A Growing Number of India’s Muslims But Fewer Rights

Thomas Blom Hansen

KARACHI: Stanford University professor Thomas Blom Hansen gave a one-hour lecture, titled “The India that does not shine; how Muslims became India’s poorest community”, at the Tariq Rafi lecture hall of Habib University Thursday evening. He mentioned how the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has always encouraged hatred against Muslims.

In the lecture, the professor shared one of the slogans the current Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, promoted in 2002, which says “Hum do hamaray do, voh panch, un kay pachees”, which  implies that Hindus insist on having two children while Muslims continue to multiply their population by having five children, which then results in 25 grandchildren. “Mostly, Muslims are employed by other Muslims [and] not by the state,” shared Hansen, adding that 70% work in the informal sector and only 1.5% to 2% are able to make it to the higher bureaucracy and army. Muslims are mostly manual workers, artisans, small farmers and traders.

Hansen said that the key challenge that India faces is to integrate Muslims into the formal economy and to implement strong and anti-discrimination policies. “Hundreds of Muslims have gone to court to fight for their rights but nothing has been considered,” he added.

Over the last year, since Narendra Modi became prime minister, the news out of India has focused almost entirely on his struggle to open up India’s economy and attract foreign investment. Modi is himself a product of the militant, trident-shaking ideological parent of the BJP known as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Obviously, the main party in India, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), discriminates against Muslims. For example, the BJP chief minister of the northern state of Haryana announced that the teaching of the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu holy text, would become mandatory throughout the state. A number of churches were vandalized.

The beef ban is another unpopular measure in India introduced by the right-wing Shiv Sena when it ran the state government. Beef is the chief source of protein for most Muslims and for many Christians (and for apparently large numbers of Hindus eating it on the sly). As a policy, it makes no sense save as a sop to Hindu fundamentalists and an insult to Muslims. The BJP stoutly insists that the beef ban was not intended to harm Muslims, but at the core of RSS metaphysics is an understanding of India in which Muslims are strangers.

According to results of censuses from 2015 in India coupled with basic arithmetic show it will be nearly 220 years before the Muslim population in the country equals the Hindu population. To conclude, it seems that the rise of India’s Muslim population results in fewer rights, less education, more poverty and more isolation for adherents. It seems obvious that, in the words of the late Christopher Hitchens,  the juxtaposition of Hindus and Muslims in India serves as an example of how “religion poisons everything.”

Photo Credits: Thomas Blom Hansen - India Culture Lab

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