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India shows the way

Reader comment on item: "A Corrective to the Pipes Worldview"?

Submitted by Swahili Dinaz (India), Sep 1, 2005 at 12:15

In India 2002, criminals torched two train coaches full of Hindu devotees -- mainly women and children -- in the state of Gujarat, while returning from the reclaimed Ram Janmabhoomi site, over which existed the defunct mosque of Babar, the Turko-Mongol invader. (Subsequent archaelogical research conducted under the directive of the Supreme Court has revealed proof of temple architecture under the plinth of the disputed structure).

There were spontaneous riots in Gujarat that saw both Hindus and Muslims killed, and since Hindus are in the majority, more Muslims were killed than Hindus. Even then, nearly 200 Hindus lost their lives in the riots and police firings. But things have been relatively quiet ever since, except for some sporadic terrorist strikes. Until then, the Islamists believed in the propaganda that being vegetarians, Hindus were a pushover, and nothing would come in their way of Islamising India, an unfinished task since the days of Babar! The incident occurred at a time that India has an immensely popular Muslim President, the third one in fact, and when the ruling coalition at the centre included the Muslim-majority Nationalist Party heading the elected government in Kashmir! But the whole incident marked a significant turnaround in attitudes.

Today, as it so happens, besides the President (who is some role model for the young as a visionary poet and a secular nuclear scientist), the richest man in India is a Muslim heading an IT corporation; among the most popular sports icons are many Muslim cricketers and the current tennis pro, a young woman who has publicly defied the obscurantist code of dress for Muslim women. These leading icons inspire more Indian Muslims (and many envious Pakistanis are commenting on it) to abjure hardline attitudes and think secular in the public domain.

When the wakf board recently laid a claim to the Taj Mahal, there was unusual silence in the community. And when it demanded to take over thriving Muslim-run educational institutions, the trustees said, "Thanks but no thanks, we prefer to be governed by the secular Charity Commissioner of the government. Mind your own business, please!" Latest urban polls in the cities reveal that with the support of a firm and progressive secular judiciary, majority young educated Muslims are turning against the fatwa culture seeking to govern their lives, and are in fact for a Uniform Civil Code rather than the Personal Law of the Shariat! Welcome change this, which needs to be consolidated through a carrot-and-stick policy, to ensure that honourable ways be found for those Muslims who reject inhuman and constricting Islamism for a more inclusive and modern approach to religious affairs.

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