New York: The Indian Muslims, who have suffered decades of social and
economic neglect, are complaining of unfulfilled politicians’
promises of benefits, including quotas in government jobs, like
those available for low-caste Hindus, according to a US media
report. “We are way behind them,” Murtaza Mansuri, who repairs
rickshaws for a living, told New York Times on Saturday.
“Reservation is essential for Muslims. If we don’t get education,
we will remain backward, while others move forward and forward,”
he was quoted as saying in the course of a dispatch published
Saturday on the deteriorating situation of long-suffering Muslims
in India. Living for decades close to the Dalits, the low-caste
Hindus once known as untouchables, Mansuri said the Hindus were
getting government jobs, or slots in public universities,
opportunities that have meant stable salaries and nicer homes.
Leaving Muslims behind, the affirmative action quota for low-caste
Hindus, a policy known in India as reservation, made life harder
for the religious minority, the Times said.
In education, employment and economic status, Muslims felt under
persistent discrimination in a Hindu-majority nation. Muslims are
also more likely to live in villages without schools or medical
facilities, a landmark government report found in 2006, and less
likely to qualify for bank loans, the report said.
“We also fought against the British for Indian independence,” said
Hafiz Aftab, president of the All-India Muttahida Mahaz, an
organization that has led protests on behalf of Muslim
“We lost so many of our brightest people. But after
freedom, the government didn’t make any efforts to uplift
Muslims,” he was quoted as saying.
Feeling betrayed by politicians, Muslim voters in India’s most
populous state of Uttar Pradesh dealt a heavy a blow last week to
the country’s ruling Congress Party, the regional Samajwadi Party
to meet their aspirations for a better life, the Times said.
“These Scheduled Castes were the most deprived people socially and
economically in Uttar Pradesh,” said Aftab in an interview before
the state elections. “Now they are the ruling class. This is the
result of 64 years of reservation.”
As the reservation policies were codified in the Indian
constitution, analysts decried the politicians’ use of the
Scheduled Castes to carve out new vote banks. “Our Constitution
says we should not provide reservation on the grounds of
religion,” said Mufti Julfiquar Ali, a Muslim leader in Uttar
“But basically, reservation was given on the grounds of
religion. A Muslim washerman got no reservation, but a Hindu
washerman got one. Hindu carpenters will get reservation, but the
Muslim carpenter will not", he added
There are some 140 million Muslims in India and they have long
complained of being discriminated against in all walks of life,
the newspaper said. Muslims complain of decades of social and
economic neglect and oppression.
Official figures reveal Muslims log lower educational levels and
higher unemployment rates than the Hindu majority and other
minorities like Christians and Sikhs. They account for less than
seven percent of public service employees, only five percent of
railways workers, around four percent of banking employees and
there are only 29,000 Muslims in India’s 1.3 million-strong
A 2006 report, known as the Sachar Committee report, looked into
the socio-economic and educational backwardness of Muslims in the
country and suggested various remedial measures. The
recommendations included setting up educational facilities,
modernization of madrassas, creation of job opportunities and
steps to increase the community’s representation in public
Only a complete scraping of the caste system would bring democracy
to India Muslims, said Yogendra Yadav, a leading political
scientist in New Delhi. “In India, the deepening of democracy will
not happen by erasing all caste-community boundaries,” he was
quoted as saying.
“I see it as the next stage of social justice in India.”
But Badruddin, an older Muslim man
who uses one name, wanted the benefit to provide better future for
Muslims with secured government jobs that provided stability,
according to the Times.
“The Scheduled Castes are better off
than we are because they are in government jobs,” he said. “Once
you have a government job, you will be uplifted.”