IOS organises Lecture on “Politico-Religious Harmony and Economic Development: India”

IOS organises Lecture on “Politico-Religious Harmony and Economic Development: India”
New Delhi: A lecture on “Politico-Religious Harmony and Economic Development: India” was organised by the Institute of Objective Studies in offline/online mode on August 20, 2022. The lecture was delivered by Dr. Kaleem Alam, Faculty, Islamic Economics Institute, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. 
The lecture began with the recitation of a Qura’nic verse by Hafiz Athar Husain Nadwi with its translation in Urdu. 
Introducing the topic, the in-charge of Urdu section, IOS, Maulana Shah Ajmal Farooq Nadwi, said that the subject was linked to several other issues that were equally relevant in today’s context. He held that political developments post-2014 led to the deficit in political and social harmony. Politico-social harmony held key to development and prosperity. Referring to Dr. Kaleem Alam, he said that he (Dr. Kaleem Alam) was one of the well-known Indian economists in Saudi Arabia. He was a keen observer of the changes that were taking place in India in political and economic fields.
Speaking on the subject, Dr. Kaleem Alam defined the term harmony as “Harmony is more than Peace. Or higher stage of peace, where there is mutual understanding, cooperation and care for the other party with respect and dignity” He deplored the politics of hate while commenting on the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act), NPR (National Population Register) and the NRC (National Register of Citizens), he said that their application in Assam led to the temporary exclusion of only about 19 lakh people from NRC out of 3.2 Cr. But a huge amount of money spent on the identification of people’s citizenship proved to be a waste. This created a fear psychosis among people, as a number of them were sent to detention camps. Thus their traumatic condition due to the fear of losing citizenship could be easily understood. The entire exercise of determining citizenship came a cropper. This happened because out of a total number of non-citizens that stood at 19.6 lakh, 12 lakh were Hindus. The Assamese government did not like it and a fresh identification of non-citizens was ordered, which led to regional conflict. Karimganj district suffered the most because it was mostly inhabited by Muslims. The whole exercise was aimed at destroying them economically.
Dr. Alam observed that the pattern of harassment was more or less the same in U.P., M.P. and Gujarat. In Prayagraj, a house belonging to a Muslim social activist was bulldozed on a day’s notice. Similarly houses belonging to Muslims in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat were bulldozed and reduced to rubble. He also touched upon mob-lynching of Muslims on the pretext of transporting cows for slaughtering and possessing beef for consumption. Lawlessness and hate support politics too vitiated the atmosphere of social harmony. He cited the example of union minister, Jayant Sinha who garlanded to the killers of a Muslim boy in Jharkhand. In Kathua district in Jammu region of Jammu and Kashmir, a young girl belonging to a tribal Muslim community, was raped and then killed. Bilkis Bano, a 21 year old woman and five months pregnant, was gang-raped. Fourteen persons, including her four-year daughter and a few members of her family who lived in a village in Gujarat, were killed. Eleven killers of the villagers were awarded life imprisonment. But they were recently granted remission by the Gujarat government. This was a travesty of justice to free the convicts who were brazenly garlanded by the VHP leaders after their release from jail. He said that the young BJP M.P., Tejaswi Surya’s indecent remarks in his tweet against the Arab women, was also one of the illustrations of the atmosphere of hate against Muslims. Arabs protested against this and stated that it was not welcome in their countries. Insulting remarks shown against the Prophet of Islam by the BJP leader Nupur Sharma, created a diplomatic crisis as countries like Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, etc., expressed their anger and indignation over her remarks, he added.
Dr. Alam maintained that the threat of genocide and violence against Muslims did not generate a conducive atmosphere for foreign investors who were willing to invest in India to contribute to its economic development. He explained that Lal Krishna Advani’s Rath Yatra in 1990 and the demolition of Babri Masjid led to tension, fear and suspicion among Muslims.
Muslims were not alone to be targeted. Many Sikhs were killed in anti-Sikh riots in 1984. He said that the striking farmers were meted out the same treatment. In Lakhimpur Kheri district of UP, where several farmers were run over by speeding vehicles allegedly by the son of a Union Minister and his supporters belonging to the ruling party. He also noted that there was 75% increase in incidents of violence against Christians since 2020. Even violence against Dalits have witnessed rise since 2018 crossing over 1.3 lakh crime cases.
Dr Alam deplored that media did not honestly play the role of the Fourth Estate of democracy. It was supposed to be fair in reporting, but that was not the case. Mainstream media could not stand the test of unbiased reporting of events. In this connection, he referred to the writings of the noted journalist Antara Dev Sen. Since most of the national channels were supporting the BJP, minority communities were further marginalized. He noted that according to Oxfam study media leadership-newsroom control was in the hands of upper caste, thus ‘making media one of the most caste-segregated industries in India’. He said that bail plea of the student leader, Umar Khalid arrested under the draconian law, UAPA, had been rejected several times. Charges against him in the alleged role in Delhi riots in February were based on a Republic TV report which was taken from the IT cell of the BJP. India’s performance on the world press freedom index left much to be desired. He observed that free press was a constitutional safeguard to citizens of a country and its absence could lead to the curtailment of civil rights.

Commenting on hate campaigns against Muslims on social media platforms, he said that Islamophobia in the digital age had created a wrong impression about Islam. Public perception about the incidents was sought to be changed by way of punitive action against those who wanted to present the true picture. Action against Mohammed Zubair, the co-founder of Alt News website was aimed at frightening him to desist from fact-checking news, was a case in point. He wanted to know why such a situation of trust deficit was allowed to emerge. At a time when peace and harmony were at a dangerously low level, social harmony was important for a healthy economy.
Dr ALAM asked, was there any correlation between Peace & Harmony and Economics. To answer this he quoted Institute for Economics and Peace report of 2018 that researched the per capita growth of over 70 years and found that highly peaceful countries had three time higher growth rate. He said that growth in corporate profits in countries improving in peace was 26.5 per cent higher than the global average over the past decade. Dr ALAM also mentioned that the global economic impact of violence was $14.4 trillion in 2020. Good relations with neighboring countries helped ease the tension and increased participation of marginalized group can boost the economic growth. He concluded with these suggestions and remark, Since Peace and Harmony are at dangerously low level, the Government of India needs to do course correction before it is too late for it and for the nation. The Political parties have right to their Niche, But Niche based on hate is harmful for any nation, which needs to be stopped hate promoters needs to be punished. Governments must treat all its citizens equal and justice needs to be established. Security and police must establish confidence and not fear in the citizens. They must be seen as ensuring peace. Harmony will make India a great Nations, as Peace and harmony are directly corelated to economics performance.
In her presidential remarks, Prof. Haseena Hashia described the lecture as thought-provoking and brilliant. She expressed concern that communal conflicts were growing, and the sectarian violence was increasing. Indian democracy had been fractured due to the sectarian violence. While calling for the need to work together if India was to progress, she noted that the country’s economic future depended a great deal on it. She emphasized that there was a need for more understanding between the government and social activists group.
The lecture drew much acclaim from the audience.

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