62.1% of around 300 people who participated in the Doha
Debate on February 15, 2010 at St. Stephan College in New Delhi
voted against the motion 'This house beleives Muslims are not
getting a fair deal in India'.
The debate was organized by
Qatar-based The Doha Debates, considered to be a unique forum for
free speech in the Arab world and chaired by Tim Sebastian.
The panelists of the Debate were,
Seema Mustafa, Teesta Setalvad, M J Akbar and Sachin Pilot.
Total voters were around 300
consisting of St. Stephens alumni and students.
While speaking against the motion, Sachin Pilot, India’s Minister of State for Communications and
Information claimed the government is addressing cases where Muslims
had been disadvantaged, but insisted they are playing a full part in
“Muslims are represented by the top
three Bollywood actors. They are in the top echelons of sports and
culture. Muslims have a better deal in India than they have in any
neighboring country or indeed anywhere in the world.”
Taking his side, M.J. Akbar, a senior
journalist and publisher asserted that, it would be a dismissing
suggestion that, Muslims were not getting a fair deal in a country
where for “decades they have been engaged in uninterrupted
While admitting that some lived in
severe deprivation, he said their situation was no worse than a
proportional cross-section of any other religious group. India’s 130
million Muslims represent 13 per cent of country’s 1.17 billion
However, Seema Mustafa, prominent
journalist and political commentator, arguing for the motion, said
the government had done little for Muslims who had been especially
victimized by security forces since the 9/11 attacks on America.
"Muslims have also been barred from
many jobs in the Indian civil service", she insisted.
Teesta Setalvad, a prominent civil
rights activist while joining her stressed, that Muslims were being
excluded from the “elite political and economic leadership of India.
“The Muslim today lives in a
segregated class leading to ghettoisation and a consequently very
dangerous situation. Above all, Muslim women are discriminated
against to make sure a credible leadership does not emerge", she
"Moreover", she said, "Wherever
Muslims get a level playing field, they succeed. But, while “Indian
people” can accept Muslims at every level “it is the government that
Meanwhile, barely 24 hours after this
poll at the Doha Debate, many people have emerged who are not ready
to accept the poll.
Dr. John Dayal, member of National
Integration Council, Govt. of India, today in a reception organized
by The Doha Debates says, “The poll seems to be biased because
anyone who knows even little bit about Muslims’ condition in India
can’t say that they are getting a fair deal”.
Joining him, Tania Sarkar, one of the
active participants of the debate while talking to the media at the
same venue said, “I got the shock of my life when I saw 62 % percent
voting against the motion”.
“How and where, Muslims are getting a
fair deal? Are not they grossly represented in each and every
field?”, she asks.