Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Myths about Indian Muslims' backwardness: Muslims moving forward, striving to achieve despite discrimination and lack of government jobs

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Call it the impact of propaganda, conditioning or bias, some people feel that Muslims are mostly poor in India.

They feel that barely a fraction of Muslims are educated and also live under the impression that the community is not making any progress at all.

That day I decided to make a mental note of Muslims I was going to come across, not those who're in 'our circle' [like us], but random meeting, coming across in journey, public place, gathering...waiting in a clinic, at a party, those whom I met for the first time.

I felt it would educate me also and would be 'informative;, an experience, as we must also know what kind of works, professions, people are into, what sort of ways to earn their living.


The first person I met was going to another city for sale of 'chikan embroidery goods' in an exhibition that runs for months, was taking 12 employees, even cook, as they stay for the period. It was interesting conversation as we talked at length during train journey.

The second was a man who deals in sale of tyres, mostly trucks, and not just new but old and recycled too. The third is a youth whose job fascinated me most--maintenance of backhoe machines, excavators, equipment used in mining, a big team under him in a neighbouring state

The fourth person has an has agency of newspapers and magazines that he runs in a metro near his city, goes 20 km everyday in the morning, returns at night, doesn't seem to be earning big but was quite happy with his job.

Next, a youth who conducts speech therapy, helps youths who stammer and stutter. Very interesting jobs and great insight about works, careers. Then, a guy I met, who works for a medical company, covers 3 states and earns well though he is constantly on the move.

A bakery shop owner, a woman who has got teaching job and is shifting to other city with kids. A man working with a caterer, supervisory work. The tenth, a guy doing project work for students, couldn't talk much. Long list. An aphrodisiac seller too, very interesting guy

Widely travelled person, hailing from Allahabad, has relatives in Lucknow and Bhopal, has seen almost every important town in different states, cautioned that one should never go to quacks or buy 'shilajit', as it is always fake. I promised him that I would never buy 'shilajit'.

READ: Vilification of Indian Muslims is a clever political strategy

Then, a guy in hardware business who unlike other traders [who say terrible, too bad], didn't complain and said business was okay. May be, hardware not as affected or he is lucky or more patient. Poverty cuts across all sections of the society and there are poor, unemployed in all..

..sections, communities. A community less in govt jobs, naturally tries harder elsewhere. See how people trying to earn a living, how they strive, how hard or innovative some are. But on the other hand, often people form opinions, inherit prejudices and don't even try to find out.

This is just a short thread, in fact, interaction with the people, one can write posts on them, it gives insight about society. I met the man who deals in glass work and also sells very high quality small mirrors, the sort of mirrors which you would like to buy immediately.

READ: Stop generalizing, calling Indian Muslims 'backward'

Statistically, there has been separate posts about how Indian Muslims are improving on social indicators, and have even done much better than several other communities. Besides, social evils ranging from female foeticide to dowry deaths are least among Muslims. This post was about the need to get rid of assumptions and see reality on the ground.

There are crores of Indian Muslims--over 200 million i.e. 20 crore. There must be a lot more, those running pan shops, eateries, hotels, lawyers, those selling roadside biryani, dealing in computer parts, working as pharmacists, security personnel, software engineers, advertisers, architects, journalists, those in transport, hospitality, government or private jobs, writers, poets, technicians, drivers, artisans, farmers, scrap dealers, teachers, sell chicken or run mutton shops, entrepreneurs, salesmen or running small-scalle industrial units.

So, my advice--shun your prejudices, learn about Indian Muslims.