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Published in the 1-15 July 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Hindus are not against Muslims

Today in the aftermath of the recent elections in India where the 80% Hindu electorate rejected the Hindu fundamentalist BJP, that did so much in the last 6 years in power, and before that for 20 years in politics, to convert India into a Hindu nation, the Indian Muslims should acknowledge the farsighted and minority-sympathetic attitude of the Indian Hindus.

Overall the BJP rule was not a total failure. They did succeed in improving the economy of India a lot, albeit it was skewed in favour of the upper middle-class Indians and multinational corporations. Their foreign policy was also not a failure. They did achieve detente with Pakistan and significantly improved relations with Western powers, albeit a bit too much favouritism for US.

So to a large extent the electorate’s (80% Hindus) rejection of BJP is based on the electorate's dislike of BJP's efforts to change India from a composite multi-religious society with equal status for all, to a Hindu dominated society. The other major factor was the BJP's indifference to the poor people of India (35% of the Indian population).

Today, Indian Muslims should acknowledge the above facts, and redouble their efforts to become a part of the mainstream in India. Indian Muslims should acknowledge today's proven fact that in India, most Hindus are not against Muslims. If they were, they would have brought back BJP with enough majority to complete the task of Hinduisation of India, that BJP was trying to accomplish.

Today, Indian Muslims have to accept that they are terribly backward in education and in being constructive members of society. Their backwardness in education leads to much backwardness of attitudes. It causes unemployment, social ills in society, negative attitudes towards Muslim women, and suspicion of everything modern. Muslims have another opportunity to break out of the state of siege in which they have lived for years now.

At this time it will be to the benefit of the Muslim community that the volume of complaints from them about their being discriminated against in India, subside for a few years. Muslims should make use of the turnabout in the change of the government attitude, to carry out much needed reforms in their own society, and to make real efforts to recover from their backwardness in various arenas. Once they overcome these awful weaknesses they will not have to depend on any political party for their well-being, as has been the case in the past.

Kaleem Kawaja, Washington DC

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