By Muskan Mustaqeem
When it comes to the situation of minority constituencies, India has taken centre stage in the debate between the ideological state and the constitutional state. In the past few years, majoritarianism and populist undertones have become a strong force, adding complexities, particularly to Muslim existence, through the deprivation of an equitable share in the social and political landscape. In spite of the constitutional provisions and international obligations, Indian Muslims continue to face socio-political challenges, including discrimination, prejudice, communal tensions, and underrepresentation in politics and the media. Many Indian Muslims face poverty and unemployment due to low levels of education and limited access to economic opportunities. This has hampered their growth and development, including access to basic amenities like health care and quality education. The lack of economic empowerment has forced Muslims to send their children to madrassas and government run schools for primary and intermediate levels. The majority of degree students are forced to discontinue their studies due to financial constraints and the need for family support.
Indian Muslims often experience discrimination and prejudice in various aspects of their daily lives, including employment, housing, and access to public services. It has led to segregation and ghetto formation at particular locations in each city in India. In the past few years, social othering has increased immensely and has enforced a sense of insecurity at a societal level. The communal tensions between Muslims and other religious communities have sometimes resulted in communal violence, particularly in certain regions of India. These tensions have always been a sore spot in Indian politics, and in the last few years, Muslims have been on the receiving end of many of these incidents.
The biggest problem Indian Muslims have been living with since independence is the lack of political representation. Indian Muslims are often underrepresented in politics and government, resulting in a lack of representation for their interests and needs. Despite being the largest minority, Indian Muslims have limited access to political institutions and higher offices of power. Social stereotypes about Muslims are also prevalent in Indian society, contributing to prejudice and discrimination against the community. Indian Muslims are often subject to heightened surveillance and security measures, including detention and harassment by law enforcement agencies. Lack of representation in the media has also given rise to misinformation and the securitization of religious symbols. The Indian Muslim community is often underrepresented in the media and popular culture, perpetuating negative stereotypes and a lack of understanding of the actual issues and challenges Indian Muslims have been facing for most of their history in contemporary India.
The government, civic society, and the media must work together to solve these societal and political concerns. There are several ways to do this, such as advocating for legislation to reduce economic inequality, increasing political representation, combating negative stereotypes, fostering interfaith communication, and guaranteeing the rights and dignity of all individuals.
Access to education and job training programmes, as well as policies that foster economic development in Muslim-majority communities, may assist Indian Muslims in improving their economic condition. Prejudice against Indian Muslims can be reduced through education and public awareness campaigns, as well as the implementation of laws prohibiting religious discrimination. Promoting inter-religious communication and understanding, as well as strengthening the rule of law and holding those responsible for communal violence accountable, may all contribute to lessening communal tensions and avoiding bloodshed. Promoting policies that address the community’s unique problems, as well as encouraging political engagement and representation of Indian Muslims, may help improve political representation for Indian Muslims. Countering negative preconceptions via education and media campaigns highlighting the variety and good contributions of Indian Muslims may assist in debunking negative perceptions and encouraging better understanding and acceptance of the community.
To sum up, although Indian Muslims face several obstacles, resolving these concerns via a mix of governmental measures, policy solutions, and public awareness initiatives will assist in establishing a more inclusive and fair society for everyone.
Muskan Mustaqeem is
Research Scholar, Jamia Millia Islamia.
Disclaimer: Multifaceted concerns of Muslims in contemporary India - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view