Dr. Javed Jamil for BeyondHeadlines
Today’s newspapers have reported BJP’s plan to woo Muslims by bringing a “Vision document for socio-economic and political empowerment of Muslims, which go much beyond the stereotyped demands”. I found the statement intriguing as it almost recaptures the title on my vision document, “Muslim Vision of Secular India: Destination and Roadmap” aimed at socio-economic and political empowerment of Muslims. I had sent copies of the document to many Muslim MPs including those of BJP. While if BJP shows any desire to help the Muslim community coming out of its backwardness will be welcome, BJP should know that Muslims are not ready to condone its role in the demolition of Babri Masjid and Gujarat Riots. BJP will first have to tell the community what it proposes to undo the damage caused by those two tragedies, which were largely BJP-made. Any attempt to woo them on the eve of elections will only be taken as gimmick.
It will be worthwhile to quote here rom the Preface of the document, which I plan to publish as book soon with some additions and amendments:
“We are not necessarily what others think of us. They have their own coloured glasses tinged with their own biases, ideological proclivities, perceptions and interests. We must learn to view ourselves through our own glasses. The only condition is that these glasses should be able to correct our myopic as well as hypermetropic vision.
The problem with Muslims has been that for too long now they have been judging themselves and determining their goals and priorities on the basis of what others think or decide. We have forgotten that we have our own strengths and weaknesses which are often vastly different from the strengths and weaknesses that others find in us. We have our own ideological foundations, our own goals and our own ways to reach the destination. We have our own vision of the world which unfortunately we have stopped expressing and implementing. The result is that we are being perpetually kept by forces – external as well as internal, in the unrelenting grip of inferiority complex. We are being made to keep believing that we are a lost community having hardly any appreciable strength and that our future is doomed unless we follow a certain course of action and toe a certain line.
We have to learn to reject without fail such an attitude of deception towards us. This however does not mean that we must reject others’ views about us altogether. Criticism often provides a unique opportunity to refresh our approach; and if we find the criticism unwarranted it can engender a new vigour in our hearts and spirits. We must learn to make a systematic analysis of what others say and deal with the issues without being overawed or apologetic.
Indian Muslim Community is no different. In recent years, the community and its leaders seem to have forgotten to see anything beyond what Sachar committees are showing them and plan what Rangnath Misra commissions are planning for them. There have been initiatives at small scales in different fields. But there has been hardly any national plan and national effort on the part of Indian Muslim Community to determine their own course of action, enlisting the governmental support where it is required and engaging in their own endeavours where they can and must help themselves.
This work is perhaps the first of its kind as it approaches the issues of Muslims in a comprehensive way just as the Planning Commissions do for the nation and from the perspective of Muslim way of thinking. Muslims are no ordinary minority. They are not even a significant minority. They are about 180 million people. These numbers demand a big planning followed by a big effort. This approach paper endeavours to view the whole spectrum of Muslim life in the country.
I have taken care not to present Muslims as a community that cannot simply survive without help from outside. I have purposefully tried to present them as a community that has huge potential not only to make themselves a dynamic, vibrant and prosperous community but also a people that can and must play a meaningful role in national and international affairs. They have a strong belief system and a religion that talks of “promoting good and campaign against evils” for the peaceful existence of the whole mankind.
They have their own perspective with which they view the world. This Approach Paper presents their viewpoint regarding various aspects of the system, which is in force within the country and outside. The quality of system is extremely important because changing individuals or society at large is not going to deliver if the system is not right. A good system must be peace-promoting and health-protective and must guarantee security to all the sections of the people. The system must be in a position to assert itself and set the things right whenever they go wrong.
I know there will be people who will object to the approach adopted in this paper. Some of them will criticise it because of their preconceived notions developed on account of the influence of the existing ideologies. Some may argue that it is not desirable to change the course of history and Muslims must only try to benefit from what exists. I personally do not believe in continuing with the status quo and feel that ideological and social campaigns must be run to seek changes for making a healthier, purer and more peaceful world.
There is no reason why we should endorse anything that is not good for society at large. We cannot simply become pawns in the hands of the forces that rule the roost. At the same time, I will argue with equal vehemence that we must also learn to make adjustments and to seek cooperation and collaboration with others within the acceptable limits. While we must continue our ideological drives for change, we must simultaneously continue to do what we can do in the present conditions. I believe in comprehensiveness and simultaneity of actions.
Successful functioning of any system requires multi-dimensional, multi-sectoral and multi-level approach on all fronts. We cannot ignore any aspect. While we can have certain priorities, this does not mean that we cannot work simultaneously on all the major fronts. This of course requires sustained planning, division of work, coordination, monitoring, setting up of goals, through analysis of achievements and failures and readjustment of methods whenever required.
I request the experts of different fields to go into it and give their inputs along with the line of action without compromising the basic principles of comprehensiveness, simultaneity and distribution and coordination of work followed by sustained monitoring and reassessment.
This paper is in effect a preliminary description of Muslim Vision of Secular India. India is as dear to Muslims as to other Indians, and they are equally anxious to seeing India emerge as the true leader of the mankind. India of their dreams is not one that seeks hegemony at the cost of peace, human, moral and family values. India of their dreams is the leader that guides the mankind to developing a healthier, purer, and more prosperous and more peaceful world, with the fruits of development reaching every human being living anywhere in the world irrespective of his caste, colour, creed and faith.
Muslims do know that, despite having emphasis on certain aspects of development, their vision is not entirely different from the vision of their fellow countrymen belonging to other religions; and this is why they have reasons to feel confident that their vision of India will be realised one day with the support of all Indians.”
(Dr. Javed Jamil can be contacted at 8130340339.)