vardi
Kahan Se Aayi, (Police and Hindus are brothers, the police uniform does not matter). Muslims by
and large, consider policemen as their enemies. Generally policemen, predominantly Hindu,
don't shed their prejudices at the time of entering police force and this bias is manifested at the
time of riots. The police personnel are expected to protect the communal interests of the
community. Amrik Singh (Riots and Law Enforcement) points out that the partisan behaviour of the
police has a lot to do with, "the composition and social outlook of police. Most of the recruits
come from majority community. Therefore, as and when minorities come under attack, there
was no one to protect them.” The bias of police force is very well shown in the report of Justice
Srikrishna dealing with Mumbai riots. In general the conviction rate in riot cases has been low
over the years. It is very hard to prove these cases for the simple reason that witnesses do not
come forward as they fear that they have to live alongside others who they do not want to name.

The decade of eighties had been the worst in the period of Indian republic. During this phase,
one witnessed the rising communalization of society. The next phase was the demolition of
Babri Masjid and political ambition of the Shiv Sena in Mumbai and machinations of the BJP
in Gujarat. The riots, which were spontaneous and un-planned, came under control very fast,
while those simmering for longer duration were the ones where the political forces were
operating from behind the scene. Another interesting point made by Vibhuti Narain Rai, a top
police official who had done an analytical study of riots from authentic sources was that no
riot could sustain beyond forty-eight hours, if the authorities decided to control it. Laloo
Yadav's policies in a way concretely demonstrated the absence of communal violence in Bihar
and the CPM's policies in West Bengal to some extent endorsed the validity of it. On the point
that communal violence was an urban phenomenon, communal riots erupted more often in
medium and small towns, though Mumbai might be an exception. Ahmedabad and Surat too
became foci of the communal violence. Villages are no more immune from the communal
poison. Asghar Ali Engineer, through his pioneering work on communal violence has
provided valuable insights into the dynamics and changing nature of communal violence in
India. (Engineer, 1991, 2004)

Changing Nature of Communal Violence

The earlier anti-Muslim violence was amongst the poor Muslim localities. From decade of 1990s,
the violence changed its character and even the affluent sections of Muslims were targeted. This
was seen both in Mumbai (1992-93) and Gujarat (2002) with the anti-Muslim pogrom. “In most
of the communal riots, the victims were largely slum dwelling poor Muslims. However, the
pogroms in 1990s affected almost all segments of Muslim society including the hitherto
protected members of the elite…wife of Rahi Masoom Raza, the script writer of Mahabharat,
the popular mega-serial aired at Doordarshan fled up town Bombay to seek refuge amongst her
co-religionists in Bhendi Bazar during 1993 riots.” (Khalidi, 1996, p 12) Initially, there were
multiple causes of provocation of the riots, still the major reason remains the planned offensive
by the majority communalists, “…that is to say, they are essentially pogroms or massacres
perpetrated by a majority upon a defenseless minority.” (Khalidi, p 14)

The trends of communal violence clearly show the biases of the state machinery as well. The rise
of communalization and role of hate propaganda has crept in very deep in the society. In most
of the riots, which have pained us since the first Jabalpur riot of 1961, one sees a common
pattern. While the bureaucracy soft peddles the offence, different wings of RSS and police play
the partisan role. While the administrative machine is ‘sympathetic, to the ‘Hindu sentiments’
(read Hindu Communal politics), the communalization of police has been blatant.

There are instances (Meerut-Malyana, 1987) where the Provincial Armed Constabulary lined up
around 300 Muslims besides the canal and shot them so that the bodies gets disposed off in the
canal. There are instances (Bhagalpur, 1989) where the police along with the rioters killed 180
Muslims, buried them in a paddy field where cauliflower was grown. Most of the inquiry
commission reports have shown the partisan role of police in the riots. The Sri Krishna
Commission also indicted the police especially, Addl. Commission R.D. Tyagi for his shooting
of the innocents in the Suleman Bakery.

The popular perception that Muslims are the ones who start the riots and then due to retaliation
they have to suffer, has no basis in reality. Teesta Setalvad, the prominent human rights activist,
has analyzed the truth of as to who starts the riots, based on the inquiry commission reports. She
(‘Communalism Combat’, March 98) by citing the extracts from five commissions of inquiry
shows the truth behind the start of communal riots.

Mumbai Violence 92-93-Gujarat: 2002

Srikrishna Commission Report shows in an immaculate manner as to who was behind the
Mumbai violence. “The irresponsible act of Hindutva Parties in celebrating and gloating over
demolition of Babri structure was like twisting a knife in the wound and heightened the
anguished ire of the Muslims. The celebration rally organised by Shiv Sena in Dharavi
jurisdiction is an example” it further continues, “the police mishandled the situation and by their
aggressive posture turned peaceful protests into violent demonstration during which the first
targets of the anger of the mob became the municipal van and the constabulary, both visible
signs of establishment.” (vol. 1 Pg 4)

"The Maha Artis were started from 26th December, 1992 and kept adding to the communal
tension and endangering the fragile peace which had been established. Some (were used to
deliver) communally inciting speeches and the crowds dispersing from (them) indulged in
damage, looting and arson of Muslim establishments in the vicinity.” (Volume 1, page 13) On
1st January, 1993 there was an article in Samna under the caption ‘Hindunni Akramak Vhayala
Have’,(Hindus should become aggressive now) openly inciting Hindus to violence.” (Volume 1,
page 13). On 4th January, 1993 a big mob of Hindus led by Sheri Gajanana Kirtikar, Shri
Ramesh More and other Shiv Sena activists, took a Morcha to the Jogeshwari police station
complaining of lack of security for Hindus. Some of the people in the morcha attacked Chacha
Nagar Masjid and the Muslims in the vicinity and injured them. Several Muslim huts in Magdum
Nagar in Mahim jurisdiction were set on fire by the Hindus.” (Volume 1,page 13-14).
Commission is forthright in pointing out that Shiv Sena chief was acting like a General,
coordinating the carnage. Mumbai violence changed the nature of communal violence in India.
It was at large scale, well planned and well concealed, led by Hindu communalists and assisted by
the attitude of police, bureaucracy and political leadership.


Godhra, Gujarat and Akhshardham have been the major blots on our democratic ethos in post-
Independence India. In the din of the tragedies which gripped Gujarat for over a period of ten
months, different versions were floating about “who did it?’ Concerned Citizens Tribunal was
conceived and most outstanding legal brains of the stature of Justices V.K. Krishna Iyer, PB
Sawant, Hosbet Suresh, Adv. K.G. Kannabiran, and serious sociologists, Prof. Ghanshyam
Shah, Prof. Tanika Sarkar and social workers, Aruna Roy formed this tribunal.

The two volume report, ‘Crimes against Humanity’, which in a way is a landmark investigation in
situations like these, where vested interests not only try to hide the truth but also to distort the
same. The findings of the tribunal at one level are close to what many leading Human Rights
activists and scholars were suspecting. Its findings point to the complicity of state leadership in
the whole tragedy.

The tribunal concludes that Godhara incident does not seem to be pre-planned. Neither is there
a proof of ‘foreign hand’, which was propagated with confidence. Tribunals’ tentative conclusion
that the fire was lit from inside and not outside will force us to review the whole, action-reaction
thesis, which in a way was used to give legitimacy to state inaction in the face of one of the most
severe riots in independent India. (“Crime against Humanity”, Mumbai, 2002)

Why was the state political leadership so eager to jump at make believe-conclusions, and what
might have been the deeper design behind the whole carnage becomes slightly clear after going
through the twin volumes. The tribunal also makes it public that witnesses deposing before the
tribunal informed it about the meeting called by the chief minister in which instructions were
given not to take action against the ‘Hindu reaction’ to Godhra. This speaks volumes about the
real mechanics of the whole tragedy of marathon proportions. Most of the significant part is put
in the annexure.

Insecurity: Impact on Muslim Community

The Mumbai violence of 92-93 was followed by the internal migration of the battered minority.
Many from minority were displaced or chose to shift to areas, which may be safer for them,
Mumbra, Jogeshwari, Bhendi Bazar being the foremost. Incidentally, the population of Mumbra
before the violence was less than one lakh, today it is more than seven lakhs. Similarly, many
from minority community sold their houses in the mixed areas to shift to the Muslim majority
areas, increasing the pressure on civic amenities in those areas.

In Gujarat also ‘borders’, ‘Gaza Strips’ have come up to supplement the ‘mini Pakistan’. As the
extent of myths, biases, stereotypes against minorities are going through the roof, the mental
partitions are created and these partitions get converted in to the ones of brick and mortar. The
communal partitions are the definite aftermath of the communal violence. In Gujarat, the
victims of violence were not permitted to return into their own houses, even the written
undertakings were demanded from the victims that they will not seek legal justice for whatever
happened to them during the violence. As an example Asghar Ali Engineer observes, “…five
years after the carnage, more than 5000 families are rotting in horrifying conditions in various
refugee camps. Not only this, Modi recently returned more than Rs 19 crores to the Central
Government claiming that funds are no more needed as all have been ‘settled’. (Engineer, 2008,
p 143)

Today, more than a decade and half after the Gujarat carnage, nearly five lakh Muslims have to
live in isolated ghettoes and that too in abysmal situations. The extension of civic and other
amenities to these areas is conspicuous by its absence. Water, sanitation, health, education,
banking and other amenities and facilities are not reaching these areas. These internally displaced
people are being helped only by conservative Muslim groups, who are competing with each
other in increasing their area of influence amongst them. In a survey conducted amongst the
victims of Gujarat by social group Anhad, showed the dismal condition in which the victims of
violence are living, “While a large number of people have heard about the massacre of 2000
Muslims during the Gujarat pogrom of 2002, majority remain ignorant about the existence of
thousands of ‘second class’ citizens who have not been able to return to their homes six years
after the carnage.” (Hashmi 2008, p 5)

This is also becoming the zone with poverty, illiteracy, hunger, disease and misery. These
conditions are worst in the whole of state. Since the state is shirking from its basic
responsibilities of provision of infrastructure for social life, the Muslim fundamentalist groups
are providing the same and are also having a field day in these areas. Who is to blame for this, a
particular religion or the communal politics which not only resulted in the massive genocide but
even now is dictating the state policies by abandoning the responsibilities of the victims of
violence and others from minorities who have felt insecure and shifted or were made to shift in
these areas.

The message of communal agenda manifested through violence and through creating difficult
situation for minorities is now isolating them in most parts of India. So one can see the
trajectory of violence as follows: it begins with pre violence biases, stereotypes, then violence,
post violence neglect, isolation, ghettoization and finally leads to partitioning of the national
community at emotional and physical level.

The communal violence always polarizes the communities. In the initial phase till, say the
seventies, the ghettoization was minimal. From the decade of 90s, on one hand the communal
violence has gone into higher gear, ‘hate other’ sentiments have worsened and this ‘non sale of
housing units to the Muslim minority’ started becoming unwritten norm. What can be more
ironical than the fact that a housing rights activist herself is denied the house, just because she
carries a Muslim name!

Communal Violence: Contemporary Trends

The communal violence has been changing its forms continuously. The first major observation
was the role of police, its partisanship against Muslims, minorities as such. In case of Dhulia in
Maharashtra, the role of Hindu mob was substituted by police itself (Puniyani) majoritarian
politics. Secondly now it’s no more just an urban phenomenon. The Muzaffarnagar violence
showed it can spread in rural areas also with equal ferocity, as the process of communalization
has been made to reach the interior places as well1. The issue around which violence has been
instigated has also been changing and currently love jihad is among the major instruments of
‘hate propaganda’ and foundation of communal violence.

Muslims Youth as Terror accused

The phenomenon of terrorism had been the major one resulting in the blasts in cities like
Nanded, Parbhani, Malegaon, Hyderabad, Ajmer etc. The investigating agencies operating on the
understanding of “All Terrorists are Muslims” arrested Muslim youth in large numbers. Later,
most of them had to be released for the lack of any evidence. In this context the people related
to Hindutva groups came under the scanner leading to the arrest of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur,
Lt. Col. Prasad Shrikant Purohit, Retd. Major Upadhyay, Swami Aseemanand among others.
Swami Aseemanand is in jail and in his confession in front of a magistrate, revealed the role of
the Hindutva organizations in planning and executing many acts of terror. A tribunal was
organized by Anhad and associated human rights organizations in Hyderabad (2007). Tribunal
observed the gross violation of basic legal norms and the gross mistakes in arresting the Muslim
youth due to the prejudiced behaviour of police towards Muslim youth. (Puniyani, 2015) The
careers of many a promising young man was totally ruined due to such arrests without any proof
what so ever.

The pattern observed in most of the cases was that there were illegal detentions. Following the
torture, if the person is to be released, it seems to be a norm that police takes the signature on a
blank paper and also threats with dire consequences, if the person goes to human rights activists
or lawyers. At times they are made to shout ‘Jai Shri Ram’ just to humiliate them. Sometimes
even possession of Urdu literature is taken as a proof of terrorist links. Third degree torture to
the accused and severe torture to the relatives of the accused, to elicit confession is employed
widely. The accused and their relatives are taken to the police station or other places of
detention on false pretexts and the elementary needs of water and food are not looked at. For
permitting the families to see the accused under custody, bribe is extracted most of the times.

What happens to the future of those who are accused and released later? The students lose their
career-track, at times colleges don’t take them back until the court ruling is brought to that
effect. The families of accused get ostracized from the community out of fear. Others stop
relating to them. The business gets a severe setback and at these times banks refuse to give them
loans etc. Some of the accused are also tempted to become approvers with the carrot dangled in
front of them that they will be released. The powers vested with the police seem to be present
only through there misuse, most of the times.

A two way impression operates in the society. One, amongst the larger sections of society, that
Muslim terrorists are a big threat to the nation. Two, amongst Muslims the feeling is that state is
totally partisan and deliberate injustice is being done to them since they are Muslims. Two set of
mechanisms of investigation norms are coming to be rooted. One, Muslim youth are picked up
after every blast and are subjected to torture till courts pronounce them non-guilty. And two, to
treat the blasts accused who are Hindus, with kid gloves.

1 ( ).
Sachar and the Rangnath Misra Reports

In the light of the declining status of Muslims, the Government appointed Sachar Committee,
which submitted its report in November, 2006.

The committee after extensive homework found that the Muslim minority is way behind the
national averages in most of the parameters of social development, its economic status has been
sliding seriously, its representation in jobs, bank loans is abysmal, and its representation in the
political process has been very poor and is continuing to worsen. Its significant finding can be
presented as “percentage of Muslims in government employment was a mere 4.9 percent of the
total 88,44,669 employees.

The report points out that the number of Muslims in security agencies was 3.2 percent – 60,517
out of the total of 18,79,134 in CRPF, CISF, BSF, SSB and ‘other agencies’ In many states,
Muslims are significantly over-represented in prison. In Maharashtra, for instance, Muslims make up
10.6 percent of the population but 32.4 percent of those convicted or facing trial. Among district
judges in 15 states surveyed, 2.7 percent were Muslims. As per the report, the literacy rate is
about 59 percent, compared with more than 65 percent among Indians as a whole. On average, a
Muslim child attends school for three years and four months, compared with a national average
of four years. It further observes that less than 4 percent of Muslims graduate from school,
compared with 6 percent of the total population. Less than 2 percent of the students at the elite
Indian Institutes of Technology are Muslims. Equally revealing, only 4 percent of Muslim
children attend madarsas.

In sum and substance, Muslim community is under-represented, in most of the arenas of society
barring the jails. One also recalls the report of Gopal Singh Committee of 1982, which also had
found the poor status of this minority. Gopal Singh Committee report kept lying in the deep
freeze while the issues like Ram Temple kept hogging the national attention. To add up, one can
say this community’s representation as riot victim is way above its percentage in population. The
committee has recommended that an ‘Equal Opportunity Commission’ should be set up, a
‘national data bank’ should be started, a ‘nomination procedure’ should be started to ensure their
participation in public bodies, in order to promote religious tolerance by a procedure to evaluate
text books for appropriate social values, so on and so forth.

Whatever one can glean from policies being contemplated in the wake of Sachar report, it seems
a lot needs to be done. Steps are being contemplated, short of reservations to improve the lot of
the Muslim minorities. It is a matter of conjuncture whether this Government is really serious
about it or is it a mere replay of the earlier broken promises during last several decades. During
the last several decades while governments after governments have been promising to look after
the problems of Muslims, nothing much came out. This includes not only the longest reign of
Congress party but also of the one’s of formations, in which BJP was an important component
or supporter. Amongst multiple reasons of this neglect of the Muslims, one was the aggressive
propaganda of Hindu right that Government is out to ‘appease’ the Muslims so that they can be
used as vote banks. One does not know whether this aggressive anti-minority propaganda did
contribute to the policies of the government, but one can say for sure that this ‘appeasement of
minorities’ had become a part of ‘social common sense’ in the face of the worsening situation of

The National Commission on Religious & Linguistic Minorities, lead by Justice Ranganath
Mishra, former Chief Justice of India, submitted its Report to the Prime Minister on 22 May,
2007. It confirms the findings of Sachar Committee, about the backwardness of Indian Muslims
and goes on to recommend 15 percent of reservation for Muslim minorities in education and
employment to improve their condition. It is another matter, whether the Government will be
able to gather strength to implement such a dire necessity or not!

Summing up

The exclusion of Muslim community has taken place and its worsening, at economic, social and
political level. There multiple reasons, some in history and some in the political scenario as it has
unfold during last sixty years. The bulk of Muslim community comes from the poor castes. The
1857 rebellion, was attributed by British to Muslim leadership and there was a big backlash on
the common Muslims, who had to partly retreat in a shell. Thereby, while Hindus could become
the part of the education and jobs, Muslims as a community were fairly left behind. The efforts
of Sir Syed etc. resulted in the process of education and jobs mainly for elite upper caste
Muslims. The Partition was also a major setback to the Muslims who choose to stay back here,
these were also again from the lower socio-economic strata of society. During this process, there
was also a failure of leadership to pull out the community from this morass and take them to the
path of modern education and jobs in a big way. There was a definite discrimination against the
Muslims due to which they remained marginalized from the jobs also. The rising crescendo of
communal violence and later their demonization, linking them with terrorism put immense
pressure on the efforts of the community to progress in the modern fields.

The need of the hour is to ensure amity, security and equity. The prevalent perceptions about
Muslims, demonize them and provide the ground for violence instigated by communal politics.
The concerted attempts to present the proper picture of the Muslim community has to be done
globally and nationally both. The presentations which can undo the myths and biases against this
community should be taken up in a concerted manner. The promotion of inter-community
programs, joint celebrations of social events-festivals will promote the interaction and cut the
mistrust which has been manufactured over a period of time.

The central focus of the community leaders has to be to promote employment oriented
education, far and wide. The newer opportunities in different sectors need to be understood and
promoted in the community. There are significant efforts in this direction but more needs to be
done. A team also needs to be promoted which takes up the violation of human rights of
innocents and prevent the legal harassment. The legal team has to seriously take up the cause of
justice of innocents who have and are arrested and put in jails just because of the lack of
professional attitude of state authorities. These are marathon challenges and they can be
accomplished only through an alliance with social groups working for promotion of democratic
and secular values, groups working for human rights of the society. It’s a great challenge, the
goal of achieving security and equity of the community have to be paramount.


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25. Shabnam Hashmi, in ‘The Wretched: A Profile’ by Gauhar Raza and Surjeet Singh, Anhad
2008, Delhi, p5.
26. Rajinder Sachar, , accessed on 20 July, 2010.
muslims-confirms-muslim-vote-bank-politics-hurt-the-nation/ accessed on 20 July, 2010.
28. Teesta Setalvad, Who Casts the First Stone, Communalism Combat, March, 98.
29. Vibhuti Narain Rai, Combating Communal Conflicts, Renaissance Publishing House
Delhi, 1998, p48.

Mr. Ram Puniyani is an activist, author and former professor of the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay.
A distinguished academic, he took voluntary retirement in 2004, to devote time energy for communal harmony.
He also campaigns for human rights, civil rights and is associated with various organizations which work in these
areas. He was awarded the Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration in 2006. He has written many

Chapter 6


Irfan Engineer


The paper focuses on what Rajnath Singh, the BJP president while addressing the Muslims on 25 th February
2014, sought to bridge a trust deficit between his party and Muslims by saying that he was ready to apologize for
any mistakes committed by the party in the past and urged the community to give his party at least one chance.
The BJP leaders appear to reach out to the Muslims as elections approach, not to address the needs of minorities
nor make any attempt to understand them, but to confuse the Muslims about intentions of the BJP. This paper
attempts to examine the uneasy relation between the Hindutva and Muslims.


Rajnath Singh, the BJP president while addressing the Muslims on 25th February, 2014 sought to
bridge a trust deficit between his party and Muslims by saying that he was ready to apologize for
any mistakes committed by the party in the past and urged the community to give his party at
least one chance. Singh’s political secretary, Sudhanshu Trivedi clarified, “The BJP president said
if Muslims feel that wittingly or unwittingly, there have been mistakes on our part, he is ready to
make amends.” While campaigning during the state elections in Delhi, Rajasthan, MP and
Chhattisgarh, in rallies addressed by Narendra Modi, burkhas and skull caps were distributed to
signify that Muslims too, were attending the rally and would vote for the BJP. Will the Muslims
be wooed by such insincere moves? The BJP leaders appear to reach out to the Muslims as
elections approach, not to address the needs of minorities nor make any attempt to understand
them, but to confuse the Muslims about intentions of the BJP. Their objective is to mobilize
Muslim votes if possible and ensure that they (Muslim votes) do not get consolidated against the
BJP in any case.

Hindutva ideology always considered the Muslims and Christians as foreigners, holy lands being
outside the geographical area of their idea of ‘Akhand Bharat’. The saffron party’s attitude
towards the Muslims and Christians is reflected from the slogans their cadres often shout on the
streets like “pehle kasai- phir Isai” (implying that first the Muslims and later on, the Christians will
be taken care of during the riots.) They further stigmatized Muslims as terrorists, violent and
aggressive, practicing polygamy and breeding (sic) so rapidly that they would outnumber Hindu
population. Aggressive stigmatization of Muslims leads to periodical outbreak of communal
violence and ghettoization of the community. 40,000 innocents have been killed in communally
targeted violence since independence. In order to stigmatize Muslims as terrorists, the security
agencies had a free hand in Gujarat to periodically murder Muslims youth and after killing them
proclaim them to be terrorists killed in encounter. Sohrabuddin and Ishrat Jehan are a few
examples of this. Some of the slogans against Muslims are so unparliamentary that they cannot
be reproduced here. Yet Rajnath Singh is not even categorically accepting that it made any
‘mistake’ by following Hindutva ideology.

Politically, the BJP opposes every move of the government to ensure inclusion of marginalized
groups, particularly the minorities and to ensure that they too have equal opportunities. Modi
claimed that his secularism meant India first. When only certain sections of the society are in a
position to grab opportunities because they are socially privileged, proclaiming India first policy
would work to the advantage of the privileged (for example, majority community, upper castes
and males). India first privileges the corporate sectors which are grabbing the resources of the
country like the 2G spectrum, coal and mining, water, environment and have become
millionaires unjustifiably enriching themselves. The marginalized sections, like the dalits,
adivasis, women and minorities continue to be excluded and denied their fair share in
opportunities and common resources of the country as mandated in the directive principles of
the Constitution.

The BJP in the past, has often opposed any measures that afford religious minorities their
cultural space and cultural specificities. For example, they are opposed to separate family (or
personal) laws on grounds that it breeds separatism in minorities. They have opposed any
encouragement to Urdu language. BJP’s political project is to obliterate cultural diversity and
homogenize culture by imposing upper caste culture and turning the state into guardian of upper
caste culture– what they call as cultural nationalism. Thus, making the singing of saraswati
vandana, teaching of Bhagwat Gita and practicing yoga compulsory in the schools, where BJP rules.
Series of stringent anti-cow slaughter legislation and campaign against inter-religious marriages
falsely accusing such marriages particularly of Hindu women with Muslim men as a conspiracy
to out populate Hindus.

The BJP is opposed to cultural diversity and particularly against protecting the cultural space for
minorities. It has never stood for security of minorities and never raised a tiny figure against
discrimination of minorities in jobs, education, government contracts, bank loans etc. which has
resulted in their backwardness. This has now been well documented by the Sachar Committee
report and other studies.

The BJP has also demanded in the past that the Church and Islam should ‘Indianize’. What does
Indianizing actually mean? Muslims in India are as diverse as believers of any other religion are.
They speak the same language as other Indians like Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Marathi,
Konkani, Gujarati, Kutchi, various dialects of Hindi, Marwari, Kashmiri, Urdu, etc. They eat the
same food that people of the region eat and by and large wear the same dress and even follow
the same customs and traditions and participate in the festivals of believers of all religions. For
lack of space here, we are not going into instances and other details. Volumes have been written
on shared culture, customs and traditions between believers of all religions. The famous Poet
Iqbal called Lord Ram as Imam-e-Hind. Mazhar Jan-i-Jana, the sufi saint termed Ram and
Krishna as Prophets of Allah and Saint Nizamuddin would begin all his mornings by singing
bhajans (Hindu devotional songs) of Ram and Krishna. When he saw a Hindu woman
performing surya namaskar (worshipping sun), he told his disciple Khusro that she too was
worshipping Allah! Baba Farid Ganj-i-Shakkar composed all his devotional songs in Punjabi and
many of them are included in the Guru Granth Saheb, the Scriptures of Sikh community. The
Church too embraces rituals and culture of the people of India which it calls acculturation. What
more can one expect? Muslims and Christians in India are so Indianized that they even follow
the caste system, which they should not!

By calling upon to Indianize Islam and Christian Church, the BJP and RSS want two things.

1) The Church and the Islamic Madarsas should be cut off from the rest of the world, to
insulate themselves from any religious thoughts and theology from “outside” in this
global age and time, while Hindutva would continue to be global and receive its life
blood and funds from Hindus who have become citizens of US or European or other

2) Muslims and Christians should accept Hindu supremacy. These “foreign” religions have
equality as its foundational concept and universality in its approach. The bhakti saints like
Mirabai, Kabir, Ravidas, Tukaram, and many others belonging to the Siddha, Nath,
Tantra traditions too propagated equality and universality. Hindutva on the other hand is
based on notions of race and nationalism, which privileges the already privileged. RSS
and BJP’s prescription for the Muslims and Christians is that they too should accept the
concept of race and nationalism and hierarchies of privileges according to the “race” or
“nationalism” one belonged to. The then RSS Sarsanghchalak, K S Sudarshan addressing
the meeting of RSS sponsored Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM) on 24th December, 2002
wondered “as to why Muslims in India accepted the minority status when they belonged
to this land by birth and shared the same culture, race and ancestors with the Hindus?”
Concept of race and ancestors is alien to the Constitution as well as Hinduism of Kabir,
Islam and Christianity! Indresh Kumar, the Margdarshak of the Muslim Rashtriya Manch
prescribed the path of Muslims and Christians embracing Hindu nationalism or in other
words, Hindu supremacy. Indresh Kumar wants the Muslims to realize this as the spirit
and soul of India and promised the Muslims that all barriers would vanish if they did so.
It is not Islam or Christianity that needs to Indianize as may be evident from the
foregoing. It is the RSS and Hindutva ideology that needs to Indianize and give up
Hindu supremacist positions of race and embrace the Constitutional morality of equality
of all citizens irrespective of caste, gender, creed, race, religion, language or place of

In spite of the BJP’s well known position, a section of Muslims (roughly about 10 percent)
would vote for the BJP, for which there are reasons too.

Do Muslims Vote for the BJP?

The Centre for Study of Society and Secularism (CSSS) had carried out a survey during the
Maharashtra Legislative Assembly elections held in 1995. The survey then showed that about 10
percent Muslims were going to vote for the BJP. Muslim voters then were angry with Congress
for allowing demolition of the Babri Masjid under their watch. The Muslim votes shifted away
from the Congress to the regional parties like the SP in UP and Lalu Prasad in Bihar. However, a
small section was willing to vote even for BJP in absence of any other alternative to Congress. A
Muslim voter from Western Maharashtra represented the mood of Muslims in the 1995 elections
in these words “jis party ne Babri Masjid girte dekhi, ham usse girte dekhna chahte hain.” (we want to see
that party falling, which saw the Babri Masjid being demolished under its watch). Personal
security mattered more than the Babri Masjid to an ordinary Muslim. The demolition of Babri
Masjid was followed by heinous communal riots in many towns. The Muslims who voted for the
BJP did so more out of anger against the Congress rather than endorsing the BJP. In local body
elections however, a tiny section of Muslims did vote for a good BJP-Shiv Sena candidate in
local bodies. However, politically, Muslims shunned BJP understandably.

During the Maharashtra Assembly elections in 1995, Bal Thackeray would typically ask Muslims
to leave the venue while he was addressing as they would not be able to tolerate his tirade. He
would openly declare that he did not need Muslim votes. By demonizing the Muslims he wanted
to mobilize and consolidate the Hindu votes across the castes. He called himself Hindu Hriday
Samrat (one who ruled the hearts of Hindus). Bal Thackeray was found guilty of corrupt electoral
practices on 28th July, 1999 for mobilizing votes in the name of religion and his right to vote was
suspended for six years.

The Bombay Hotel area in Ahmedabad was visited in 2008. The area is the waste dumping
ground for the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. It is also the place where the survivors of
the 2002 pogroms have put their dwellings– literally on the Municipal waste. A quick unscientific
study was conducted asking the survivors whether the fact was true that Muslims had voted for
the BJP, and the reason for the same. One survivor informed that he did not want to vote in
that election. Casting their vote would be under duress of the BJP. He did not even have the
choice of not voting. He was compelled by the BJP workers to accompany them to the booth for
voting. He voted for the BJP under the watchful eyes of their workers and the booth officer. It
was difficult to believe him, but then he had absolutely nothing to gain by lying. The condition
of the survivors was utterly helpless. They were staying on heaps of waste without sewage,
electricity connections and were paying heavily to the mafias for a few posts of water pumped
out of the bore. Municipality did not extend any services whatsoever. No school for children. All
they had was security, at least temporarily. They were boycotted socially and economically by
non-Muslims and not given work. They wove ropes and spent most of their meager earnings on
doctors and few pots of water. The helplessness and desperation was reflected even in their
votes casted in favour of the BJP.

“Ame toh jaruriya”

When Shankarsinh Vaghela had revolted against Keshubhai Patel’s leadership in Gujarat and
split from BJP and taken his supporters to Khajurao, the two factions were called khajurias and
hajuriyas. One Sonubhai Chaudhary, a sincere activist fighting for adivasi rights in Dangs district
had shocked everyone by joining the BJP. Sonubhai was asked if he was a hajuriya or a khajuriya
(Patel loyalist or Vaghela loyalist). Sonubhai replied, reflecting the helplessness of the adivasis –
“Saheb, ame nai hajuriya, nai khajuriya, ame toh jaruriya” (Sir, we are neither hajuriyas, nor khajuriyas,
we are needy people). The situation of the survivors reminded of that statement of Sonubhai.
People who have been relegated to the status of almost beggars due to violence and state
policies need state services, howsoever poor the services may be, and if nothing, they need
security for survival. Needy people do not have the luxury of choice in voting. They vote with
the hope that it will pacify the demon and the demon will keep off them.

The Congress is politically so weak in Gujarat, controlling a few municipalities. BJP won 47 of
the 75 Municipalities. The ones that are controlled by the Congress are discriminated in
allotment of funds by the State govt. Therefore, even a tiny share in development is possible
only the patronage of BJP. Even for basic things like ID documents, for a Gujarati Muslim has
to depend on the patronage of the BJP.

Jaruriyas of a Different Class

Modi then started nurturing the ambition of becoming a PM, after managing to win third term
as the Chief Minister of Gujarat. For this he needed to shift gear and an image makeover from a
hardcore Hindutva leader (loh purush– person with iron will) to a leader who stands for
development (vikas purush). Hindutva image was needed for winning elections in Gujarat but that
would not be acceptable in the rest of the country. There was also a possibility of being charge
sheeted for his role in Gujarat riots in the year 2002.

When the Supreme Court left it to the trial court to decide whether to frame charges against
Narendra Modi in the 2002 communal riot cases, Modi claimed he already had clean chit from
the Supreme Court. In order to further mislead the people about the so called “clean chit” he
organized a series of “Sadbhavana Mission” for public consumption where he would sit on a day’s
fast. The “Sadbhavana Mission” were farcical without acknowledging any wrong doing on
anyone’s part and without expressing any remorse for the riots, let alone seeking forgiveness.
The “Sadbhavana Mission” were instrumental in image makeover for his prime ministerial
ambition. He invited some Muslim leaders for his “Sadbhavana Mission” in one of which he
refused to wear the cap offered by a Maulvi. He won over a tiny section of Muslims – those in
business– offering them some opportunities. Zafar Sareshwala became a face of this section.
Sareshwala would defend and applaud Modi publicly, whenever he was called upon to do so.
The Bohra priestly establishment (sitting on a huge empire amassed through various means) too,
needed political patronage to save his empire. They encouraged their followers to attend all the
rallies and functions of Modi with their traditional caps. Since this tiny section of businessmen
now enjoying patronage of Modi loyalists, they opined that it was time to move ahead and forget
the 2002 riots, and that Muslims were worst off during Congress regimes. That during Congress
regime too similar riots occurred and that Modi had now changed. However, though it is true
that riots took place even during the Congress regimes, but the planners and executors of the
riots and instigators and agent provocateurs, rumour spreaders, hate spreaders were Hindutva
cadres and this has been established by several inquiry commissions. The elite of Muslim
community cheering Modi are jaruriyas of a different class –needing political patronage in a state
where normal political processes and political opposition has not been allowed to survive. The
business class always tends to support the ruling party and the Bohras and Khojas, traditionally
supported the ruling party. With BJP Government getting elected for four terms, they had to
come around.

The BJP for Narendra Modi’s image makeover, shook hands with the jaruriya Muslims and made
headlines when BJP fielded Muslims candidates in 24 of the 27 wards in Salaya (Dist. Jamnagar)
Municipal elections in February 2013, and all 24 won. A closer examination would however
reveal that the 90 percent of the 33,000 strong population of the town is Muslim and it is the
Muslims that helped BJP win the elections for the first time rather than the other way round.
Salem Mohammad Baghaad, the leader who was instrumental for BJP’s victory said, he now
expected funds for development of the town to flow in. Till a decade ago, the town was
notorious for smuggling at its small time port. The anti-terror squad of Gujarat with its draconic
reputation frequented the town could now be expected to keep away.

A BJP Muslim Corporator of Bhuj (Kutch Dist.) was met. He was well off, living in a bungalow,
heading a few education institutions and owning a real estate business. Being in real estate and
redevelopment business, he could not expect to move an inch further without state patronage.
For lack of space, not going into details but suffice to say that for small benefits he would be
required not to speak up against the marginalization of Muslims and demonizing them as
terrorists and cow slaughterers for which Muslims are regularly detained and harassed. He would
also have to campaign for Modi. We also met one of the three corporators of Anjar town
(Kutch). This corporator represented himself as well wisher of the community and claimed to be
in the BJP for the good of the community. He further claimed that he would go to any extend to
defend the community’s interests. 20 percent of Anjar’s population is Muslim with three Muslim
Corporators and all the three belong to the BJP. The other two were his proteges. He was a local
toughie and could not afford to antagonize the ruling party. But he claimed that he had to resort
to strong arm tactics in the interest of the community. The citizens from Anjar told us that all
Muslim areas in Anjar - Sheikh Timba, Devadiya Naka and Ekta Nagar were backward and with
poor services like water, electric poles, roads and sewerage. The corporator however, told us that
he got about Rs 30 millions sanctioned from the corporation for installing electric poles and
improving sewerage facilities. In turn, however, the corporator would have to ensure that the
Muslims voted for the BJP. Ensuring about 12000 votes for sanctioning fund of Rs 30 million!
That seemed to be the quid pro quo.

Muslim Corporators but not Muslim MLA

BJP refused to give ticket to a single Muslim during the 2012 assembly elections in Gujarat.
Image makeover for Modi and the Sadbhavana Mission did not offer anything beyond a few
corporator seats to Muslims. The BJP’s victory in Gujarat in 2012 ensured that the Muslim
representation came down from 5 in 2007 to 2 in 2012. Muslims form about 10 percent of
Gujarat’s population and proportionately there should have been at least 18 MLAs in the house
of 182 members.

In the three states where elections were held recently – Rajasthan, MP and Delhi, only six
Muslims of the more than 500 legislators were given tickets by the BJP. There were 17 sitting
Muslim MLAs in the pre-poll assemblies and about 50 Muslim dominated constituencies. Even
the top office bearers of the BJP Minority Morcha candidates were denied tickets. Arif Aqueel
was the lone BJP Muslim MLA elected MP from Bhopal. In an Assembly of 200 in Rajasthan, 4
candidates fielded by BJP were Muslims and two of them got elected. Rajasthan has 8.5 Muslim
population and 17 of its MLAs should be from Muslim community. One Muslim candidate was
fielded from Delhi having membership of 70 in the house and 12 percent Muslim population.
BJP fields Muslims only in those constituencies where Muslims are in absolute majority and
there are very little chances of winning the seat with a non-Muslim candidate.

Muslims are not encouraged where policies and laws are going to be framed and where
distribution of national resources is going to be decided. Cultural homogeneity project of
Hindutva has no space for divergent voices. There, only the RSS and the staunch ideologues of
the Hindu Nationalists have space as they alone can ensure that national resources are
distributed only among the natural base of the Hindu Nationalist– North Indian upper caste
males and the corporate sector.

The national leaders from the Muslim community in the BJP ranks are merely show pieces to
mobilize the Muslims to vote for the BJP or at least confuse them so that they do not vote
collectively against the BJP. They are in BJP either as a staunch reaction to Muslim
fundamentalism as for example Sikander Bakht and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi. Arif Mohammed
Khan can be in the same category. However, strengthening of the BJP does not weaken Muslim
fundamentalism, it strengthens fundamentalism within the Muslim community as the
community, in reaction to series of communal riots gravitates around the fundamentalist
leadership of the community with the hope of ensuring unity to meet the onslaught collectively.
Fundamentalism in Muslims in Gujarat has strengthened.

A tiny section of Muslims are in BJP because Congress or some other party denied them ticket
or post or high office they were hoping for. Najma Heptullah was eyeing for the post of Vice-
President of India. When Congress did not show any inclination, she embraced BJP. Shahnawaz
Hussain climbed up the ladder very fast being one of the few Muslim faces when the BJP led
NDA Government was formed in 1999. These Muslim leaders are never heard protesting when
security of Muslims is in danger or when Babri Masjid is being demolished or on any other
cultural issues. They do not even succeed in pushing the BJP towards more inclusionist policy.
Their task is to represent the BJP’s exclusionist politics of “India first” to the community and
keep demanding that the community be happy with its second class citizenship that Hindutva
wants to relegate it to and preparing the Muslims be “nationalists” (in another words, Hindus
with lower caste status accepting the privileges of born “nationalists”).

Mr. Irfan Engineer is Director, Institute for Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution. He writes on and
advocates secularism, harmony and peace. His organization was awarded ‘2013 Award for Communal
Harmony’ by the National Foundation for Communal Harmony. He has authored many books and contributes
to magazines and journals on regular basis.

Chapter 7



Britta Ohm


Until 1991, the reporting of communal violence had, in permanent violation of India’s democratic constitution,
been censored “for the good of the people”. This was the case both in the approach adopted by the then single state-
owned TV broadcaster Doordarshan, and the result of pretty effective self-censorship in private newspapers. The
official argument was that news of riots, and especially the naming of communities, would instigate further violence
amongst a population never deemed quite “developed”, i.e. secular, democratic and civilised enough. Indeed, that
the Gujarat pogrom was the first communal violence in India that was televised, after the liberalisation of the
media landscape had set in after 1991, is probably the only fact that goes uncontested. This identification is where
even scholarly debate so far still ends. As such, this fact tells us little, though, because it is the very precondition for
the prevailing antagonistic interpretations of the event itself. The coming decade, for Muslims to take steps out of
their marginalisation, will require to move beyond complaints about stereotypisation and exclusion. It demands a
greater understanding of the logic with which discourses evolve and are being organised, of the mechanisms of media
and of the fact that “being in the media” may work as much against them as for them. Precisely their precarious
position in India equips them for approaching this task.

Even 13 years after its occurrence, the anti-Muslim violence in Gujarat in 2002, continues to be
a pivotal topic in debates over democracy, justice and (Hindu) nationalism in India. Therein, it
does not fundamentally differ from other instances of severe communal violence in recent
history, notably the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom in Delhi and the “Bombay riots” that followed the
destruction of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya through organised Hindutva forces in 1992. Both
these massacres showed numbers of killed and displaced persons similar to those in Gujarat
(even though apparently fewer cases of organised rape).1 It could even be argued that the
Gujarat violence, which was pursued during the BJP-State government (2001-2014) under the
then Chief Minister and now Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has helped to reminisce
about earlier instances of large-scale violence against minorities, and particularly against Muslims,
animating their re-evaluation and contextualisation. There is today a heightened consciousness
across diverse sections of society that “riots” do not somewhat “naturally happen” between
different religious communities but have a long history of directed instigation and state-
/government-involvement (Akbar 1988; Brass 2003; Das 1990; Eckert 2003).

Of all the incidents, however, the Gujarat violence has remained the most contentious. This
appears all the more paradoxical as it was covered by the media, and especially by television, like
none before (which immediately suggests a faster conclusion on its nature). While the '84-
pogrom is meanwhile widely understood as an organised attack on the Sikh community by the
then Congress government in the context of the Khalistan-movement, and the “Bombay riots”
have acquired the tag of a “nation's shame” as a Shiv Sena-orchestrated pogrom in the wake of
the Sangh Parivar's Ram Janma bhumi campaign, one can to this day, even with highly informed

1 The drastic level of sexual violence against Muslim women during the Gujarat pogrom has been a pivotal focus
of fact finding reports (see, for instance, “How has the Gujarat Massacre affected Minority Women? The
Survivors speak” ( It remains difficult to
verify, however, whether there was really a substantial increase as compared to earlier violence, or whether this
impression is evoked by the greater publicisation of documentation.
scholars, get into charged controversies over causes and context of what “actually” happened in
Gujarat and how to name it.2

How is it possible that such a continuum of conflicting interpretation and lack of established
information prevails despite unprecedented media coverage and visual documentation?

This article argues that it is precisely because this violence was occupying the media, and
particularly the nation's TV screens, for weeks on end that its contestation is ongoing. In fact,
the Gujarat pogrom - and, of course, calling it a “pogrom” in itself still means taking a contested
position - marks an exceptional case not only in relation to earlier, less mediated anti-minority
violence in India. A comparison with other genocidal attacks on minority populations in
different parts of the world and at different points in history will reveal that the Gujarat pogrom
was also the first, and remains to date the only, state-sponsored genocidal violence against a part
of the domestic population on a global scale that was broadcast live, 24x7, over several weeks to
national audiences by uncensored, commercially competing TV stations from the same country.

What does this imply?

Indeed, that the Gujarat pogrom was the first communal violence in India that was televised,
after the liberalisation of the media landscape had set in after 1991, is probably the only fact that
goes uncontested. This identification is where even scholarly debate so far still ends. As such,
this fact tells us little, though, because it is the very precondition for the prevailing antagonistic
interpretations of the event itself. It is the act of televising that enabled Hindutva-supporters and
the BJP-governments (both in Gujarat and at the centre 1998-2004) to argue that a large number
of inexperienced first-time TV journalists were at work who “got carried away” with “over-
reporting” (India First Foundation 2002; Ohm 2007).

They, hence not only questioned the images that were broadcast, but also the context of their
production. To Hindutva-opponents, on the other hand, the extensive visual coverage presented
unquestionable evidence that the State government supported the violence against the Gujarati
Muslims. They considered it the proof of an organised pogrom and made it the source of their
moral outrage, not least because large numbers of media audiences defied this “proof”. Tellingly,
it thus were the opponents to the coverage who appeared as exercising democratic media
criticism, while it were the opponents to the violence who appeared as blind defenders of media

It appears helpful, and overdue, to try and move beyond this ongoing, emotionally and politically
charged polarisation, which reproduces the reading it claims to falsify. To begin with, the
televised character of this pogrom meant that it exceeded not only the usual public-ness that has

2 It is quite fascinating to see how even leading critical scholars, who otherwise clearly condemn the Gujarat
violence and even speak of its genocidal quality, have fallen for the temptation to take a position in the
polarised debate that inadvertently makes them advocates of the Hindutva propaganda of a “Muslim attack”
(on the Sabarmati Express train at Godhra), which provoked “retaliatory” violence. Michael Mann (2005), even
though he is not known to have been around, claims witness-like that 'the train was stopped outside of the
town, right by one of the most militant Muslim suburbs. It was promptly attacked by a crowd of Muslims who
stoned and set fire to the train. It went up like a tinderbox […]' (sic!) (494). Similarly presents Arjun Appadurai,
in his 2006 Fear of Small Numbers as a fact that 'a small group of youth set fire to a train compartment filled with
Hindu activists returning from the sacred shrine at Ayodhya' (95). Most recently, even Christophe Jaffrelot
stated that 'a train of returning Hindu activists who had gone to Ayodhya to build the contested “Ram temple”
was attacked—probably by Muslims—in Godhra station' (2015, 347). The urge to present easily absorbable
knowledge, in tune with popular stereotypes, seems to override the minimal fact that none of this is verified
evidence but will be, due to carefully destroyed forensic evidence by the Gujarat government, probably forever
remain a matter of contestation (the 2005-issued Justice Banerjee Report, for instance, suggests that the fire
could not possibly have been set to the train (made of steel, after all) from outside but must have originated
inside the compartment and has potentially been caused by an accident).
characterised communal violence all along (in the sense of its occurrence before the eyes, and
partly with the participation, of the local population). The coverage also went much further than
during earlier violence such as the post-liberalisation “Bombay riots” of 1992/93. Even though
private and transnational television made itself already felt then, there was virtually no presence
of cameras (other than of the BBC), and the media audience still learnt about the violence
almost exclusively from newspapers (even if in a more accentuated form than during the anti-
Sikh pogrom of 1984).

The Gujarat pogrom, instead, was visible and consumable for everybody who could find a
screen to watch it on, amidst soap operas, game shows and Bollywood movies, throughout the
whole of India. This in itself indicates that the majority of this watching and consuming public
did not react with shock and condemnation to what they saw. Had public outrage been
dominant, the violence might have stopped earlier, and the “world public” would have heard
more about it at the time. As it was, the overwhelming reaction was, if not indifference, denial or
even open approval of the violence, even though – or rather because – the coverage was conveyed
with heavy criticism by Delhi-based national news channels that many now openly perceived as
the mouthpieces of the dominant “secular-liberal” elite. It was the first time that media
instinctively dropped the traditional restraint of naming communities in riot reporting. Reports
that pointed to Hindus as the aggressors and to the Gujarat government as actively supportive,
however, were promptly rejected by audiences and often verbally attacked, both in floods of
hate-mails to particular journalists and in the online commentary sections of TV channels or
newspapers, which were just becoming available then.

Many of these online commentators inaugurated their use of the medium of the internet by
flagellating critical information on a massacre against their co-citizens as “exaggerated” and
“sensationalist” and as biased towards Muslims and against Hindus and “Gujarat”. The Gujarat
violence was hence not merely the first that was televised in India. It was the first during which
form, context and source of the reporting, and the exposure of their dominance through the
“secular-liberal” elite, took precedence over the actual event and its character of a crime.

This constellation fundamentally disrupted the genuine link between public and democracy as it
is routinely invoked in liberal thought. Instead, there occurred an open antagonism here that was
directly connected both to the unprecedented on-location visual reporting and the first-time
access of large numbers of people to commercial television. Both covering the anti-minority
killings and criticising the media for reporting the violence in an “exaggerated”, “sensationalist”
and “biased” manner marked an increase in democracy and media maturity. Under the historical
preconditions, however, sustaining both of these postures at the same time and against each
other turned them mutually exclusive.

What thus got documented was not the crime but rather two other things. For one, the large
absence of condemnation (and frequent clearly anti-democratic statements such as “finish them
[Muslims] once and for all”) indicated how well the Sangh Parivar's increasingly aggressive
politics of naturalising Hindu supremacy over the previous two decades had taken root.
Secondly, it became obvious that the simultaneity of crime and coverage will tend to work in
favour of the crime rather than its condemnation and investigation.

The Reason and Historical Preconditions

Until 1991, as is well known, the reporting of communal violence had, in permanent violation of
India’s democratic constitution, been censored “for the good of the people”. This was the case
both in the approach adopted by the then single state- owned TV broadcaster Doordarshan, and
the result of pretty effective self-censorship in private newspapers. The official argument was
that news of riots, and especially the naming of communities, would instigate further violence
amongst a population never deemed quite “developed”, i.e. secular, democratic and civilised

Basically, this premise served to conceal the Indian state’s long-standing passive or active
involvement in communal violence and the successive transformation of riots into ever more
organised anti-Muslim massacres, usually on the pretext of “self-defence” against “Muslim
aggression” (especially after the growing public influence and electoral successes of Hindu
nationalism from the 1980s onwards). Censorship is always motivated by the rulers' fear of the
subordinated to build their own, uncontrollable opinion. It can thus be assumed that even the
Indian state expected the population to protest the riot politics they had become implicit in once
they had more information on its background and patterns of execution.

Post-censorship, commercial television instinctively followed this logic. It began reporting from
Gujarat’s killing fields in the manner of an enlightenment intervention, invariably acting as
though it was opening up the atrocities of a non-democratic, if not wholly totalitarian regime “to
the light” and to “the eye of the public” and making them accessible and assessable to all.
However, there was an inherent pitfall in this. Anti-democratic and majoritarian convictions and
practices have clearly been flourishing across the citizenry and the state over the past three
decades, feeding the legitimacy of anti-minority violence. Yet, this development has neither led
to abandoning India's framework as a constitutional democracy nor has it evoked amongst
citizens, the feeling of living under dictatorial conditions – on the contrary (Hansen 1999).

The excitement of the Gujarat coverage acquired before this background the impression of
being singular and arbitrary. It did not, and could not, lay open the mechanisms of riot politics
and anti-minority mobilisation in their entirety and their historical dimensions, including their
precarious and complex relationship with democracy. Instead, the media was with hitherto
unknown immediacy reporting one atrocity against Muslims under one (and the time not yet
elected) government whose ideology was particularly prone to supporting such violence. And
because the coverage focused on what was happening at the very time, it was also not repealing
the erstwhile censorship, as it was not revealing anything that had been previously hidden. It
merely (en)acted post-censorship, i.e. a liberalisation policy that was promoted by the state and
the BJP-governments themselves.

The revelation of the crimes of classic totalitarian and fascist regimes illustrates that the
dimension of time and its passing, the intervention of non-domestic media and its own
clandestine character have been critical in the attempt to make state-induced and political
violence public. These classic regimes took considerable care, even in the case of legalised
violence- think of the officially so-named 'Night-and-Fog' decree of the German Nazis3 – to
keep their crimes secret, elevating the secret police and the secret service key institutions within
the regime. The eventual publication of its crimes usually indicated the imminent demise of the
regime, if it did not occur only after its downfall. The collapse then duly elicited a secondary
response, shock and condemnation amongst people abroad as well as in the “host” country.

3 "Nacht und Nebel" ("Night and Fog") was the codename given to a decree of December 7, 1941, issued by
Adolf Hitler and signed by Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel, Chief of the German Armed Forces High Command
(Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, or OKW).
The decree directed that persons in occupied territories engaging in activities intended to undermine the
security of German troops were, upon capture, to be brought to Germany "by night and fog" for trial by
special courts, thus circumventing military procedure and various conventions governing the treatment of
prisoners. The code name stemmed from Germany's most acclaimed poet and playwright, Johann Wolfgang
von Goethe (1749–1832), who used the phrase to describe clandestine actions often concealed by fog and the
darkness of night' (Holocaust Encyclopedia, ModuleId
=10007465). See also Alain Resnais' famous 1955 film “Night and Fog” (Nuit et Brouillard) Fog_1955/
At this point the secrecy of the crime, while it is the precondition for the absence of a public,
allows for, and indeed supports, the claim that they did not know what had taken place (so that
it remains quite unclear if the subsequent condemnation is provoked by the actual crime, by the
fact of having been kept “in the dark”, or by the reflex involved in denying one’s own
complicity; see below). In the classic scenario, a third factor is that the media that makes the
crime public is usually not from the same country. The secrecy of the crime is contingent on a
strict censorship of the domestic media, and even if killings are public, this is generally done in
order to force both the national media and the population into fearful compliance. Uncovering
the crime itself is consequently, because of the hermetic practical and discursive conditions,
often a risky and lengthy process that commonly can only be initiated by foreign media. Bits and
pieces of information get then fed to the (world) public sometimes over decades and shifts in
time from journalists to scientists, judiciaries and international human rights organisations.

None of these conventional conditions applied in the case of the Gujarat pogrom. Yet, the
reporting somewhat instinctively followed their pattern– basically because there is hardly another
way of democratic media conduct in a situation of large-scale state crime. Not only were
journalists thus acting as though they were revealing a shocking truth; interestingly, they also
somewhat instinctively gave the impression that they were reporting the atrocity from another
country (which inadvertently negatively mirrored Narendra Modi's claim of Gujarat's exceptional
status; Jha 2006). However, as mentioned above, a pogrom is, in contrast to secret executions
for instance, anyway always at least semi-public, in as much as it often involves parts of the local

In a democracy such as India's the repeated occurrence of violence remains no secret, even if the
state censors its appearance in the media. Because, moreover, no secured information about the
context of this particular pogrom could be reported, it was thus, beyond its live-mediated form,
nothing really new to Indian audiences. That this pogrom entered the terrain of genocide, in
terms of the state-orchestrated determination to kill as many of a different group as quickly
possible, was a small qualitative shift in conduct that had also happened before (against the Sikhs
1984) and that was anyway conveniently denied by the Gujarat government. The democratised
media that strove to enlighten the public about the horrors committed thus met with a public
that thought that it already knew what was happening.

There's more to this aspect. The live-coverage also enabled viewers/media consumers for the
first time to register their own readings of what they saw within that very public, and these
readings were impacted by the same post-censorship freedom that the reporting media
somewhat only claimed for themselves. As the audience-turned population had been in the
know of, and even involved in, communal violence for decades, while being denied information
on the reasons and larger contexts both by state- and privatising the so-called “elite” media, they
brought to the fore a strong mistrust against any reporting that claimed authority over the
interpretation of the events.

The Sangh Parivar, besides mobilising already convinced followers and existing anti-Muslim
prejudice, thus reaped the harvest of an entrenched democratic deficit. One cannot but
acknowledge that the resistance against the basic narrative advanced by secular-liberal journalists
in their reporting bore a genuinely democratic question: why should the claim of this commercial
journalist authority, which had not bothered itself much with other instances of violence since
the 1990s and now instantly held Hindutva forces responsible for the Gujarat bloodshed, be
more credible than the earlier monopolised and censored media, which had averted all
responsibility from the Congress-state?

Yet another crucial point has to be considered in this context that lends a second dimension to
the 'form before content'-theme, addressed above. The history of live-coverage has not
coincidentally developed along sports events (Kelner 2012). Here, the live-broadcast is to
suggest to audiences their witnessing audio/visual presence in an actually happening,
ostentatiously harmless, “unpolitical”, and joyful competitive event– an event whose inherent
excitement and evolving tension virtually lives on (the feeling of) popular participation. Indeed,
the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games under the Nazi regime were the first-ever televised sports event.
It marked not only the beginning of TV live-broadcasting as such but also an essential
component of fascist entertainment spectacle and direct aesthetic involvement of a depoliticised
citizenry (Benjamin 1996-2004; Ohm 2014). In 2002 India, however, live-coverage drew
audiences into the very opposite of a joyful competitive event.

While it were the different TV stations themselves that operated under the new rules of market
competition and TRPs (Television Rating Points), audiences were precisely made part of what
conventionally has been carefully kept away from public witnessing. This same, or rather
enhanced, technique and procedure of live-coverage in a reverse situation seems to have yielded
highly ambiguous audience reactions. On the one hand, several observers have, usually with
shocked disbelief, pointed to the completely disinhibited, carnivalesque “dance of death”-
atmosphere that surrounded the perpetrators' actions on the ground in Gujarat (Ghassem-
Fachandi 2012; Janmohamed 2014). Live-coverage brought at least some of these images
unfiltered to audiences that had only since the middle of the 1990s become familiar with a fast-
advancing logic of direct transmission, first of a growing number of cricket tournaments and
then, after 2000, increasingly of game- and reality shows.4

Unfortunately, the novelty of the situation, which continues to go underestimated, seems to have
prevented scholarly investigation among viewers during or shortly after the pogrom itself. My
own random observations at the time seem to support the hypothesis that the fast
entertainmentization of television in combination with an advancing aura of immediacy and
directness has abetted a pattern of viewing and consuming the violence which put the carefree
feeling of partaking in a harmless event over the actual content, thus benefitting and enforcing
the celebration of Hindutva that sanghis had pursued all along.

On the other hand, it is precisely this logic of drawing viewers into the pogrom through live-
coverage that both enabled as well as provoked an instinctive distancing on their part. For one
they were, in fact, in contrast to the reporters, largely not physically on location and were not
confronted with the real dimensions and complexities of violence, fear and suffering. They could
neither be physically affected nor actively take part. However, live-coverage, through its
immediacy, inherently poses the question of audiences' own role in what they see unfold in real
time, especially if it happens in the same country. It directly and without warning confronts them
with their own potential implication and responsibility. The instinctive human reaction, when
confronted with the suggestion of responsibility for grave injustice (even more so than with
direct guilt), is likely to be rejection, though, particularly so if the forces pursuing this injustice
have not been criticised and battled beforehand. The histories of post-genocidal societies
indicate that it takes time and persuasion- effected, amongst other things, through the step-by-
step release of new and fact-checked information- to challenge and eventually overcome this

If genocidal violence is being live-reported, and the time-gap shrinks to zero, the impulse to
deny responsibility is consequently not only likely to be enhanced. Because live-coverage also
suggests that “everything has been seen at the time”, the later placing of fact-checked
information becomes very difficult. The manifold futile attempts by Indian journalists and
filmmakers during the first few years following the pogrom to reveal 'the truth' – as a cover of

4 Most of these shows were not actually broadcast live but conveyed the feeling of live-ness.
5 I thank Farah Naqvi for making me think more about this point.
the investigative magazine Tehelka in 2007 confidently announced – speak of this problematic.
What drove them was their own disbelief at the absence of shock they had witnessed amongst
the watching populace. Shock, however, when failing to occur in the first instance, cannot be re-
evoked, and images of cruelty that have already been used by audiences to support a self-
comforting interpretation of the events cannot be employed to convince them of a different

Correspondingly, when looking at the actual cases since WW II in which accused perpetrators of
state-induced violence have eventually been judicially tried and sentenced, we find a remarkable
correlation between the absence of such trials and the increase of non-embedded media on the
location of the crime (including more and more media operated by private users, particularly in
the form of mobile phones). Beginning with the Vietnam War, during which horrific war crimes
by the US-military against the local population were pretty promptly documented, more recent
atrocities against people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Libya, Palestine, Egypt and Syria
(committed by both the respective state governments and the “intervening” Western powers, or
groups supported by either) have all seen a good share of live-reporting and private

The demand for judicial action, however, has remained largely confined to scattered victims'
groups and their activist supporters. This does not mean that people would necessarily back the
cruelties of their leaders, elected or not, in the same way as under erstwhile totalitarian regimes.
Rather, it bespeaks the inherent ambivalence of democracy, the ever decreasing possibility to
ascribe the 'dark side' only to clearly identifiable dictatorships (Mann 2005; Mouffe 2000). Live-
reporting (and internet-based documentation), contrary to still widely-held beliefs, does thus not
seem to have particularly helped to establish uncontested, realizable facts about violence against
minorities and local populations. While it has certainly raised the general knowledge about such
incidents, it has also, on a global scale, generated excited opinions about “truth” and majoritarian
defence mechanisms that are backed by the democratic freedom of speech.

The Indian case and the Gujarat pogrom take a particular place in this scenario, because a basic
definition holds that genocidal attacks on minority populations are irreconcilable with
constitutional democracy (Mann 2005; Rummel 1995). Since WW II, the “interventionist”
politics of the West, and the US in particular, are informed by the narrative that, on the contrary,
democracies intervene to prevent or stop genocides elsewhere, i.e., in non- or less democratic
states. They consequently take great care, and are in the privileged position to ensure, that
whatever atrocities they themselves commit in the course take place outside their own country
(even illegal detention is, as in Guantanamo, kept ex-terrestrial). The reporting of such crimes
(which rarely happens live) may be problematic for them as it, increasingly, tarnishes and
questions their democratic credentials but can usually still be digested (Abu Ghraib) and
explained to the own population as an unwanted side-effect (“collateral damage”). The live-
reporting of violence in the “intervened” states, on the other hand, poses no problem as these
are by definition not democratic.

This definition of the mutual exclusion of democracy and (reporting of) genocidal violence,
however logical and important, obviously works not only as an analytical and practical guideline
but also, and increasingly, as a self-fulfilling prophecy in the sense that whatever crime is being
committed (and covered) in a constitutional democracy, cannot have genocidal quality. This
reverse logic was very much at work in the reactions to the Gujarat pogrom, including those by
international scholars and, particularly, international media (who largely accepted the claim of
the Indian central and Gujarat governments that the violence was an unfortunate but internal
matter that a democracy like India could handle herself). For the victims, the situation thus
became particularly precarious, because they could not hope for much exposure of their plight
to the outside world. The national live-coverage, on the other hand, equipped Indian audiences
not only with the argument that such freedom of professional reporting can only happen in a
democracy, and the violence can hence not be genocidal. Their interpretations of the transmitted
pogrom also turned India's long history of state-induced killings of parts of its own population –
as a democracy with one of the most liberal constitutions world-wide– into evidence that this
violence was nothing extraordinary.

Under the conditions, the Indian media was virtually robbed of its self-appointed investigative
and enlightening intention. As long as reporting journalists focused on the crime committed,
there was no way for them to avoid becoming the advertisers of what they wanted to expose
(which is one reason why the reporting on Gujarat faltered rather quickly altogether). Precisely
because it was (made) public, the crime became non-publishable as a crime. The Indian public,
meanwhile, insofar as it rejected the crime to have happened, fundamentally changed its role.
While it had for long been prevented from being the power that, in Habermasian terms,
monitors public authority through public opinion, it now made itself indispensable in preventing
the disclosure of the authority’s guilt. By defying its own implication in what it witnessed on its
small screens, it tied itself to Narendra Modi, making eventually his election as Prime Minister
the price for upholding the self-comforting belief that the Gujarat pogrom has been no pogrom
at all.

Precisely because India is still a democracy, however, this potentially closed interpretation has
not remained uncontested even over the years that have passed. Gujarat has resurfaced in the
public debate ever since, even if largely because of the relentless dedication of a few, who,
tellingly, have refrained from arguing with media-based evidence and have mainly operated
legally. Even if it has been rightfully argued that relying on the 'fact-finding' of the judiciary has
become as questionable in a process in which facts have systematically been replaced with
interpretations of “truth” (Mitta 2014), their efforts have nevertheless crucially contributed not
only to keeping “Gujarat” on the agenda but also, as I mentioned at the outset, to unravelling
earlier pogroms. Yet even in this laudable counter-agency some tendency prevails to focus on
large-scale atrocities– rather than include ongoing and everyday violence against minorities and
weaker sections of society – and to treat these events as exceptions from the democratic norm.

It is, however, not the violence but India that represents today an exceptional case of a
democratic constitution and routine drastic violence against large sections of her own
population. That the televised Gujarat pogrom loudly and visibly marked this exception remains
within the blind spot in the understanding of democracy that many people both in India and
beyond nurture. This might explain why the debate has hardly moved past the initial polarisation
and the media dimension of this pogrom has been left remarkably under-analysed. The emphasis
in India, both in everyday practise and in scholarship, still lies squarely on access, acquisition and
quantity of media (and their users). Whatever we find published on Muslims and media laments
their stereotypisation and lack of access, while in turn, amongst Muslims the idea prevails that
“being more in the media” would support their causes, document their difficulties and meet the
promise of democracy.

During the Gujarat pogrom, however, Muslims have been “in the media” and documented in the
most grave of the dangers they face – and it has not helped raising consciousness and promote
inclusion. On the contrary: in the decade after the pogrom, Muslims were all over India and
more than ever before - under a Congress-led central government eager not to be left behind in
“anti-terrorism” policies - exposed to the permanent threat of prosecution, willful detention and
police “encounters” that killed again many (Sethi 2014), forcing them to keep their heads down.

The coming decade, for Muslims to take steps out of their marginalisation, will require to move
beyond complaints about stereotypisation and exclusion. It demands a greater understanding of
the logic with which discourses evolve and are being organised, of the mechanisms of media and
of the fact that “being in the media” may work as much against them as for them. Precisely their
precarious position in India equips them for approaching this task.

* Short parts of this article have been reproduced from my piece Public against Democracy: the case
of the Gujarat pogrom 2002, published in 2012 in the Open Democracy-digital commons


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3. Benjamin, Walter, 1996-2004. Selected Writings, vol. I-IV, ed. M. Bullock et al., Cambridge
MA: Harvard University Press.
4. Brass, Paul, 2003. The Production of Hindu-Muslim Violence in Contemporary India, Delhi:
Oxford University Press.
5. Das, Veena, ed., 1990. Mirrors of Violence. Communities, Riots and Survivors in South Asia,
Delhi: Oxford University Press.
6. Eckert, Julia, 2003. The Charisma of Direct Action. Power, Politics and the Shiv Sena, Delhi:
Oxford University Press.
7. Ghassem-Fachandi, Parvis, 2012. Pogrom in Gujarat. Hindu Nationalism and Anti-Muslim
Violence in India, Princeton University Press.
8. Hansen, Thomas Blom, 1999. The Saffron Wave. Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in Modern
India, Delhi: Oxford University Press.
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Television & New Media 16 (4), special issue Modi and the Media: Indian Politics and Electoral
Aftermath, 346-53.
11. Janmohamed, Zahir, 2014. “Some young Gujaratis want to know: what really happened in
2002?”, in scroll, 22. April (
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Realm”, in Himal Southasian 19:7 (Oct.), at: / cover _
13. Kelner, Martin, 2012. Sit Down and Cheer. A History of Sport on TV, London: Bloomsbury.
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University Press.
15. Mitta, Manoj, 2014. The Fiction of Fact-Finding. Modi and Godhra, New Delhi: Harper Collins.
16. Mouffe, Chantal, 2000. The Democratic Paradox, London: Verso.

17. Ohm, Britta, 2007. The Televised Community. Culture, Politics and the Market of Visual
Representation in India, PhD thesis,
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Indian Empowered Public”, in Media International Australia 152, 119-32.
19. Rummel, R.J., 1995. “Democracy, Power, Genocide and Mass Murder”, in The Journal of
Conflict Resolution 39 (1), 3-26.
20. Sethi, Manisha, 2014. Kafkaland. Prejudice, Law and Counterterrorism in India, New Delhi:
Three Essays Collective.
21. Tehelka 2007, special issue Gujarat 2002: The Truth in the Words of the Men who Did it, Nov. 3.

Chapter 8


Vibhuti Narayan Rai


Having been given the responsibility to conduct a study on the neutrality of the police during communal riots,
especially between Hindus and Muslims in India, by the National Police Academy, Hyderabad, I encountered
some disturbing trends in its behaviour. The paper dispels on the police behaviour in pre-Independence India, and
post-independence India, and what were the people’s expectations from the police.

The National Police Academy, Hyderabad, awarded me a fellowship to conduct a study on the neutrality of the
police during communal riots, especially between Hindus and Muslims in India. During the course of my study, I
encountered some disturbing trends in its behaviour. In most parts of the country, the relationship between the
police and Muslims was inimical and community perception of the police in situations of communal tension was
that of an enemy. This is true not only for the post Independence period; pre-Partition Indian society too expected
the police to behave in a communal fashion. For a policeman, Hindu or Muslim, continued to be looked upon
primarily as a protector of his own community.

While working on the project, I came across two interesting incidents from pre-Partition days. The riots in East
Bengal during the ’20s and ’30s were abetted by Muslim policemen spreading rumours among the Muslim
peasants that attacks on Hindus would be considered as acts of loyalty to the Raj. Further, there was an
agreement between the Nawab of Dhaka and the Emperor of Britain that attacks on Hindus would not attract
any punishment. I also came across a petition submitted in the ’30s by one Pandit Raghuvar Dayal of Kanpur
that Hindu citizens of the town felt insecure because of a lower representation in the Kanpur police. These two
instances exemplified the dominant trend in Indian society of the time.


The situation has not changed significantly and the relationship between citizens of a particular
religion with policemen of the other religion remains more or less the same. We need to examine
minority fears regarding the behaviour of the police keeping these ‘facts’ in view. Is the current
behaviour of the police and the reaction of the minorities just an extension of the earlier trend?
Is the Muslim perception regarding the police based on certain realities or is their behaviour too
responsible? Why are the perceptions of Hindus and Muslims about the Indian Police so
diametrically opposed to each other? Muslims in India consider the police as their enemy, the
Hindus see them as friends and protectors. The answers to these questions have to be sought in
the behaviour of the police combatting communal riots, the representation of minorities in the
police, and conflicting expectations of different segments of society in any given situation.
We should first analyse the efforts of the police to quell incidents of communal violence. Like
with any other law and order problem, police efforts to cope with the situation can also be
divided into many stages. Collection of intelligence and preventive actions – detention of anti-
social and communal elements, execution of bonds, instilling fear in the minds of mischief-
mongers through show of force, and diffusing tension through re-conciliatory measures, form
the first stage of police strategy.

The second stage of police action begins with the eruption of violence. This includes actual use
of force– lathi-charge, firing, arrests, and imposition of curfew and extension of protection to
the victims of violence. The third and final stage involves measures like investigation and
prosecution of riot cases, rehabilitation of riot victims, necessary arrangements to ensure that
there is no recurrence of communal violence and rebuilding of confidence among the people.
The neutrality of police behaviour and its relationship with members of different communities
can be understood better only after analysing police actions during the above three stages. It is
basically the overall behaviour of the police in situations of communal strife which pushes
members of a minority community, like the Muslims, into viewing it as an enemy.
I was stunned to discover that in most major communal riots in the country, Muslims were the
worst sufferers, both in terms of loss of life and property. Often, the percentage of Muslim
casualties was more than 60 percent of the total. Their losses in terms of property were in similar
proportion. Given these facts, it is not unnatural to expect that the law enforcing agencies would
react in a manner commensurate with this reality.

Unfortunately, the real picture is quite different. Even in riots where the number of Muslims
killed was many times more than the Hindus, it was they who were mainly arrested, most
searches were conducted in their houses, and curfew imposed in a harsher manner in their
localities. This observation holds good for even those riots where almost all killed were Muslims,
e.g., Ahmedabad (1969), Bhiwandi (1970) or Bhagalpur (1989). This phenomenon can be better
understood through the accompanying table.

Arrests and Casualties Hindu Muslim

Bhiwandi Riots (1970): Arrested in cognisable/

substantive offences 21 901

Casualties 17 59

Meerut Riots (1982): Arrested in cognisable/

substantive offences upto15 September 124 231

Casualties 28

Similarly, Muslims are often at the receiving end during house searches. The general pattern
during a communal riot is that a Muslim mohalla is cordoned off with the help of the army or
para-military forces after which the houses are searched indiscriminately. Such acts only result in
injuring the pride of the entire community. What is more disturbing is the mind-frame of the
civil and police administration. While the curfew is enforced with all strictness in the Muslim
localities, it is virtually confined to the main roads in Hindu areas, with normal activity in the
lanes and by lanes remaining unaffected.

In interviews with the riot victims of Ahmedabad, Meerut, Bombay and Allahabad, this single
factor came across as the most important in explaining Muslim anger towards the police. This
complaint of discrimination was more bitter in areas of adjoining Hindu and Muslim residential
townships. Further, the experience of curfew was different for the poor residents of slum areas
belonging to the two communities. Most houses lack basic facilities such as drinking water and
lavatories. The Muslims invariably complained that while they were not permitted to move out
of their houses to fetch water from public taps, which happen to be the main source of water
supply in such areas, the Hindus were rarely subjected to such restrictions.

An analysis of the number of victims of police firing in communal riots reveals a similar trend.
Normally, Muslims suffer the brunt of police firing. The table below shows that Muslims suffer
differentially in police firing even in those riots where they have already suffered far more than
Hindus in the violence.

Number of Persons killed in Police Firing

Place Hindu Muslim

Bhiwandi (1970) nil 9

Firozabad (1972) nil 6
Aligarh (1978) nil 7
Meerut (1982) nil 6

It is not difficult to identify the reasons behind the discriminatory behaviour of the police. The
conduct of an average policeman is guided by the same predetermined beliefs and
misconceptions which influence the mind of an average Hindu. Not unlike his average co-
religionist, an average Hindu policeman too believes that Muslims by nature are generally cruel
and violent. In the course of my study, I spoke to a large number of policemen of various ranks.
Most held the view that apart from being cruel and violent, Muslims were untrustworthy, anti-
national, easily influenced by a fanatical leadership, and capable of rioting at the slightest
provocation. Further, most policemen believed that riots are initiated by the Muslims. Even
when confronted with evidence that it was not in the interest of Muslims to start a riot, the
arguments rarely changed.

It stands to reason that since policemen are convinced of the mischievous role of Muslims in
riots, they rarely entertain doubts regarding the modalities required to check them. They believe
that the only way to control riots is to crush the mischief mongering Muslims. Instructions from
the state government or senior police officials to deal firmly and ruthlessly with the rioters are
interpreted in a prejudiced and biased way. Being firm and ruthless with rioters is interpreted as
firmness and ruthlessness towards Muslims, arrests means arrests of Muslims, search means
search of Muslim houses, and police firing means firing on Muslims.

Just how strongly the subconscious is affected by the prejudices and predetermined beliefs we
hold, and the degree to which our conduct is influenced by them, can be discerned from the
actions of policemen during communal riots. Even in situations where Muslims were at the
receiving end from the very outbreak of rioting or where the killing of Muslims was totally one-
sided, the police did not hesitate in claiming that the Muslims had caused the riot. Even
subsequently, after it was established that the Muslims had suffered most, they continued to
argue that Muslims were responsible for the outbreak of riots.

In my conversations with some of the policemen posted in Bhagalpur (1989) and Bombay
(1992-93), it became clear that their perception about Muslims as violent and cruel was so deeply
embedded in their psyche, that even after admitting the disproportionate destruction of Muslim
life and property, they continued to ‘discover’ many ‘reasons’ to dismiss the suggestion that the
‘naturally non-violent and pious Hindus’ could in any way have been responsible.

It is this psychology that governs police reactions during communal strife. While combatting
riots, they look for friends among Hindus and foes among Muslims. It is a common sight in the
towns of North India that outside forces sent to control communal tensions make their lodging
arrangements in temples, dharmashalas and parks in Hindu localities or the space available in
Hindu homes and shops. When shops are shut during curfew, food, tea and snacks are supplied
to them by Hindu homes. Members of the majority community, who in normal times may
maintain a distance from the police just like members of the minority communities, suddenly
perceive policemen as friends. This is their ‘natural’ expectation from a ‘friendly’ police – that it

will not use force against them. Whenever the police has used force against Hindus, they have
reacted in amazement and behaved as though cheated.

The first information report (FIR) lodged by Ajit Dutta, during the Bhagalpur riots (1989),
candidly underscores this mentality. He writes about the dismay and anger expressed by a mob
of law-breaking Hindus when confronted by the police. Obviously, for them this was just not
done. This reminds me of a similar experience at Gadiwan Tola in Allahabad (1980). I warned a
Hindu mob that we would open fire if they did not disperse. The crowd refused to take the
warning seriously believing it was a joke. Subsequently, when they heard the order to open fire,
there was the unambiguous reaction of disbelief and surprise.

How far this deeply entrenched perception of Muslims as being solely responsible for riots and
strictness towards them as the only way to quell a riot affects, the reaction of a policeman may
be illustrated by the example of Hashimpura, where the savagery and horrifying lack of
professionalism of the police became a matter of national shame.

The Meerut riots (1987) were unprecedented in the toll of human life and for the long period of
continued and unabated violence. The magnitude of the riots can be gauged by the fact that the
services of about 50 gazetted police officers and magistrates along with more than 70 companies
of PAC, para-military forces and army had to be pressed into service. The policemen deployed
here harboured all the above-mentioned beliefs and prejudices. When their round-the-clock vigil
failed to control the violence, some of them went berserk.

Fully convinced that the only way to quell riots in a civilised society was by teaching the Muslims
a lesson, one section of the PAC picked up more than two dozen Muslims from Hashimpura.
They were transported in police trucks and killed at two places in Ghaziabad. I was SP,
Ghaziabad at the time and after receiving the information, registered two cases against the PAC.
The cases were handed over to the Uttar Pradesh CID and after eight years of investigations a
charge sheet was reportedly filed against the erring personnel of the PAC.
Why should the PAC have committed such a detestable act? I talked to a number of policemen
deployed in Meerut in this period during my tenure as SP Ghaziabad (1985-88) as well as during
the course of my study.

An understanding of the psychology of these men may help us, to better appreciate the
relationship between the police and members of the minority communities.

Most of the policemen posted in Meerut thought that the riots were a result of Muslim mischief.
They also believed that Meerut had become a mini-Pakistan because of Muslim intransigence;
that it was necessary to teach the community a lesson in order to establish permanent peace in
the city. They were deeply affected by rumours which suggested that Hindus in Meerut were
totally vulnerable to Muslim attacks.

Instances like Hashimpura only worsen the already strained relationship between Muslims and
the police. We find that some riots did start with a Muslim attack on the police. Often, in a
surcharged atmosphere, the presence of police angers people. For instance, reacting to the
demolition of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya, angry mobs of Muslims in different cities initially
chose the police rather than the Hindus as a target. There are many other examples of
communal rioting in which trouble started as a clash between the police and Muslims and only
subsequently turned into a Hindu-Muslim conflict. The Idgah incident in Moradabad (1980) is a
case in point.

The clearest reflection of the hostile relationship between Muslims and the police can be
witnessed in the behaviour of the police entering a Muslim locality during communal tensions.
The briefing, preparation and weaponry of the police party before entering a Muslim locality for
arrests, searches or even normal patrolling is such that it thinks it is entering enemy territory. I
have encountered many such groups and invariably found them comprising of people full of
apprehension and fear. Their behaviour is not inexplicable. It is necessary for them to be alert, as
they could be the target of attack. Who is responsible for this feeling of distrust and enmity?
Perhaps, the seeds are to be found in the terms ‘we and they’ used by police officials for Hindus
and Muslims during conferences organised to devise ways and means to deal with a communal

The reporting of facts, the investigation into and prosecution of those involved in communal
riots, are other aspects where a clear communal bias in police behaviour can be discerned. Facts
are reported at various levels. Intelligence reports prepared at the police station to be sent to
government and senior police officials are normally affected by this bias. For example, a list of
habitually communal agitators, maintained at various police levels in Uttar Pradesh, is dominated
by Muslim names. Even during the days when Hindu communal forces were active in the Ram
Janam bhoomi agitation, it was difficult to find the name of Hindu inciters in the list. Perhaps
the same perception which holds that to be communal is the prerogative of the Muslims was at
work here.

The damage this bias does to police professionalism can be understood from the incidents that
led to the destruction of the Babri mosque. It is evident from the charge sheet filed by the CBI
that the demolition of the mosque was the result of a well-planned conspiracy. However, none
of the intelligence agencies actually discovered this fact before 6 December, 1992.

A heinous example of this bias in reporting facts is available from Bhagalpur (1989). 116
Muslims were killed in Logain village on 27 October, 1989. This brutal massacre was enacted by
the Hindus of Logain and other neighbouring villages. Logain stands 26 kms from the district
headquarters of Bhagalpur, with the police station only 4 kms away at Jagdishpur. The Muslims
killed were buried in the fields. The 65 Muslim survivors went to many places, including
Bhagalpur town, and reported this ghastly incident. Details were published in local and national
newspapers. Despite this, the district and police administration of Bhagalpur continued to deny
any such incident till a police party led by dig Ajit Dutta dug out some bodies from the fields on
8 December, 1989.

The Justice D.P. Madon Commission which enquired into the riots of 1970 at Bhiwandi-Jalgaon
cited similar examples of bias in reporting. His analysis about the failure of the police to take
effective measures at Jalgaon, even after receiving the report of Bhiwandi troubles, is scathing-
‘The real reason for the inadequacy of the measures taken by the authorities was the communal
bent of mind, of some officers and incompetence of others. Unfortunately, SP S.T. Raman
appears to have possessed a communal bent of mind and perhaps a pro-Jan Sangh bias. As
shown by some of his own reports and his noting on the reports of Inspector Sawant, incharge
of the Jalgaon city police station, he fully realised the seriousness of the situation. He, however,
chose to turn a blind eye to it and even to mislead the government and the IGP about the true
state of affairs in his report dated 29th March, 1970.’

The commission found a similar bias in the conduct of PSI Bhalerao, who did not include
incidents of brick-batting by Hindus in the records of the police station. The officials of the
intelligence department displayed a similar bias. PSI Badgoojar sent an entirely false report to
DIG (Int.) that the riot was caused by Muslims throwing burning torches on Hindu houses.
Investigating agencies too are afflicted by a communal bias while looking into riot cases. There is
the classic case of Hashimpura, Meerut, cited earlier, in which the Uttar Pradesh CID took eight
years to complete its investigation. Another example relates to the cases registered during the
1984 anti-Sikh riots. In most of these situations, the police organisations failed to book the

The role of the special investigation squad, set up to investigate the riot cases of Bhiwandi, was
focused on by the Madon Commission as a glaring example of communal bias. The squad’s
effort to establish the theory of a Muslim conspiracy was ridiculed by the commission, finding it
totally untenable. The commission highlighted many examples of investigators trying to fabricate
evidence against Muslims and shielding Hindu culprits. It also cited many instances of tampering
with official records in a communally biased manner.

The same communal bias on the part of state agencies is evident in their treatment of arrested
persons. In any civilized society it is a well-established norm that once a person is taken into
custody, it becomes the duty of the state to protect his life and provide him facilities to which he
is entitled as part of his human rights. Unfortunately, there are numerous instances when the
basic human rights of persons under custody are violated by police and jail officials, solely
because of their communal bias. Nowhere is evidence of this bias better described than in the
Justice Joseph Vithayathal Commission of Inquiry Report on the Tellicherry Disturbances
(1971). How one wishes that the above examples were simply aberrations and exceptions, and
not reflective of the general behaviour of our law enforcing agencies.

Mr. Vibhuti Narain Rai former Vice Chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi International University-Wardha is
famous for his stupendous work and impeccable record in the Indian Police Service, which he served for 36 years.
A winner of many awards for his meritorious service, his major postings include Kashmir Valley, and Kumbh
Mela. He has written and spoken against communal bias among police personnel. National Police Academy
awarded him fellowship to do research on police neutrality during communal riots. He is also known for his bold
writings and has written five novels--Ghar, Shahar mein Kurfew, Kissa Loktantra, Tabadla and Presm ki

Chapter 9


M. D. Nalapat


Human law should never be used as a substitute for divine law. Human behaviour should change and evolve less
through human law than through divine influence. The use of state law as a bludgeon to force behaviour changes
except in a small number of instances, as for example bodily harm, theft or abuse of the young and helpless, will
fail to change character, as has been the case in countries across the world. Is alcohol absent in countries where it is
banned? Is adultery not present in every society? Each individual should search inwards to understand and accept
divine law rather than look outwards at human law, which in many cases is ineffective. India can be the fulcrum
of such a return to the core values of Mercy, Compassion and Beneficence.

Every religious text is embedded with scenes of war and bloodshed, yet in none of the other
great religions of the world, is there a characterization of generalised violence as there is an
increasingly world made Islamophobic, by the actions of a few. More than traducers from the
outside of the accepted boundaries of the Muslim faith, the problem lies within, in the relatively
small group of Wahabbis (within the Sunni population) and Khomeinists (within the Shia), who
emphasize a few references to violence in the Holy Qura’n in their theologies, rather than the
beneficence, mercy and compassion which suffuse each segment of the revealed Word of God,
and which are therefore explicitly shown to be the core virtues to be sought after by the believer.

Of course, let it be repeated that the word ‘Muslim’ does not find any mention in the Word of
God, which is clear that every living being, every object, every subjective impulse, is the creation
of the Supreme Being. Interestingly, although the Hindu faith is considered outside the category
of the three ‘Religions of the Book’ (Islam, Christianity and Judaism), the fact is that much of
the philosophy of that faith is also embedded in books, and hence the term to use may be
‘Religion of Books’. The centrality of the Almighty is explicit in the Gayatri Mantra, the primary
chant of believers in Hinduism, which speaks of the Supreme Being which controls all and is yet
unaffected any. Each of us is child of the Almighty, the Supreme Being, and is therefore, a
brother or a sister to every other, no matter what faith be subscribed to.

The teaching of the Word of God needs to be understood and followed in spirit and not just in
letter, the way the Wahabbis and Khomeinists do. In the 21st century, this message of Peace
needs to be accepted, especially by those who believe in the reality of the Almighty, the Supreme
Being, who controls everything. Should this be accepted, hatred between communities will be
shown to be contrary to the fact that each is a child of the Almighty. Prophet Muhammad
himself (PBUH) saw conflict only as the exception and never the rule, and gathered followers
because of his sincerity in ensuring fairness, compassion and mercy rather than hatred and
vengeance. To do so, would be to usher in a new Golden Age of Humanity, just as there was a
Golden Age of Islam, which flourished for five centuries after the passing away of Prophet
Muhammad (PBUH).

They need to escape from the ritualism and exclusivism of theologies that are entirely the
opposite of the message of the Qura’n, in particular from the interpretations given by Wahabi
and Khomeinst theologians, several of which provide excuses and reasons for the use of force in
situations other than the few instances where it is justified. Violence can only be the default
option, never the preferred option, and should be resorted to only in situations of unbearable
injustice. Some scholars have called for a ‘reformation of Islam’ when in fact what is needed is
a return to the core philosophy of the Holy Qura’n, which has placed at the apex the qualities of
Mercy, Compassion and Beneficence. Such an affirmation of the fundamentals of Islam would
serve as the trigger for a revival of the spirit of enquiry as well as the expansion of the
boundaries of tolerance within the universe of those accepting the message of the Word of God
as revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Enquiry rather than a closed mind, acceptance (as
exemplified by the over hundred thousand prophets who came before the Word of God was
revealed in the purest form) rather than rejection of ideas from outside, is key to hewing closer
to the core virtues blessed by the Holy Qura’n.

The Word of God is universal rather than sectarian, and so should be the mindset of those
claiming to live by its principles. They should include rather than exclude, embrace rather than
hate, other children of Almighty. A verdict on the worth of the deeds a human life takes place
only on the Day of Judgment and not in this life. Hence, those who promise Paradise as the
reward for deeds often of violence alien to the glow of the message of the Word of God are
wrong, for no human being has been given the power to make a judgement as to whether a
human being will enter Paradise or the other world after the passage of the physical self. Such a
verdict is the prerogative of the Almighty, as indeed is every other action or form.

And the criteria on which the Almighty will judge is not known to human minds. It is possible
that a single good deed may count for more than several less worthy actions in the final
reckoning. Hence, to condemn another or to praise another is wrong, for each of us is a
combination of good and evil, of weakness and strength, of purity and vice, whomsoever we be.
That is the reality of being human, which is why those who claim superior knowledge over
others are going against the Total Democracy of the Holy Qura’n, which is meant to be directly
read and understood by each rather than pass through the sieve of interpretation. Even the
Prophet (PBUH), perfect as he was, did not claim to interpret, only to reveal.

Human law should never be used as a substitute for divine law. Human behaviour should
change and evolve less through human law than through divine influence. The use of state law
as a bludgeon to force behaviour changes except in a small number of instances, as for example
bodily harm, theft or abuse of the young and helpless, will fail to change character, as has been
the case in countries across the world. Is alcohol absent in countries where it is banned? Is
adultery not present in every society? Each individual should search inwards to understand and
accept divine law rather than look outwards at human law, which in many cases is ineffective.
India can be the fulcrum of such a return to the core values of Mercy, Compassion and
Beneficence, for the Muslim community in India is known and appreciates globally for its
modern and moderate mindset. Indeed, geopolitically, there should be a civilisational alliance
between the Three "I"s: India, Indonesia and newly modernizing Iran, that would present to the
world the true face of the teachings revealed fifteen centuries ago.

Prof. Madhav Das Nalapat is an academic and columnist. A former Editor of Mathrubhumi and Times
of India, he is editorial Director of ITV Media, which publishes the Sunday Guardian. An expert on security,
public policy and international relations, he is Director of the Department of Geopolitics & International
Relations of Manipal University. Professor Nalapat writes extensively on security, policy and international
affairs. His columns are published in newspapers in India and abroad.

Chapter 10


Shafeeq Rahman


Indian Muslim are largely under-represented across the socio-economic and political segments as compared to other
fellow religious and social communities. This marginalization was highlighted by the government sponsored Sachar
Committee report (2006) and pointed out by other official figures. Backwardness got worsened but the Muslim
voices for reforms have not been adequately entertained in legislative bodies due to their political under-
representation in proportion to population at each level of legislation from panchayat, local bodies, state assemblies
to the national parliament.

Continuous inadequate representation of Muslim in parliament is due to several internal and external reasons i.e.
devoid of constitutional provisions like reservation for Scheduled Castes (SCs)/Scheduled Tribes (STs), lack of
proportional ticket distribution by political parties, low poll percentage in Muslim areas, reserving of Muslim
concentrated constituencies for SC, vote polarization against Muslim candidates, split of Muslim votes and many

The paper aims to highlight the level of Muslim under-representation in parliament, to find out its reason through
the case study of last two election results, and to list out the remedial measures to overcome with such
marginalization. It will try to channelize the discussion between all major stakeholders i.e. government, Election
Commission, political parties, community organizations and the individual electoral, so that adequate voices
regarding the community problems and issues reach to the legislative bodies through enhance representation.

Paper is divided broadly into three parts. First is the evaluation about the level of under-representation, historically
at national level and for last two elections at state level by gender. The second section contains the case study on
demographics and general electoral behaviour of 96 Muslim concentrated constituencies and the performance of
Muslim political parties and candidates. The paper ends with some suggestions towards the enhancement of

Level of Muslim Under-representation in Parliament

Parliament is an apex body for legislation, proportionate representation of all sections of society
is a pre-requisite component for implementation of successful inclusive democracy. Muslim
would have been 73 out of 543 members in Indian parliament according to their population
ratio – 14 percent of the total population - but such a purely mathematical mark has never been
achieved since independence. Muslim in the 16th Lok Sabha has hit an all-time low 4.24 percent
representation. This is the worst in the history of Indian Parliament with the previous low being
in 1952 when there were only 4.29 percent representation of Muslim MPs. The highest was in
1980 when 49 Muslims were elected to Parliament and constituted 9.04 percent.

A timeline comparison is shown in Table 1 which indicates the number of Muslim members in
parliament and level of representation during the various terms:
Table 1: Number of Muslim Won and Percentage Representation in Indian Parliament

Election Year Muslim Won Total Seats Percentage of


1952 21 489 4.29

1957 24 494 4.86
1962 23 494 4.66
1967 29 520 5.58
1971 30 578 5.19
1977 34 542 6.27
1980 49 542 9.04
1984-85 46 543 8.47
1989 33 543 6.08
1991-92 28 543 5.16
1996 28 543 5.16
1998 29 543 5.34
1999 32 543 5.89
2004 36 543 6.63
2009 30 543 5.52
2014 23 543 4.24

This level of under-representation varies across the states during the last decades. To envisage
the adequate number of Muslim representation at state level in the parliament and number of
actual Muslim won during the post delimitation parliamentary elections 2009 and 2014, a
methodology across the states is adapted on which pattern the Delimitation Commission of
India entitled the parliamentarian seats for Schedules castes and tribes for the purpose of seats
reservation according to their population ratios.

Delimitation Commission (2008), a constituent body for demarcation of assembly and

parliamentary constituencies, has fixed the boundaries in view of average population
representation and has reserved the constituencies for scheduled castes and tribes as per their
population ratio in the particular state. This demarcation implemented in the year 2008 is on the
basis of population census 2001 and will remain the same till the year 2026.

In spite of knowing that a similar kind of reservation for Muslims as for the SC/ST, is
constitutionally not feasible in the existing set up, but through such appropriation as shown in
Table 2, we can at least visualize the strength of Muslim and their ideal representation across the

Table 2: Entitlement of Lok Sabha Seats for Muslims across the States

States Muslim %age Share Entitlement Muslim Muslim

Population of Muslims of PCs for Won - 2009 Won - 2014
in Million Muslim
Uttar Pradesh 30.74 18.5 16 7 0
West Bengal 20.24 25.25 11 6 8
Bihar 13.72 16.53 7 3 4
Maharashtra 10.27 10.6 5 0 0
Assam 8.24 30.92 4 2 2
Kerala 7.86 24.7 4 2 3
Andhra Pradesh 6.99 9.17 4 1 1
Jammu & 6.79 66.97 4 4 3
Karnataka 6.46 12.23 3 0 0
Rajasthan 4.79 8.47 3 0 0
Gujarat 4.59 9.06 2 0 0
Madhya Pradesh 3.84 6.37 2 0 0
Jharkhand 3.73 13.85 2 0 0
Tamil Nadu 3.47 5.56 2 2 1
Delhi 1.62 11.72 1 0 0
Haryana 1.22 5.78 1 0 0
Uttarakhand 1.01 11.92 1 0 0
Lakshadweep 0.06 95.47 1 1 1
India 138.19 13.43 73 28 23

Rest states don't have the large share of population for the seat entitlement.

Most of seats entitlement are in Uttar Pradesh (16), West Bengal (11), Bihar (7) and Maharashtra
(5), followed by other states. In the last general election of 2014, highest representation among
the major states was achieved in West Bengal and highest deprivation found in Uttar Pradesh
where at least sixteen members should be reached to the parliament but none of the Muslim was
elected from the state. List of Muslim elected candidates is annexed in 1A and in 1B.

One more interesting fact reflects through the analysis of both the elections is that Muslim MPs
are not elected out of the proportion in any state. Muslims are being elected in predominant
Muslim constituencies only except for some selected Muslim members who were elected outside
of these constituencies, mainly due to their individual recognition or political affiliation. These
members were Choudhary Mahboob Ali Kaiser, Anwhar Raajhaa. A, Aparupa Poddar (Afrin
Ali) and Dr. Mamtaz Sanghamita in 2014 election and Dr. Monazir Hassan, Syed Shahnawaz
Hussain, Abdul Rahman, Salman Khursheed, Sk. Saidul Haque in 2009 election.

Similar level of under representation is observed in case of Muslim women, who constitute
around 7 percent of total country population but have worse representation than male in the
parliament. According to the population ratio, their ideal representation should be around 35
seats but unfortunately only 4 (Mehbooba Mufti, Aparupa Poddar (Afrin Ali), Dr. Mamtaz
Sanghamita & Mausam Noor) and 3 (Tabassum Begum, Kaisar Jahan & Mausam Noor)
candidates won in last two parliamentary elections 2014 and 2009 respectively.
Along with scarcity of representation, elected Muslim members have not been shown the
competencies to raise the issues beyond their political belongings. Agreeable instance that
proportionate representation for Muslims is not only a solution to the problem of backwardness,
but it of course a milestone toward achieving the equality in availing the socio-economic

A Case Study of Muslim Concentrated Constituencies and Muslim Candidates

To gauge the depth of under-representation and to investigate its reasons at constituency level, a
case study is formulated on the demographic composition and electoral behaviour of Muslims
for the parliamentary constituencies (PCs) having the Muslim more than 20 percent in total
population of a constituency. These constituencies are identified through the estimation of
Muslim population (based on 2001 census) as per the mapping demarcated by the Delimitation
Commission 2008.

Most of the winner and runner-up Muslim candidates contested from these constituencies.
Strength of 20 percent is an effective number, to influence the overall outcome of election and
could also have the potentiality to become a source of enhanced Muslim representation through
better electoral management and strategies. Instead of the entire country, focus on these
constituencies could bring the more fruitful results in terms of minimizing the Muslim under-

Case study also includes the performance of Muslim candidates and the parties which have the
Muslim leadership across all 543 constituencies in terms of their ranks and vote share.

Data driven analysis is discussed comprehensively in reference to the last two parliamentary
elections - 2009 and 2014 - under the following broad classifications:

• Constituencies by population size of Muslim

• Reservation of Muslim concentrated constituencies to Scheduled Castes

• Muslim participation in election

• Tickets distribution by political parties

• Voting behaviour in terms of splitting and polarization

• Splitting of votes between the favourite political parties

• Performance of parties with Muslim leadership and Muslim candidates

• Competency of Muslim candidates and winners

Constituencies by Population Size of Muslim

Muslim concentrated constituencies (MCCs) are spread across the states with different
population ratios. Mostly MCCs fall in Uttar Pradesh (28), West Bengal (20), Bihar (9), Kerala
(9), Assam (9), Jammu & Kashmir (6), and Maharashtra (5), two each in Andhra Pradesh &
Karnataka and one each in Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Haryana and Delhi. List of
constituencies in descending order according to population size groups are as following:

Constituencies with more than 90 percent Muslim population (4 PCs): Three seats of
Kashmir region (Baramulla, Srinagar, Anantnag) and one in Lakshadweep.

Constituencies with Muslim population between 50 to 80 percent (11 PCs): Murshidabad

(West Bengal), Malappuram (Kerala), Kishanganj (Bihar), Ponnani (Kerala), Jangipur (West
Bengal), Hyderabad (Telangana), Maldaha Dakshin (West Bengal), Dhubri, Barpeta and
Karimganj (Assam) and Baharampur (West Bengal).

Constituencies with Muslim population between 40 to 50 percent (14 PCs): Rampur (UP),
Basirhat (West Bengal), Moradabad (UP), Ladakh (J &K), Maldaha Uttar (West Bengal), Katihar
(Bihar), Raiganj (West Bengal) Nowgong (Assam), Nagina (UP), Sambhal (UP), Wayanad
(Kerala) and Araria (Bihar), Saharanpur (UP) and Joynagar (West Bengal).

Constituencies with Muslim population between 20 to 40 percent (67 PCs): Secundrabad

(Andhra Pradesh); Silchar, Kokrajhar, Gauhati, Mangaldoi, Kaliabor (Assam); Valmiki Nagar,
Paschim Champaran, Sitamarhi, Madhubani, Purnia, Darbhanga (Bihar); Gurgaon (Haryana);
Udhampur, Jammu (J&K); Dharwad, Dakshina Kannada (Karnataka); Kasaragod, Kannur,
Vadakara, Kozhikode, Palakkad, Kollam (Kerala); Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh); Dhule,
Aurangabad, Mumbai North Central, Mumbai South Central, Mumbai South (Maharashtra);
Kairana, Muzaffarnagar, Bijnor, Amroha, Meerut, Baghpat, Ghaziabad, Aligarh, Badaun, Aonla,
Bareilly, Pilibhit, Kheri, Sitapur, Lucknow, Kanpur, Barabanki , Bahraich , Kaiserganj, Shrawasti,
Gonda, Domariyaganj, Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh); Cooch Behar, Balurghat, Krishnanagar,
Barasat, Mathurapur, Diamond Harbour, Jadavpur, Howrah, Uluberia, Bardhaman Purba,
Bolpur, Birbhum (West Bengal); Rajmahal (Jharkhand); Hardwar (Uttarakhand); North East
Delhi (Delhi).

Hindus are the second largest community in all the MCCs except in Kerala, where Christians
also have the notable population.

A spatial distribution of Muslim population across the 543 constituencies as shown in Map 1.

Reservation of Muslim Concentrated Constituencies to Scheduled Castes

Some of Muslim concentrated constituencies are reserved for scheduled castes which seem to be
a systematically deliberate denial of Muslim representation in parliament. In reserved
constituencies for SC, Muslim cannot contest the election. Muslim concentrating constituencies
reserved for scheduled cates are Nagina, Barabanki, Bahraich in Uttar Pradesh; Cooch Behar,
Joynagar, Mathurapur, Bardhaman Purba, Bolpur in West Bengal and Karimganj in Assam.

Criteria for reserving of seats to Scheduled Caste are not well defined like the specification
mentioned for scheduled tribes. Percentage of Scheduled Tribes population in a particular state
is used for allotting the proportionate number of parliamentarian seats and the highest
Scheduled Tribe populated seats in descending order is the criteria for notification of particular
constituency reservation for scheduled tribes. But such methodology is not adopted in case of
scheduled castes. Delimitation Commission has added another feature of dispersal of seats
across the state. Dispersal doesn’t have any defined methodology and provides the discretion to
commission to entitle the seats without providing logic.

Due to such provisions, many seats which have a less population of SC in compare to others are
reserved for scheduled castes. This discretion mainly affected the Muslim prospective in Uttar
Pradesh and other Muslim concentrating seats. Muslim population in Nagina (Estd. Muslim 44
percent, SC 22 percent) Bahraich (Estd. Muslim 34 percent, SC 16 percent), Karimganj (Estd.
Muslim 53 percent, SC 12 percent), and Joynagar (Estd. Muslim 40 percent, SC 38 percent) are
much larger than scheduled castes. Whereas the constituencies with higher scheduled castes
population in respective states are left unreserved constituencies in general category as
Dhaurahra (31.14 percent), Unnao (30.52 percent), Rae Bareli (30.38 percent), Sitapur (27.35
percent), Amethi (26.61 percent) etc in Uttar Pradesh, Silchar (14.9 percent) in Assam.

This kind of unjustifiable notification indicates how the Muslim concentrated seats reserved for
scheduled castes while within the respective states, there are many seats that have the large
population of SCs.

This issue was highlighted in Sachar Committee report (2006) and considered it as
discriminatory and certainly reduces the opportunities that Muslims have to get elected to
democratic institutions. The Committee also recommends the elimination of the anomalies with
respect to reserved constituencies under the delimitation schemes. A more rational delimitation
procedure that does not reserve constituencies with high minority population shares for SCs will
improve the opportunity for the minorities, especially the Muslims, to contest and get elected to
the Indian Parliament and the State Assemblies.

Muslim Participation in Elections

Political representation could achieve through the participation in electoral process by casting
their votes in election. Better turnout is also a potential tool to show their choices for contesting
candidates. Sometime winning margin of votes is small tool that results can be changed in favour
of runner up candidate by slight improvement in turnout, and can increase the tally of Muslim
elected members in parliament. Level of acceptance, as per total electoral are not higher in
Muslim concentrated constituencies.

Voter turnout in most of Muslim concentrated constituencies generally lies below the national
average of poll percentage. Top three parliamentary constituencies in India where the lowest poll
percentage accounted in last parliamentary elections have the Muslim majority population from
Kashmir. Female participation is worst in these constituencies in compare to male.

Poll percentage status across the Muslim concentrating constituencies is shown in Table 3:

Table 3: Voter Turnout in Muslim Concentrated Constituencies

Poll percentage Male Female Total

2014 (Average: 67%)

0-50 5 6 4
50-67 36 37 39
67-80 32 29 28
80-100 23 24 25
2009 (Average: 58%)

0-50 22 36 26
50-58 18 17 24
58-80 38 26 25
80-100 18 17 21

Top 5 PCs with lowest poll percentage: Srinagar (25.86), Anantnag (28.84), Baramulla (39.13),
Mumbai North Central (48.61), Gonda (51.07) in 2014 election and Srinagar (25.55), Anantnag
(27.1), Lucknow (35.33), Kanpur (36.9), Mumbai South Central (39.5) in 2009 election.

Top 5 PCs with highest poll percentage: Dhubri (88.22), Lakshadweep (86.61), Bardhaman
Purba (86.21), Basirhat (85.45), Birbhum (85.33) in 2014 election and Murshidabad (88.14),
Bardhaman Purba (87.21), Balurghat (86.65), Basirhat (86.62), Jangipur (85.95) in 2009 election.
Sachar Committee has enlightened another point for lack of participation – the absence of a
Muslim name in the electoral list which ultimately cause to low participation of Muslim in
election. Such a situation could be true at the time of preparation of committee report in the
year 2006 and can be a reason in some selected places only but the overall situation has been
widely changed in last ten years. Election Commission emphasis to enroll the each eligible
electoral including Muslim in more hassle free and transparent environment.

Tickets Distribution by Political Parties

Muslims are largely considered as a vote bank only by mainstream political parties without taking
any due consideration about their representation in parliament. Parties can voluntarily play the
pivotal role, towards the enhance representation by distributing the proportionate tickets to
Muslim candidates, specifically in MCCs where the winning chances are higher. Parties known to
have the Muslim support and which shown interest about their issues, do not seem to be much
serious in allocation of an electoral ticket to a Muslim. A cross comparison of political parties in
ticket allocation are analyzed in Table 4:

Table 4: Ticket Distribution and Number of Muslim Candidates
won by Major Political Parties

2014 2009

Muslim Percentage Muslim Muslim Percentage Muslim

Parties candidates of total Won candidates of total Won
candidates candidates

AAP 43 9.95 0 Not Exist

AIADMK 1 2.5 1 1 4.35 0
AIMIM 1 20 1 1 100 1
AITC 25 19.08 4 3 8.57 2
AIUDF 12 66.67 2 15 60 1
BJP 7 1.64 0 5 1.15 1
BSP 57 11.33 0 64 12.8 4
CPI 1 1.49 0 5 8.93 0
CPM 14 15.05 2 8 9.76 1
DMK 2 5.71 0 1 4.55 1
INC 37 7.97 4 30 6.82 10
IUML 23 92 2 20 90.91 2
JD(S) 1 2.94 0 7 21.21 0
JD(U) 10 10.75 0 4 7.27 1
JKNC 3 100 0 3 100 3
JKPDP 4 80 3 4 66.67 0
JMM 2 9.52 0 3 7.14 0
LJP 1 14.29 1 17 16.04 0
NCP 2 5.56 2 5 7.35 0
RJD 7 23.33 1 9 20.45 0
SP 39 19.8 0 35 18.13 0
Independent 306 9.46 0 377 9.84 1
Total 882 10.69 23 819 10.15 28

AITC, BSP, CPM, JMM, LJP, RJD and SP are the parties which have considered the
proportionate representation of Muslim up to some extent in ticket distribution. Spatial
presentation of winner parties in Muslim concentrating constituencies as shown in Map 2:

Voting Behaviour in Terms of Splitting and Polarization

Large splitting among multiple-Muslim candidates also realized in their concentrated

constituencies. Besides the candidature from mainstream political parties to Muslim candidates,
there are large hopeful persons in fray as independent or from unknown parties. Collective
voting in favour of Muslim candidates could have also improve the Muslim representation in
parliament. For the sake of analysis, all Muslim candidate votes are combined, which outcome is
quite optimistic as is shown in Table 5 for the constituencies where combined Muslim votes are
larger than winner votes:

Table 5: PCs where Combined Muslim Votes are Larger than Winner Candidates

PC Name Winner Combined

Party - Muslim -
Vote % Vote %

Parliamentary Election 2014

Madhubani (Bihar) 41.61 46.76

Ladakh (J&K) 26.36 50.25
Kasaragod (Kerala) 39.52 39.96
Vadakara (Kerala) 43.41 45.83
Moradabad (UP) 43.02 54.03
Rampur (UP) 37.5 60.17
Sambhal (UP) 34.08 59.26
Amroha (UP) 48.26 49.01
Meerut (UP) 47.87 50.17
Shrawasti (UP) 35.32 36.94
Jangipur (W. Bengal) 33.8 54.91
Birbhum (W. Bengal) 36.1 41.87

Parliamentary Election 2009

Madhubani (Bihar) 29.48 48.23

Araria (Bihar) 38.71 45.64
Katihar (Bihar) 37.23 49.33
Kozhikode (Kerala) 42.92 43.99
Bijnor (UP) 34.57 44.43
Rampur (UP) 38.06 44.92
Amroha (UP) 40.09 54.13
Shrawasti (UP) 33.29 44.73
Domariyaganj (UP) 31.24 33.21

From such polarization in favour of particular candidates, Muslim members could be increased
to 9 in 2009 and 12 in 2014.

Further, Muslim votes also split on account of casteism, mainly in Western Uttar Pradesh where
sharp division among Muslim exists on the line of castes. Absence of trust between Muslim
castes further split the votes between the communities which ultimately cause to the defeat of
Muslim candidates. A case study of parliamentarian election 2014 for the two different caste
dominating polling stations of Hapur assembly constituency under Meerut parliamentary
constituency reveals in Table 6, that Muslim votes were divided between two Muslim candidates
- Shahid Akhlaq (Qureshi) from BSP & Shahid Manzoor (Chaudhary) from SP on line of

Table 6: Votes Distribution of 36 Polling Stations where the Muslim Population is above
90% in Hapur AC of Meerut PC (Parliamentary Election- 2014)

Particulars Chaudhary Qureshi Mixed Total PS Overall

Dominance Dominance Population where Hapur
Muslim is AC
above 90%
PS 20 10 6 36 306
Total Electoral 24568 15119 6391 46078 330652
Total Muslim 23104 14450 6077 43631 88289
% Muslim 94.04 95.58 95.09 94.69 26.70
Valid Votes 15052 8806 3744 27602 206277
BSP Votes 2947 5049 1654 9650 62013
BSP Votes % 19.58 57.34 44.18 34.96 30.06
SP Votes 11282 3225 1844 16351 38269
SP Votes % 74.95 36.62 49.25 59.24 18.55
BJP Votes 294 78 51 423 93176
BJP Votes % 1.95 0.89 1.36 1.53 45.17
INC Votes 249 225 107 581 8314
INC Votes % 1.65 2.56 2.86 2.10 4.03

Chaudharys have voted for Samajvadi Party (SP) while Qureshis voted for Bahujan Samaj Party
(BSP) due to being a candidate from their own castes. Such caste based approach deepens the
division and split the votes further.

Splitting of Votes between the Favourite Political Parties

Muslim votes usually split into the different favourite political parties in their concentrated seats,
specifically in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, where the splitting accounted at large scale
in compare to others states. Muslim voters get confused between SP, BSP & INC in Uttar
Pradesh and RJD, JD(U) & INC in Bihar. These parties are known to having the vote bank
among Muslim and generally allocate the ticket to Muslim candidates in their concentrated
constituencies. Such confusion within the favourite parties leads to splitting their votes and
makes the election three or four cornered. A candidate with less vote share becomes the winner
while the candidates from these parties, mostly Muslim, lost the election.

Division of votes due to these parties confrontation in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, badly affect the
prospective of Muslim representation in parliament. Runner-up Muslim candidates in 4 & 13
constituencies in 2009 & 2014 elections respectively could have become the winner in such a
possible alliances of the favourite parties as is shown in Table 7:

Table 7: PCs where Combined Votes of Possible Alliance between Favorable Parties are
Larger than Winner Candidates

PC Winner Runner Runner Candidate Runner Combined

Party Party Party - Vote % of
(BJP) - Vote % Possible
Vote % Alliance

Parliamentary Election 2014

Bihar (Possible Alliance between INC+JD(U)+RJD)
Madhubani 41.61 RJD Abdul Bari Siddiqui 39.22 45.78
Darbhanga 38.02 RJD Md. Ali Ashraf Fatmi 33.79 46.41
Uttar Pradesh (Possible Alliance between INC+BSP+SP+RLD)
Saharanpur 39.6 INC Imran Masood 34.15 58.25
Bijnor 45.92 SP Shahnawaz Rana 26.51 48.22
Moradabad 43.02 SP Dr S T Hasan 35.26 51.28
Rampur 37.5 SP Naseer Ahmad Khan 35.05 59.88
Sambhal 34.08 SP Dr Shafiq- Ur Rahman 33.59 59.01
Amroha 48.26 SP Humera Akhtar 33.82 48.7
Meerut 47.87 BSP Mohd. Shahid Akhlak 27 49.88
Baghpat 42.17 SP Ghulam Mohammed 21.27 55.25
Sitapur 40.66 BSP Kaiser Jahan 35.69 53.73
Shrawasti 35.32 SP Atiq Ahmad 26.55 48.48
Domariyaganj 31.96 BSP Muhammad Muqeem 20.88 49
Parliamentary Election 2009
Bihar (Possible Alliance between INC+RJD+LJP+NCP)
Madhubani 29.48 RJD Zubair Alam 27.7 47.72
Araria 38.71 LJP Zakir Hussain Khan 35.63 42.43
Katihar 37.23 NCP Shah Tariq Anwar 35.3 41.62
Uttar Pradesh (Possible Alliance between INC+BSP+SP)
Varanasi 30.52 BSP Mukhtar Ansari 27.94 56.53

During the last two elections, mainly in the last election of 2014, it is commonly observed that
split of Muslim voters among the secular parties and polarization of other communities towards
the BJP has minimized the representation of Muslim. Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are the major two
states where such polarization politics has succeeded. Winning of BJP in large number of seats
restricts the Muslim entry in parliament as it allocates fewer tickets to Muslim candidates.

Performance of Parties with Muslim Leadership and Muslim Candidates

Political parties with Muslim leadership have contested the election to consolidate the Muslim
votes but due to lack of grassroot level working and not being acceptable to all electoral, these
have not performed well. Apart from JKPDP, AIUDF, IUML and AIMIM, any party was not
able to win a seat. Most of their candidates forfeited their deposit and were not been able to
come under the top three positions. Similar were the Muslim candidates, where the ratio is

around 10 percent in total contesting candidates but most of candidates have not been able to
retain their deposits.

A cross comparison about these parties and candidates with their performance have been
assessed in Table 8:

Table 8: Performance of Parties with Muslim Leadership and Muslim Candidates

Parties Total Parties Rank Deposit

Seats Forfeited
1 2 3
A. Parties with Muslim Leadership (Parliamentary Election - 2014)
Jammu & Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party 5 3 0 2 2
All India United Democratic Front 18 3 4 13
Indian Union Muslim League 25 2 0 1 22
All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen 5 1 0 1 4
Peace Party 51 0 0 0 51
Social Democratic Party Of India 29 0 0 1 29
Welfare Party Of India 25 0 0 0 25
Qaumi Ekta Dal 9 0 0 2 8
Rashtriya Ulama Council 8 0 0 0 8
Vanchitsamaj Insaaf Party 8 0 0 0 8
National Loktantrik Party 7 0 0 0 7
Minorities Democratic Party 6 0 0 0 6
Akhil Bharatiya Muslim League (Secular) 5 0 0 0 5
All India Minorities Front 5 0 0 0 5
Other (17) parties with less than five candidates 36 0 3 1 33
Total of Muslim Parties 242 9 3 12 226

B. Overall Muslim Candidates Performance

Parliamentary Election - 2009 819 28 54 51 718
Parliamentary Election - 2014 881 23 56 48 787

Competency of Muslim Candidates & Winners

Although, counting of numbers of community strength in quantitative terms are important for
the appropriate representation, but confining to numbers only is up to some extent a narrow
approach. Qualitative representation with duly required competences is an integral and
undeniable merit. Muslim representation in terms of education qualification is evaluated at Table
9, which shows that Muslim candidates are less qualified in compare to others:

Table 9: Percentage Distribution of All and Muslim Candidates/Winners by Educational

Level of Candidates (%) Winners (%)

Education 2014 2009 2014 2009
All Muslim All Muslim All Muslim All Muslim

Illiterate 1.35 1.84 0.96 1.4 0.18 0 0 0

Literate 3.57 5.63 6.1 10.33 0.92 4.35 0.96 7.14
Upto Middle 13.26 20.32 11.81 16.58 2.77 0 3.26 3.57
Middle to 29.32 26.98 26.85 25.89 19.56 4.35 18.97 17.86
Under & Post 46.33 39.49 41.05 32.78 68.63 86.96 71.26 64.29
Doctorate 2.73 0.57 2.22 1.15 6.09 4.35 4.41 7.14
Not Given 1.24 1.26 9.02 10.2 0 0 0 0
Others 2.19 3.79 1.98 1.66 1.85 0 1.15 0

Muslim candidates with most criminal cases were Atiq Ahmad (42), Mukhtar Ansari (15),
Shahnawaj Rana (11) and Mehboob Alam (11) in 2014 election while Mohammed Usman (30),
Mehboob Ali (11), Mukthar Ansari (10) and Mahboob Alam (9) were in 2009 election.

Muslim also have the crorepati candidates in both the election. Highest richest candidate were
M. Shahid (199 Cr.), Tariq Hameed Karra (98 Cr.), Nilufar Jamani (74 Cr.), Shah Alam Alias
Guddu Jamali (70 Cr.), Siraj Uddin Ajmal (67 Cr.) in 2014 and Abu Asim Azmi (125 Cr.), Mohd.
Shear Nabi Chaman (61 Cr.), Siraj Uddin Ajmal (41 Cr.), Anwar Ahmed (32 Cr.) in 2009

Vision: Steps to enhance representation

With the aforementioned analysis in regard to Muslim candidates and their concentrated
constituencies, an assessment has been completed in terms of identification, population size and
behaviour of electoral and other associated political institutions during the last two elections.
Preparation of election is not of a single months exercise. In fact, it requires long-term strategies
at various levels. Profiling of constituency, creating awareness for casting the votes, literacy
towards tactical voting, analyzing of voting behaviour, categorizing of constituencies in terms of
winning possibilities and many others are to be planned and executed many years before the
election held. While there are certain statutory restrictions towards the proportionate
representation of Muslim, a wielder field of voluntarily work is still untapped. Muslim
organizations, political parties and individuals have lot of scope to improve their representation
quantitatively as well as qualitatively in the existing setup.

Multi-prolonged remedial measures are required to minimize such unjustifiable status quo
towards under-representation in parliament that could be pointed out as following:

Formation of united non-political forum would be helpful in negotiation with parties and
creating of awareness about electoral participation. This forum will undertake the responsibilities
regarding representation and participation of Muslim in electoral activities. It will discuss with all
parties for the proportionate ticket distribution and also will try to make the pre-poll alliances
between the Muslim favourite parties, mainly in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. This forum would
never contest the election directly and would perform as a bridge between community and
mainstream as well as Muslim lead political parties. After the election, it will watch the fulfilment
of promises by political parties and the performance of Muslim elected members.

Instead of establishing a new common acceptable forum, Muslim personal law board or any
similar organization can also consider to assign the task to a dedicated team.

A detail research analysis on the depth of population size and electoral behaviour at a more
micro level i.e., at village, town and polling station level is a pre-requisite for the electoral
planning. There is a dire need to establish a full-fledged research body or institution which
conducts the research and surveys to assess the mood of voters and the performance of ruling
parties in regard to the fulfilment of their manifestoes towards the minorities or Muslim.
Generally, we don’t have the idea about the strength of Muslim electoral and their level of
participation, which increase the frustration level of voters and motivate them to opt out the
voting. Better planning leads to the wisely involvement of Muslims in electoral politics which
ultimately enhances the representation.

Specific long and short term strategy is required for SC reserved constituencies.
Delimitation commission reserved the constituencies to scheduled castes (SC) by adhering its
own ambiguous criteria which restricts the representation of Muslim in certain seats. Sachar
Committee was in hope that, Delimitation Commission would receive the attention of the
Government immediately because it was engaged in this exercise of demarcation and
notification, and would take their notes seriously in its recommendation, but unfortunately the
concern of Sachar Committee didn’t get the attention in the final report of Delimitation
Commission – 2008. Kundu report, a follow up evaluation of Sachar by Ministry of Minority
Affairs, also did not consider the Muslim representation in its recommendation.

In long term strategy, a committee of Muslim representative should be formed which persuade
the government for denotification of constituencies which have less population of SCs and
reserve their most SC populated PCs. It may also suggest the rotation of reservation for
constituencies around the state. Commission also keeps on practice to reserve the constituencies
based on subsequent census i.e. 2011. Such a notification was also issued about the reserving of
Saharanpur AC for SC while it is a Muslim concentrated constituency and have the lesser
population of SC. This committee of Muslims should notify to commission about their concern
and persuade to freeze the process of reserving such constituencies to scheduled castes (SC).
Government can pass the women reservation bill for 33 percent seats to women, this committee
need to register their concerns and try to allocate a sub quota of Muslim women candidates.

In short term strategy till such a demand is fulfilled, focus should be diverted to elect the
qualitative representation among the scheduled castes into the parliament from these reserved
constituencies who would be able to raise the voices for their issues and would be more
committed towards the overall development of constituency.

Change initiates from bottom to top and in step by step manner. Same strategy needs to
adhere for the enhanced representation in parliament. Panchayat and local bodies’ election
provides the larger scope towards making the awareness for fairer representation. At the outset,
Muslim parties and candidates contest the local elections and perform better in terms of
providing the services to all section of society. Contesting of assembly and parliamentary
election only can be considered after making the goodwill in front of electoral and after
establishing a network of dedicated worker at gross root level i.e., at town, village and polling
station level.

Participation is the key of representation. Muslims are not really aware about the importance
of casting their votes. They don’t even bother about the proper listing of their names in electoral
roll. Muslim organizations require to chalk out their own strategy map to improve the voter
turnout in their localities like the Election Commission prepare a district plan and SVEEP
(Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation) campaign to enhance the overall
electoral participation. Election Commission, up to some extent, have succeeded in the form of
increased turnout in elections in recent years, and even more emphatically in the recent national
election- 2014, where a turnout history was made.

Community organizations need to coordinate with the election commission in SVEEP plan and
participate for its proper implementation. Through SVEEP, Election commission tries to
eradicate the social and religious hurdles. Like a case is mentioned in its document, “In Purulia
District of West Bengal, at Nutandi High Madrasa and Hariharpur Balika Prathamik Vidyalay,
voters were reluctant to cast their votes due to the social stigma attached to it among Muslim
community women voters. The district administration undertook a special SVEEP campaign to
promote women’s participation, with the result that 34 female voters of the former polling
station and 63 female voters of the latter came out and cast their votes.” (SVEEP: P 50)

It is generally observed in Muslim localities that ambitious campaign and announcement made
every day by social and religious leaders in and against the favour of parties/candidates during
the election, but the whole enthusiasm cools down on the day of voting. Muslim organizations
can lead the campaign for better turnout on the day of voting and arrange the voluntarily
services for the convenience and access of voters to the polling stations.

Consolidation of Muslim votes is essential to avoid the split between favourite parties.
Greater alliance of Muslim and other likeminded parties similar to National Democratic Alliance
(NDA) and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) would be more helpful to consolidate the
Muslim votes. Sense of untouchability in politics regarding any specific party like BJP must be
vanished. Such behaviour leads to reverse polarization against the Muslim candidates among the
other communities, which became the main reason for winning of this party. Muslims need to
encourage the issue based politics including the problems of Muslim. For resolving the issues,
the Muslims must be ready to discuss their problems with any party.

Muslim candidate should have the universal acceptability. Muslim elector and organization
generally evaluate a Muslim candidate with his interest and performance towards the Muslim
issues only. This narrow approach makes the candidate a Muslim representative only, which
imply other communities to vote against him in bloc. Whereas in such a cosmopolitan
democracy, an elected member is a representative of all and should have the requisite
competence to represent the constituency universally. Therefore, the candidate should be
qualified in all manner and not remain the Muslim flag bearer only. Approachability would be
wide and be an active person to resolve the overall problem of constituency. After winning the
election, he does not confine to Muslim issues only. He needs to address the overall problem of
constituency by utilizing the allocated funds in terms of infrastructure development, proper
implementation of social schemes and other issues.

Forming of national Muslim party is not the only solution of under-representation. India
is a union of 36 states and union territories, where the situation of Muslims is different from
each other in every state. Muslim party in some states could be effective but in other states
where already some secular parties exist for raising the voices on Muslim rights, would not be
workable. Forming of a Muslim party will cause to further split in votes and to reverse
polarization against the Muslim candidates.


1 Aparupa Poddar (Afrin Ali) is an elected member of parliament from Arambagh, a reserved
constituency of scheduled caste in West Bengal. She married Md. Shakir Ali and used her
name as Afrin Ali. Therefore, she is treated as a Muslim elected member in the analysis of

2 Data on the voting behaviour of Muslim is not specified in the official documents. A
generalization method is adapted in the Muslim concentrated constituencies to their electoral
behaviour which can differ from actual.

3 Since religion is not a mandatory category to mention in the candidate’s affidavit, Muslim
name for candidates are sorted out manually by finding the title and actual name resemble to
Muslim. These sorted names treated as Muslim in the analysis.

4 Parties with Muslim leadership are accounted as Muslim parties.

5 Electoral data is taken out from the publications of Election Commission of India and state
election commissions.

6 Actual data for the population of scheduled castes is taken from the state level final papers
of Delimitation Commission 2008 while the population of Muslim in a constituency is
estimated (Not the actual) through the 2001 census data at town and sub district level and
other allied sources according to the mappings demarcated by delimitation Commission and
through the published estimation of newspapers.

7 Maps used in paper are not to scale and sketched for the purpose of better visualization only.

8 Methodology for entitlement of Muslim seats similar to the Delimitation Commission for
SCs as following:

Entitlement of Seats for Muslim = Proportion of Muslim to Total Population multiplied by 543
(i.e. total seats in the parliament)

Proportion of Muslim : 0.1343

Total Parliament Seats : 543

Seats for Muslim in Parliament = 0.1343 x 543 = 72.92 = 73

Seats for Muslim in State= Population of Muslim in State/Population of Muslim in Index 73

List of Tables, Maps and Abbreviation

Table 1: Number of Muslim Won and Percentage Representation in Indian Parliament

Table 2: Entitlement of Lok Sabha Seats for Muslim across the States
Table 3: Voter Turnout in Muslim Concentrated Constituencies
Table 4: Ticket Distributions and Number of Muslim Candidates Won by Major Political Parties

Table 5: PCs where Combined Votes of Possible Alliance between Favourable Parties are Larger
than Winner Candidates
Table 6: PCs where Combined Muslim Votes are Larger than Winner Candidates
Table 7: Votes Distribution of 36 Polling Stations where the Muslim Population is above 90% in
Hapur AC of Meerut PC (Parliamentary Election - 2014)
Table 8: Performance of Parties with Muslim Leadership and Muslim Candidates
Table 9:Percentage Distribution of All and Muslim Candidates/Winners by Educational
Map 1: Distribution of Muslim Population by PCs after Delimitation – 2008
Map 2: Winner Parties in Muslim Concentrated Constituencies – 2009 & 2014

AC Assembly Constituency JD(U) Janata Dal (United)

AAP Aam Aadmi Party JKN Jammu & Kashmir National
AIADMK All India Anna Dravida Munnetra JKNC Jammu & Kashmir National
Kazhagam Conference
AIFB All India Forward Bloc JKPDP JK Peoples Democratic Party
AIMIM All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul JMM Jharkhand Mukti Morcha
AITC All India Trinamool Congress LJP Lok Jan Shakti Party
AIUDF/ All India United Democratic MCC Muslim Concentrated
AUDF Front Constituencies
BJP Bharatiya Janata Party NCP Nationalist Congress Party
BOPF Bodaland Peoples Front PC Parliamentary Constituency
BSP Bahujan Samaj Party RJD Rashtriya Janata Dal
CPI Communist Party of India RLD Rashtriya Lok Dal
CPM Communist Party of India RLSP Rashtriya Lok Samta Party
DMK Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam RSP Revolutionary Socialist Party
INC Indian National Congress SC Scheduled Castes
IND Independent SHS Shivsena
IUML/M Indian Union Muslim League SP Samajwadi Party
JD(S) Janata Dal (Secular) ST Scheduled Tribes

Annexure 1 A: List of Elected Muslim Member of Parliament – 2014

Andhra Pradesh (1)

Asaduddin Owaisi (AIMIM) - Hyderabad
Assam (2)
Badruddin Ajmal (AIUDF) - Dhubri
Siraj Uddin Ajmal (AIUDF) - Barpeta
Bihar (4)
Tasleem Uddin (RJD) – Araria
Mohammad Asrarul Haque (INC) - Kishanganj
Tariq Anwar (NCP) – Katihar
Choudhary Mahboob Ali Kaiser (LJP) - Khagaria
Jammu & Kashmir (3)
Muzaffar Hussain Baig (JKPDP) - Baramulla
Tariq Hameed Karra (JKPDP) - Srinagar
Mehbooba Mufti (JKPDP) - Anantnag
Kerala (3)
M I Shanavas (INC) - Wayanad
E. Ahamed (IUML) - Malappuram
E. T. Mohammed Basheer (IUML) - Ponnani
Tamil Nadu (1)
Anwhar Raajhaa.A (AIADMK) - Ramanathapuram
West Bengal (8)
Md. Salim (CPM) – Raiganj
Mausam Noor (INC) - Maldaha Uttar
Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury (INC) - Maldaha Dakshin
Badaruddoza Khan (CPM) - Murshidabad
Idris Ali (AITC) – Basirhat
Sultan Ahmed (AITC) - Uluberia
Aparupa Poddar (Afrin Ali) (AITC) - Arambagh (SC)
Dr. Mamtaz Sanghamita (AITC) - Burdwan - Durgapur
Lakshadweep (1)
Mohammed Faizal P.P. (NCP) - Lakshadweep (ST)

Annexure 1 B: List of Elected Muslim Member of Parliament – 2009

Andhra Pradesh (1)

Asaduddin Owaisi (AIMIM) - Hyderabad
Assam (2)
Badruddin Ajmal (AUDF) - Dhubri
Ismail Hussain (INC) - Barpeta
Bihar (3)
Mohammad Asrarul Haque (INC) - Kishanganj
Dr. Monazir Hassan (JD(U)) - Begusarai
Syed Shahnawaz Hussain (BJP) - Bhagalpur
Jammu & Kashmir (4)
Sharief Ud Din Shariq (JKN) - Baramulla
Farooq Abdullah (JKN) - Srinagar
Mirza Mehboob Beg (JKN) - Anantnag
Hassan Khan (IND 3) - Ladakh
Kerala (2)
E. Ahamed (MUL) - Malappuram
E.T. Muhammed Basheer (MUL) - Ponnani
Tamil Nadu (2)
Abdul Rahman (DMK) - Vellore
Aaron Rashid.J.M (INC) - Theni
Uttar Pradesh (7)
Tabassum Begum (BSP) - Kairana
Mohammed Azharuddin (INC) - Moradabad
Dr. Shafiqur Rahman Barq (BSP) - Sambhal
Zafar Ali Naqvi (INC) – Kheri
Kaisar Jahan (BSP) – Sitapur
Salman Khursheed (INC) - Farrukhabad
Kadir Rana (BSP) - Muzaffarnagar
West Bengal (6)
Mausam Noor (INC) - Maldaha Uttar
Abu Hasem Khan Choudhury (INC) - Maldaha Dakshin
Abdul Mannan Hossain (INC) - Murshidabad
Sk. Nurul Islam (AITC) - Basirhat
Sultan Ahmed (AITC) – Uluberia
Sk. Saidul Haque (CPM) - Burdwan – Durgapur
Lakshadweep (1)
Hamdullah Sayeed (INC) – Lakshadweep



Sachar Committee Report, Social, Economic and Educational Status of the Muslim Community
of India, A Report by Prime Minister’s High Level Committee Cabinet Secretariat Government
of India, November, 2006.

Changing Face of Electoral India: Delimitation 2008, Delimitation Commission of India,

Volume I & II, 2008.

Systematic Voters’ Education & Electoral Participation, India National Document (2009-2014),
Election Commission of India.

India Elects 2014, by Dr R. K. Thukral & Dr. Shafeeq Rahman, Datanet India Pvt. Ltd New
Delhi, 2014.


Election Commission of India (

Delimitation Commission (
Elections in India (
Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) (
Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) (
Chief Election Commission Office of Uttar Pradesh ( & other

Disclaimer and Limitation of Paper

This paper does not intend to encourage the voters to vote on line of religion as all citizen of
India pledge to vote without being influenced by considerations of religion, race, caste,
community, language or any inducement. The main purpose behind this paper is to create an
awareness about Muslim representation among all stakeholders and to increase the participation
level of Muslim in Indian elections.

All due care has been taken in compiling, estimating and sorting of data and name from original
sources, but it does not guarantee the accuracy, adequacy or completeness of any
information/analysis and author or publisher will be not responsible for any errors or omissions
or for the results obtained from the use of such information/analysis. It is highly recommended
from the reader to cross check the information at your end before making any decision, and
make ensure to use the information on his own behest.

Mr. Shafeeq Rahman is associated as Manager - Research with an IT enabled data research company,
Datanet India Pvt. Ltd (, a company which facilitates socio-economic and electoral data
about India. He is a researcher based in Delhi and holds PhD in Economics. He writes usually on
Representation of Muslim.

Chapter 11


Abdul Azim Akhtar


The Muslims started as ruling elite in pockets of the Northern India, Eastern India, Western India, Central
India, and Southern India. In course of their spread in these areas, there were substantial segment of local
inhabitants, particularly from the lower and lowest sections of the society (Shudra /Chandala /Dasyus), who
embraced Islam due to the influence and work of Sufi saints to begin a new life. This ensured for them new
avenues under the patronage of Muslim rulers and promised a life of respect. However, this proved to be a short-
lived dream, and with the passage of time, Muslims in India realised that their society was no better than age-old
‘Brahmanic order’. Soon, there was race among Muslims to prove their superiority among themselves through links
with some companions/tribe/Prophet Mohammad family or showing lineage to Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey and
Central Asia. This race resulted in division of Muslims in various groups, which came to be identified in three
categories: Ashraf (elite), Ajlaf (backwards and lowly) and Arzal (Unclean).

After living in the shadows of the Ashrafs, some section of the marginalised Muslims, particularly Muslim Julaha
asserted their prowess during the 20th century through Momin Conference in Bihar, Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.
Over the years, some other castes from marginalised Muslims also asserted their strength through organisations,
notable among them Quraishi, Rain (Kunjra) and got rewarded by the government, but the majority of backward
castes continue to struggle for their rights and development in the absence of leadership and organisation. This
paper attempts to trace the origin of castes among Muslims and explore the issues and challenges of the
marginalised Muslims in 20th century in view of dominance by Momin /Ansari, Rain and Quraishi and others.


More than a thousand years before the French Revolution of 1789, Islam revolutionised the
world with ideals of equality and brotherhood. During the medieval time, when people were
fighting not only for territory but also for honour, cattle, and other trifle matters, the twin ideas
apart from monotheism became the weapon for a new dawn. It shaped the world and large
numbers of people were drawn to it to experience the change, it promised for the followers.
However, these ideals were soon contaminated and polluted as Islam made inroads into new
lands. By the time Islam reached India, it was under the influence of Arabs, Iran, Afghanistan,
Turkey and Central Asia.

In India, Muslims faced the twin challenge of Brahmanism and Caste, which not only moved the
society but also shaped it. The Muslim soldiers and sufi saints looked upon this differently. The
Muslim soldiers were busy in territorial expansion in different parts of the region and did not
bother with the social order. The Sufi saints who accompanied the soldiers settled at various
places and engaged themselves in dialogue and interaction with local inhabitants, which resulted
in conversions. For the neo-Muslims, the first question was of rank and position, as most of
them came from low castes. No one was ready to address this question and it was finally passed
over to the Muslim soldiers. Faced with a tough life in India, these soldiers—who took pride in
their racial and social supremacy also skipped this question but promoted the theory of ‘low-
born’ and ‘high-born’. Thus, Caste won the first battle against the noble ideals of Islam. Let us
briefly examine caste before we turn to our area of focus.

What is caste? Caste is not an Indian word. It was applied by the Portuguese when they first
arrived in the East, to designate the peculiar system of religious and social distinctions which
they observed among the Hindu people, particularly as founded on race.1 The Spaniards were
the first to use it (caste), but its Indian application is from the Portuguese, who had so applied it
in the 15th century. The current spelling of the word 'caste' which appears in 1740 in the
academics and is hardly found before 1800.2

Caste was a group system based on services and functions. It was meant to be an all inclusive
order without any common dogma and following the fullest latitude to each group.3

The authority of caste rests partly on written laws, partly on legendry fables and narratives, partly
on verbal tradition, partly on injunctions of instructors and priests, partly on custom and usage,
and partly on the caprice and convenience of its votaries. No doubt the man who shall follow
the rules prescribed in the Shruti (what was heard from Vedas) and in Smirit (what was
remembered from law) will acquire fame in this life and in the next world.4

There was a time when the Aryan society recognised only three Varnas, namely Brahmins,
Kshatriyas and Vaishyas. Owing to the denial of Upanayana, the Shudras who were Kshatriyas
became socially degraded, fell below the rank of Vaishyas and thus came to form the fourth

The Hindu Society in common with other societies was composed of classes and the earliest
known are the (1) Brahmans or the priestly class (2) the Kshatriya or the military class (3) the
Vaishyas or the merchant class and (4) the Shudra, or the artisan and menial class. Particular
attention has to be paid to the fact that this was essentially a class system, and therefore classes
did change their personnel. 6 What were the main castes? If we leave out for a moment those
who were considered outside the pale of caste, the untouchables, there were the Brahmins, the
priests, teachers, intellectuals, ; the Kshatriyas-the rulers and warriors; the Vaishyas or
merchants, traders, bankers etc.; and the Shudras-who were the agricultural and other workers.
Probably the only closely knit and exclusive caste was that of Brahmins. The Kshatriyas were
frequently adding to their numbers both from foreign incoming elements and others in the
country who rose to power and authority. The Vaishyas were chiefly traders and bankers and
also engaged in number of other professions. The main occupations of the Shudras were
cultivators and domestic service.7

The earliest law books mention 10 to 15 mixed castes, but the law book of Manu, a work of the
first century AD enumerates 61 mixed castes. This number exceeds 100, if we add to it the list of
additional castes given in Brahmavaivarta Purana.8 The first three were divijya (twice-born) and
the Shudra (also referred as untouchables, depressed classes) was destined to serve the first three
without any rights and respect. For the prosperity of the worlds he caused to proceed from his
mouth, arms, thighs, and feet, the Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishyas and Shudra.9

No collection of wealth maybe made by a Shudra even though he be able to do it; for a Shudra
who has acquired wealth gives it to Brahmans.10 The twice born men who in their folly wed
wives of the low castes soon degrade their families and children to the status of Shudra. 'A

1 John Wilson, Indian Caste Vol. I, KK Book Distributors, 1877 pp. 12-13.
2 Shridhar V Ketkar, The History of Caste in India, Cosmo Publications, N Delhi, 1979, p. 12.
3 Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India, OUP, N Delhi, 1997, p. 252.
4 John Wilson, Indian Caste Vol. I, KK Book Distributors, 1877,pp. 14-15.
5 B R Ambedkar, Who Were the Shudras? pp.4-5.
6 B R Ambedkar, Castes in India, Columbia University, New York, May 1916, p.24.
7 Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India, OUP, N Delhi, 1997, p. 253.
8 Ram Sharan Sharma, Social Changes in Early Medieval India, Peoples Publishing House, 1969, N Delhi, p.22-23
9 John Murdoch ( compiled by), The Laws of Manu, or Manava Dharma Sastra, The Christian Literature Society
for India, Madras, 1898, p. 2.
10 Shridhar V Ketkar, The History of Caste in India, Cosmo Publications, N Delhi, 1979, p. 97.
Brahman who takes a Shudra wife to his bed will sink to hell. By begetting a child by her, he
loses Brahmanhood.'11

Each caste was divided in various groups of clan, or ‘gotra’. In simple words, persons belonging
to same ancestor were of one ‘gotra’. Usually people married within caste, but outside ‘gotra’.
The people of one clan belong to a single kul, or line of patrilineal descent, the founding
ancestor of which is their bans (clan). Each caste is divided into a large number of named
exogamous patriclans. For Palampur sub-division alone, I have a list of 176 Rajput Clans.12 In
some areas of northern India the clan is designated by the by the term 'got' or 'gotra', but
elsewhere the gotra is a group of clans. 13

Early Reference

Foreign travelers and Ambassadors to India have left their impression of caste in their own
words. Greek Ambassador Megasthenese, who stayed at the court of Indian ruler
Chandgragupta Maurya, in his book Indica (which survives in fragments), he talked about ‘seven
divisions’ in Indian society. Megasthenes as is well known divides the population of India into
seven principle division of classes.14 This may be the earliest mention of division in Indian

As people moved and new people entered into the society, the caste became more rigid.
Common people were disgusted with the complications in their life due to ‘rites and rituals’ of
the Brahmans. Gautam Buddha and Mahavira, both from Kshatriya caste, promised to provide
an egalitarian society sans discrimination. But their efforts to fight caste proved ineffective.
Though it is evident both from testimony of Buddhists themselves and of their enemies the
Brahmanas, that they opposed caste as far as they were able according to the exigencies of the
times in which they lived, as a matter of policy, often winked at its existence in Indian Society.15
I may take the liberty of reminding advocates of this creed (Buddhism) that the pretensions of
the Buddhists regarding pollution and purity were at least as extravagant as those of the
Brahmana, and Gautama is not free from the guilt of promoting such pretensions. In cases he
has shown much greater stupidity in these matters than that of all Brahmanas put together.16
Both became victim of existing social order. Buddhism came to be divide into 18 sects, an
Jainism came to be divided into seven sects in Karnataka. It is an irony of history that the
religious sects which sprang up to remove caste disparities and privileges based on birth were
themselves swallowed by the caste disparities and the caste system. However, the struggle
between Brahmanism and Buddhism for survival continued.

The separation among different social groups become stringent as people moved from the north
to the south. Apart from the four class division, a large number of people were declared
Chandalas, who were outside the Varna system. This division seems to have been promoted by
Gupta rulers around 4th century CE. Fa-Hien who came to India in 400 CE said about this,
‘throughout the country the people kill, no-living thing nor drink wine, nor do they eat garlic or
onion, with the exception of Chandalas only. The Chandalas are named evil men and dwell apart
from others: if they enter a town or market, they sound a piece of wood in order separate
themselves,...the Chandalas only hunt and sell flesh.’17 Bana in Kadambari describes a Chandala

11 Shridhar V Ketkar, The History of Caste in India, Cosmo Publications, N Delhi, 1979, p. 144.
12 Jonathan P Parry,Caste and Kinship in Kangra, Vikas Publishing House, 1979, p. 132.
13 Jonathan P Parry,Caste and Kinship in Kangra, Vikas Publishing House, 1979, p. 133.
14 John Wilson, Indian Caste Vol. I, KK Book Distributors, 1877, p. 337.
15 John Wilson, Indian Caste Vol. I, KK Book Distributors, 1877, p. 313.
16 Shridhar V Ketkar, The History of Caste in India, Cosmo Publications, N Delhi, 1979, p. 122,).
17 B R Ambedkar, The Untouchables, Who They are and Why they became Untouchables, Amrit Book Co., New
Delhi, 1948, P.148.
(600 CE) ‘ I beheld the barbarian settlement, a very market place of evil-deeds in all sides the
enclosures were made with skulls, the dust heaps on the roads were filled with bones, the yards
of the huts were miry with blood, fat , and meat chopped up.

The life there consisted of hunting; the food of flesh, the ointment of fat, the garments of coarse
silk, the couches of dried skins, the household attendants of dogs; the animals for riding, of
cows. The men’s employment of wine and women; the oblation to the gods, of blood; the
sacrifice of cattle, the place was the image of hells.’18 Another Chinese traveler corroborates the
condition of Dalits in 7th century CE. Hieun Tsang/ Yuan Chwang came to India in 629 CE.
and stayed for 16 years. He said: ‘Butchers, fishermen, public performers, executioners, and
scavengers have their habitations marked by a distinguishing sign. They are forced to live outside
the city and they sneak along on the left when going about in the hamlets.’19

Writing about Chandalas and Shudra, Mughal Historian Abul Fazl wrote, ‘Water and
thoroughfare which became impure due to the shadow of Chandal, it is purified with sunlight
and moonlight.’ 20 Talking about dress code for the lower castes, he says ‘Indigo coloured dress
made of Pashmina and Silk is only suitable for Shudra.’ 21 Hieun Tsang clearly states that the
Shudras were agriculturists. Alberuni notes the absence of any significant difference between the
Vaishyas and Shudras, who lived together in the same town and village and mixed in the same

Since Lower castes were the main adherents of Buddhism, they were declared to be outcasts/
untouchables. As Dr. Ambedkar writes: ‘Nilkant in his Prayaschit Mayukha quotes a verse from
Manu which says: ‘If a person touches a Buddhist or a flower of Pachupatm Lokayataka, Nastika
and Mahapataki, he shall purify himself by a bath.’23 Another reason for keeping these people
outside the Village community was the beef-eating. The reason why broken men only became
untouchables was because in addition to being Buddhists they retained their habit of beef-eating
which gave them additional ground for offence to the Brahmins to carry their new found love
and reverence to the cow to its logical end. 24

Dr. Ambedkar, who himself came from lower (Mahar) caste wrote: ‘As has been shown by D R
Bhandarkar, cow killing was made a capital offence by the Gupta Kings sometime in the 4th
century AD. Untouchablity was born some time about 400 AD. It is born out of the struggle for
supremacy between Buddhism and Brahmanism.’25 Who were the depressed classes and the
untouchables? The depressed classes are a new designation applying rather vaguely to a number
of castes near the bottom of the scale. There is no hard and fast line to separate them from the
others. The untouchables are more definite. In north India, only a very small number engaged in
scavenging or unclean work, are considered untouchables. Fa-Hien tells us that when he came
the persons who removed human faeces were touchable. In South India the numbers are much
larger. How they began and grew to such numbers is difficult to say. Probably those who were
engaged in occupation considered unclean were so treated; later landless agricultural labour may
have been added.26

18 Ibid., pp.149-150.
19 Ibid., p.154.
20 Abul Fazl, Urdu Translation by Fida Ali, Aina-e-Akbari, Part-II, Jamia Usmania, Deccan, Hyderbad, 1939,
Reprinted Hinduism in the 16th Century, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, p.264.
21 Abul Fazl, Urdu Translation by Fida Ali, Aina-e-Akbari, Part-II, Jamia Usmania, Deccan, Hyderbad, 1939,
Reprinted Hinduism in the 16th Century, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, p. 266.
22 Ram Sharan Sharma, Social Changes in Early Medieval India, Peoples Publishing House, 1969, N Delhi, p. 17.
23 Ibid, P. 71.
24 Ibid., p.82.
25 Ibid., 1948, p.155.
26 Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India, OUP, N Delhi, 1997, pp 223-224.
There was always a continuous process of new castes being formed as new occupations
developed, and for other reasons the older castes were always trying to get up in the social scale.
These processes have continued to our day. Some of the lower castes suddenly take to wearing
the sacred thread which is supposed to be reserved for upper castes. All this really made little
difference, as each caste continued to function in its own ambit and pursued its own trade or
occupations. It was merely a question of prestige. Occasionally men of lower classes, by sheer
ability attained to positions of power and authority in the state, but this was very exceptional.27

In northern India many castes are grouped under Kshatriya and Vaishyas from early times, but
in South India and Bengal we find mainly Brahmanas and Shudras to the exclusion of
intermediary castes.28 The Namasudras or Chandals of this region has a very low social position
among Hindus and were branded as untouchables. They were refused services of the barbers,
the washerman, and sometimes even the scavengers and the Brahmans. Quite naturally in order
to avoid this stigma, many of them embraced Islam or Christianity during the 19th century and
early 20th century.29 Formation of new castes was a continuous process. In ancient times,
however, the effect of a union between two different castes was ordinarily the formation of new

Frequent land grant and partitions led to the rise and growth of new literate class, called the
Kayastha, whose place in the Varna system could not be clearly defined. The varna system was
also modified by the transformation of the Shudras into cultivators and the relegation of the
Vaishyas to the position of the shudras, with the result that the newly founded brahminical order
in Bengal and South India provided mainly for Brahmanas and Shudras.31

Land grants and subinfeudation led to unequal distribution of land and power on a large scale
and created new social groups and ranks which did not quite fit in with the existing fourfold
varna system.32 Faced with the problem of finding a place for the Kayastha in the varna system
the Brahmana lawgivers fell into a dilemma and connected them with both the shudras as well as
the dvijas (twice born). Since the Dharmashastra texts on the origin of the kayashtha are
ambiguous and historical examples not confined to one varna, in recent times the Calcutta High
Court called them Shudra and the Allahabad High Court called them brahmanas.33

Al-Beruni, who visited India in 11th century, has left behind an important account of India. He
wrote: ‘The Hindus call their castes varna, i.e. colours, and from a genealogical point of view,
they call them jataka, i.e. births. These castes are from the very beginning only four. The highest
caste is the Brahmana, of whom the books of the Hindus tell that they were created from the
head of Brahman. The next caste is the Kshatriya, who were created, as they say, from the
shoulders and hands of Brahman. After them follow the Vaishyas, who were created from the
thigh of Brahman. And the last one is the Shudra, who were created from his feet.’34 The noted
Arabic scholar however, does not talk of any such division among Muslims. Urdu Poet Iqbal
writing after many centuries of the raids of Mahmud Ghazni referred to the ‘one-rank’ of Islam
when he wrote: Ek Hi Saf Mein Khare Ho Gaye Mahmood-o-Ayaz-Na Koi Banda Raha na koi Band

27 Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India, OUP, N Delhi, 1997, p. 253.

28 Ram Sharan Sharma, Social Changes in Early Medieval India, Peoples Publishing House, 1969, N Delhi, p. 18.
29 Shekhar Bandopadhyaya, Caste Class and politics in Colonial Bengal, A case study of the Namasudra
Movement of 1872-1937 in K L Sharma (edited), Caste and Class in India, Rawat Publication, Jaipur, 1998, p.
30 H A Rose, A Glossary of the tribes and castes of the North West Frontier Provinces, Vol. I, Amar Parkashan
Delhi, p. 43.
31 Ram Sharan Sharma, Social Changes in Early Medieval India, Peoples Publishing House, 1969, N Delhi, p. 27.
32 Ram Sharan Sharma, Social Changes in Early Medieval India, Peoples Publishing House, 1969, N Delhi, p. 11.
33 Ram Sharan Sharma, Social Changes in Early Medieval India, Peoples Publishing House, 1969, N Delhi, p. 15.
34 Qiamuddin Ahmed Trnsl., Al-Beruni’s India, National Book Trust, N Delhi.
Nawaz (In the same line Mahmood (king) and Ayaz (slave) stood while praying, Neither was one
Master, nor one slave).

After the failure of Buddhism and Jainism, it was the turn of the Bhakti saints in South, Central
and Northern India to check the caste-based social order. This was also necessitated, following
the popularity of the simple monotheistic message of Islam and its appeal to the masses. Many
such saints emerged under the group of Nirgun (formless) and Sagun (form) who advocated
devotion as a way of salvation. Even these saints failed and the followers of Kabir, Nanak and
Basavanna are today a separate sect. But the tragedy or irony of the Bhakti Movement was that it
not only failed to make a dent on caste hierarchy but actually ended up becoming a caste.35

Over a thousand years the social conditions worsened and the divisions among different castes
and sub-castes only multiplied. The rule of Delhi Sultans and Mughals, where large number of
soldiers and nobility came from outside, a new phase of racial supremacy was promoted. This
paved the way for the creation, birth and addition of caste among Muslims in India.

Caste among Muslims

For Muslims in India, it was obvious to be influenced by the caste system. Reeling under the
sectarian differences and the emergence of heterodox sects, this became a cause for new division
in the Muslim rank. After centuries of inroads, it were the Delhi Sultans who attempted to
consolidate and expand their rule. Their stay in Delhi, creation of court, nobility, recruitment of
soldiers, establishment of new colonies, and new markets created a demand for hands who could
meet the growing demand. However, these Sultans which included manumitted slaves had great
regard for the Turko-Afghan nobility and soldiers who played key role in battles and decision
making. These nobles not only decided the fate of the Kings, but also shaped the society.

All this was done under outside influence. As historian Muhammad Umar says, ‘When Islam
entered western India via all the countries of Central Asia in 11th and 10th centuries, Islamic
cultural structure has become Iranian from inside and outside. The Muslim ruler of India
considered himself representative of Persian lifestyle. During the entire rule of Muslims in India
Persian continued to be official and educational language while Arabic was religious language.
Sheikh and Syed were considered Islamic elite during the beginning in Mecca and Madina....while
Mughal and Pathan who trace their lineage to ruling elite are considered good martial race.
Sheikh and Syed are given religious respect while Mughal /Pathan are respected for their valour
and lineage. Like this, converted Indian Muslims made separate group of theirs and are seen in
several divisions.36 Ghaus Ansari, who studied caste system in Uttar Pradesh in 1960s, writes:
‘Sayyad and Sheikh are acclaimed for their sacredness; Mughal and Pathan for their royal blood.
All of these together i.e. Sayyad, Sheikh, Mughal, and Pathan although tracing their descent from
different racial stocks, have united themselves under the categorical heading of
(Ashraf) honourable to set themselves apart from the Muslim converts of Indian origin.37

A new faith did not guarantee new way of life. Conversion to Christianity or Islam and even
conversion of B.R. Ambedkar and his followers to Buddhism did not make the caste system
irrelevant.38 The large majority of the Muslims in India were originally recruited to Islam from
the intermediate and lower rings of Hindu society wherein status was rigidly defined in terms of
birth and maintained by strong social sanctions.39 The emphasis upon birth and ancestry

35 M N Srinivas, An obituary on Caste as a System, Economic and Political Weekly, February 1, 2003, p.459,).
36 Muhammad Umar, Hindustani Tahzeeb ka Musalmano par Asar, (Urdu), Publications Division, N Delhi, 1975,
p. 70-71.
37 Ghaus Ansari, Muslim Caste in Uttar Pradesh Ethnographic and Folk culture Society, Lucknow, 1960.
38 S B Wad, Caste and the Law in India, DCCBR, N Delhi, 1984, p. 3.
39 Imtiaz Ahmed, Caste Social Stratification among Muslims in India, Manohar, 1978, p. 13.
acquired acceptance in Islamic law as time went by...Caste among the Muslims in India owes
itself directly to Hindu influences, but it has been reinforced by the justification offered for the
idea of birth and descent as criteria of status in Islamic law.40 Sikand says, ‘The Fatwa-i-Jahandari
shows Barani as a fervent champion of Ashraf supremacy and as vehemently opposed to the

The division among Muslims was akin to the varna system of Hindus. B N Pande writes,
‘Socially the Mussalmans of India developed an organisation similar to that of the Hindus.
Muslim societies in India, unlike Muslim societies in other countries, became divided into castes
comparable with the Hindu caste system. Sayyids correspond with Brahmins, Mughal and
Pathans with Kshatriyas, Sheikhs with Vaishyas, and the group of artisans’ craftsmen labourers
with Shudras. The distinctions between the four divisions were based not merely on economic
and vocational considerations, but also on heredity, which was recognised throughout the
middle ages as a factor of supreme importance among both the Mussalmans and Hindus.42

Iran and India share a long and unparalleled journey. It is argued that there was a class division
in Iranian society which had its origin in ancient times, and was similar to the one prevailing in
India. In Iran, four class divisions has been there since the time of Avesta.....the ideal of
brotherhood and equality had to bow before the well established social differences and divide of
Persia. Famous Persian scholar Naseerudin Atui, has approved the division in society and also
the division during the time of Sassani empire. He wrote in 'Akhlaq-e-Nasri' that all classes
should be kept in place. Another book 'Jamia Mufidi' of 7th century also retains the division,
only there has been a change in sequencing, where martial class has replaced religious class as the
first class. Religious class been relegated to the second position. When Islam came to India in
12th century, there were already changes in social structure, and fraternity and equality remained
only a vision and remains today also a vision. Victor Muslims were divided in two classes-
religious group, which included preachers and the ruling elite and the people. In the beginning
the religious workers were not hereditary but slowly it became.43

People visiting India find it amusing to find caste among Muslims. As one visitor writes, ‘It is
interesting to see how caste practice has penetrated the Muslim communities, people for whom
concepts of rebirth and preordained destiny are foreign- a form of social harmony evolved as
certain aspects of Hindu behaviour organically crept in’.44 In India, Muslims castes generally fall
into two categories: higher castes of Syed, Sheikh, Pathan and Mughal and lower service castes.
The high castes claim foreign origin from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, or Central Asia, while
the members of the low castes are low-caste Hindu converts.45

Talking about its prevalent among non-Hindus, M N Srinivas says, ‘It is a ubiquitous institution
in India, being found among Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Muslims, Christians and Jews. It is one
institution that cuts across religious, regional and class divisions. There is a widespread
impression among educated Indians that caste is on its last legs, and that the educated,
urbanized, and westernised, members of the upper classes have already escaped its bonds. Both
these impressions are wrong. These people may observe very few dietary restrictions, marry
outside caste and even region, but this does not mean that they have escaped entirely the bonds
of caste. They show caste attitudes in surprising contexts.46

40 Imtiaz Ahmed, Caste Social Stratification among Muslims in India, Manohar, 1978, p. 14-15.
41 Yoginder Sikand, Islam Caste and Dalit Muslim Relations in India, Global Media Publications, 2004, p.22.
42 B N Pande, Islam & Indian Culture, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1987 p. 59.
43 Muhammad Umar, Hindustani Tahzeeb ka Musalmano par Asar, (Urdu), Publications Division, N Delhi, 1975,
p. 72-73.
44 Sophie Baker, Caste At Home in Hindu India, Rupa, 1991, p. 53.
45 Syed Ali, Collective and Elective Ethnicity: Caste Among Urban Muslims in India, Sociological Forum, Vol. 17,
No. 4, December 2002, p. 602-603.
46 M N Srinivas, Caste in Modern India and Other Essays, Asia Publishing House, Bombay, p. 88.
While the institution of caste is in a sense fundamental to Hinduism, it is not confined to
Hindus, as Indian Muslims, Christians and Sikh are all divided into castes. And caste also cuts
across religious divisions--it is not only Hindus who are segmented into castes but also Jains,
Sikhs, Muslims and Christians. Normally the existence of a common cultural or social idiom is a
predisposing condition for unity, but in the case of caste there is a double difficulty.47

In every society army and theologians command respect owing to their role. For newly founded
Muslim state in India, their role was no less important in keeping intact the nascent kingdom.
The Muslim castes emerged from various races and kept on adding new castes. Muslims came
from different races: Arab, Afghan, Turk, Tajiks. Immigrant Muslims followed two broad
divisions-Muhajirin and Indian Muslims (converted). The feeling of division was based on racial
differences, 'Ashraf' was the word used for migrated Muslims. Ashraf was used for migrants like
Syed, Mughal, Pathan and Sheikh, and for indigenous Muslims, the word was 'Arzal'. Sharfa has
same meaning as Arya.48 Ghaus Ansari writes, Muslim society in India is in first instance divided
into four major groups. These are (i) Ashraf- who trace their origin to foreign lands such as
Arabia, Persia (Turkistan) and Afghanistan (ii) Hindus of higher birth who were converted to
Islam (iii) clean occupational castes, and (iv) the Converts from the Untouchable Castes: Bhangi
(scavengers) Chamar (tanner) etc.49

The racial division in the Muslim rank was approved of by the Muslim thinkers of the day. As
Umar writes, ‘People with high and glorified posts and professions were considered elite and
they were eligible for government positions and they were considered to provide luck to the
government and has within them virtues… opposed to this, lower people were only capable
of doing menial and low profile jobs and they were epitome of all the evils. Historian Ziaudddin
Barni has given good account of this. According to the views of Barni, new colonies were
established for the newly arrived migrant Muslims in Delhi. Following colonies (Mohalla) were
found during the reign of Sultan Ghayasuddin Balban: Mohalla Abbassi, Mohalla Sanjari,
Mohalla Khawrizm Shahi, Mohalla Welimi, and Mohalla Alvi.

Mohalla Atabki, Mohalla Ghori, Mohalla Changezi, Mohalla Romi, Mohalla Sanqari, Mohalla
Mosil, Mohalla Samarqandi, Mohalla Kashghari, Mohalla Khatai. During the time of Sultan
Jalaluddin Khalji, a new Mohalla of Mughals was added and was called Mughalpura and these
Mughals were called neo-Muslims.50 Caste based Mohallas can still be found in many cities of the
country, viz., Diwan Mohallah-inhabited by Kayasth, Mughalpura-inhabited by Mughals, Darzi
Mohalla-inhabited by Darzi, Pathantoli- Inhabited by Pathans, Sheikhpura-inhabited by Sheikhs.

Not only the Muslim state approved of racial division, like the Hindu society, the upper castes
practiced seclusion from the lower strata of Muslim castes, who were Indians. Umar writes,
‘Migrant Muslims were soldiers and due to superiority of their race kept away from Muslims and
looked down upon indigenous Muslims, who were also denied jobs in government. When
indigenous Muslims tried to garner political power, they were migrant Muslims revolted and they
were removed. One such incident took place during the reign of Sultan Nasir udddin Mahmud,
when Amauddin Raihan came to power. But Turks under Balban removed and killed him. After
the death of Qutubuddin Mubarak Khalji, Hasan Pardari took the power in his hands but was
called 'impure' by Barni because he was from Hind. He belonged to low caste of Pardari from
Gujarat. Due to these reservations and policies, Indian Muslims were forced to bank on their

47 M N Srinivas, Caste in Modern India and Other Essays, Asia Publishing House, Bombay, p. 150.
48 Muhammad Umar, Hindustani Tahzeeb ka Musalmano par Asar, (Urdu), Publications Division, N Delhi, 1975,
p. 74-75.
49 Ghaus Ansari, op. cit. p. 31.
50 Ibid.,
ancestral professions to make a living, and even after becoming Muslims they were not
considered equal to Turks.51

The raids made by Delhi Sultans and its generals at various places led to the creation of similar
society there. In this regard the most notable was the so called transfer of capital from Delhi to
Deogir by Muhammad Bin Tughlaq. This resulted in creating new Muslim colonies in the
Deccan region. Afghan mercenaries were always in demand from different quarters, and the rule
of Lodis and Sher Shah made them more popular with Indian as martial race. Interestingly, in
border districts of Bihar there is ‘Shershahbadia’ caste whose lineage is not known. They claim
to have been given land by Emperor Sher Shah.

Indian artisans were always known for their skill. So much so that even Mahmud Ghazni took
artisans to his home town. He also hired the services of Tilak as General to punish the local
troublemakers. After initial days of consolidation, Mughals took to other tasks. During the reign
of Emperor Akbar, a new phase of Muslim social order and institution took shape, in which
each section of society and all types of skilled workers were allowed to join the empire and
government industries. This gave recognition to the local converted Muslims, but the other side
was that Muslims society was divided into various profession/ skill based groups. They began to
marry within their group and also passed on their skill to their sons.52

Due to the entry of these artisans and skilled workers, the Islamic system gave way to a society
which was divided on the basis of work/ profession. Umar says, ‘The Medieval Indian Muslim
society may be divided into three classes. The first two- Ahl-e-Saif (men of sword) and Ahl-e-
Qalam(men of pen) together constituted the social aristocracy of the ruling class…at the bottom
of the ladder were ‘Awam-e-Khalq’ or the common people53. Due to political insatiability of the
18th century, and worsening economic condition, Muslims took to the all existing occupation.
For example, the profession of soldier was in decline, and even if someone became a soldier by
buying a horse, he did not get salary. So, people left this profession and took to new career. For
example, the ancestral profession of Sauda was military service, but he took to poetry and made
a living in his life from this profession. Same was the case with Ghalib. Poet Mashafi belonged
to a Kalal family of Amroha, who took to trading and then poetry. Sauda has shown the
precarious condition of the different professionals , such as Qazi, Mullah, Khatib, Wayez, Tabib,
Dokandar, Saudagar, Bawarchi, poet, teacher, writer, singer (Qawaal), sheikh were in pitiable
condition. Despite being associated with the court, they lived life of misery. Similarly Nazir
Akbarabadi, has bemoaned the conditions of unemployed people of Agra.54

Because of this, many Muslims left their traditional occupation and took to new jobs, and this
was later identified with caste, and every profession's caste was fixed on the basis of profession.
Present Muslim society is divided into four groups or castes: 1) Ashraf-those people who trace
their lineage to Arab, Persia, Turkistan, ond Afghanistan, 2) Upper caste Hindus who became
Muslim, 3) Clean profession castes, 4) Unclean/ Untouchable castes who converted to Islam
such as Bhangi, Chamar, and other lower castes.55

From Punjab to Bengal, there is huge population and large numbers of Muslims are living there.
They are divided in two racial groups: migrant Muslims such as Syed, Sheikh, Mughal, and

51 Muhammad Umar, Hindustani Tahzeeb ka Musalmano par Asar, (Urdu), Publications Division, N Delhi, 1975,
p. 76-
52 Ibid,
53 Muhammad Umar, Muslim Society in Northern India during the 18 th century, CAS in History, Aligarh, 1998,
54 Muhammad Umar, Hindustani Tahzeeb ka Musalmano par Asar, (Urdu), Publications Division, N Delhi, 1975,
p. 77- 78
55 Ibid
Pathan and their successors. Second group is of people whose forefathers became Muslims.
Native Muslims are known from their profession and are divided in three categories:

1) Upper caste Hindus who became Muslims like Rajput

2) People who did clean work and included all except those in third class
3) Unclean and menial workers, such as Kalal, Bhangi, Halalkhor, Lalbegi, Chamar,

Based on the prevailing castes among Muslims and their division based on clean and unclean
work, we can make following categories:

1. Ashraf - Syed, Mughal, Pathan, Sheikh

2. Muslim Rajput (Ajlaf)
3. Mewati Muslim( Ajlaf)
4. Castes doing clean work-Julahe, Darzi, Qasab, Hajam, Nai, Kunjra, Merasi, Kumhar,
Manhar, Dhuniya, Teli, Dhobi, Gaddi and Faqir (Arzal)
5. Castes doing menial works- Kalal, Halalkhor/ Lalbegi, Bhangi, Chamar etc.

Above division is broadly seen as Ashraf and Non-Ashraf. Based on the list of Anthropological
Survey of India, and works of Muhammad Umar and Mirza Muhammad Hasan Qateel,
following list56 of Muslim castes are given. This is not complete list.

Ashrafs & Their Title

The Ashrafs57 enjoy the same position among Muslims, which is respectively enjoyed by
Brahmin and Kshatriya among Hindus. Thus, Syed and Sheikh as religious pontiff and Imam are
equal to Brahmin, while Mughal and Pathan are known for bravery and are at par with

1) Syed- Usually they use prefix of Syed or Mir and also use some title. Some time the
adopted professional title is also used, if it is acceptable. Other titles used are: Abdi,
Askari, Baqri, Husaini, Hasni, Kazmi, Naqvi, Rizvi, Zaidi, Chishti, Jalali, and Qadri title
are usually used by Saints who are usually Sunni and are claimants to the Syed, Sheikh
and Pathan race. Some titles are common among Shia as well as Sunni. They are Syed in
Shia and Sheikh in Sunni: Abbasi, Alvi, Hashmi, Jaafri. English scholar writing in the
19th century wrote about Sayyads: ‘All over the eastern Punjab small shrines exist to
what are popularly called Sayyids. These shrines are Muhammadan in form, and the
offerings, which are made on Thursdays, are taken by Muhammaden Faqirs-very often
however the name of the Faqir is unknown and diviners will even invent a Sayyid
hitherto not heard of as the author of a disease and a sharing will be built to him
accordingly.58 It is interesting to note Syeds continue to occupy most of the sufi shrines
spread in Indian subcontinent and in addition to ‘Syed’ also use ‘Shah’ to confirm their
sufi lineage! They also use Khanqah (shrine) for their political career.

56 Muhammad Umar, Hindustani Tahzeeb ka Musalmano par Asar, (Urdu), Publications Division, N Delhi, 1975,
p. 82-84.
57 Muhammad Umar, Hindustani Tahzeeb ka Musalmano par Asar, (Urdu), Publications Division, N Delhi, 1975,
58 H A Rose, A Glossary of the tribes and castes of the North West Frontier Provinces, Vol. I, Amar Parkashan,
Delhi, p. 14.
2) Sheikh- Ansari, Farooqi, Kharasani, Malki, Qidwai, Quraishi, Siddiqui, Usmani Mirza
Md. Hasan Qateel says this about Sheikh and Syed: ‘In countryside the marriages of
Sheikh and Syeds are solemnised according to Sunnat....Amongst Ashraf in India, Sheikh
is addressed as Sheikh and Syed is addressed as Meer. Syed is not addressed as Mirza and
Sheikh is never addressed as Mirza. And no matter how high is the position of Mirza and
Afghan, there cannot be conjugal relations with Sheikh/ Syed. And the peasant is not in
the line of Ashraf, they are outside, and they are considered as servants. 59

3) Mughal groups- Usually Mughals use Mirza before their names and in the end add
position title- Chughtai, Quzlibas, Tazik, Taimuri, Turkman, Uzbek, or Azbeg.

4) Pathan tribes- Usually Pathans do not use the name of tribe and only use title of 'Khan'
before their names. And if they use the title of the tribe, they drop Khan. Afridi,
Bangash, Barakzai, Barak, Daudzai, Durrani, Ghaurgashti, Ghauri, Kakar, Khalil, Lodi,
Mohmmadzai, Aurkzai, Rohilla. A trible of Pathan live in the Rohilkhand region of Uttar
Pradesh. It is not difficult to form some idea of the way in which the modern population
has been formed. The Pathan or Iranian element is slight; the Mughal or Turki still
slighter; while the Arab element is practically negligible. The Pathan tribes, as we know
them are by no means ancient and their earliest settlements in the Peshawar valley and
other tracts of predominantly pathan do not go back much later than the 14th century. 60
To preserve their racial supremacy and higher social position above real Muslims from
Hind, Muslims adopted the title of high lineage names against their names. Among
Pathan and Mughal, Syed and Sheikh fulfil the responsibility of Imam and Peer...maybe
this is because they are considered to among the descendents of migrants 'Shurfa'. So
they are given respect...In India this has become the domain of Syed and Sheikh and
have become hereditary. In Northern India, Peer is either Sheikh or Syed and even if he
belongs to some other caste, he traces his lineage from some Syed saint, like Chishti,
Jalali, Qadri, Qutbi etc.,61 Saraban and Kalantari are two groups of Afghans. Kalantari
has many types, such as Bangash, Afridi, Dilazak, Khatak, Rakzai. In India, Pathans are
of two kinds. One real Saraban or Kalantari or Gharghasht or Betan Pathan. Second
such slaves who became Muslims to please them.

In India, four castes are considered to be Ashraf: Muhgal, Syed, Sheikh, and Afghan...Usually
any person coming to India from Iran is addressed 'Aqa'. He is Sharif, or worker, or a soldier, or
Razil or Bazari and children of Ulema or working officials are also addressed as 'Mirza'.62

These four are Ashrafs provided they are careful of their lineage and if any Mughal to eke out a
living takes to the profession of Seqqa Giri, he will cease to be a Sharif. He will be expelled from
Mughal Biradri.63

Similarly, Mughals have some types: Descendents of Irani and Turani, Slaves of Shia, and new
Muslims. They are Sunni as well as Shia64 Sheikh also have types: one seeking lineage from
companions of Prophet- Siddiqi, Farooqi, Usmani 2) Kanbu, Parache, Khoje.65

59 Mirza Md Husain Qateel, Trns. Md. Umar, Maktaba Burhan, Urdu Bazar, Delhi-6, 1967, p. 162,).
60 H A Rose, A Glossary of the tribes and castes of the North West Frontier Provinces, Vol. I, Amar Parkashan
Delhi, p. 58.
61 Muhammad Umar, Hindustani Tahzeeb ka Musalmano par Asar, (Urdu), Publications Division, N Delhi, 1975,
62 Mirza Md Husain Qateel, Trns. Md. Umar, Maktaba Burhan, Urdu Bazar, Delhi-6, 1967, p. 129.
63 Mirza Md Husain Qateel, Trns. Md. Umar, Maktaba Burhan, Urdu Bazar, Delhi-6, 1967, p.134-135.
64 Mirza Md Husain Qateel, Trns. Md. Umar, Maktaba Burhan, Urdu Bazar, Delhi-6, 1967, p.132.
65 Mirza Md Husain Qateel, Trns. Md. Umar, Maktaba Burhan, Urdu Bazar, Delhi-6, 1967, p. 133.
In Shahjahanbad (Delhi) and other towns where people of Delhi inhabit, there are marriages
between Syeds and Mughals, even if their claim to lineage is not proven.66

Muslim Rajput & Titles

Among higher caste, there are clans which embraced Islam like Bais, Bargujar, Bhatti, Besan,
Chandil, Chauhan, Gautam, Rathore, Sombansi, and Tomar and this Muslim Rajput are found in
Meerut (UP). They do not interact with lower caste and also do not like to have matrimonial
alliances with Ashraf (Syed, Sheikh, Mughal and Pathan). Sometime, they also marry in Hindu, if
they do not get compatible offer...despite being Muslims they practice Hindu traditions and
usually do not marry in the maternal and paternal extended family.

Bhal Sultan (Bulandshahar, Saharanpur), Khanzadah (Avadh), Ranghir, Lalkhani are spread in
Uttar Pradesh. Important and large branches of Muslim Rajput are: Bargujar, Bhati, Besan,
Chandail, Chauhan, Gautam, Panwar, Raikor, Rathore, Som Vanshi, Tomar.67

Mewati Muslim

Meo- according to local tradition became Muslim due to the efforts of Salar Masud Ghazi, who
attacked Mewat in 1002....Meos are divided in 12 Pal and 52 Gotra. Pal is old system and Gotra
is racial division.68 Meo- A highly composite tribe found in the hill country of Gurgaon, Alwar,
and Bharatpur and also scattered over Delhi district. The Meos have given their name to Mewat.
The Meos are divided into 52 original gots (sub-groups) which include 12 Pals.69 For several
centuries after their conversion to Islam, the Meos continued to observe the Hindu rituals with
the assistance of Hindu castes, including the Brahmins.70 The term ‘Khanzada’ has specially been
used to designate the Mewatis71.

Profession-Based Castes

After Ashraf and Muslim Rajput, there are many castes of skilled workers, and large number of
Northern Indian population is based on this type of workers. They are found among Muslims as
well as Hindus, such as carpenter, tailor, washerman, potter, blacksmith, goldsmith, barber, and
teli. They are socially and culturally apart from Hindus, though they may belong to some
common trading guild. They are divided in three groups:

1) such castes which are absolute Muslims, and their Hindu counterparts either do not exist
or they are different.
2) Such castes which have more Muslim branches than Hindu branches.
3) Such castes which have more Hindu branches than Muslim branches.

66 Mirza Md Husain Qateel, Trns. Md. Umar, Maktaba Burhan, Urdu Bazar, Delhi-6, 1967, p.136, Mirza Md
Husain Qateel, Trns. Md. Umar, Maktaba Burhan, Urdu Bazar, Delhi-6, 1967, p.136.
67 Muhammad Umar, Hindustani Tahzeeb ka Musalmano par Asar, (Urdu), Publications Division, N Delhi, 1975,
p. 105.
68 Muhammad Umar, Hindustani Tahzeeb ka Musalmano par Asar, (Urdu), Publications Division, N Delhi, 1975,
p. 68.
69 H A Rose, A Glossary of the tribes and castes of the North West Frontier Provinces, Vol. I, Amar Parkashan
Delhi, p. 79-83.
70 Partap C Aggarwal, Caste Hierarchy in a Meo Village of Rajasthan, , Imtiaz Ahmed, Caste Social Stratification
among Muslims in India, Manohar, 1978, p.154.
71 Muhammad Umar, Muslim Society in Northern India during the 18 th century, CAS in History, Aligarh, 1998,

Momin/ Julaha- In Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Bengal, they converted in large number from
Hindu. They are in large number compared to other Muslim castes in 1931 census. To claim
their high caste position, they prefer to marry in higher caste Sheikhs. They made an
organisation -All India Jamiat-ul-Mominin in 1930. They claim to be Sheikh and call themselves
Momin Ansari. Ansari- One of the most interesting Ansari families in the Punjab is that of
Ansari Sheikhs of Jullundur. It claims descent from Khalid Ansari, who received Prophet
Muhammad in his house in Madina72; Momin 'faithful' a synonym for Musalman; a designation
of Mohammedan Julahas which distinguishes them from the Hindu Julahas.73 The Ansaris are
Muslim Julahas or weavers. They are Sunni by sect and are also known as Momin and Julaha. 74
Those engaged in weaving and cloth making were called Julahe. They were originally from Hind
and after embracing Islam were called Nor Baf. During Emperor Akbar's reign, textile was
promoted and factories were established Lahore, Fatehpur, Ahmedabad, Gujarat. They are
settled in UP, Bihar and Bengal.

Qureshi- The Kassabs or Qassabs are a class of Muslim butchers. They deal with slaughtered
cattle, and are sub-group of Qureshi. Etymologically, Kassab means those who slaughter cow
(bara Karbar) and those who slaughter goat/ sheep are known as chick.75

Gaddi- Muslim shepherd caste, which is a branch of Ghosi. Amongst Teli, Dhobi, and Faqir
they are ranked lower. They are allowed to pray in the mosque. They marry in their caste though
there are cases of them marrying outside as well. They claim that they are the decedents of the
first bujurg named Gaddi Salahuddin. They are goalas who migrated to Bihar.76 They closely
resemble Ghosi, they are perhaps like him a sub-division offshoot. As said- Gaddi Mitr Bhola-
Denda tap to mangda chola (The Gaddi is a simple friend, he offers his cap and asks a coat in
exchange)...A caste of people who work as grass-cutters and sell milk in the United Provinces,
the term is said to be only used in the Punjab for a Mohammaden cowherd, or milkman whether
Gujjar, Ahir or any other caste.77

Faqir- They are shown as separate caste in 1931 census. Apart from begging, they also do
household work.

Meerasi- Some authors believe that they are descendents of Daravid. They have two basic
works- a) To sing on occasions like birth, marriage etc., b) To sing at Urs, and because this is
called Qawwali, they are called Qawwal in UP. Because of their association with caretakers of
tombs, their social position was elevated and their women have started observing Purdah and
they claim to be Quraishi.


Darzi- In 1818 their population in UP was 22441 while Hindu Darzi were 15522. In 1931,
Muslim Darzi population increased to 168906.

72 H A Rose, A Glossaray of the trribes and castes of the North West Frontier Provinces, Vol. II, Amar
Parkashan Delhi,p. 13.
73 H H Risley, Tribes and Castes of Bengal, Ethnographic Glossary, Vol. II , 1891, p.94.
74 K S Singh, Bihar (including Jharkhand), Anthropological Survey of India, Calcutta, Amitava Sarkar, p. 70.
75 K S Singh, Bihar (including Jharkhand), Anthropological Survey of India, Calcutta, p. 476, Amitabha sarkar.
76 Samira Dasgupta, in K S Singh, Bihar (including Jharkhand), Anthropological Survey of India, Calcutta, P. 307.
77 H A Rose, A Glossary of the tribes and castes of the North West Frontier Provinces, Vol. I, Amar Parkashan
Delhi, p. 255.
Dhuniya- They deal with cotton and start preparing quilt and mattress with the onset of winter

Manihar- They make bangle from ancient time and they marry only in their caste. Married
woman cannot be divorced without the permission of Panchayat.

Kunjrah- They sell vegetable and their Panchayat is very powerful. Among them it is allowed to
marry two sisters at the same time (though this is not allowed in Islam).

Rangrez- They were a separate caste in 19th century, but their demand has declined due to no
demand for print work. Very few are left who do the traditional job, they marry within the caste
Seqal gar- They were considered separate caste by Williams, Neisfield, and Blunt. Not much is
left of their caste, but some Seqalgar do traditional job. But they have been absorbed by
Dhuniya, Barhai, Kumhar. The person responsible for fetching water and carrying it to
households is called Siqqa or Bhishti. During the time, water was procured from wells, and
Muslim women observed Purdah while men were working. So, there emerged a group of water
carriers which was similar to Kahar in Hindus. They claim to be Rajputs....Professional Saqqel
offer water to pedestrians and can be seen in Delhi's Jama Masjid area.


Dhobi- Among Hindus they are considered doing menial jobs. Among Muslims, they are
considered above to Chamar and Bhangi. In 1869 their population was 249, and now they are in
thousand. They are divided in small branches...they practice many Hindu traditions and customs.
In Punjab they are divided in two groups-Multani and Desi.

Nai- Barbers, they are called Nai in Hindus and Hajjam in Muslims. Apart from this Muslim
Hajjam also do circumcision, and play important role in the festivals of Ashraf. They also fix
marriages, and carry the Invitation Register in the mohalla in Hisar, they are divided in four
groups- Bhallam, Chauhan, Khatrim and Kharl etc., Two branches are found in Gurgaon-
Sheikh/Turkman who came with Muslim invaders. Second, those who embraced Islam like
Bhati, Chauhan, Naryan, Tanur and Ghauri. Ghauri believe that they embraced Islam during
Ghauri period.

Teli- According to Risley, this caste may have belonged to upper caste because oil was an
integral part for cooking food.

Among “clean” professionals, it happens that such castes slowly become extinct with the decline
of the profession or new branches come up which embrace this profession...Among Muslims
Rangrez, Bhatiara, and Seqalgroh have declined socially and finally disappeared. Print making
declined so this caste has disappeared. Similarly with new mode of transportation, Bhatiyara
have disappeared, or have adopted new profession of Nan bai. Bawarchi, Halwai and Nan bai
have submerged.78

Nazir Akbarakbadi and author of Tarikh- e- Muhammad Shahi has mentioned 36 profession
based castes, but actually there were lot more who earned their living. The downfall of 18th
century led to the emergence of new castes and reorganisation of Muslim society. H Elliot has
mentioned 56 Muslim castes while Martin Montgomery has mentioned 79 professional castes
Bengal and Bihar. Hatim has mentioned ordinary professional in his poetry Shahar Ashub:

78 Muhammad Umar, Hindustani Tahzeeb ka Musalmano par Asar, (Urdu), Publications Division, N Delhi, 1975,
Abdali-The Abdalis believe that they are from Western India and Delhi...they have an effective
and well organised social council known as Panchayat Jamiate Hashmita.79

Dafalis- The Dafalis also known as Hashmi and Saudagar are traditionally a Muslim community
of daf (tamborine) players...Remember the Bollywood song- Dafali wale Dafli baja! They belong
to the category of OBC.80

Bhanr- Bhanr is the generic name of mimics buffons and jesters. They are Mohammedans.
Bhand/ Bhanr /Bhagat.81

Bhat- The Bhats, a Muslim community is known for their phikra in praise of some body or
something.82 They used to recite lineage of families on occasions and remember them.
According to their own claim, they became Muslim during the reign of Aurangzeb Alamgir.
Their services are specially used during marriage, birth, etc. and are divided in three groups in
Delhi-Gurgaon-Rohtak region.

Bhatiaras- The Bhatiaras, members of a backward Muslim community, are distributed widely in
Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Bhatiara and Farooquie are synonym.83

Gadiharas- The Gadiharas are Muslims. They are synonyms of Gadhayia an infafros. The
etymological meaning of the term Gadihara is the owner of an ass.84

Hajjam- The Muslim Hajjams (are) or barbers live in village with other communities.85

Baghbani- Mughal kings were fond of gardens, and the consumption of flowers increased during
the reign of Emperor Akbar. Because of large number of gardens, and association Muslims
adopted this profession to earn a living.

Bawarchi- Muslims were fond of tasty food and spent freely. Royal kitchen employed chef from
all parts. With the decline of courts, Chefs opened their own hotel. Still, Muslims use the
services of Bawarchi in social feasts like marriage and reception.

Barhai- Carpenters and blacksmiths were required in large number to make bullock carts, horse
carts and plough for agriculture. When they embraced Islam, they continued with their
traditional profession. Large numbers of them were employed in government service by
Mughals. Many of them are still engaged in traditional work and use the title ‘Saifi’.

Bharbhunja- Who fry cereals in Tandoor are called Bharbhunja. They are divided into four

Baqqal (Ghalla Farosh)- Before the arrival of Muslims in India, group of people were engaged in
selling food grains, and were called Banjara. Perhaps, after becoming Muslim, they were called
Baqqal. Hemu Baqqal is a famous name in History.

79 K S Singh, Bihar (including Jharkhand), Anthropological Survey of India, Calcutta, p. 29.

80 Susanta Mahanti, K S Singh, Bihar (including Jharkhand), Anthropological Survey of India, Calcutta pp. 31-34.
81 K S Singh, Bihar (including Jharkhand), Anthropological Survey of India, Calcutta, Ashok Kumar
Mukhopadhaya, pp 153-154.
82 S N Mahato, K S Singh, Bihar (including Jharkhand), Anthropological Survey of India, Calcutta., pp 155-157.
83 Susanta Mahanti, K S Singh, Bihar (including Jharkhand), Anthropological Survey of India, Calcutta pp. 158-
84 Susanta Mohanti, K S Singh, Bihar (including Jharkhand), Anthropological Survey of India, Calcutta, p. 311.
85 S B Ray, K S Singh, Bihar (including Jharkhand), Anthropological Survey of India, Calcutta , p. 381.
Tanboli- The betel seller is called Tanboli. Before Muslims, Betel was grown by Hindus. When
Muslims started using betel they also took to this profession. There was separate department of
betel seller during Mughal period and other profession associated with this was tobacco

Kafsh Farosh- Shoe makers were Chamar, and in Punjab they are called Mochi. Mochi are
usually Muslim. Mir Taqi Mir has mentioned shoe sellers in his poetry.


Halalkhor/Lalbegi- The Halakhors are a community of Muslim sweepers. They are also
musicians. Their synonyms are Mehtar, Bhangi, and Halalbegi.86A class of Mohammedan
sweepers supposed to have come from upper India, some with sepoy regiment, others as
wanderers in search of work. Though styled Mohammedans, they neither practice circumcision
nor abstain from pork. The Lalbegi are employed as sweepers in European households, and are
always addressed as Jamadar by other servants. A few of the Lalbegi keep the fast of Ramzan,
although they dare not enter a public seems not improbable therefore, that the
'Lalbegi' like many other tribes converted to Mohammedan saint as their common ancestor. 87
Members of groups within these categories (Ashraf) do not eat or drink with the Lalbegis. The
Dafalis who work as priests for the Lal Begis, or the Qalandars who sometime live in the
neighbourhood, refuse to accept food or water from the Lalbegis.88

Bhangi- A Bhangi, whether Muslim or Non-Muslim is not allowed to enter mosque, no matter
how purified he was. Though, legally they are allowed to pray in group, but practically he was
not allowed to visit holy places and tombs of saints which was they were forcibly
prevented from entering.

Kalal/ Araqi / Ranki -A Muslim community of distillers, they are also called Araqui from world
Araq or liquor. They are engaged in making liquor in Bhatti and selling it.89 They are settled in as
distillers. Haria Tax was imposed and wine trade through vendors was allowed. They are settled
in parts of Bihar, Jharkhand, and Uttar Pradesh. The Muslim assign a status lower than
Halakhors (Muslim sweeper) to the Kalal, due to their occupation. In Ranchi, one mosque
refused to accept contribution (chanda) as the income was haram (not clean). Risley90 has referred
to this as Ranki/ Kalal, a sub-caste (Mohammedan) of Kalwars in Bihar. Ramanand devotee and
poet Kabir said, ‘Kabir Bhati Kalal ki, Bahutak Baithe Aye- Sar Saunpe Soi Piye, Nahi to piya na jaye(
Kabir the bar (Bhathi) of Kalal is one and many people sit. Only those will drink, who bow their
head, otherwise none can drink).
Structure, Organisation and Pattern

The caste system of Muslims is a by-product of Hindu caste system. Thus, the restrictions and
rules are not as rigid among Muslims as amongst Hindus.91 Among Ashraf and some
professional castes, unlike Hindus there is no particular body, which works. Instead people react
with their own dislikes and condemnation. When there is reaction, usually the guilty person is
socially boycotted. Among higher castes, extended family works as a unit, which takes care of
social individual actions of its members. Amongst Muslims, Bhangi, Sabzi Farosh, Dhobi,

86 K S Singh, Bihar (including Jharkhand), Anthropological Survey of India, Calcutta, Amitabha Sarkar, P. 383
87 H H Risley, Tribes and Castes of Bengal, Ethnographic Glossary, Vol. II , 1891, p. 3-4,)
88 M K A Siddique, Caste Among the Muslims of Calcutta, Imtiaz Ahmed, Caste Social Stratification among
Muslims in India, Manohar, 1978, p.261
89 Samira Dasgupta, K S Singh, Bihar (including Jharkhand), Anthropological Survey of India, Calcutta, p. 427
90 H H Risely, Tribes and Castes of Bengal, Ethnographic Glossary, Vol. II, 1891, p.196
91 Muhammad Umar, Hindustani Tahzeeb ka Musalmano par Asar, (Urdu), Publications Division, N Delhi, 1975,
p. 91,
Manihari, and Teli have useful effective Panchayat.92 Birth decides his status in society and in
affairs of marriage position and lineage both play equal role. A higher caste Muslim will accept
food from all castes except Bhangi. 93

However, there are some traditions which traces social division within the Islamic law. The
following aspect of Shafi law gives clear indication of the presence of graded distinction between
different types of ancestry and between different occupations. ...Regarding ancestor, a non-Arab
cannot be considered an equal of an Arab woman or a non-Quraishite that of a Quraishite
woman or a non-Hashmi and Muttalibi equal to any of the above. The similar ancestry could
also exist amongst the non-Arabs. About the professionals a person having a menial profession
is not an equal of a person having a higher profession. A sweeper, barber, a watchman, a
Shepherd, and a conductor of boats are not equal of a daughter of a tailor, nor is a tailor an
equal of a daughter of a trader and retailer, agriculturist or a dairyman, and they in turn are not
equals of daughter of a scholar or a judge.94

The rigid caste system had its effect on the Muslims. We see that lineage as well as profession
was equally important. If a person of such family improves his social status by development and
his relatives were Kalal (who used to be attendant to the King, or made liquor, sold liquor and if
were very poor used to fetch water), he used to hide his family background. For example poet
Mashafi belonged to Kalal group but he kept this a secret. Once he told Abdul Qadir Rampuri
that he was born in Ballam Garh. He lied about this when talking about to others. Similarly Meer
claims to be Syed, perhaps be belonged to Fatmi from mother side, but his contemporaries has
questioned his lineage which creates doubt about his caste and at some time his family was
engaged in the profession of Nan Bai. The step-brother of Meer Muhammad Hasan has not
used title of Meer.95 And consider this line of Sauda: Baithe Tanur Tabaa to Jab Garm Ke Meer-Kuch
Sheer Mal samne kuch nan kuch Paneer (When Meer sits in front of lighted Tandoor- You can see
Sheermal (stuffed bread), Naan (bread), and Paneer).

Most of the Ashraf tend to live in urban areas, while the lower castes dwell in rural areas. It is
most likely that the zamindars are Ashraf, while the cultivators and farmers come from the lower
strata. In Northern India Ashraf consider themselves among upper castes Zamindars, and they
consider Muslim and Hindu workers living in rural areas inferior. Even if a lower caste like Teli
or Nai acquires disproportionate land, he would not be considered equal to Ashraf in rank.96 It is
important to note that fast lifestyle of urban areas has decreased the influence of lineage, but it is
also important that new groups are elevating their status through competition and also adopting
the suffix of Ashraf castes and attempt to be Ashraf so fake groups of Ashrafs have also

Muslims, as opposed to Hindus do not give religious colour to social division in their ranks, or
try to prove as per religious tenets.....there is struggle between the basic Islamic ideals of equality
and brotherhood and the existing differences, discrimination and divisions.98

92 Muhammad Umar, Hindustani Tahzeeb ka Musalmano par Asar, (Urdu), Publications Division, N Delhi, 1975,
p. 92.
93 Muhammad Umar, Hindustani Tahzeeb ka Musalmano par Asar, (Urdu), Publications Division, N Delhi, 1975,
p. 94.
94 Minhaju-Ut Taliban of Yahya b. Sharaf an.Nawawi, 1318AH quoted, in Leela Dube, Caste Analogues among the
Lakshadweep Muslims, Imtiaz Ahmed, Caste Social Stratification among Muslims in India, Manohar, 1978, p.
95 Mirza Md Husain Qateel, Trns. Md. Umar, Maktaba Burhan, Urdu Bazar, Delhi-6, 1967, p. 30-33.
96 Muhammad Umar, Hindustani Tahzeeb ka Musalmano par Asar, (Urdu), Publications Division, N Delhi, 1975, p.
97 Ibid, p. 98.
98 Ibid., Muhammad Umar, Hindustani Tahzeeb ka Musalmano par Asar, (Urdu), Publications Division, N Delhi,
1975, p. 62,).
Eminent Sociologist M N Srinivas has talked in detail about Sanskritisation among Hindus, in
which lower castes try to uplift their position in society by imitating the lifestyle and habits of
upper classes. Muslim lower castes do likewise to improve their position. This is found
particularly in Northern India, where Rajputs who embraced Islam use 'Khan' title to claim
parity with Afghan and Pathan. Only recently Kassab has started using 'Qureshi' to claim lineage
from Banu Quraish...Similarly Julahas have started using 'Ansari' title to claim lineage from
Ansar of Madina. But this claim does not mean that they are easily integrated into 'Ashraf'
group...but it takes long periods and perhaps one or two generations after which this can be
realised. Sometime it also happens that lower castes start imitating the traditions and lifestyle of
upper castes to elevate their social position.

For instance, if their women do not observe purdah, they start doing so and also engage services
of some respectable Maulvi to perform/ deliver sermon on the occasion of death/ mourning
and marriage.99 Socialist Ram Manohar Lohia agrees, ‘Those among the lower castes who rise to
high position tend to assimilate themselves to the existing high castes. In the process, the
inevitably appropriate the baser qualities of the high castes.100 There are interesting stories about
the upward mobility of the lower castes and their claim to have become Ashraf. Mann says, ‘This
is reflected in a Persian proverb widely quoted locally (Aligarh): Pesh a Yin Qassab budum; bad azan
gashtam Sheikh; ghalla chu arzan, Shawad, imsal Sayyid meshawem’ ( Yesterday our work was butchery,
then we became Sheikhs, having acquired a taste for that, tomorrow if the harvest is good, we
shall with the grace of God become Sayyids).101

There are some common traits, which makes one Ashraf. The use of Ashraf title, purdah by
women, control of shrine, membership of some religious organisation, control over mosque/
madarsa are some usual signs of Ashrafs. It is also in practice that Ashrafs do not allow widow
to remarry. One such interesting story is narrated by Qateel: ‘Widow is not allowed to remarry,
even if she became widow at the age of 16 or even less. In this Ashraf's attitude is similar to that
of Brahmins, and because of ignorance do not follow Shariah. Those who remarry are
considered mean, and lowly. If the girl has relation with even thousand men it is not
discouraged, but they will not marry her. According to one legend an Indian went to Arab for
Hajj and stayed there for more than six months with one Arab family. He was shocked to
discover that his hosts went in the marriage of his mother and said 'La-Haul-Wala Quwat'. Later
on he realised his folly and regretted for making such remark. He also felt ashamed that he was
living all these years with non-Muslims (in Hind).102

It is also found that Ashraf usually belong to elite class and live in urban areas. Ali Ashraf writes
in his study on Muslim elite of Bihar, ‘Almost two-thirds of elite belonged to the Ashraf castes.
Only Syed and Sheikh account for 61%, and together with Malik and Pathan it goes to 68%.
Among backwards, Momin and Rayin (Kunjra) are prominent. Momins particularly have
progressed much socially and politically after independence.103 It is also important to note that
majority of Ashraf dwell in urban areas. Even if they have big landholdings in countryside, they
prefer to live in urban areas. Ashraf writes, ‘It is very important that 91% of Muslim elite live in
urban areas, and almost two-thirds live in Patna alone...after taking into account the profession
of last two generations of the elite, one can see a change in the occupational pattern. The
profession of these elite was agriculture, civil service, law, and trade. Apart from trade, the

99 Ibid, p. 80.
100 Rammanohar Lohia, The Caste System, Navahind, Hyderabad, 1964, p. 101.
101 E A Mann, Boundaries and Identities, Muslims, work and Status in Aligarh, Sage, N Delhi, 1992, p.50.
102 Mirza Md Husain Qateel, Trns. Md. Umar, Maktaba Burhan, Urdu Bazar, Delhi-6, 1967, p.138.
103 Ali Ashraf, The Muslim Elite of Bihar, (Urdu Trnsl), Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1996, p. 66.
children of the elite have no representation in agriculture, civil service, and law. They are better
represented in academic, medicine, engineering, and journalism.104

Purdah by women is common among Ashraf. It is common for women of low castes to be
lenient in observing purdah. On the contrary, women of low Muslim castes freely go to market
and interact with men without any inhibition even in rural segments. Until few years ago, Julaha
/Momin and other lower caste women were seen going to jungle at dawn and return home by
early morning after collecting burning wood and carrying them on their head all the way from
jungle to home in rural Gaya.105 Some did this to save money, but others did this as a habit and
did not stop even after being asked to by men of the household. As one scholar presents in a
case study of rural Bengal: ‘The most common ground on which the Sayyads, Sheikhs, Pathans,
and Mughals deny equal status to the Shahs, Patuas, and Momins is the failure of the women of
these ethnic groups to observe purdah.’ 106

Another researcher says about the scene in Ranchi, ‘Though purdah is observed by Muslim
women of all ethnic groups in general, laxity in its observance can be observed among certain
ethnic groups of middle and lower status.107 Bhangis in the city are discriminated against. In the
village only the Shahs the mendicant beggars are note invited to social feasts. The concept of
purity also exists among Muslims. The emphasis placed by the high caste on cleanliness and
sense of hygiene as reasons for their refusal to inter-dine with the Momins, Pathans and Shahs is
a way of rationalising social behaviour patterns, which are inconsistent with Islamic social values.
They have a concept of purity and pollution.108

In the urban areas, it is not difficult to find lower caste Muslims using Ashraf title. This is
particularly done by lower castes, who want to hide their background and lineage. As take this
case of Calcutta: The Malkis from Bihar have started claiming Sayyad as their title, and the
Churihar and even the Chirmar have resolved to adopt Siddique as a title.109 However, such
people are called fake (farzi) and are not accepted. It is impossible for an individual to be
legitimately called a Sayyad, a Momin, a Rain, a Qureshi, or a Lalbegi without having been born
into the respective group. These are therefore closed groups, in the form of Jatis, known
variously as Qaum, Biradri, Jamaat or Zat.110 Convert groups of Islam are generally characterised,
as new Muslims and they are look down upon by the social groups which are known to be of
foreign origin or who have succeeded in eliminating the stigma of recent conversion. The
conversion of Sheikh/Siddique from the Kayastha caste actually made relatively little obvious
difference to the caste and it continued to retain its traditional customs and practices much as

Although caste is prevalent across the country in some form, it moves life in eastern India.
Bihar, Bengal and Uttar Pradesh have large number of Muslims belonging to backward castes,
and it has been the centre of caste-based movements. As one scholar writes, ‘Compare West
Bengal with Bihar, for instance. A well-known historian used to say, 'In Bihar only the mosquito

104 Ali Ashraf, The Muslim Elite of Bihar, (Urdu Trnsl), Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1996, p.59
105 Case study by author.
106 Ranjit K Bhattacharya, The Concept of and ideology of caste among the Muslims of Rural West Bengal, Imtiaz
Ahmed, Caste Social Stratification among Muslims in India, Manohar, 1978, p. 294.
107 Hasan Ali, Elements of Caste among Muslims in a District in Southern Bihar, Imtiaz Ahmed, Caste Social
Stratification among Muslims in India, Manohar, 1978, pp-26-33.
108 Ranjit K Bhattacharya, The Concept of and ideology of caste among the Muslims of Rural West Bengal, Imtiaz
Ahmed, Caste Social Stratification among Muslims in India, Manohar, 1978, p. 291.
109 M K A Siddique, Caste Among the Muslims of Calcutta, Imtiaz Ahmed, Caste Social Stratification among
Muslims in India, Manohar, 1978, p. 257.
110 M K A Siddique, Caste Among the Muslims of Calcutta, Imtiaz Ahmed, Caste Social Stratification among
Muslims in India, Manohar, 1978, p. 265.
111 Imtiaz Ahmed, Endogamy and status mobility among Siddique Sheikhs of Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, p. 187.
is free from sentiments of caste: it bites everyone irrespective of caste. Everything else is
governed by caste.' Now if you look at West Bengal, the language of politics is very different

In Kasuali (near Lucknow) there is one lineage of Sayyads, but the Sheikhs through the sub-caste
of Kidwais and Pathans dominate numerically. There are no Mughals and Pathans. There are 18
non-Ashraf castes excluding the Sipahi caste, which is placed on the lower fringe of the non-
Ashraf castes.113 The Muslims of Kabirnagar has brought to the fore the following conclusions:
1) there does exist a pattern of caste hierarchy among the Muslims of Kabirnagar, 2) People do
recognise this pattern of stratification, 3) Caste Stratification directly influences access of persons
to particular occupations, education, and leadership positions.

The Sheikh respondents at Khiruli had mentioned the existence of Sayyad, Sheikh, Mughals and
Pathans, as the Muslims ethnic group found in the area, but during the latter part of my stay in
the field, I came to know about the presence of three other Muslim ethnic groups. These were
the Shahs or Shah Fakir, Momin or Julahas and the Patuas or Patos.114

In down south, the scene is little different but the division exists in some form. On the west
coast of India, there are three main distinguishable sections of Shafi Muslims, the Moplahs being
one of them. The other two sections are the Konkani Muslims of the coast of Konkan and
Navayatas of Karna...Among the Moplahs in Malabar Malbaris and the other sections are called
the Thangals, the Arabis, the Pusalars and the Ossans. The Thangals traces its ancestry through
the progeny of the Prophet's daughter Fatima.The Arabis are descended from a union of Arab
men and local women. The term Pusalars literally means new Muslims that are Muslims who are
later converts. The so called Pusalars are converts from among the Hindu fishermen called
Mukkhvans. The Ussans are a group of barbers among Moplahs, and by virtue of their low
occupation are ranked lowest. The main bodies of Moplahs are called Malbari.115

In coastal Lakshadweep116 Muslims are divided in three groups. Following are the main classes:
1) Karnavars -a) Proper b) Less wealthy; 2) Malumi's - Pilots / Sailor- a) Proper b) Urukers ; 3)
Melecheris (tree Climbers) - They draw toddy. In neighbouring Tamil Nadu, Muslims are divided
in four groups. The four named divisions are: The Rawther, Labbai, Marakayar and Kayalar.
Most marriages are between person of the same subdivision, and most Muslim Tamils consider
subdivision identity to be an important factor in selecting a spouse.117 The Khojas of Bombay
became divided into two distinct camps, the followers of the Aga and his opponents.118

These divisions among Muslim castes remained under the carpet for centuries, as there was a
mark of demarcation between duniya (worldly life) and deen (religion). During matters of
religion, the backward (pasmanda) castes Muslims were allowed to practice rites and rituals
without much hindrance. The Muslim castes were based on birth. As Imtiaz Ahmed writes, ‘The

112 Andre Beteille, Caste, Inequality and Affirmative Action, International Institute for Labour Studies, Geneva, p.
113 S P Jain, Caste Stratification among Muslims in Township in Western Uttar Pradesh, Imtiaz Ahmed, Caste
Social Stratification among Muslims in India, Manohar, 1978, p. 241.
114 Ranjit K Bhattacharya, The Concept of and ideology of caste among the Muslims of Rural West Bengal, Imtiaz
Ahmed, Caste Social Stratification among Muslims in India, Manohar, 1978, p. 277.
115 Victor S D'Souza, Imtiaz Ahmed, Caste Social Stratification among Muslims in India, Manohar, 1978, p.41.
116 Leela Dube, Caste Analogues among the Lakshadweep Muslims, Imtiaz Ahmed, Caste Social Stratification
among Muslims in India, Manohar, 1978, p. 66).
117 Mattison Mines, Social Stratification among Muslim Tamils in Tamil Nadu, South India, Imtiaz Ahmed, Caste
Social Stratification among Muslims in India, Manohar, 1978- p. 161-163).
118 J C Masselos, The Khoja of Bombay the Defining Formal Membership Criteria during the 19th Century, Imtiaz
Ahmed, Caste Social Stratification among Muslims in India, Manohar, 1978, p. 106.
argument that Muslim groups, biradris and Zats, are not based on recruitment by birth only is
equally fallacious’.119

But there was a feeling of ‘inferiority’ among low caste Muslims owing to the feudal mindset of
the Ashraf and the ruling elite. As Nehru writes, ‘The Moslems who had come from outside
India, were feudal in outlook and did not take kindly to trade. The Islamic prohibition against
the taking of interest also came in the way of trade. They considered themselves the ruling class,
the nobility and functioned as state officials, holders of grants of land or as officers in the
army.’120 The Ashrafs did not find much social and cultural difference between Hindus and
indigenous Muslims. This similarity became a cause of further alienation of indigenous Muslims.
As Nehru writes, ‘Most of the Moslems were converts who were still full of their old traditions.
They did the same kind of work, lived similar lives, wore the same kind clothes, spoke of the
same language...Mostly these people were peasants and artisans and craftsmen.’121 With the
decline and final disappearance of Muslim rulers, the elite Ashrafs began to lose their prestige
and power. The establishment of the British rule and deindustrialisation affected large segment
of lower caste Muslims, who lost their livelihood.

Backward (Pasmanda) Muslim Organisations/Movement

With the beginning of the Census and National Movement, these marginalised sections started
to group and regroup themselves in biradari specific bodies to promote the welfare of their
caste. Muslims realised that caste was affecting the development of the community. The elite
also agreed. On the question of differences within the community, 287 person (98%) elite agreed
that within Muslims, there were differences of caste, ideology, educational and economic
backwardness and questions arising out of it. The causes of major differences were narrow mind
and feeling of caste.122 Echoing the mood of the time, founding INC leader, Surendranath
Banerjee writes, ‘It is this sentiment of hatred fostered amongst the masses directed in the first
instance against the British, then came by natural process of growth to be extended to all others
who worshipped in different temple, culminated in those communal, and caste feuds that have
darkened our recent history.’123

Caste feuds have been an integral part of Indian civilisation. Many centuries before, saint Kabir
expressed the feelings in following verses124: Ek Jothin sab Upja- Kaun Bahman kaun Suda (From
one light is born everyone, who is Brahmin and who is Shudra?). In what appears to show a
similar positions of Ashraf and Brahmins in society, Kabir says, ‘Syed Sheikh Kitab Nirkhe, Pandit
Shastra Vichare-Satguru Ke Updesh Bina-Tum Janke Jivhin Mare (Syed, Sheikh read book, Pandit
recite Shastra. Without the will of Almighty God, you kill people deliberately. )

The political awareness, social organisation, economic prowess, educational progress of

backward castes, there has been a drastic change the Muslim leadership and power sharing.
Within the Muslim community, the Momins were asking for their own rights. It is pertinent to
mention Momin Movement. Momins were engaged in handloom and specialised in making cloth
with hand. With the coming of British, there was a setback to their traditional handicrafts, which
could not survive the import of goods from Britain. When Mahatma Gandhi stressed on

119 Imtiaz Ahmed, Recognition and Entitlement, in Basic Problems of OBC & Dalit Muslims, Ashfaq Husain
Ansari ( compiled), Serial Publications, 2010.
120 Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India, OUP, N Delhi, 1997, pp. 268-269.
121 Ibid.,
122 Ali Ashraf, The Muslim Elite of Bihar, (Urdu Trnsl), Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1996, p. 51-
52, Inter-community problems.
123 Surendranath Banerjea, A Nation in the Making, Humphrey Milford, OUP, 1925, p. 302).
124 Kabir, Kabir Saheb, Pandit Manohar Lal Zutshi, Hindustani Academy, Allahabad, 1930.
charkha and khadi, he became hugely popular among Momins, who supported the National

Because of their economic decline, the condition of Momins worsened and they were exploited
by the elite class (Ashraf). Thus, poverty and ignobility of backward caste provided excellent
background for a reform movement, which was in harmony with the constructive programme of
Mahatma Gandhi. For Momins, there was no reason for the elite and aristocratic leadership of
the Muslim League to show sympathy, so they were attracted towards the leadership of
Mahatma Gandhi and social and political aims of the Indian National Congress. During the
Khilafat movement, educated Momins developed some feeling to serve their community. 125
While backward caste Momins were organising themselves to fight for their cause, the elitist
Muslim League was working towards new strategy to remain politically relevant. Eminent
Muslim League leader and Urdu poet Iqbal was also affected by the growing caste feuds in the
Muslim society. In a series of poetry, he chided the unity of the Muslim Qaum.

Taking pot shots at the sectarian differences and caste-based divisions in Muslim rank and file,
Urdu poet lamented: ‘Firqa bandi hai kahin, aur kahin zatein hain-Kya Zamane mein panapney ki yahi
batein hain (There are sectarian differences, there are caste divisions-Are these things something
to be promoted in this age? ). At other place, he wished that Muslims were one unit: Ek hi sab ka
nabi, deen bhi, Iman bhi ek- Kya bari bat thi hote jo Musalman bhi Ek (They have one prophet, one
religion, and one faith-It would have been great if they were one unit). Seeing the division in
Muslim society, Iqbal wrote: Yun to Sayyad bhi ho, Mirza bhi ho, Afghan bhi ho- Sach kaho to
Musalman bhi ho? (Though you are Sayyad, you are Mirza, you are Afghan, - Tell me whether you
are Muslim? As you always talk in these terms?)

During the turbulent 1920s, it was Momins seized the opportunity and decided to form
association to stake claim for a share in the political space, and development. Overall, all
backward castes and particularly Momins were victims of political and economic backwardness,
because of which they became outcastes among their community. Their pitiable condition can
be gauged from the fact that the elite class made fun of poverty of backward castes and avoided
attending their functions. It is said that for the first time, some educated persons of Momin
community gathered in Patna in 1916, but the outcome was not important. In 1925, Maualana
Yahya decided to launch his journal. The first All India conference was held in Calcutta in 1925,
which was presided over by Professor Shamsuddin of Patna.

From Bihar, the Momin leaders like Maualana Asim Bihari, Abdul Qayum Ansari, Khan
Bahadur Jalil, landlord Latifur Rahman, Hafiz Manzor and Shafiqullah Ansari were prominent.
Abdul Qayum Ansari was one politician whose political influence was more than any leader
from Momin or Non-Momin and was minister in Bihar cabinet for long period. After
Independence, the middle class has emerged mostly from Momin caste.126 In other areas such as
Rajasthan, the feeling of Biradari is important even though Muslims are not in large numbers.
Abbasi writes, ‘The Biradari Panchayat is an institution which enables the fellow members of the
Biradari to interact with each other and links them with each other horizontally through its social
bonds for sharing their common problems, beliefs and social values’127.

In 1931 census, there is long list of lower castes who started using new title / suffix to claim new
status in society. Only three castes are mentioned who have done this: 1) Muslim Julaha, who
have started using Sheikh Momin or Sheikh Ansari 2) Merasi, who claimed to be Quraishi 3)
Qassab, who claimed to Sheikh Quraishi. Till 1937 the aim of Momin Movement was
educational and economic development through social awareness, which was obviously against

125 Ali Ashraf, The Muslim Elite of Bihar, (Urdu Trnsl), Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1996, p.59.
126 Ali Ashraf, The Muslim Elite of Bihar, (Urdu Trnsl), Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1996, p.59.
127 Parvez A Abbasi, Social Inequality among Indian Muslims, A C Brothers, 1999, Udaipur, p. 62.
the upper caste Muslims, who discriminated against backward Muslims. After 1937 Momins
joined Indian National Congress. They opposed two-nation theory of Muslim League and
worked for welfare of the people and freedom of the country.128

While the Momins were gaining acceptability in the Northern region, the Muslims in South India
were given reservation early. Azra says, ‘It was Madras Presidency that treated Muslims as
backward for the first time for promoting their education and giving employment in public
services.129 It was on the recommendations of the Hunter Commission that Muslims were
considered for reservation. Chalam says, ‘The British Indian government had implemented a
policy of reserving certain places in educational institutions for Muslims, who were considered
by the Hunter Commission as underrepresented in education. Therefore, the origin of the
concept of reservation goes back to the 19th century (1882).130

Talking about the status of Momins, Abdul Qayum Ansari, wrote in August 1972, ‘In the state
approximately 2 lakh Bunkar and in total 3 lakh persons are dependent on the handloom for
their livelihood. Almost 60% handloom is closed. When Bunkar are without job, they are taking
to other professions in compulsion. And those Bunkars who are still engaged in this work, are
not getting yarn at reasonable price. And they do not have capital to buy yarn. Thus, many
Bunkers are taking credit to buy yarn and sell the cloth at very nominal price to Mahajan. The
cooperative societies of Bunkers are not functioning. Every patriot should pay attention to the
pitiable condition of theirs. Just as the government is paying attention to the agriculture and
industry, the government and people should pay attention towards Bunkers and address their
issue of unemployment and poverty.

Bunker belonged to weaker and backward section of society. After independence, there have
been schemes for upper classes and big industries, but the Bunkers were ignored. Every section
of society is being concession and facilities by the government, but the Bunker community is still
poor and backward. It is necessary that people and government should heed towards their
condition, so that this community can feel the fruits of freedom. If the freedom does not
address the issues of weaker sections and poor, it is of no use.’131

The untiring work and hard bargaining of Abdul Qayum Ansari was fruitful for the Momin
caste, when they became the early beneficiary of scholarships at school and college level. In
Bihar (including Jharkhand), which has large junk of Momin population it did wonder for the
progress of the Momins, in the fields of education, polity, and business. They joined government
jobs, and with financial assistance from the government improved their business fortune. As
Ashraf says, ‘the notable exception worth noting is all round development of Momin Biradri.
This is more important because this took place much before the development of Hindu
backward castes. The development and prosperity of the Momin caste from backwardness and
marginalised section is a shinning chapter of Muslim history in independent India’.132

While Abdul Qayum Ansari was calling for the rights and reservation for Momins, a similar
demand was being made by Hindu backward classes. The sheer number of the backward castes
opened the eyes of many leaders. Lohia writes, ‘Women, Shudras, Harijans Adivasis, and the low
castes among religious minorities number around 38 crores.’133 However, the numeric strength

128 Ali Ashraf, The Muslim Elite of Bihar, (Urdu Trnsl), Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1996, p. 57-
129 Azra Khanum, Muslim Backward Classes, Sage, N Delhi , 2013, p.131.
130 K S Chalan, Caste Based Reservations and Human Development, Sage, N Delhi, p. 16.
131 Ghulam Mujtaba Ansari (Compiled by), Abdul Qayum Ansari, , Bihar Urdu Akademi, Patna, 2006, p. 60-61,)
Abdul Qayum Ansari, Haftawar Momin Duniya, Azadi number, 15 August 1972, quoted.
132 Ali Ashraf, The Muslim Elite of Bihar, (Urdu Trnsl), Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1996, p. 57-
133 (Rammanohar Lohia, The Caste System, Navahind, Hyderabad, 1964, p. 143, ).
posed another problem. It was discovered that there were no safeguards for castes, which were
not in large numbers. Lohia foresaw this problem and he writes, ‘Some among the low castes
such as Ahirs, Julahas and Chamars are numerically large. Other low castes such as Mali, Teli,
Kahar etc., are small when taken separately but taken together their number is much greater. As
a result when low castes rise and the caste system is attacked, the major beneficiaries are the
numerically big castes.134

Apart from Momin, Rain/Kunjra, and Qureshi have been prominent caste among backward
Muslims who after independence organised themselves at local and national levels to press for
their demands. As one scholar puts about Calcutta, ‘Several such Panchayats form a larger
council in a sort of confederation on the all Calcutta level. The Qureshi's have twelve such
panchayats while the Rains have twenty-two.135 In Aligarh area caste is more of an honour. Mann
writes, ‘The core unit of social organisation in the city is the biradri. In Aligarh, the meaning of
biradari is understood to be a named endogamous status group associated with a specific
occupation or lineage, from which it often but not always derives its name. It is imbued with a
sense of honour, on the basis of which it is ranked higher or lower in relation to other

Besides the Momin Conference, the Raeen/ Rain Conference representing the caste of vegetable
vendors (sellers) and Mansoori Conference, representing the oilseed pressers, also played their
role in the socio-political mobilization of Muslim OBCs between 1930s and 1950s.137 Ghulam
Sarvar was an important leader of Raeen and his son-in-law Ejaz Ali, continues to lead the caste-
based organisation. The All India Muslim OBC Sanathan held its first convention on August 29
1996...In a series of political mobilization of Muslim OBCs the latest is the establishment of
Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz in a convention on 25 October, 1998 in Patna. Ansari/Momin
continues to dominate the backward Muslim space though they have been enjoying the
government favors and fruits of reservation in jobs, and provision of scholarships from an early
period. As Ali Ashraf writes, ‘The upsurge of Momins is continuing and it is having impact on


Caste among Muslims is a fact and majority of the people are backward. After the
implementation of the Mandal Commission Report, few Muslim backward castes have made
progress, but this is not equitable growth. An analysis of the spread of education among various
intermediate castes would reveal that it has not been even.139 There can be equality among castes
only when castes are abolished, and castes can be abolished only when backward castes are given
special and preferential opportunities, whether able or not, women, Shudras, Harijans, backward
castes, Adivasis and Muslims like weavers will have to be given 60% reservation.140 More than
quota of reservation, there needs to be safeguards for minority castes so that their share is not
taken by the castes which are high in numbers, influential and powerful. Only then, we can
assure growth for all, share in power and injustice for none.

The bulk of Muslims that were converted deemed to have come from the social classes and
occupational groups such as artisans, craftsmen, menial labourers, and small peasants and

134 (Rammanohar Lohia, The Caste System, Navahind, Hyderabad, 1964, p. 146,).
135 M K A Siddique, Caste Among the Muslims of Calcutta, Imtiaz Ahmed, Caste Social Stratification among
Muslims in India, Manohar, 1978, p. 257-259.
136 E A Mann, Boundaries and Identities, Muslims work and status in Aligarh, Sage, N Delhi, 1992, p.43.
137 Nadeem Hasnain, Caste Affinity and Social Boundaries of Backwardness, pp. 33-41 in Basic Problems of OBC
& Dalit Muslims, pp 33-44.
138 Ali Ashraf, The Muslim Elite of Bihar, (Urdu Trnsl), Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1996, p. 71.
139 Pradyat Lal & Tara Nair, Caste vs Caste, Trublence in Indian Politics, Ajanta, 1998, p. 103.
140 Rammanohar Lohia, The Caste System, Navahind, Hyderabad, 1964, p. 141.
marginalized people. The feeling of aristocracy has been limited to non-indigenous groups of
Muslims. The indigenous Muslims remained at the same lowest rung of the ladder for centuries
because of the nature of their occupation.141


1. John Wilson, Indian Caste Vol. I, KK Book Distributors, 1877

2. Shridhar V Ketkar, The History of Caste in India, Cosmo Publications, N Delhi, 1979
3. Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India, OUP, N Delhi, 1997
4. B R Ambedkar, Who Were the Shudras
5. _____________, Castes in India, Columbia University, New York, May 1916
6. ______________, The Untouchables, Who They are and Why they became
Untouchables, Amrit Book Co., New Delhi, 1948
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House, 1969, N Delhi
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Christian Literature Society for India, Madras, 1898
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10. Jonathan P Parry, Caste and Kinship in Kangra, Vikas Publishing House
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Deccan, Hyderabad, 1939, Reprinted Hinduism in the 16th Century, Khuda Bakhsh
Oriental Public Library, Patna
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the Namasudra Movement of 1872-1937 in K L Sharma (edited), Caste and Class in
India, Rawat Publication, Jaipur, 1998
13. H A Rose, A Glossary of the tribes and castes of the North West Frontier Provinces,
Vol. I, Amar Parkashan, Delhi
14. Qiamuddin Ahmed Trnsl., Al-Beruni’s India, National Book Trust, N Delhi,
15. M N Srinivas, An obituary on Caste as a System, Economic and Political Weekly,
16. Muhammad Umar, Hindustani Tahzeeb ka Musalmano par Asar, (Urdu), Publications
Division, N Delhi, 1975
17. _______________, Muslim Society in Northern India during the 18th century, CAS in
History, Aligarh, 1998
18. S B Wad, Caste and the Law in India, DCCBR, N Delhi, 1984
19. Imtiaz Ahmed, Caste Social Stratification among Muslims in India, Manohar, 1978
20. B N Pande, Islam & Indian Culture, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna,
21. Sophie Baker, Caste At Home in Hindu India, Rupa, 1991
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25. H H Risley, Tribes and Castes of Bengal, Ethnographic Glossary, Vol. II , 1891
26. K S Singh, Bihar (including Jharkhand), Anthropological Survey of India, Calcutta,

141 Azra Khanum, Muslim Backward Classes, A Sociological Perspective, SAGE, 2013, p. 89

27. M K A Siddique, Caste Among the Muslims of Calcutta, Imtiaz Ahmed, Caste Social
Stratification among Muslims in India, Manohar, 1978
28. Rammanohar Lohia, The Caste System, Navahind, Hyderabad, 1964
29. Ali Ashraf, The Muslim Elite of Bihar, (Urdu Trnsl), Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public
Library, Patna, 1996, p. 66,
30. Imtiaz Ahmed, Caste Social Stratification among Muslims in India, Manohar, 1978
31. Andre Beteille, Caste, Inequality and Affirmative Action, International Institute for
Labour Studies, Geneva.
32. Ali Ashraf, The Muslim Elite of Bihar, (Urdu Trnsl), Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public
Library, Patna, 1996, p. 51-52, Inter-community problems
33. Surendranath Banerjee, Nation in the Making, Humphrey Milford, OUP, 1925
34. Kabir Saheb, Pandit Manohar Lal Zutshi, Hindustani Academy, Allahabad, 1930
35. Ghulam Mujtaba Ansari (Compiled by), Abdul Qayum Ansari, , Bihar Urdu Akademi,
Patna, 2006
36. Rammanohar Lohia, the Caste System, Navahind, Hyderabad, 1964
37. M K A Siddique, Caste among the Muslims of Calcutta, Imtiaz Ahmed, Caste Social
Stratification among Muslims in India, Manohar, 1978
38. Nadeem Hasnain, Caste Affinity, and Social Boundaries of Backwardness, pp. 33-41 in
Basic Problems of OBC & Dalit Muslims
39. Pradyat Lal & Tara Nair, Caste vs Caste, Turbulence in Indian Politics, Ajanta, 1998
40. Azra Khanum, Muslim Backward Classes, A Sociological Perspective, SAGE, 2013
41. K S Chalan, Caste Based Reservations and Human Development, Sage, N Delhi
42. Ghaus Ansari, Muslim Caste in Uttar Pradesh Ethnographic and Folk culture Society,
43. E A Mann, Boundaries and Identities, Muslims, work and Status in Aligarh, Sage, N
44. Yoginder Sikand, Islam Caste and Dalit Muslim Relations in India, Global Media
Publications, 2004

Dr. Azim Akhtar, teaches History at the Guru Tej Bahadur University in Haryana.

Chapter 12


Manjur Ali


Manual scavenging goes against traditional saying that ‘kaam koi bhi ho, bura nahi hota’ (no job is bad). It
shows lack of alternative to individuals and preaches to be happy with the limitlessness. In Indian context, where
division of labour is decided by a person’s caste, this lack of job alternative should be construed as a major
principle of casteism. It is not just the ‘division of labour’, but also “division of labourer”.1 It justifies manual
scavenging in the name of ‘job’, as Manusmiriti propagates casteism as a natural evolution of human existence.
Hence, despite all the law against caste practices, its most inhuman attribute i.e. manual scavenging is still
practiced in India.


To deal with such a “dehumanizing practice”2 and “social stigma”3 Union government has
passed a law known as Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their
Rehabilitation Bill, 2013. This Bill will override the previous one as it had “not proved adequate
in eliminating the twin evils of insanitary latrines and manual scavenging from the country.”4 It is
in this context that the paper intends to analyse the relevance of the present Bill for the Muslim
manual scavengers, a little known entity. The most of the ‘recognized’ scavengers, probably 97
percent, belong to the Scheduled Castes (SCs) category. Author’s emphasis on the word
‘recognized’ is due to the refusal by the state to incorporate manual scavengers belonging to
Muslims and Christian socio-religious communities into the list of Scheduled Castes. This is
happening despite social, economic, educational and cultural similarities among the manual
scavengers belonging to these religious communities. Hence, this paper would like to bring forth
the wretched condition of Muslim manual scavengers who live an ‘undignified’ life. Why are they
not able to avail the facilities meant for manual scavengers? What has been the role of the state
in providing a dignified life to its citizens? In addition, the paper will also undertake a critical
analysis of the movement against manual scavenging. The effort of this paper is not to create
division among the scavengers but to bring forth the similarities and mainstream the discussion
on Muslim manual scavengers.

Muslim Manual Scavenger: Who are they?

Researchers and scholars, both national and international, have been delving upon the issue of
manual scavenging since long time. They have brought forth the humiliation and agony of
manual scavengers and contextualized the debate within the framework of democracy and
dignity. But, rarely have the issues and challenges before Muslim manual scavengers been
debated or put in to a similar framework. The history of this group is very thin and scattered,
which further stops scholars who want to research on this topic, to approach the issue. Satyamev
Jayate (2012), a popular TV show by Amir Khan, rightly discussed about the prevalence of
manual scavenging in India but failed to go deeper into the issue.

1 Dr. Ambedkar argued that in caste system each group has specific occupation to perform and they cannot move
to other job. Birth in a particular caste decides individual occupation and person has no choice of their own.
2 Thirty-Second Report, Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment, Ministry of Social Justice and
Empowerment, Government of India, 2013.
3 Sonia Gandhi used the term while emphasizing in favour of this bill.
4 Op. Cit. Thirty-Second Report, Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment.
In history, some scholars have pointed out the presence of Muslim scavengers known at that
time by different names. Muslim scavengers have many sub-castes, known as Halalkhor, Hela,
Lalbegi etc. W. Crooke in his book “The Tribes and Castes of the North-Western India” (1896)
has enlisted no less than forty-seven Muslim scavenging castes. Almost all the Chuhras, west of
Lahore were Musalmans, and they were very commonly called Musalli or Kutana, the two terms
being apparently almost synonymous, but Kutana being used in the south west and Musalli in the
north-west. One list from Benares divided the caste into nine sub-castes, Shaikh, Hela, Lal Begi,
Ghazipuri Rawat, who trace their origin from Ghazipur, Hariri or Hah, Dhanuk, Bansphor and Dhe.
Halalkhor has been a prominent caste of Muslim scavengers and the origin and meaning of caste
name had remained in discussion, especially by colonial travelers and anthropologists.

Fryer refers to Halalkhor as base people “because they defile themselves by eating anything and
do all servile offices.”5 Ovington also refers to the Halalkhor as “eat-alls or eaters at large”6
people who drink anything potable and eat whatever comes along including carrion. They
performed the sanitary services in the houses of all the residents in a ward and were untouchable
as their contact was considered as polluting and despised. The meaning of their name has been
subjected to wide misinterpretation. The above caricature defined them as ‘eater of anything’ or
“eat-alls” which are wrong in approach. However, the definition is oblivious to the fact that
Halalkhor community is adherent to Muslim religion who cannot eat anything or everything.
There are specific injunctions in Qura’n about what is lawful and prohibited for eating. Hence,
Lang’s definition would be more appropriate where he argues that a Halalkhor is “The lowest (in
status) of all servants were the sweepers (khak-rub, ja-rub-kash, kannas), who belonged to the so-
called ‘menial’ castes. Characteristically, Akbar renamed them halal-khor, i.e. the people who
worked hard to earn their pay (as against haram-khor, the idle). Their remuneration, despite this
‘improved’ nomenclature, was still at the lowest rate, two dams per days (i.e. Rs. 1.50 per

Apart from their caste based occupation, Halalkhor community was used by Mughal rulers to spy
in the neighbourhood and report to the local authority. Gokhale (1979) pointed out that these
men were under obligation to go twice a day to clean out every house, and inform the kotwal
about all that went on. Crooke (1896), writing about this community, states that the name Mehtar
was commonly applied to the servants of the Emperor Humayun. Another title for them is
‘Halalkhor’, one who eats what is lawful, one whose earnings are legitimate. Halalkhor is also
known as ‘Khakrob’, or “sweeper of dust” and Baharwala, one who is not admitted into the house.
Another euphemistic name for them in Punjab is ‘Musalli’, ‘one who prays’. From their religion
and patron saint they are sometimes known, collectively, as Lalbegi, which is the name for one of
their sub-castes.

There has been a campaign by right-wing political parties that scavenging was the outcome of
Mughal rule in India. But, this is far from the truth as Gita Ramaswamy (2005) explained it. She
wrote ‘This argument fits neatly into the Hindutva theory that all social evils emanate from
Muslim rule and reconstructs a glorious Rajput heritage for communities like bhangis’.8 The
practice was in operation even prior to the Mughal period and even after conversion to Islam
many of these scavenger castes continued with their practices. There had been no change in
occupation of Muslim scavengers even during the British rule. According to the Census of India
(1901), “in some places a third class, called Arzal or ‘lowest of all’ is added. It consists of the

5 B.G. Gokhale, ‘Surat in the Seventeenth Century – A Study in Urban History of Pre-Modern India’, Popular Prakashan,
Bombay, 1979.
6 Ibid. B.G.Gokhale.
7 Peter Lang, ‘Domestic Service and the Formation of European Identity – Understanding of Globalisation of Domestic Works,
16 and 21st Centuries’, European Academic Publishers, London, 2004.
8 Gita Ramaswamy, ‘India Stinking – Manual Scavengers in Andhra Pradesh and their Work’, Navayana Publishing,
Pondicherry, 2005, p. 6.
very lowest castes, such as the Halalkhor, Lalbegi, Abdal, and Bediya, with whom no other
Mohammedan would associate, and who are forbidden to enter the mosque or to use the public
burial ground.”9 The humiliating ‘job’ continues in post-colonial India and so does the
involvement of Muslim scavengers in scavenging.

Today, there is no clear estimate of population of this community as government does not
conduct caste census among Muslims and Christians. Bindeshwar Pathak (2010) argued that “the
complete information in respect of all the scavenging communities is still not available. Even in
the case of those included in the list of Scheduled Castes full information about their social
customs, social status, their economic position, culture etc. is not available anywhere on an all-
India basis.”10 Thus, enumeration of castes and their number among Minorities is a very
important task for well-crafted policy intervention for their welfare and any opposition to caste
census from various quarters will scuttle the process.

Nevertheless, according to 1961 Census, of the total workforce i.e. 8,02,400 persons engaged in
the profession of scavenging, Scheduled Castes constituted 48.2 percent and the remaining 51.8
percent were non-Scheduled Castes, such as Sikhs, Muslims, Christians. The Task Force
constituted by the Planning Commission (1989) had estimated the number of scavengers
belonging to groups, like Muslims, Christians and Tribal at around three lakhs. Sachar
Committee Report also throws some light on the number of this community, according to
which 0.2 percent of Muslim urban workers work as building caretakers, sweepers, cleaners and
in other related occupations. In rural areas this proportion is 0.1 percent. Gender analysis of
manual workers among Muslim reveals that 0.1 percent are male workers whereas women are a
larger chunk with 0.2 percent. The number is small in comparison with Scheduled Castes.

Law to deal with Manual Scavengers

After Independence, pioneers of national movement dreamt of a dignified life for every citizen
of the country, in spite of a difference of approach to deal with the situation. Mahatma Gandhi
once said, “I may not be born again, but if it happens, I will like to be born in a family of
scavengers so that I may relieve them of the inhuman, unhealthy and hateful practice of carrying
night soil.”11 M.K. Gandhi eulogized the ‘undignified life’ of scavengers. Ambedkar presented
different ideas to deal with scavenging. According to him, caste system is at the root of this
practice. He pointed out that scavengers, if he belongs to upper caste, do not face
‘untouchability’ whereas a child born in scavenging caste does, even if he is engaged in other

Ambedkar quoted Gandhi to critique his stance on scavenging. Gandhi said, “I love scavenging.
In my Ashram, an eighteen year old Brahmin lad, is doing the scavenger’s work in order to teach
the Ashram cleanliness. The lad is no reformer. He was born and bred in orthodoxy. But he felt
that his accomplishments were incomplete until he had become also a perfect sweeper and that
if he wanted the Ashram sweeper to do his work well, he must do it himself and set an
example”.12Ambedkar then proceeds to critique Gandhi’s position thus: “What is the use of
telling the scavenger that even a Brahmin is prepared to do scavenging when it is clear that
according to Hindu Shastras and Hindu notions, even if a