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Are Indian Muslims in Crisis?
India and Aryn Baker
"Indiaís Muslims in crisis"
Source URL: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1862650,00.html
Aryn Bakerís article Indiaís Muslims in Crisis (Nov 27, 2008) is a classical example of biased writing. From her article it is evident that she does not have even the basic understanding of Islamic history of India e.g. for her Indian history starts from 1857 and there too she got all the details wrong. It seems whatever little of Indian history she knows, she has picked either from Muslim sources in Pakistan or from what is known in India as the "secular leftist elite" of the JNU cadre. She touched upon many topics in her rather long (2438 words) article. To comment on each and every one with facts from history will take an entire issue of the Time Magazine.
The main theme of her piece is that Muslim rage in India runs deep and they nourish a long-held sense of injustice. They believe they there is "institutionalized discrimination" against them by the Indiaís Hindus who form 80% of Indiaís population. Barring exceptions she says Indiaís Muslims "have shorter life spans, worse health, lower literacy levels, and lower paying jobs." She comes across as a spokesperson for the Muslims of India.
Let us look at the literacy rates in India.
I quote from South Asian Voice (http://india_resource.tripod.com/religion-demographics.html)
"However, a more detailed analysis of the data reveals certain unexpected aspects to the Census Data that run counter to the traditional stereotypes concerning Muslims.
"For instance, there are seven states where the literacy rate of Muslims is actually higher than the literacy rate for Hindus. In Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh - the difference is quite significant. It is also notable in Gujarat and Karnataka. Muslim literacy is marginally higher in Maharashtra and Jharkhand, and the difference between Hindu and Muslim literacy in Kerala is statistically insignificant."
"In the Union Territories of Daman and Diu, Pondicherry, and the Andamans, the literacy rate for Muslims is again higher than that of Hindus."
Note: Gender gap has been calculated as the difference between male and female literacy divided by male literacy.
In other words, it represents the proportion of women who should have been educated for the literacy rates in the community to have been absolutely even.
In comparison, according to World Fact book (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/print/pk.html) literacy rate in Pakistan, a Muslim country where are Muslims are "not discriminated by Hindus" the literacy rate is 49.9% (Male 63% and Female 36%). Minister for Education in Pakistan informed Pakistan senate on 15 July 2004 literacy rate in Pakistan being nearly 54% (Male 66.25 and Female 41.75) (http://pakistantimes.net/2004/07/15/national4.htmate)
From the above data it is evident that Muslim literacy rates in India is not all that lower than the Hindus and in some states even higher. And it is statistically much higher than Muslim literacy rates in Pakistan. It is also clear that in India Hindus donít have the highest literacy rates. While it is true that overall Muslims literacy rates rate is lower than Hindus, it does not mean it is because they are discriminated against Ė the reasons have to be looked for elsewhere. Hindus literacy rate in India is much lower than that of Jains or Christians but they donít claim it to be because of discrimination by the Jains or Christians. Evidently Miss Baker reported what she was told without doing any research on her own. If she were to do further research she would have found the situation of Muslim literacy even in the UK is much lower than any other group.
A recent (August 2000) statistics published by the Department for Education and Employment (UK) reveal that pupils from the Indian community are much more likely to continue in education at the age of 16 and are more likely to aspire to enter higher education than other pupils. At the age of 18, 80% of Indian pupils are studying for qualifications, compared to only 50% of white pupils. The study went on to note "children from the Indian community were higher achievers than their white counterparts, with 51% getting five or more good GCSEs.
" The minister noted that Pakistani and Bangladeshi pupils were the most likely not to hold any qualifications" - the report went on to say.
Another report by The Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted)-- October 2000 -- noted "that all ethnic groups have shared in the national rise in standards...but their rise has not been equal. African-Caribbean and Pakistani pupils have drawn least benefit from the rising levels of attainment: the gap between them and their white peers is larger now than a decade ago. However, pupils of Indian origin performed better than their white counterparts."
About history, Ms. Bakerís knowledge seems to go only as far as 1857. While there is no denying that serious rift exists between Hindus and Muslims in India but it did not start with the British taking over India in 1857. The roots of this rift are deep, and they are civilizational and historical. It is not possible to cover them in rather brief response. If Ms. Baker is serious about reporting about Hindu Muslim clashes in India in an informed manner, may I suggest her to do a little serious reading, which it seems not to have done. No, I will not recommend her to read books written by any Hindu as it might be communal or biased writing. She would do herself and her readers a favor by starting with history written by Muslims. Indica by Alberuni and History of India as written by Indiaís own Historians by Elliot and Dowson (8 volumes). This is complilation of translation of books written by Muslim historians and memoirs by Muslim invaders. There are more but these will give her some insight into what lies at the roots of Hindu Muslim rift.
Let us not forget civilizations have long memories.
Just one concluding comment.
In the last but one paragraph she quotes Tarik Jan as saying:
""We [Muslims] were the legal rulers of India, and in 1857 the British took that away from us," In 1947 they should have given that back to the Muslims."
While it is not true that the British took India from the Muslims but, to continue Tarik Janís logic, there is no doubt that the Muslims took India from the Hindus? Why shouldnít it then be returned to them? I wonder if she asked herself or Tarik Jan this question. At least she did not address it her article.
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