The religious divide we live in
In an excellent piece in the Wall Street Journal , Ramchandra Guha, one of my favourite writers, gives a historical perspective on the state of Muslims in India:
If the first tragedy of the Indian Muslim was Partition, the second has been the patronage by India’s most influential political party, the Congress, of Muslims who are religious and reactionary rather than liberal and secular. Nehru himself was careful to keep his distance from sectarian leaders whether Hindu or Muslim. However, under the leadership of his daughter, Indira Gandhi, the Congress party came to favor the conservative sections of the Muslim community. Before elections, Congress bosses asked heads of mosques to issue fatwas to their flock to vote for the party; after elections, the party increased government grants to religious schools and colleges. In a defining case in 1985, the Supreme Court called for the enactment of a common civil code, which would abolish polygamy and give all women equal rights regardless of faith — the right to their husband’s or father’s property, for example, or the right to proper alimony once divorced. The prime minister at the time was RajivRajiv’s widow, Sonia Gandhi, became Congress president in 1998, the party has continued to fund Muslim religious institutions rather than encourage them to engage with the modern world. Gandhi. Acting on the advice of the Muslim clergy, he used his party’s majority in Parliament to nullify the court’s verdict. After
And follows it up thus:
In an essay published in the late 1960s, the Marathi writer Hamid Dalwai (A resident of Mumbai) wrote of his community that “the Muslims today are culturally backward.” To be brought “on a level with the Hindus,” argued Dalwai, the Muslims needed an “avant garde liberal elite to lead them.” Otherwise, the consequences were dire for both communities. For “unless a Muslim liberal intellectual class emerges, Indian Muslims will continue to cling to obscurantist medievalism, communalism, and will eventually perish both socially and culturally. A worse possibility is that of Hindu revivalism destroying even Hindu liberalism, for the latter can succeed only with the support of Muslim liberals who would modernize Muslims and try to impress upon these secular democratic ideals.” (a resident of
I think he is on the button in both the statements. The sad fact is that words said almost half a century ago still remain relevant. While I do believe that things have changed for the good (more Muslims now openly denounce killing in the name of religion), unless politicians change their ways, we will continue be in a state of tense religious divide.