Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Being Hindu in Pakistan and Muslim in India

During one of my train journeys in North India, I came across a person in the first class coupe of Indian railways. He worked for nationalized bank and was on his way from work place to home. He was wearing half sleeve checked shirt and baggy trousers with neatly combed hair, wearing spectacle and carrying local newspaper. He was Indian middle aged common man with a small , stable family and a secure job. I was prepared for an insipid chat on mundane subjects about bureaucracy, ministerial intervention etc but he took me by surprise by telling me about his visit was to shift his family from New Delhi to his newly acquired residence in Meerut. This intrigued me as I was seeing for the first time a migration from a metro city to a small town. But once I understood his reasons for doing so, my intrigue was transformed into a rankled thought that has stayed with me since then.

The above incident happened post Godhra and Hindu Muslim riots that ensued immediately after. This gentleman had his immediate brother and his sister living in Ahmedabad. They lived in a cosmopolitan apartment complex that had a common thread of working middle classmen with a small family and aspirations for their children. Religions, Caste didn’t matter much as all spoke the local language. He didn’t tell me what exactly had happened during the riots but all he said their brother’s family became cynosure in the eyes of bulk of Hindu residents. There wasn’t any overt religious discrimination but visible alienation in the eyes of neighbors was palpable. They along with hundreds of the families belonging to same community took a decision to relocate themselves into an area where they would be have numerical advantage of their religious fraternity and feel safe and secured. This man, though thousand of miles away from riot stricken place, too decided to sell his property and plan his retirement in Meerut where majority of his Muslim relatives stay. Was it a spontaneous reaction or well thought move?

The above story came to my mind as I spent two wonderful days with Hindu doctor family who chose to stay in Pakistan after the partition. For majority of Hindu’s in India and that includes me, a Hindu in Pakistan remained like a Siberian tiger specie in a zoo. Cricketer Danesh Kaneria, Justice Bhagwan Das and Newly appointed Sikh army personnel came as token presence of existing Hindu presence in Pakistan. My perspective changed when I read about ‘Hinduism in Pakistan’ on Wikipedia subsequent to my spending time with this friend of mine. Doctor felt that ‘Muslims in Pakistan do not view Hindu’s – both in India and Pakistan – as suspiciously as Muslim’s in Pakistan do’. Even though I would love to dispute his claims, but I am aware that reality is loaded in his favor. Majority of Hindu’s in India do seem to have made any attempt to assimilate Muslim in their stream. Political parties picked Muslims as and when it suited their political convenience. Indians loudly proclaim the emergence of Azim Premji, Azuruddin and Abdul Kalam as a success of secular spirit of India, but if we were to take a count Muslim’s presence in Indian jobs and professions- they would be incongruent to their population presence. Sachar committee report reveal Muslims in India possess lower educational levels and in turn have higher unemployment rates than the Hindu majority and other minorities like Christians and Sikhs. In Public service their presence is less than 7% percent, in railways less than 5% percent, in banks less than 4% and in India’s 1.3 million strong military, they are mere 29,000 in numbers. I also find most Muslims- despite being educated tend to run their family business. I wonder if there is a definite bias when it comes to recruitment of Muslims that is perhaps distinctly pronounced from other religions such as Christianity and Buddhism. I do feel that Dalits - too must also be feeling the same heat as Muslims in India.

According to the article in Wikipedia, there are three million Hindu’s in Pakistan – almost the 2/3rd of the population of UAE or Singapore and nearly 2 million Hindus stay in Sindh province. My doctor friend said the most visible damage against Hinduism took place not when Pakistan and India went to wars but when Babri Mosque was demolished. He claims ‘Hindu’s in current regime of Parvez Musharuff feel more relaxed while they were edgy during Zia Ul Haq’s regime.’ But what was interesting to learn that Mohajirs (meaning immigrant from India) feel far more alienated in Pakistan. They feel ‘If at all anyone has gone through sacrifice during the Partition – it’s them – and they haven’t got a rightful place in Pakistani mainstream’. Interestingly not many Hindu immigrants from Pakistan ever voiced such a concern.

Is it that Indian Muslims on either side of the border feel that they have been marginalized? Sunday Gentlemen is a blog by 24 year old Mubasshir Ahmed. He discusses various issues that afflict Muslim population in India and what I like about his blog is his perspective in tackling issues in an objective manner without estranged feeling.I do hope more such attempts like Mubasshir should be given media attention that those ridiculous fatwas issued by self proclaimed Islamic scholars.

India has Muslim population in excess of 160 million, next only to Indonesia. Their growth rate is higher than rest of the India population. Today in India, there is no town or electoral constituency that can choose its representative without the impact of Muslim votes and with increased population, this scenario would get more decisive in future. India has to guard against alienation of Muslims. As India marches forward, unless majority community has a mindset to share the benefits with minorities, social divide would get more visible. Economic disparity with religious or sectarian alienation has a explosive potency to rock the nation. We are witnessing this in Iraq, Pakistan and also in Africa. Muslim ghettos in a city is danger sign for India and I only hope the reaction by middle class Muslim man in the train will be viewed as extempore knee jerk reaction.

11 Comments:

Blogger karan singh said...

why muslim cant leave peacefully in world.
wherever muslim there must disturbance,
in india lot of kashmiri are killed by muslim terrorist but no hindu pandit are terrorist but i dont know why all terrorist in the world are almost muslim
ther is no babri damage in 1947 than why you demand pakistan
why in irak,amereika,malesiya,russia,china,afganistan,bangladesh etc all terrorist are muslim.

8:39 PM  
Blogger Syed_84 said...

Mr. Singh, first of all try to improve your English before posting a comment here, secondly do not forget that the most amount of unrest in India has been caused by SIKHs (SICKS) and not Muslims. Muslims are not terrorists and nor will we ever be but it is the discriminatory policies of your Indian government which forces them to revert to aggresive steps, Thank God I am a Pakistani, much more lucky than my poor Indian Muslim brothers who made the biggest mistakes of their lives by choosing India over Pakistan.

9:53 PM  
Anonymous wiweq said...

This is not the fault of Hindus or Muslims, but its America who rules over Iraq. Add less sugar to be get perpetual sweetness !
Thanks.

5:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mr.Syed,

This is with respect to your comments on Sikhs in India(most amount of unrest in India has been caused by SIKHs (SICKS) and not Muslims)...This is UNTRUE,Sikhs are known for their Patriotism and passion for work. They will never ever involve in terror kind of activities(no such examples)...
Secondly, you said Muslims are not terrorists(Muslims are not terrorists and nor will we ever be but it is the discriminatory policies of your Indian government which forces them to revert to aggresive steps).Please recorrect your sentence.It should be, All muslims are not terrorists.!!..Yes mean it.Not only in India but in each and every part of the globe you can get N number of Terrorist activitie by Islam followers.Today another name of Terror is Islam..!!
And about your sympathy towards your muslim brothers living in India, i think condition of Indian Muslims are far better than our Hindu brothers & sikh brothers living in Pakistan..

9:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mr.Syed,

This is with respect to your comments on Sikhs in India(most amount of unrest in India has been caused by SIKHs (SICKS) and not Muslims)...This is UNTRUE,Sikhs are known for their Patriotism and passion for work. They will never ever involve in terror kind of activities(no such examples)...
Secondly, you said Muslims are not terrorists(Muslims are not terrorists and nor will we ever be but it is the discriminatory policies of your Indian government which forces them to revert to aggresive steps).Please recorrect your sentence.It should be, All muslims are not terrorists.!!..Yes mean it.Not only in India but in each and every part of the globe you can get N number of Terrorist activitie by Islam followers.Today another name of Terror is Islam..!!
And about your sympathy towards your muslim brothers living in India, i think condition of Indian Muslims are far better than our Hindu brothers & sikh brothers living in Pakistan..

9:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Syed,

We all know our history well. Whatever happened in 1947 was an unfortunate event. Before making a statement like "Thank God I am a Pakistani, much more lucky than my poor Indian Muslim brothers who made the biggest mistakes of their lives by choosing India over Pakistan" , please consult with the Indian Muslims. Ask them whether they really think they made a mistake and would like to go to Pakistan. I don't think you have a right to talk on behalf of "INDIANS" ... no matter what community they belong to !

10:24 PM  
Blogger Abdul said...

Mr.Karan Singh, Mr. Syed & Mr. Anonymous....

First, whatever happened in 1947 was an unfortunate event for All of us. We all should forget this, and start building new success in our life & making our own country a better place to live.

Second, whatever terror attack happened in US/UK, is only because of Bush. What happening here in India (sp in Kashmir & major city of India) is because of some uneducated people who don't know that Islam teaches PEACE.

We all Indian Muslim STRONGLY condemn terror attack in India.

But do you think because of few people one can blame entire community??
I guess NO.

Lets respect all religion, give a better tomorrow to our children.

Abdul Hamid

2:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ITS RATHER SAD THAT WE HAVE TO VOICE OUR OPINION WITH SUCH HATRED AND VENGENCE AND NOT SEE THE REALITY CLEARLY.TODAY RELIGION ALONG WITH MANY OTHER MOTIVATIONAL FORCES HAVE LED US TO MANY UNDESIRED EVENTS. TERRORISM IS A SAD AND UNFORTUNATE REALITY IN ALL OUR LIVES.HONESTLY,IF I AM KILLED,THE RELIGION OF MY MURDERER WILL MAKE NO DIFFERENCE TO MY MOTHER'S PAIN.THIS PROBABLY HOLDS TRUE FOR ALL THE OTHER ' EDUCATED AND PEACE LOVING' WHO HAVE WRITTEN EARLIER IN THIS PAGE
LET US REALIZE THAT TERRORISM HAS NO RELIGION AND INSTEAD OF UTILIZING OUR RESOURCES AND ENERGY IN SUCH HORRIBLE AND PAINFUL BLOGS LET ALL JOIN HANDS TOGETHER FOR A PEACEFUL WORLD.
THIS IS MY REQUEST TO ALL MY FELLOW CITIZENS TO ELIMINATE THIS EVIL

9:01 PM  
Blogger ankush said...

indians are only indians and we should not divide them into religions.today india is having one of the largest population of muslims in the world.i remember when i was giving my armed forces medical exams majority of the students there were kashmiri muslims taking part with anxiety.i know what happens when some one is in minority because i belong to kashmiri hindu family who migrated from kashmir due to the unrest there in 1990 thanks to pakistan,it becomes very difficult for a government to safegaurd the rights of minorities in a population.we were hindus and drowned out by pakistani and kashmiri mnilitants and the government of india was not able to help us.so it does not mean what is your religion in india.our constitution gives equal rights to every citizen and our country is a secular one and that is a big thing.on the other hand pakistan is islamic republic.i am very proud of being an indian and as well as kashmiri.

8:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Muslims are not terrorists and nor will we ever be but it is the discriminatory policies of your Indian government which forces them to revert to aggresive steps."

this is definately a gud joke...
Please correct urself.. yes all muslims are not terrorists but then all all muslim terrorists are nt terrorists coz of Indian Govt policies... whom are u going to blame for what happened in US or UK or many other parts of the world.

n u said u r luckier coz u are in pakistan..--- it wud be great if u take all Indian muslims who agree with you back to pakistan and I can bet you wont have many people agreeing with you ...

P.S.
U have great sense of humour.. U know wht I mean..

11:38 PM  
Blogger frank said...

dear mr syed
"don't speak bout indian muslims! judgin by the way u are speakin, i don't think u hav ever been to india! i don't think u even hav a passport! oh i'm sorry... pakistanis do not need passpart to enter india... they jus take arms training and sneak in! muslims here hav become prime ministers, presidents, captains of sporting tems, leaders in various industries... mostly acting! gimme one such example of a hindu or a sikh been given a captain or a president's post in pakistan?? muslims in india enjoy all rights and hav rights on this land as much as i do! ever u come back and say anythin against my country or my countrymen [muslims, sikhs, hindus etc], my way of speech will be sggressive and disrespectful... trust me u don't wanna be there...!
JAI HIND! VANDE MATARAM!

1:21 PM  

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