Things have passed us by Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam (JUNE 29, 2011)


Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam contemplates on the drift of recent events vis-à-vis Muslims.

In recent weeks a feeling of exclusion of Indian Muslims from the consideration of power elites has been haunting me. Our own role in most things has been that of self-abdication and self-disempowerment.

For instance, we have this ongoing movement against corruption. Very few of us have really bothered to think seriously about its implications five years from today for the society at large and for Muslims in particular. Fewer still have bothered to do anything about it, for or against.

The other face of it is nobody–neither the transparency movement, nor the government–has thought it fit to talk to us or enlist our support. If this is not exclusion (or self-exclusion) then I don’t know what exclusion is all about. Either we have been rendered irrelevant or have rendered ourselves irrelevant. The net effect is the same.

The All India Milli Council has led a helping hand to the civil society’s campaign for greater transparency in public life and continues to do so. Some other Muslims are also part of it. Transparency will certainly help all of us.

Another episode that bothers me deeply is the gruesome murder of six innocent Muslims by police that included small children earlier this month in Forbesganj in Bihar. It was the second massacre of Muslims by police in the same area this year. In the earlier episode four were killed by police.

The irony of all this is not lost on Muslims. This is happening in a Bihar that is being tom-tomed for “development” a la Gujarat. Again, like Gujarat, there is a Modi factor here, too. Development, as we have seen in other areas, can be highly dangerous for the poor and excluded.

The worst part of all this is that despite three massacres of Muslims (the first one came within days of Nitish’s earlier term’s beginning, involving the killing of seven), no effective action has been initiated to thwart such happenings in future. I am not aware of any organised legal action from Muslim groups.

Then there is the grand unconcern displayed by Muslim groups regarding the larger issues of life. I am yet to see a Muslim NGO working on food or water rights, human rights and civil liberties, rights of tribals and forest dwellers. There are hundreds of thousands of NGOs silently working in these crucial areas, trying to develop land and water resources, protecting the environment, people and indigenous cultures and knowledge treasures, providing physical, legal and emotional security to endangered people.

Are these not our issues? Are we above all this? Don’t we need to work in these areas? This is time to widen our perspective and start doing solid work on the ground, disabusing ourselves of grand illusions, big ideas and fanciful words. The actual work to be done is less romantic, less high-sounding, less grandiose, but highly effective and useful in transforming the quality of our lives.

Let us review our priorities and our vocabulary, so that things don’t pass us by while we are lost in fantasy.


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