Tuesday, December 02, 2008

India: Secular politics feeding Muslim Fundamentalism?

There is an interesting debate going in the media around the world regarding the source and question of Islamic Fundmentalism in India. This is from an opinion piece that appears in the Hindu today:

"Muslim fundamentalism has also been helped by India’s “secular” political establishment which, barring the Left, has not only made no effort to develop a progressive Muslim leadership but actively prevented it from taking root. Instead, it has relied on a class of Muslim “leaders” whose own political interest lies in keeping the community backward-looking.

By mobilising Muslims around issues that have nothing to do with their daily lives they have landed the community in a situation where it finds itself a target of Hindu fundamentalists, on the one hand, and susceptible to faith-based militant Islamist elements on the other
While the Congress is the chief culprit in this respect, it is not alone in propping up self-serving Muslim leaders.

The fact is that it is hard to name any progressive Muslim leader in any of the secular parties. Over the years, the only change that has been noticed is that instead of “mullahs” with long beards we now have suave English-speaking Muslim leaders to match the “modern” face of Hindutva. Their language and worldview, however, remain unashamedly sectarian".
I see a very valid point in the analysis. It is a difficult point to articulate given that those articulating may be accused of playing into the hands of Hindutva's 'appeasing the minorities' argument. The piece actually exempts the Left parties from this but I remember reading a chapter from Partha Chattergee's "Politics of the Governed" where he argues using a case study relating to the issue of modernising Madarassa education in Left governed West Bengal that the Left parties may also be accused of the same. Shabana Azmi (the acclaimed actress and social activist) makes a similar point in a TV interview available here on youtube.

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