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Updated: June 17, 2013 00:12 IST

Muslims that 'minority politics' left behind

Khalid Anis Ansari
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The pasmanda’s quest for empowerment will help democratise Indian Islam and deepen democracy in the country

‘Pasmanda’, a Persian term meaning “those who have fallen behind,” refers to Muslims belonging to the shudra (backward) and ati-shudra (Dalit) castes. It was adopted as an oppositional identity to that of the dominant ashraf Muslims (forward castes) in 1998 by the Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz, a group which mainly worked in Bihar. Since then, however, the pasmanda discourse has found resonance elsewhere too.

The dominant perception is that Islam is an egalitarian religion and that Indian Muslims on the whole, especially in the post-Sachar scenario, are a marginalised community. The pasmanda counter-discourse takes issue with both these formulations. In terms of religious interpretation, Masood Falahi’s work Hindustan mein Zaat Paat aur Musalman (2006) has convincingly demonstrated how the notion of kufu (rules about possible marriage relations between groups) was read through the lens of caste by the ‘manuwadi’ ulema and how a parallel system of “graded inequality” was put into place in Indian Islam.

Caste-based disenfranchisement

As far as the social sphere is concerned, Ali Anwar’s Masawat ki Jung (2000) has documented caste-based disenfranchisement of Dalit and backward caste Muslims at the hands of self-styled ashraf leaders in community organisations like madrasas and personal law boards, representative institutions (Parliament and State Assemblies) and departments, ministries and institutions that claim to work for Muslims (minority affairs, Waqf boards, Urdu academies, AMU, Jamia Millia Islamia, etc). The book also underlines stories of humiliation, disrespect and violence on caste grounds that various pasmanda communities have to undergo on a daily basis, at least in northern parts of India.

Thus, pasmanda commentators contest the two key elements of mainstream ‘Muslim’ or ‘minority’ discourse —Islam as an egalitarian religion and Indian Muslims on the whole as an oppressed community. Islam may be normatively egalitarian but actual-existing Islam in Indian conditions is deeply hierarchical. Similarly, all Muslims are not oppressed, or not to the same degree, at any rate: Muslims are a differentiated community in terms of power, with dominant (ashraf) and subordinated (pasmanda) sections. Consequently, the so-called ‘minority politics’, which has been quite content in raising symbolic and emotional issues so far, is really the politics of dominant caste Muslims that secures their interests at the expense of pasmanda Muslims. Not surprisingly, a recurrent theme in pasmanda narratives is that minority politics has singularly failed to address the bread-and-butter concerns of the pasmanda Muslims, who constitute about 85 per cent of the Indian Muslim population and come primarily from occupational and service biradaris.

The notion of ‘minority’ and ‘majority’ communities in India — read primarily in terms of religious identity — is of modern origin and linked with the emergence and consolidation of a hegemonic secular nation-state project. In this sense, while ‘secular’ nationalism becomes the locus of legitimate power and violence, Hindu and Islamic nationalisms become the sites of illegitimate power. The seemingly epic battles that are constantly fought within this conceptual framework — around communal riots or ‘Hindu’/‘Islamic’ terror more recently in the post-9/11 world — have been instrumental in denying a voice to subordinated caste communities across religions and in securing the interests of ‘secular,’ Hindu or Muslim elites respectively. In this sense, the pasmanda articulation has highlighted the symbiotic nature of majoritarian and minoritarian fundamentalism and has sought to contest the latter from within in order to wage a decisive battle against the former. As Waqar Hawari, a pasmanda activist, says: “While Muslim politicians like Imam Bukhari and Syed Shahabuddin add the jodan [starter yoghurt], it is left to the Hindu fundamentalists to prepare the yoghurt of communalism. Both of them are responsible. We oppose the politics of both Hindu and Muslim fanaticism.”

Faith and ethnicity

The structures of social solidarity that pasmanda activists work with are deeply influenced by the entangled relation between faith and ethnicity. The domains of Hinduism and Islam are quite complex, with multiple resources and potentialities possible: in various ways they exceed the ‘Brahminism’ and ‘Ashrafism’ that have come to over-determine them over time. On the one hand, the pasmanda Muslims share a widespread feeling of ‘Muslimness’ with the upper-caste Muslims, a solidarity which is often parochialised by internal caste and maslak-based (sectarian) contradictions. On the other hand, pasmanda Muslims share an experience of caste-based humiliation and disrespect with subordinated caste Hindus, a solidarity which is equally interrupted by the discourse around religious difference incessantly reproduced by upper caste institutions. Since the express object of the pasmanda movement has been to raise the issue of caste-based exclusion of subordinate caste Muslims, it has stressed on caste-based solidarity across religions. As Ali Anwar, the founder of Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz, says: “There is a bond of pain between pasmanda Muslims and the pasmanda sections of other religions. This bond of pain is the supreme bond … That is why we have to shake hands with the pasmanda sections of other religions.”

This counter-hegemonic solidarity on caste lines is effectively encapsulated in the pasmanda slogan ‘Dalit-Pichda ek saman, Hindu ho ya Musalman’ (All Dalit-backward castes are alike, whether they be Hindu or Muslim). At the same time, birth-based caste distinctions are sought to be transcended from the vantage point of an egalitarian faith: “We are not setting the Dalit/Backward Caste Muslims against the so-called ashraf Muslims. Our movement is not directed against them. Rather, we seek to strengthen and empower our own people, to enable them to speak for themselves and to secure their rights and justice … We welcome well-meaning people of the so-called ashraf background … who are concerned about the plight of our people to join us in our struggle.” It is in the midst of such complex negotiations, the punctuated nature of faith and caste-based solidarities, that the pasmanda emerges as a political factor.

Overall, pasmanda politics has relied on transformative constitutionalism and democratic symbolism to attain its social justice goals — the deepening of existing affirmative action policies, adequate representation of pasmanda Muslims in political parties, state support for cottage and small-scale industries, democratisation of religious institutions and interpretative traditions, etc. Obviously, it confronts all the challenges that any counter-hegemonic identity movement faces in its formative phases: lack of resources and appropriate institutions, cooption of its leaders by state and other dominant ideological apparatuses, lack of relevant movement literature, internal power conflicts, and so on. Also, as Rammanohar Lohia said: “The policy of uplift of downgraded castes and groups is capable of yielding much poison. A first poison may come out of its immediate effects on men’s minds; it may speedily antagonise the Dvija without as speedily influencing the Sudras. With his undoubted alertness to developments and his capacity to mislead, the Dvija may succeed in heaping direct and indirect discredit on the practitioners of this policy long before the Sudra wakes up to it.” These are the challenges that the pasmanda activists face while confronting the ashrafiya-dominated minority politics. However, their struggle for a post-minority politics is on and one hopes it will democratise Indian Islam in the long run by triggering a process of internal reform. The pasmanda critique of the majority-minority or the secular-communal dyad will also contribute to a democratic deepening that will benefit all of India’s subaltern communities in the long run.

(Khalid Anis Ansari is a PhD candidate at the University of Humanistic Studies, Utrecht, The Netherlands. He also works with The Patna Collective, New Delhi, and engages with the pasmanda movement as an interlocutor and knowledge-activist. Email: khalidanisansari@gmail.com)

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These practices are out of Islam, although some of these are followed. In Maharashtra there is a custom of marriages in respective jamaat. Like shikalkar, maniyar, bagwan, qureshi, tamboli. But I would like to mention it these names are based on the profession. Shikalkar ( bangles), tamboli ( pan), qureshi ( meat). I have seen people giving girls in marriage strictly within respective jammats. Loclal custom ( not Islam) forbids inter jamaat wedding. Only in case of weddings I have seen differences here in maharashtra. And there are no ashrafi or pasmanda discremenation. Author should have read books of Islam rather than any other before commenting on Islam.

from:  Mudassar
Posted on: Jun 21, 2013 at 19:39 IST

There are Ashraf Ansaris among lower caste weavers community in UP
holding the pasmanda leadership. Its basically a quest for leadership
and power by some ansari,s a descendents of Ayub Ansari a companions
of prophet, migrated to India and residing in UP. In muslims there is
no caste system and the quranic verses clearly do not allow such
differentiation. The pasmanda politics are for leadership, political
power and creating schism in already social and economically deprived
muslim community funded by netherland group, HIVOS.

from:  Anwar
Posted on: Jun 18, 2013 at 23:11 IST

its describes a reality, though an exaggerated one( at-least there is no violence on campuses of AMU and Jamia on these lines and i have studied at Aligarh for 3 years)that Islam in India has not been able to negate caste to the hilt , but its has majorly combated the menace , i feel a sense of envy in the authors mind towards Islam ( its like saying so what if a rose is beautiful my seven year daughter was hurt by its thorns) , and for Muslims they should take it as a challenge to negate the remnants of caste ( which has no place in Islam , a Muslim is a Muslim without qualifiers ).

from:  Danish Haidar
Posted on: Jun 18, 2013 at 20:21 IST

The author has not understood the Islam so he is not fit to write anything about Islam but fit keep quit .
1st Para, author has divided the whole community to caste “Dividing the community by naming Pasmanda/ashraf” which is not Islamic way. Not sure from where this guy got these words to attach to Islam. He has taken the knowledge of wrong and attached to Islam. Instead understanding the Islam from its authentic source, he has taken it form shoe junk books. I would advise this author to understand Islam from its source.
Take Kerala State, you can’t find this so called Ashraf/Pasmand. You may find Ashrafs , it their name not name of cast or anything else. Especially please visit Malabar where Muslims , we are the best community , you can’t find your Asrfaies and Pasmand’s . You can find Muslims they stand shoulder to shoulder, their kids play in the same field till beofer sunset and they got different type of house. Which may be huts /or bungalows depends on what they can afford.

from:  Rajimon
Posted on: Jun 18, 2013 at 12:18 IST

If you look around, everyone from Shahi Imam to all Muslim politicians to all leading
Bollywood actors etc. are all 'Ashrafi' sunnis who have been benefitting from govt program
and garnering most of the government largesse given for 'minority' welfare. They claim
superiority based on foreign origin (persian, Arab, Turkish, Afghan) and their fairer skin
compared to rest of the 'believers'.

The darker skinned Ajlafs have been used and exploited by them in name of Ummah. The
Hindu society is slowly emerging out of caste system but at least there was little
discrimination based on skin color....

from:  Fakir Chand
Posted on: Jun 18, 2013 at 08:29 IST

Ashrafi and pasmanda- are they applicable only in the Indian context? Are the societies in Islamic countries totally egalitarian? Do asrafis and pasmandas exist amoung sunnis, shiites and wahabbis too?

from:  P M Ravindran
Posted on: Jun 18, 2013 at 06:27 IST

Another divisive policy to divide Indians further!

from:  Irphan
Posted on: Jun 17, 2013 at 23:28 IST

A Well Prepared and frank poiece.The author has defied the established arguments of the "Ashrafiya" superiority which has been the deterrant the Muslim Brothers face in India.Whatever name they are called or to the faith they hold the "Educated and Rich" ALWAYS SCORE OVER THE DISPOSSESSED AND THE VOICELESS

from:  ajith kumar
Posted on: Jun 17, 2013 at 22:47 IST

Let me clarify one thing, In Islam there's nothing like
ashrafi/pasmanda. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said in his final
sermon that, no Arabi(Arabi speaking person) is superior to Ajami(Non
arabi speaking person) and no white is superior to black ...In front of
god the best is one who fears him a lot.
As far as India is concerned, we need a system which should have concept
of classes with respect to individual financial position and not
religion based caste for betterment of India/mankind.

from:  Akhtar
Posted on: Jun 17, 2013 at 21:20 IST

It is time articles such as these are presented for discourse in the mainstream.

Keeping on blaming Brahmins and Manusmrti for caste oppression is now beating a dead horse.

The ossified caste division of the later centuries definitley has Hindu origin. This is being discussed dispassionately at least in a few saner forums.

But the Caste system today in not anymore a Hindu, or an Indian phenomenon. It is today, a South Asian phenomenon.

Caste politics and social caste barriers are pervasive in Pakistan (97% Muslim). It is widespread in Bangladesh (90% Muslim). Caste practices and caste politics are widespread among Christians all over Inda.

Unless we recognize this there is no way to move forward.

Indian Muslims are in three buckets -- Ashrafs (Persian, Arab, Afghani blood), Ajlafs (Indian uppercaste converts), and now Pasmandas. Incidentally, Ashraf is a common Muslim last name, like Trivedi, Iyer, Khatri.

Ashrafs and Ajlafs sponge off all reservations.

from:  Kollengode S Venkataraman
Posted on: Jun 17, 2013 at 20:19 IST

"Why you washing the dirty linen in public" is a classical Ashrafi tacit
to silence the voice of concern and to maintain the status quo. And yes,
this is more of a social problem than a religious one - So the solution
has to come by social intervention and not possibly from the teachings
of Quran and the Prophet (PBUH), because for the culprits later holds no
significance, otherwise, this scenario would never have happened.

from:  Mohammad
Posted on: Jun 17, 2013 at 19:42 IST

Hindu caste system is criticized by Dravidian parties and other social
activists for whom the article should be an eye opener as it shows
another kind of caste system in the community in question. Similarly in
the Indian context, so called Dalit Christians are treated by others
differently which is once again ignored by these self styled
"secularists".

from:  MVJRao
Posted on: Jun 17, 2013 at 18:28 IST

A well written study unlike that of the well known " Dalith"xian
Kanch Ilaih who harps always against hinduism ,RSS , BJP .etc. The
author could very well have gone to Kerala and seen the prosperity of
themuslim community irrespective of the same background. Very
good education plus better income from Gulf area have put them in a
high social level.So also in Tamil Nadu . Another reason may be that a
major portion of muslims in kerala had matriachy ( all property goes
to woman andthemen go and stay in the wife house , the chidren bearing
the mothersfamily name too )even after independence.

from:  Appan Varma
Posted on: Jun 17, 2013 at 17:43 IST


@Saif Bhai, Muslims might not have any dispute when the social evil is solved through Qur'an, and Authentic Ahadith --- sayings of Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him). Thats why, mere political mobilization didn't work well among Muslims but mobilization through their faith have all amicable solutions for a social order as diverse as ours (including intra-community relationships), or any social setup for the matter.

We don't need to make blank slogans that is not in practice, Qur'an and Ahadith in books in our home might not solve but educating the Muslims of them would do. It is agreed that these evils are due to lake of education of Islam for a Muslim who practices it. So what's wrong when it is disclosed in public space about them?

To clarify, coining of words might be new but not the concept of democracy and social justice is strange to Islam.

Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) said: “ Seek Allah's help (for protection) after the Camel's rob is tied”.

from:  Mohammed Matheen L R
Posted on: Jun 17, 2013 at 17:38 IST

(Comment 2 of 2): For the outside world, all Muslims seem to be same.
However, need is to sensitize the government machinery about the
plight of the Backward Muslims at the hands of the Ashrafi Muslims,
and to push for having watchdogs to oversee the equalitarian
distribution of welfare schemes as well as of equated participation of
the Backwards Muslims in the Muslim political and religious
leadership. Till that happens, the Backwards Muslims achievers should
specifically avoid cooption with the Ashrafis and should strive to
become a voice for their creed.

from:  Mohammad
Posted on: Jun 17, 2013 at 17:14 IST

(Comment 1 of 2): The article emphsizes the necessity for not seeing
the entire Muslim community as a monolithic entity. Of whatever
public/minority welfare schemes available for Muslims (as a minority)
is largely enjoyed by the 15% Ashrafi Muslims. Well-thought out plans
are being practiced by the Ashrafi Muslims to keep the 85% backward
Muslims away from socio-economic development. All the bodies which
have to do with Muslims have Ashrafi Muslims as policy- and decision-
makers and things are specifically done NOT to benefit the 85%
backward Muslims. This is nowhere as stark as in Muslims religious
leadership occupied by the Ashrafis wherein they claim to be the voice
of all Muslims while sinisterly working to maintain their Ashrafi edge
and to deny the backwards any say/benefits.

from:  Mohammad
Posted on: Jun 17, 2013 at 17:13 IST

What is needed is reservation based on economic criteria. However, this is something that does not appeal to politicians and vested interests.

from:  krishna
Posted on: Jun 17, 2013 at 16:21 IST

Khalid Bhai washing the dirty linen in public will not solve the
problem. Muslims have never been a homogenous social group in most
part of their history. The community, as we call it today, is a set of
believers who are bound to vary in their disposition toward Islam. The
religion itself is enough to address such wrongs and provide a level
playing field for all its stakeholders. Unfortunately we do not take
the Islamic course for grievance redressal and believe more in slogans
of DEMOCRACY and SOCIAL JUSTICE raised by those who even after
centuries of experimentation could not produce a single example of
liberty, equality and justice.
I am sure you are heavily concerned with the pitiable condition of the
socio-economically backward Muslims. Kindly take the Islamic way of
solving this problem. Muslims need not re-invent the wheel. Holy
Quran, Ahadith of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his Seerah
are full of solutions to such social evils. Have faith in Allah to
bring relief.

from:  Saif Azam
Posted on: Jun 17, 2013 at 16:07 IST

Approximately 65% of Indian Muslims live in UP/Bihar belt, again no significant empowerment of them so far. Tamil Nadu's Muslims got separate reservation in education and employment after more than 10 years of struggle, and Andhra Pradesh implemented such reservation without any mobilization but by the willingness of the political establishment. After implementing the Muslim reservation ordinance in TN assembly, Chief Minister of that time thanked the Media for their support. So it is also other communities and Media that is supporting for their empowerment/reform is something that talks volume. Regional comparison of Muslims of India is not to say who is aware of or something else, it is to point out various other factors that is in play.

from:  Mohammed Matheen L R
Posted on: Jun 17, 2013 at 15:50 IST

Author rightly points out, empirically, it is a north Indian phenomenon. These findings wouldn't go with southern parts of India at least. Also very complex issue wouldn't fit within an article of this size, trying to do so would be giving misleading picture.

To the fact, constitutional privileges applicable to Dalit Christian/Buddhist/Sikh wouldn't be so when the Dalit is a Dalit Muslim, discrimination at the very framework.

from:  Mohammed Matheen L R
Posted on: Jun 17, 2013 at 15:38 IST

The constitution draft committee proposed for 5 years of reservation.
However, our successive governments used it as long ropes to keep a
secure vote bank.

Even SC, in a judgement, advocated to alter reservation policy basis
economical status rather than basis caste and religion. However,
nobody agreed.

The time is over where every ministry will select poor people basis
some criteria and implement a scheme through a perfectly leaky system.

The time has arrived where we have to implement 'idea of India' and
implement infrastructure and framework which promotes investment,
employment and good quality of life. The government should provide
platforms, a social security platform, healthcare, education and leave
business to people and companies through regulation.

The subsidy based social program has passed by its sale date. Also,
we should not support a system which provides incentive to divide
people.

from:  Santosh Singh
Posted on: Jun 17, 2013 at 13:16 IST

A socialistic shift in the Indian society where the upper class/cast fighting for hegemony with the lower class/cast by ballot, as we see in UK, seems to be the remedy for it. It will then be the ruling class Vs the working class. Quite an economic divide based. I am not sure the Communists or the Maoists are the answer for it as it has some extremism and anti-democratic persuasions in its structure.Very enlightening article and the author deserves to be congratulated.

from:  Saratchandran
Posted on: Jun 17, 2013 at 12:54 IST

Although the editor has raised a very valid issue but I don't go with
the idea of creating a separate group for the upliftment of the so
called Pasmanda Muslims.Firstly it is against the basic ideals of Islam
and secondly formation of such groups will further marginalize them.You
can take cue from the different organizations and political parties
formed under that notion that have done no substantial good.Barring a
very small section,the condition of majority of Muslims in India is
deplorable and so saying that only Pasmanda Muslims are not getting
their due is unjust.Yes it is true that dalit Muslims deserve
recognition and they should also get the benefits of Minority
Schemes,but where are those minority schemes?By further subdividing the
backward minorities we are sowing seeds of discrimination and by virtue
of which we are getting nothing out of it.

from:  Umair
Posted on: Jun 17, 2013 at 12:28 IST

Khalid's write-up on dalit/pasmanda Muslims in India is based on thorough empirical study. At the macro level it underlines the characteristics prevalent not only in the sub-continent but other regions also where Muslims are in size-able numbers but with ethnic-cultural diversities. Islam might have, as norm, laid down egalitarianism as its basic principle but once it became a tool for empire building in the hands of ruling Muslim elite it too developed into two sections; ashrafs (higher caste/class) and pasmanda (dalits/backwards). Mughals did not marry into local Muslim families which were treated as pasmanda. They preferred to marry into high caste Hindu families. pasmanda Muslims in Pakistan are referred to as Mussalli and Kammi meaning mean persons. Khalid also raises a very important issue that is unless religions democratize inner systems, there cannot be harmony and justice for the downtrodden/women. Ambedkar raised this issue in his immortal work, Partition of India.

from:  Shamsul Islam
Posted on: Jun 17, 2013 at 12:17 IST

I agree with Khalid Anish Ansari's article 'Muslims that 'minority politics' left behind'. The article is an 'eye-opener' for Indian social scientist, philosophers, theologists, religious clerics and other intellectuals who perceive and interpret Indian Muslim as a homogeneous group.The writer has very rightly argued that caste,caste based graded inequality and caste based exclusion are social reality in Indian sub-continents whether Hindu or Muslim. The caste discrimination, exclusion and violence are ground reality and it cannot be denied.More ever, the basic feature of caste is practice of 'endogamy' which has 'divine sanctity' in Hinduism through religious texts. On contrary to Hinduism, the caste system has no 'divine sanctity' in Islam.
In writer's view, the absence of inter-religious and intra-religious domination are two faces of real secularism.Indian politics have given over priority to inter-religious domination.In this way marginalized communities have been left behind.

from:  Arvind Kumar
Posted on: Jun 17, 2013 at 12:10 IST

Good example is HAJ subsidy amounting to Rs 500 crores per year.This money is cornered by rich muslims who can afford to shell out around Rs 2 lakh per person from their own pockets.Enlightened muslims have been arguing with the state to replace this with subsidies for technical education.
So called lower castes among Hindus and muslims are gaining economic independence through skill development. So called forward castes have proved to be laggards in acquiring new skills.Large number of dalits and dalits among muslims are being absorbed in urban centers thanks to their ability to acquire new skills.

from:  Jitendra Desai
Posted on: Jun 17, 2013 at 12:07 IST

Khalid Ansari has put the problem of minorities correctly through his Pasmanda Idea. We can develop and unite as a Nation only if marginalized people can unite and get their problems solved. we need social reformers to educate the poor and neglected not feudal parties and their agents who are all Ashrafas whether they are Hindus or Muslims or Christians. Hope the idea of Pasmanda is used to get power to poor.

from:  Ganpat Bakhle
Posted on: Jun 17, 2013 at 11:39 IST

There is something in the Indian community that caste and divisions
permeate no matter what the religion says. Hinduism in its essence has
decried caste system and many Azhvars, and Nayanmars are from all
walks of society. Thirukkural and other writings have decried caste
differences by proclaiming that only those that are generous are upper
class and those that are non givers are lower class people. Now this
artilce tells that the Muslims despite what the Koran states have
found a way to continue treating the Dalits and other backward caste
as lower caste. Our political system trying to provide quotas also
help those in the Upper class in Muslims to somehow get the benefit
without really qualifying for that despite their wealth while the real
poor and downtrodden suffer with no progress to show. It is time we
realize that we need a strong leadership in India to enable the really
downtrodden Dalits and other community members through education,
skills training and micro financing.

from:  S.Balakrishnan
Posted on: Jun 17, 2013 at 08:58 IST

Thank you Mr. Ansari for writing in a lucid manner on a subject that is hardly ever covered by
the popular media. I stand better informed about our downtrodden citizens from different
religious persuasions. A democratic India must address needs of all its citizens and can't just
allow prosperous members of any religion to monopolize power and privilege. It is heartening
to know that a person of your calibre is working on these issues.

from:  Virendra Gupta
Posted on: Jun 17, 2013 at 04:18 IST

A thought provoking writing indeed.
The best example of racial mismstching is in America.Blacks and
whites.The history here does not match the naration given in this
article where the root cause of formation of Dalit has been explained
with some partiality.Dalits any where have become Dalits by their own
cause of failing to change with change of time in their living
habits.What not has been done to uplift Dalits in Amrica for their
upliftment by giving them exceptional education facilities and finacial
help.Yet they are as they were not taking the opportunities.The same is
the case in India for Muslims.In common way of life of people there is
no discremation.Rather they discriminate them keeping away from the
main stream based on their taboos of religion and customs.Simple
example is why they create their own housing colonies,schools etc
despite there is no objection to accept them among majority?!

from:  Ashok
Posted on: Jun 17, 2013 at 03:51 IST

II Has the author looked at other possibilities:if there is Universal emancipation what is the likelihood that Pasmanda Muslims will or not benefit?Universal emancipation will create a more egalitarian society in the long run.
If as he states the upper class institutions in Islam are not serving the lower echelons…it may be time to bypass them altogether.That will not be an easy task.
Finally, as this is a report coming from outside the subcontinent it would serve the author well to comment on a “mirror” group across the border. And,contrast the state of a similarly underprivileged group:the Hindu subalterns in Pakistan .
An examination of the effect of the disappearance of the privileged Hindu Upper Class in Pakistan on the subalterns of that religion will at least be of academic value. While it is unlikely to change the fate of this unfortunate group in any way, it may throw light on the role of Upper class institutions or of their absence on lower class members.

from:  Lakshmi Myneni
Posted on: Jun 17, 2013 at 03:11 IST

I I cannot say that this is not a well -articulated plan for the emancipation of a forgotten and often unrecognized minority, the Dalit Muslim. Yet, it may not be the only option.
While the author has outlined well the challenges likely to be faced by a subaltern group in any part of the World as they seek social justice through political process he has failed to note this transformative process in itself will serve to alienate further the community from its peers in the same religious group or across class lines.
In other words stratification of individuals and then subsequent attempts to strengthen their socio-politic-economic identity is by itself the main reason the Indian subcontinent has cemented in its core structure the Varna and Jati system.
Perhaps political maneuverings that this author has outlined for the imminent future are precisely the mechanism?

from:  Lakshmi Myneni
Posted on: Jun 17, 2013 at 03:04 IST
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