Indian Muslims do, mostly isolated as they are from the direction India has
taken? Do they live in despair and fear in the belief that the rights and
privileges of citizenship will go, step by step? That would be a mistake and
fear is only a state of mind consumed by which we do not take rational and
let’s recognise a few distinctions. It is the more educated section of all
communities that worry about matters such as Hindu Rashtra or not. Ordinary
folk know only the rashtra (nation) where they live and work and want to
continue to do so. In the Muslim community too, more and more people are
looking out for what the state can give them, and there is indeed a buzz in the
age of Modi that the state is giving subsidies and benefits. I met, across
Uttar Pradesh, Muslim women who were getting or trying to get Ujjwala Yojana
benefits, and had opened bank accounts hoping for whatever benefit would come
neighborhood in Delhi lives Fatima, unschooled but with a mobile phone in hand
through which she gets alerts about her gas subsidy. She is trying to figure
out how to get the health insurance offered by the Modi government and asks if
there is any way she can get a home with the help of the government. She is a
survivor who does not have the luxury of getting into deep depression over
losing an election.
those who care about minority rights, i say help people get into the system as
that is the best guarantee of their authentic citizenship. Help them understand
the process and negotiate the bureaucracy and get anything they can. Help five
such people and see if the world still looks so terrible.
minister has said that the myth of fear among minorities must be punctured. He
told his newly elected MPs to earn the trust of minorities even as he said that
secularism that deceived minorities had been busted. The prime minister added
that it would have been better if the focus had been on their education and
There is no
choice but to take the prime minister at his words and ask for participation as
opposed to isolation. He is a strong enough leader to give instructions to
officialdom and his representatives down the line to include minorities in
existing schemes. You will get to know if he stands by his words.
comes yet again asking for votes on the basis of fear and tells you that
Muslims must be in the frontline of the battle to save secularism, turn around
and tell them that you save it, and if you can’t, don’t ask us to be cannon
fodder. For let’s face it, secularism is a fine value. But in practice it has
been hollowed out for decades and reduced to mere electoral management, one
that first sees Muslims as a herd and then tries to keep that herd together and
combine their votes with those of another herd, possibly of a particular caste
vote. That model has been upended. The secular model currently offers no
counternarrative to challenge the Narendra Modi led BJP that claims to unite
people above caste in a national calculus.
the hour of victory we have seen hate crimes that should worry all citizens of
India, not just minorities. We have also seen a terror accused become an MP.
Remember too that the victory of an individual that glorifies Mahatma Gandhi’s
assassin is a matter of reflection for all Indians and not a particular
lovely little things too that have happened in the month of elections that
coincided with the month of Ramzan. True, the state sponsored iftars have
stopped for some years now as one of the ceremonies of token secularism that
were dismantled. But note too, how spontaneously this year, many citizens are
organising inter-faith iftars. Ordinary folks, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh have
organised these gatherings, including one at a Sita-Ram temple in Ayodhya.
We do have
many things to worry about. There is no credible opposition suggesting limited
checks and balances in a system designed for them. Among the 303 MPs of the
ruling party now there is not a single representative of the world’s third
largest Muslim population. That should worry BJP too.
descriptions of him in the foreign press Narendra Modi is often described as
one of the powerful right wing leaders that have emerged world over. Yet unlike
some leaders he has been compared to, Modi found it prudent to speak of
dispelling fears of those who did not vote for him. He said so emphatically,
suggesting that BJP could have crossed a certain threshold. The impoverishment
and alienation of 15 crore citizens will not build a fine reputation and Modi
must know that.
possible that a Ram Mandir will be built at Ayodhya in the next five years and
an attempt will be made to do away with Article 370 that gives special status
to Kashmir. These are culture and identity wars that minorities cannot win.
With Amit Shah as home minister, many more Muslims would have to prove they are
indeed citizens of India. There are reasons to be worried but people cannot
live in permanent fear. As individuals they have to work at changing their own
lives. That is what Fatima cares about and she is not afraid.
Views expressed above are the author's own.