Saturday, 5 September 2015

Problems and Solutions of Indian Muslims as Explained by Vice President of India Shri Hamid Ansari Ji

Why in news?
  • Hamid Ansari’s recent speech on Indian Muslims was a creative and thoughtful celebration of India, Islam and democracy.
  • In the last few days, leaders from the BJP and the VHP have demanded an apology from him over his representation of the status of Muslims in India.
Is rising Muslim Population a threat?
  • A community of 180 million people amounting to 14 per cent of the population is not a demographic threat but a cultural possibility. 
  • The Indian Muslim contributes not just to India but to the culture of Islam across the world. 
  • Muslims were an integral part of the freedom struggle and an integral part of independent India. Yet, he remarks, injustice has been done to them.
What Ansari said?
  • He emphasises that India is among the countries with the highest number of Muslims.
  • According to Ansari problems of Muslims are:
    • Trauma of Partition continues for them
    • identity and security
    • education and empowerment
    • equitable share in the largesse of state
    • a fair share in decision making
    • He slams the Muslims as being “trapped in a vicious circle and in a culturally defensive posture that hinders self-advancement.”
    • Tradition is made sacrosanct but the rationale of tradition is all but forgotten -->  Jadeediyat or modernity has become “a tainted expression. He claims that critical thinking is needed both for “the affirmation of faith” and “the well-being of the community”. He also contends that a fixation on the questions of identity and dignity create a defensive mode of thinking.


Solutions
  • He commends the spirit of Sabka saath sabka vikas (Development for all), one that captures the spirit of inclusiveness and representation that resonates the tenor of what he is trying to communicate.
  • He exhorts the Mushawarat, a grouping of “respected minds,” to focus on issues concerning women, youth and the marginalised, who constitute “the overwhelming majority” of Indian Muslims. 
  • Mr. Ansari’s plea to the community to think along plural, secular and democratic lines is hard-headed and clear. 
  • He remarks astutely that the way we solve a problem might add to the problem and quotes “a close observer” who pointed out that “agitation against discrimination can arouse the very emotions that foster discrimination.”
  • heals old wounds and does it without inflicting no new ones. 
  • The Muslim is, here, easy with her identity, comfortable in her Indian citizenship and confident that she can solve problems within the framework of Indian democracy. This is cultural confidence, citizenship and constitutionalism at its creative best.
  • A Muslim problem is no longer merely a Muslim problem but an Indian one to be shared with the wider community. 
  • Mr. Ansari emphasises that a lack of communication among communities has frozen the diversities of Indian society.
  • In his speech, problem-solving is not only creative but plural and democratic. The Indian thought experiment, whatever its flaws, becomes a model relevant for the world. 
  • It combines an ethics of memory, interpretation and innovation.
  • Mr. Ansari claims that the struggle for actualisation should be constitutionally imaginative; reciprocal in that a community does not get warped through isolation; and yet adaptive without losing a sense of integrity. Such a vision of change goes beyond Islam to become a model for thought experiment and lived change, also relevant in other contexts.

"In this sense, Mr. Ansari’s speech is a celebration of Islam, India and democracy — creatively done, thoughtful yet immaculate in its arguments. It deserves to be celebrated, debated, re-invented. India must match Hamid Ansari in creating a democracy for the future where a conversation of religion and democracy creates new orders of justice and creativity. Thank you Mr. Vice-President", said Shiv Visvanathan, a professor at Jindal School of Government and Public Policy.

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