Thursday, December 15, 2005

No discrimination against Indian Muslims in jobs!

The Asian Age has reported that Omar Khalidi's book Muslims in the Indian Economy suggests Muslims do not face discrimination in jobs. It is not absolute truth though.

In my humble opinion, we, Indians are a strange nation--all Indians irrespective of religion and caste. We are heavily biased against each other and though we may appear most liberal and secular, the truth is that the majority of us harbour deep suspicion about each other.

For Brahmins the Banias is a crook, for upper castes the Dalits are meant for menial jobs, then there are further religious biases apart from North Vs South, Bengali Vs Marathi, Hindi Vs Non-Hindi et al.

On face one may seem secular to the core but that is often a wrong impression. I have numerous personal experiences of such biases. Once a person feels that he belongs to your community then he might spell out the choicest abuses for the other community without any reason.

In an interview of UPPSC I was asked, "Isn't Islam a regressive religion", "Don't you people treat women badly" and a host of similar questions in hostile tone. When I answered them back and told them that I have lived in the past in Bhopal, a place where Begums ruled for over a century.

And it is only in Bangladesh, Turkey and Pakistan where women become heads of state (not USA in its three centuries of democracy) the mood of the interview board was that of a shock, as if they didn't expect it.

They appeared offended. No question about my stream or the job which I applied for but the questions were just about Muslims being fundamentalists and retrogressive. That's just a personal experience.

But if you go to an officer, send in your visiting card and tell him that you want to share his sentiments about Muslims, he will surely tell you what a great language is Urdu, the Muslims are great connoissuers of food and that Taj Mahal was built by Muslims, who are great lovers of beauty and all the great love stories are that of Muslims like Laila Majnu, Sheerin Farhad, Wamiq-Azra or Heer-Ranjha.

There are statistics to prove my point that there does exist a discrimination which you can never fathom unless you are in the shoes of an unemployed ordinary Muslim job aspirant. Of course, a Dalit may also face some form of prejudice.

In private sector, it is tough to find a Dalit in higher positions. Besides, there are forms of discrimination that includes regional bias. But it is communal discrimination which is more widely prevalent though it is not visible to a third person.