Thursday, October 6, 2011

Communal Polarisation in Modi’s land

In a city of Gujarat named Rajkot, one wouldn’t find any proper non-veg restaurant except one called the Havmour. Apart from that there will be seen small laris those too selling egg items, which half the time would be surrounded by Hindus-Brahmins too, not to forget. There’s only one place in the city where one can get chicken and that too are a few laris restricted to that particular area.

It was about 9pm and I (a Brahmin by caste) wanted to eat egg bhurji on the fourth day of Navratri. So, as I go to one of the laris where I’ve been eating regularly, I see them not to be there. On the same road there are 3 more of such places and I don’t even find them. I go to find if any of such laris are opened in Muslim dominated area and I again don’t see them. I come back home and tell this to my dad and ask him the reason for such closure and he gave a reason that because it is Navratri (Hindu festival), the Rajkot Municipal Corporation has asked all these non-veg eatery stall owners to not stand and sell their food during Navartri. So, simply for these nine days, because it is a Hindu festival, a Muslim who’s a part of your city and contributes to your economy, is not allowed to do his business, seems ridiculous and hypocrisy to me when I read, “Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has announced a SADBHAVNA FAST to strengthen Gujarat’s environment of peace, unity and harmony”.

Few days before the fast. Narendra Modi, speaking at a function organized by the Ajmeri Education Trust in Ahemdabad, had exhorted Muslims to join the ‘mainstream’ and peppered his speech with ‘education’ and ‘inclusive development’. But this what the minister only boasts about, there’s nothing happening in concrete terms. For there are instances to prove the biases shown towards the community. Rakhial, which is a lower middle-class neighbourhood located 5km north of Maninagar(constituency of Modi) has three colonies called the Sukhram Nagar, Shivanand Nagar and Sundaram Nagar- Muslims live in the third colony. While the infrastructure in terms of school and housing is pretty decent for the Hindus, for Muslims in the Sundaram Nagar, we see a primary school for 600 children with a dilapidated structure with a tin roof broken at several places. Less than 2 km away, in the same municipal ward of Rajpur, a three-storey building serves as a Gujarati medium school up to class vii in Hindu dominated Shivanand Nagar. Sukhram Nagar(Muslim dominated area) has a Hindi medium school up to class vii that is three storey building with stone mosaic work depicting Hindu goddesses.

The Sachar Committee report of 2005 mandates banks to give educational loans up to Rs.4 lakh without any collateral to students from poor minority families. By finding numerous faults in the central government scheme, the Ministry of Minority Affairs (MMA)of the state calculated 52, 260 scholarships on the basis of population and income levels of Gujarati minorities and said that this will cause “heartburn” among those minority students who do not enjoy the benefits. The MMA data shows that in 2010-11, a less developed state like Rajasthan disbursed more than double its target of 1, 45,809 scholarships for minorities, UP disbursed 3, 20, 107 and West Bengal gave 9,19,002, while Gujarat which should have given 52,260 number of scholarships to minority students, hasn’t given any scholarship to them under the scheme as of yet.

Besides scholarships and school infrastructure, other means of economic mobility such as loans and financial access are outside the grasp of most of Gujarat’s Muslims. Muslims hold only 12% of all bank accounts, which is proportionate to their population in the state, but their bank loan amount outstanding is 2.6 percent which mean that even when Muslims have accounts, they don’t get loans. Besides that there are colonies built to resettle riot victims at Panderwada, Lunavada and Boru village near Kalol resound with stories of struggles to get small loans to open their small businesses which gets rejected only on the account of “lack of vision” by the bank manager. There are a million of such examples of bias towards the community.

With his big aim of maintaining peace, harmony and brotherhood and guarantying education and inclusive development, seeing a sea change in his tactics of communal politics, it will be interesting to see him deliver all this only if he’s seen again as a CM for the state.

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