Vice President Mohd. Hamid Ansari
being presented a memento by the Governor of Bihar Devanand
Konwar at ‘Khuda Baksh Memorial Lecture’, at Patna, Bihar on
December 12, 2009.
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Suggesting ways for Muslim empowerment, advising the community to
come out of 'sense of victim-hood', neglect of Urdu by the
government, discrimination of Muslim women and the minority status
of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) everything found a clear mention when the
Vice-President, Hamid Ansari took the stage to deliver Khuda Baksh Memorial Lecture
at Patna, Bihar yesterday.
Looking his best as always, the
Vice-President beautifully embedding his address with Urdu couplets
like, Khuda ne aaj tak uss qaum ki haalat nahin badli; Na ho
jisko khayaal aap apni haalat ke badalne ka, exhorted
the Indian Muslims to come out of the 'sense of victim-hood and
urged them to grab
the opportunities that are waiting for them in the country to revive
the community to its glorious past.
"The past, however rosy or gory, will
neither sustain the present nor help create a better future. There
is therefore an urgent need to correct the image, go beyond identity
issues, project a more holistic view of Muslims as normal human
beings and fellow citizens with the same rights and responsibilities
as other citizens."
"The requirement is of an authentic
dialogue among equals about the universality of values. Its
objective should be Gandhiji’s “union of hearts”. Islam’s emphasis
on observance of ethical principles in interaction with all human
beings should help Muslims to propel a positive image", he added.
"The state can assist (the community)
as it must, and is committed to do so. By the same logic, however,
this only initiates the process and cannot be the end of it. The
syndrome of victim-hood does not help and there are lessons to be
learnt from the experience of other minorities. An expanding economy
like ours needs active participation in emerging opportunities and
in equipping the youth with skills to improve employability", the VP
Admitting that the opportunities for
the community are unevenly spread and stating that a much greater
community and governmental effort is needed in the northern and
eastern states, the VP said, "It can, nevertheless, be said that a
new Muslim identity is emerging in different regions, language
areas, professional groups, and social classes. It exudes confidence
in varying degrees, refuses to shoulder the burden of the past, and
is assertive about the rights due to it as citizen. They thus become
partners in the promotion of inclusive development."
'Involve the women'
on the importance of the involvement of all the segments of the
community, particularly women who constitute half the population and
are to be empowered in social responsibilities as equal partners
with Muslim men, he said, "In regard to the status of women the dead
weight of tradition, poverty and communal politics has resulted in
deficits like literacy, economic power resulting from work and
income and autonomy of decision making."
"This has produced a pattern of
structured disempowerment. It is most visible amongst the poor. It
is therefore imperative to seek correctives through social
awakening; in this effort religious texts are not an impediment,
social custom is", he said.
"The endeavour", he said, "Therefore
should be inclusive. The traditionalists, who have a wider social
reach, have to be included and reminded of Islam’s teachings on the
status of women as also of the imperative of our times."
"What is needed is a virtual
revolution in our approach to this question. The examples of
education of women in Muslim societies like Indonesia, Malaysia,
Iran and Turkey, and its eventual impact on the status of women in
society, can be emulated with benefit", he added.
"Given the ground situation, a
beginning can be made by a time-bound programme of opening primary
and secondary schools for girls in Muslim concentration localities.
This, and the scholarship schemes being implemented by the
government, should show some results over a five year period", he
Stating that the demand for the
acknowledgement of the distinctive, minority, character of the
Aligarh Muslim University (to rectify a Supreme Court ruling of
1965) has been a persistent one but seems to have lost its
centrality in community perceptions, the VP said, "It is so because
of the emergence of good quality minority-run institutions of higher
and professional education in several states and the resultant
erosion of AMU’s all-India identity and character."
"It remains to be seen if the attempt
now underway to reincarnate the AMU in different parts of the
country and link it to the mother institution by an umbilical cord
of uncertain quality and character would necessarily serve better
either the purpose of minority education in specific
minority-concentration areas or do away with the demand to restore
the minority character of the university", he added.
but what we are doing for the language'
Stating that there is sufficient
evidence to show that Urdu suffered from deliberate official neglect
in some of the states, Hamid Ansari said, "(Then Prime Minister)
Jawaharlal Nehru complained about it to the Chief Ministers as early
as 1954. Half a century later and belying the requirement of Article
350A, large segments of a generation have grown up without knowing
their mother tongue. Equally glaring is the failure of Urdu-knowing
people to nurture the language, particularly among the youth."
"The general public, apart from
occasional couplets and more frequent melodies in Mumbai movies,
considers Urdu synonymous with Muslims with its teaching confined to
madrasas or universities but rarely undertaken in normal schools",
Stating that an international
conference on Urdu language in 2003 recommended that “in order to
protect Urdu in its land of birth, while it flourishes abroad, a
national movement for the revival of Urdu commanding strong
political will is the need of the hour” he observed, "There is
little evidence of this taking shape. What was said many years back
still holds good: Sad salah jalse huai, magar is se zubaan ki
yaad to qaim rahti hai, taraqqi nahin hoti.
"Thus", he said, "The onus for
salvaging Urdu rests primarily with those who claim it as mother
tongue and those who value its inherent strength and beauty and its
substantial contribution to Indian literature and culture."