(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised "sabka vishwas (everyone's trust)" in his oath ceremony. Within a fortnight, his government has announced 5-crore scholarships, 50% reserved for girl students, over the next five years. There are 'bridge courses' for dropouts. Madrasa teachers are to be imparted modern, scientific training.
It's the most significant decision taken in favour of Muslims who are the main minority in independent India. Yet Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav, Mamata Banerjee, Asaduddin Owaisi, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, whose lifeline is Muslim votes, aren't taking note. Our English mainstream media only took perfunctory note. The Hindu ignored the news completely.
The basic primary education of Muslims in India is distributed between madrasas, maktabs (religious schools of mosques) and Urdu-medium schools, the last one accounting for a whopping 50% of Muslim students. The dropouts are alarming in higher education. Their ratio was only 4-5% in 2017-2018, that too largely due to Muslim-dominated institutions, such as Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). There are only 4.9% teachers from the community in higher education.
When education doesn't enter from the front door, jobs fly out of windows. Government jobs, public sector banks, public sector undertakings, corporate India all become out of bounds. Without jobs, living standards, health, control on population suffers. The downward spiral continues generation after generation.
What have the governments done to alleviate the educational malaise of Muslims in India? Under the Congress regime, various exercises were undertaken: Gopal Singh Minority Panel Report (1983), National Sample Survey report, Programme of Action under the New Education Policy (1986), revised NEP (1992), Sachar Committee Report (2006), etc. But all these remained on files only. Nothing happened; the stock of Muslims remained in a freefall.
Congress isn't alone. Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is no better. In his nearly five years of term in Delhi, nothing has materially changed for Muslims. No growth in jobs in Delhi Metro, Delhi Police, fire department, etc.** All these parties do is to sell hope and fear to Muslims: a bait which nearly always worked.
**[Editor's note: According to figures in the source cited by the author, the total number of minorities employed in Delhi government departments in the two years rose from 3,347 to 3,406. The number of Muslims employed was 1,598 or 52.6% of total minorities employed in 2016-17. Of the 10 government departments for which data is given, minorities employment increased in 5, declined in 2 and remained unchanged in 3.]
Let's look at Sachar Committee Report. In 2004 General Polls, Congress had 141 seats to BJP's 138, an advantage of a mere three seats. The coalition politics seated Congress at the Centre. An important input wasn't lost on Congress: Muslim voters had played a major role in its victory. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh didn't mind making a shocking communal statement: Muslims have the first right on India's resources.**. Sachar Committee was formed within months to pin down the reasons and draw a roadmap for socio-economic growth of Muslims. Again, all on paper with little intent.
**[Editor's note: Manmohan Singh's full statement was "We will have to devise innovative plans to ensure that minorities, particularly the Muslim minority, are empowered to share equitably the fruits of development. These must have the first claim on resources." According to the 2011 Census, Muslims were the largest minority at 73.5% of the total minorities population.]
These are the same forces who stoked Muslims' fears on Modi's arrival at the helm. Can't you see there is no Muslim candidates in polls? Don't you remember Gujarat riots? What about Babri Masjid? Why there are no Iftar parties thrown by BJP? Every stray lynching, every stray remark was woven into the narrative.
Against this optics, the substantive proof of work on the ground was ignored. One isn't even talking the obvious of gas, toilets, houses, health, loan benefits etc. Or the raised Haj subsidy. That hike in aids to educational institutions is meaty. Former Chancellor Zafar Sareshwala of Maulana Azad Urdu National University says that Modi government even released the withheld aid of UPA government with a substantial hike of its own. The ramped up budget of Minority Affairs ministry is eye-popping. That jobs for Muslims in Central government have doubled in last five years. No Hindu-Muslim riot has happened in Modi era. Why, even RSS is hosting Eid-Milan parties.
Triple Talaq Bill is a symbolic, if not a seminal measure in freeing one half of Muslims into shaping the growth of their family, society and nation. The corollary of lower population is an obvious benefit of an educated, empowered women force. Modi government is seeking the three Es (Education, Employment, Empowerment) for millions of Muslims in India.
This is a good moment for Muslims in India to take stock of reality on ground: (a) There is no protest from so-called Hindutva hardliners on Modi government's latest measure in favour of Muslims; (b) On the other hand, none of their so-called 'saviours' have applauded this boon to their community. A hard look would show them who stand for Progress and who for Propaganda.