Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

July 2006
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Bloated Sense of Political Clout

Votaries of communal politics are once again at it. There is talk in the air about a Muslim party jumping into the fray in Uttar Pradesh. Enthused by the marginal gains made by the Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF) in Assam, some Muslim politicians visualise replicating the experiment in Uttar Pradesh too. The idea not only looks devoid of any pragmatic assessment of the political situation, it lacks the basic ingredient of conceptual maturity that any such exercise primarily calls for.

Sheer size of the Muslim demography may lend the Uttar Pradesh Muslim leadership a bloated sense of its political clout. But electoral politics is not merely the game of numbers. In a plural society under the throes of economic and social convulsions, elections involve monumental skills ranging from managing party arithmetic to political chemistry and media manipulation. Numbers do not directly translate into legislative strength. In a State where upper caste bureaucracy effectively gerrymanders the constituencies, media sows enough confusion among the subaltern classes, and Muslims sorely lack the mental and monetary resources to raise such defences. Political alliances will further queer the pitch. And what remains immune from all these negative influences, remains vulnerable to inducements and allurements from vested interests.

True, the Uttar Pradesh Muslims have missed the development bus. Fruits of economic progress have eluded them. But the blame largely lies with the kind of leadership that claims to lead the community. The community has for long time been kept engaged by a set of rabble-rousing leaders whose obsession for whipping up sentiments has ever remain unsatiated. So distant have the Muslim masses grown from identifying the popular aspirations that sincere and honest analysts fear being dubbed heretics for their suggestions. The community is in urgent need of surgical excision of many of its festering sores and malignant abscesses that afflict its thought process. But madrassa nurtured clergy is simply unwilling to affect any introspection. Viewed in this perspective, the prospects of putting into shape a Muslim political party seems a Himalayan task from a community as intellectually sterile as Uttar Pradesh Muslims. Parties built up on negative ideology, grievance-mindedness or peddling status quoism are less likely to remain intact in the long run, let alone instill hopes of any change in the masses. The BJP’s current state despite its leviathan machine is an indication as to what role the ideology plays in shaping the course of a party. Unfortunately, the Muslim leadership from UP and Bihar has never given expression to its socio-economic programme.

One cannot but harbour genuine apprehension as to the ideology, structure, programme and manifesto that the Muslim dominated party would adopt in the Indo-Gangetic plain. Its greatest test would lie in keeping at bay the temptation to pander to the passion of its core vote-bank, namely the Muslims, once it meets small success at the hustings. Any hint of communalising the politics by Muslims is bound to revive the sagging fortunes of the Hindutva parties who have so far been denied a decisive mandate in the most populous state of India. Political sagacity urges that Muslims hone their skill even better in matters of tactical voting and a better deal from the political parties rather than float an outfit of their own a la Dalits and the OBCs who in any case do not carry any historical and psychological baggage as Muslims do

Shun Those Short-Cuts To Heaven

Cities are expanding both vertically and horizontally. But ground is shrinking beneath the feet for the ever growing community of Muslim students. The youth who storm our cities with soaring marks lists at the onset of every monsoon, find the cities unfriendly, expensive and inhospitable. If rents are shooting through the skies, food, textbooks, transport, and cost of maintaining communication with parents back home is beyond their wallet in our super-scaled cities threatening to go the Dubai and Singapore way. Girls have to incur the additional element of unsafe living in hired private apartments.

Visionary ancestors built students’ hostels in each district headquarter and serais in principal cities of Karnataka. Gosha Hospitals in Bangalore and Chennai, Siddique Serai in Chennai, Saboo Siddique Serai in Mumbai were landmarks created out of their munificence. Mosques too hosted low-paying, temporary guests in some attached rooms. The Central Muslim Association maintained a hostel in downtown Bangalore. Its alumni now occupy high positions. But facilities have stayed at the past level, or have even declined. Number of districts have doubled, cities have assumed huge proportions. But young men and women plucked out of the comfort of homes in villages and small towns, find themselves in unwieldy urban wilderness shorn of any decent physical ambience. Tamil Nadu Haj House is adding an annex to its facility in Chennai. With Haj voyages having been decentralised, its Mumbai facility serves merely as a lodge now. Yet the people at the helms cannot conceive a more productive diversion of funds for creation of a hostel for Muslim students in Chennai which sorely lacks common facility centres such as working women’s hostels, book banks, media clubs, sports centres, gyms, swimming pools, et al. Several other communities have discovered their use in bringing about cohesion among themselves.

New philanthropy is very individually centred. Philanthropists have been persuaded to seek short-cut route to heaven by religious touts. So now financing Hajj-e-badal and Ramadan umrahs by professional moulvis, sacrifice of animals, marriage of poor girls top the agenda. Not the endowment of hard assets for the development of the community.

Visionary people think of integrating the generation next by passing on the benefits of their philanthropy to it. Myopic individuals only prepare rewards for their grave. Do we ever put our ears to the ground?