Md Tabrez Alam
India—a country of a population of more than a billion people—stands as the largest democratic nation in the world, with a large diversity amongst its different states and union territories. It has so much diversity of culture, language, religion, caste, ethnicity, etc. that except for democracy no other system of governance can succeed. It is because of the all-encompassing nature of democracy that India has remained united since its independence. Indian unity lies in the variety in its rich culture, tradition, customs, heritage, folk and languages. Its strength rests in the composite culture that has enriched the development of the civilization.
There has been much progress made in the overall development index and very soon India will stand with most of the other developed countries, if it steers in the right direction. MacIver observes, “Democracy is not a way of governing, whether by majority or otherwise, but primarily a way of determining, who shall govern, and broadly to what ends”1. Democracy can be simply described as the voice of people; it’s a form of government in which people participate directly and indirectly for electing the legislature to form the government. Ideal democracy is a political system that is committed to human equality, individual liberty and humanism, and is built on the foundations of non-violence and rationalism that gives rise to pluralism, secularism, toleration and empathy.
Indian Democracy and Concerns of Muslims
In spite of initiating many unprecedented political and economic experiments, Indian democracy has lasted for the last seventy years without violent disruptions, while all its neighbouring states—Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka—have suffered military coups d’état, civil wars, dictatorships, territorial disintegration or political instabilities. Indian democracy has survived and flourished. Why? What are those fundamental forces that have shaped and sustained Indian democracy’s capacities to solve conflicts peacefully and to develop its civil society, while many other political systems have succumbed to violence and authoritarianism? Indian democracy has been largely successful in practicing non-violent conflict resolution and in building peaceful civil society, as indicated by unique experiments and policies such as non-violent revolution, peaceful end of feudalism, combining democracy and industrialization, adoption of universal adult franchise in a highly illiterate society, conducting the world’s largest elections every five years, defusing the Cold War through non-alignment. World’s largest democracy with the most multiracial, multi-religious, and multicultural population on the planet Earth has sustained without military coups, civil wars or political disintegration for over 50 years.
Despite a lot of upheavals, people are bound together in a singular nationhood. In the post Nehruvian era, lack of political manoeuvring created huge socio-economic divide among the citizens of this country. Although the Indian State has initiated several policies & programmes to uplift vulnerable groups, the Muslim minority has somehow remained on the margins because of political chauvinism and lack of will of the government. Present day Indian Muslims are the ones who rejected the logic of partition and decided to die as Indians and now they are forced to prove their nationalism just because of being Muslim. The nation has failed to sustain the values of secularism and democracy and hate mongering groups are about to succeed in spreading Islamophobia among fellow citizens. Majority sentiments towards Muslims have been deteriorating rapidly from dislike to hatred to the extreme acts of lynching. Muslims are taunted, labelled as anti-nationals, Jihadis, Pakistani etc. and even killed publicly in the name of nationalism, patriotism and Hindutva.
As we are living in the 21st century and this is the age of science & technology, it is time to move forward and work hard for the betterment of people and for the development of country. In the case of India, the pervasive politics has taken a huge toll in damaging the status of civil rights and human values. As far as Muslim community is concerned, fact finding reports reveal horrible socio-economic conditions. The community needs special safeguards from the government and non-government institutions to at least minimize violence against them. In the various study reports of several committees and commissions that explored the ground reality of Muslims, including the Sachar Committee Report, indicate that Muslims lag behind even the Scheduled Castes and Tribes in terms of their access to basic facilities or services, and this was impacting their overall socio-economic conditions. Any democracy can remain healthy and functional only if it follows the rule of law. Otherwise, there are always chances of majoritarianism, against which the rights of the minority must be respected and protected.
‘Kyon Nahi Israr Karte Sare Aam Tum Qatl Ka
Kya Mera Hi Jurm Hai Hind Mein Muslma Hona’.
(Why don’t you accept killing of innocent, Is it only my crime to be Muslim in India)
1. Girija, K. S. & Basavaraja. “Contemporary Issues And Challenges To Indian Democracy In the Era of Globalization.” International Journal of Humanities, Arts, Medicine and Sciences, 2014: Vol. 2, Issues 9, p2.
2. Challenges to Indian democracy, Module – 4 Contemporary India: Issues and Goals, NIOS, Delhi, Available at https://nios.ac.in/media/documents/SecSocSciCour/English/Lesson-23.pdf.
3. Naveed S,(17Feb.2019) , Fear engulfs Muslims living in occupied Kashmir after Pulwama attack, DAWN, Available at https://www.dawn.com/news/1464401/fear-engulfs-muslims-living-in-occupied-kashmir-after-pulwama-attack
4. James Massey, “Minorities in a Democracy-The Indian Experience”, Manohar Pub. New Delhi, 1999, p. 9
Md Tabrez. “Democracy and Indian Muslims as Unequal”, International Journal of Trend in Scientific Research and Development Journal, 2019, Volume-3, Issue 3.
Md Tabrez. “Developed or Under-Developed India, Muslims-A Community Living in Denial”, Research Review International Journal of Multidisciplinary, 2019, Volume 4, Issue 2.
MD Tabrez Alam is a Ph.D. Scholar at Indian Institute of Dalit Studies, New Delhi. He has demonstrated his research skills working for several research programs under various organizations, Currently, he is working on Urban inequality and housing segregations in newly developed township India, specifically Jharkhand.