All of a sudden thousands of Muslim students preparing for medical entrance examination suffered a jolt when they found that Urdu would no longer be medium of exam in the National Eligibility Entrance Test [NEET] which is held for admission into MBBS.
There are thousands of Urdu medium schools and colleges in Maharashtra apart from large number of Urdu medium students aspiring for the MBBS-BDS and allied medical course test from Karnataka, Jammu & Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh et al.
With their future in jeopardy and national media or political leadership showing no interest [not even aware of the extent of the problem], the Ulema who are seen as 'regressive', raised the issue. A petition was filed in the Supreme Court in this regard.
The Supreme Court subsequently issued notice to Ministry of Human Resources Development [MHRD], CBSE and Medical Council of India [MCI] on this issue. While Marathi medium students in junior colleges aspiring for exam is barely 350, Urdu students in Maharashtra's junior colleges number over 7,500.
Still, while Marathi remained a medium, Urdu was excluded arbitrarily. To understand the gravity of the situation and a sudden discriminatory order that affects democratic rights as well as causes children to suffer, one expects the so-called Muslim leaders viz. political leadership to move forward.
But nothing of that sort happened. The MCI rules clearly state that they couldn't disturb state policies as per which many regional languages other than English and Hindi are used as medium in entrance exam. When action had to be taken fast, once again Jamiat-i-Ulama realised the seriousness of the situation.
One will have to wait and see what happens, but the irony is that when educated elite is expected to act, they don't. In fact, they are least aware of real issues pertaining to Muslims. Ulema who get lot of blame often do their best in terms of PR skills as well [not the socialites, chatterati appearing on TV shows, paying lip service to Muslims]
TAKING STAND ON CIVIL RIGHTS
There are repeated examples. Can one forget the failure of Muslim politicians to address defaming of towns like Azamgarh turned Aatankgarh? It was then that the Ulema had boarded an entire train and had gone to Hyderabad to hold Anti-Terrorism Conference, denouncing the terrorists and making clear their stand.
Nobody had put onus on them. They did on their own. Such conferences were held across country. The Ulema are also involved in charity and welfare. They are also fighting dozens of cases in which innocent Muslim youths were falsely implicated.
In many cases people couldn't come out of jail where they are lodged for minor offences just because they didn't have basic money to hire lawyer or to pay for the bail.
ULEMA SPEAK, NOT ELITE
Routinely, in cases of police excesses during riots or against individuals or even negative portrayal of Muslims, Ulema approach courts. Its satisfying to see institutional clergy being sensitive to the community and for its rights. The Indian Ulema [also Ulama] are secular to the hilt and most of them vouch for communal harmony and composite culture.
Perennially, it is the Ulema who keep approaching Prime Minister or Home Minister or the Minister for Minorities' Welfare, taking along delegations, speaking over various issues that keep coming up during the course of a year, seeking redressal of the issues.
The clergy also has the conviction to take politicians head-on. The recent example is that of Shia cleric Kalb-e-Sadiq who refused to be felicitated from UP CM Akhilesh Yadav, just two days back. Sadiq was upset because he felt SP hadn't fulfilled its promises made to Muslims.
In contrast, the 'elite' would be too happy to shake hand with a minister, and would come back with 'assurances', rather than a hard bargain. It is really a piquant situation. Now there is a strong Muslim middle-class in this country.
There are almost 60 minority Members of Parliament (MPs) in both the houses viz. Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha but they fail to even take up these issues. One doesn't expect them to represent just Muslims but once in a while, they should take stand in important matters.
The educated elite is simply out of touch. For them, these are issues that often reach them through media and they simply express their disgust and move ahead. No wonder, the issues that don't get highlighted in mainstream English media, is reported in Urdu papers and then Ulema respond to them.
So the problem remains same after decades. Our elected representatives or those amongst us who have prospered fail to even understand, let alone take action, the real issues. Hence, the clergy is filling this void throughout the country.