Thursday, July 14, 2016

How Muslims became so poor in India: Any example of 'ruling class' losing dominance, power in any other country?

Governing_India is a Twitter handle that mostly tweets on politics and policies.

It is a pro-BJP twitter handle. Its tweets are often interesting and insightful.

Recently, it asked the question, "India is the only country where the Ruler community became the most backward community. Muslims from ruling to poor. Any other example?"

Many people noticed the tweet and there was some conversation too, on this topic.

Is this a pertinent and fair question? Do you feel that it happened and how? Some of you may have your own take about the query itself. I am posting it here, to find out what you guys [readers] have to say about this view.

It is not that all Muslims were powerful or that now all Muslims are POOR and Hindus are RICH. This sweeping statement [some reality and yes more in perception] is also a result of many factors.

Okay, let's first accept that Muslims were part of the ruling class and there has been a decline and analyse reasons. There are a lot of things, we need to discuss. Read up to the last point and kindly tell what's your take on it:

1. We are talking about a period of nearly three hundred years. Of course, the Muslim community had influence. This decline in power took three centuries, a gradual and long process. Following Plassey and Buxar battles, 'the power' was on the wane, even more rapidly.

2. If 'Muslims' were earlier the ruling class, did the benefits of Mughals, Afghans, Turks or Local Muslims ruling the country or principality, reach the poor Muslims, during the Sultanate and Mughal period?

There has always been the question that whether during Sultanate-Mughal,  poor Muslim had any feeling of being part of ruling class or they had no such benefits and it was that just the rulers happened to be Muslims.

3. After 1857, British targeted the Muslim rulers, rebels, aristocracy and awam, with all its might, as Muslims were seen as the main motivators behind the 'mutiny'. Mass killings continued for more than a decade and land holdings were taken away.

4. Class and caste is another aspect. For centuries, ruling class didn't even bear the sight of a local Muslim getting higher posts in administration. Among Hindus, Upper Castes were favoured, not the lower castes. The varna vyavastha--Hindu caste system, remained untouched. Muslim rule didn't benefit the Julaha or the Rangrez either. 

5. Partition is, of course, a major factor. The educated Muslim and the so-called 'elite' from North India, left for West Pakistan and also to East Pakistan. This created a void everywhere--from Army to Police, Bureaucracy to Legislatures [Parliament], everywhere.

6. Delhi and most major cities of North India, lost their Muslim domination and percentage of Muslim population dropped in these places. Muslims remained in qasbahs in Uttar Pradesh, but that doesn't matter as much.

7. Loss of 'power', the sense of resignation after partition and lack of leadership turned Muslims into a shell. Riots pushed them to 'Muslim localities' or 'ghettoes' i.e. areas with poor civic amenities. No major socio-economic-educational movements among Muslims, especially, in North India.

8. After independence, role of Congress in UP, was surprisingly at odds with its ideology and its leaders went after Muslims, something that was not witnessed in other regions of the country. Urdu was booted out of the system, jobs were denied to Muslims in the most populated state of the country. The Zamindari Abolition too hit Muslims the hardest. 'Custodian' had draconian powers to take away house and land.

9. The manner in which communal riots took place in cities after cities, destroying the Muslim businesses and cottage industries, also affected Muslims in a big way. Faced with riots, they couldn't get opportunity to flourish. Right-wing has innumerable strategies to keep Muslims on target and force them to grapple with these issues--Vande Mataram to Cow, Yoga to Saraswati Vandana, AMU to Kairana, et al.

10. These things kept Muslims bogged down and on the edge. Muslims couldn't even get their due share in the Media boom during the last two decades, which has affected them worse. Voicelessness in Media--Newspapers, TV, leads to negative coverage which hurts Muslims, even more.