The following piece "Democracy and Indian Muslims" by Tufail Ahmad is reflective, thoughtful and dreamy.
For a Democracy to be alive and functional we have to bitch at the Government, India is good at it and Pakistan and Bangladesh have done well in that area as well. The
most patriotic person is the one who attacks government every day and
on everything. We have got to keep the Government guys from becoming pig-headed.
In 1947, India rightly chose to be a secular state and Pakistani leadership erred in making it a religious state. By the way, the only two nations created on the earth based on religion are the ones facing most difficulties;Pakistan and Israel. We can blame the British or any one, but the fact is the problem persists. God does not have a religion himself, he was super careful in not mentioning in any holy books that he was a Muslim, Hindu, Christian or a Native, because he is not divisive. God simply does not like religious governments, because he does not
like any one to mess with his creation in his name. An attack on a Hindu, Muslim or any is an attack on God, who created them, do you think he likes it? It is still not late to strip religion from the governance in Pakistan and Israel.
He prefers a government
where all of his creation is treated with dignity, equality and
respect. Individuals will be judged in the society by the society for the violations of others space, sustenance and nurturence, where as God reserves the right to judge the individuals for their moral compass.
God loves Americans for keeping him out of school and public spaces, he doesn't need any more headaches, he washed his hands off us when he implanted a self-governing device called brain, and he wants nothing but good for his creation, and offers the same guidance to all - to treat each other with respect.
Mike Ghouse is committed to build cohesive societies - www.MikeGhouse.net
Saturday, March 16, 2013
Democracy and Indian Muslims — Tufail Ahmad
organising principles of Indian polity and society are the same that
define a western country: a multi-party system, individualism, liberty, a
free press and rule of law
Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the
self-confessed leader of the banned outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba, may think
that Pakistan is the best Islamic nation for the Bollywood star,
Shahrukh Khan to move to, but it is India that is arguably the best
Muslim country today. Muslims in India enjoy complete political and
religious liberty, a free legislative environment to undertake economic
and educational initiatives, a vibrant television media and cinema that
teach liberal coexistence, and access to a vast number of universities
and institutes of modern education. There is absolutely no Muslim
country that offers such a vast array of freedoms to its people.
is able to offer these freedoms to its citizens because it is a
successful democracy. It was good for India to lose the 1857 war; if the
British had lost, Indians would have continued to be governed by kings
and nawabs, and under shari’a courts that existed during the Mughal era.
At the time of independence, the British left behind a justice system
that was blind to religious and caste inequities in Indian society, an
inclusive democracy that guaranteed equal rights and religious and
political freedoms for all; English language that opened doorway to
enlightenment and scientific education; and a civil service that treated
everyone as Indians rather than Muslims, Hindus or Christians. Muslims
in India enjoy these freedoms because India is a thriving democracy,
unlike Pakistan that chose a discriminatory constitution, barring its
own citizens from holding top positions such as the president of
Pakistan because they are Hindus or Christians. Over the past half
century, hundreds of millions of Dalits and women have found political
empowerment and social freedoms in Indian democracy.
cannot be a good model of governance for modern times because it fails
to imagine situations in which non-Muslim citizens could be trusted to
govern a Muslim country. Conversely, democracies trust their citizens
irrespective of their faith. In a democracy like India, any citizen
could compete to be the elected ruler. As democracy matures, India has
appointed its Muslim citizens to top positions, currently Hamid Ansari
as vice president, Salman Khurshid as foreign minister, Justice Altamas
Kabir as Chief Justice, and Syed Asif Ibrahim as the chief of the
Intelligence Bureau. It is also true that Muslims lag behind in India’s
collective life, but this is because they are under the influence of
orthodox ulema or because Muslim politicians fail to imagine themselves
as leaders of all Indians. A Muslim politician will be the country's
prime minister the day Indian Muslims begin to view themselves as
leaders of all Indians and not only of Muslims, much like Barack Obama
who imagined himself as a leader not only of blacks, but of all
Effectively, India is a ‘western’ country. In the
popular imagination, the west is viewed as a geographic concept,
covering mainly the United States, Britain and parts of Europe. However,
the ground realities are otherwise. Several countries, notably
Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea, are situated in the east,
but in terms of their values and politics are firmly part of the west.
Conversely, countries such as Russia and some in Latin America are
geographically in the west but cannot be called a western country as
their citizens do not enjoy the social and political freedoms available
to free people in the west. The organising principles of Indian polity
and society are the same that define a western country: a multi-party
system, individualism, liberty, a free press and rule of law. As in a
western country, consensus about governance, politics and society is
moderated by media and political parties and is derived from differences
rather than similarities of religion and ideology as in Saudi Arabia or
Early this year, Shahrukh Khan wrote a long article
in which he discussed how “stereotyping and contextualizing” determine
the way societies treat us as individuals as we interact with others.
Khan narrated that he is loved as a Bollywood star in every country, but
is also questioned by officials at US airports over links to
terrorists, as his surname is shared by an unknown terrorist. Khan also
observed: “There have been occasions when I have been accused of bearing
allegiance to our neighbouring nation [Pakistan].” Hafiz Saeed reacted
to this statement, suggesting that Khan, and presumably all Indian
Muslims, should move to Pakistan. If Khan were to move to Pakistan,
think of the images he would witness everyday: the genocide of Shia
Muslims; the Taliban bombers shooting girls and namazis; Karachi up in
flames and Pakistani businessmen leaving the country; plight of Hindus
and Christians and lawlessness everywhere.
Saeed and his cohorts
must bear in mind that terrorism that affects Muslims in India
originates from Pakistan: the jihad in Kashmir through the 1990s or the
attacks by Indian Mujahideen collaborating with their controllers in
Pakistan. Like any country, India has its own share of extremist Hindus
as well as Islamic and naxalite militants, but the courts are taking
care of them.
Indian democracy is a model for all Islamic
countries. It is the only country where Muslims have experienced
democracy solidly for more than half a century; the other countries
where Muslims have had some democratic experience are Indonesia and
Turkey but their experiences have been limited to just a few decades.
Democracies trust their citizens and are accountable to them.
Democracies also bring freedom and economic prosperity for their people.
In his book, Development as Freedom, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen
demonstrated that famines have occurred only in countries governed under
authoritarianism while freedom available to people in democracies has
ensured economic welfare of their entire populations. Indian democracy
has a large Muslim population, about the same as in Pakistan. As
democracy matures and economy prospers, Muslims in India are beginning
to benefit from a sea of economic and educational opportunities opening
Islamic and authoritarian countries like Pakistan,
Saudi Arabia and North Korea do not trust their own people. Islamic
terrorists, jihadists like Hafiz Saeed and other Taliban-like Islamists
think of defending their religions and ideologies rather than the
interests and welfare of their people. It is due to such thinking that
180 million people of Pakistan are today literally buried under the
weight of a failed education system, a rapidly collapsing Pakistani
economy that is forcing business leaders to move their money to
countries such Sri Lanka, lawlessness that makes common Pakistanis
insecure in their own homes and a future that fails to offer hope. The
Inter-Services Intelligence, a friend of Saeed that imagines itself as
the ideological guardian of the Islamic state of Pakistan, could do a
favour by trusting the Pakistani people and letting them decide their
own course of life and governance.
The writer is a former BBC
Urdu Service journalist, is Director of South Asia Studies Project at
the Middle East Media Research Institute, Washington DC.