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Dalit,OBC and Muslim relations...Kancha Iliah

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  • shaji john
    Muslim intellectuals must learn from Christian missionaries and work among Dalits, Adivasis and OBCs so that a relationship of trust is established.
    Message 1 of 1 , May 29, 2002
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       Muslim intellectuals must learn from Christian missionaries and work
      among Dalits, Adivasis and OBCs so that a relationship of trust is
      established.
      ===================[indiathinkersnet]==============

      Date: Wed, 29 May 2002 18:59:05 -0000

      Dalit, OBC and Muslim relations

      By Kancha Ilaiah


      THE PARTICIPATION of Dalits, Adivasis and Other Backward Castes
      (OBCs) in the Gujarat carnage has raised several questions with
      regard to the unity of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, OBCs and
      Muslims. The Hindutva forces have succeeded in making such a unity
      very difficult to achieve. More so after the Gujarat carnage and the
      formation of the Mayawati Government in Uttar Pradesh with BJP
      support. The Muslims unlike the Christians do not know how to
      understand the caste question and handle riot situations. The
      persisting unfriendly relations between Muslims, Dalits and OBCs,
      mainly in the urban areas, are worrying.

      After the BJP came to power and Christians were attacked by the
      Hindutva forces in several places, Dalit and Adivasi participation in
      those attacks was all most nil. The Dalits and Adivasis have close
      relations with the Christians but not with the Muslims. The OBCs have
      ambiguous relations with the Christians but they too have inimical
      ties with the Muslims. The causes for this situation need to be
      probed by Muslim intellectuals. Otherwise, the Hindutva forces will
      continue to use the muscle power of the Scheduled Castes, the
      Scheduled Tribes and the OBCs against the Muslims. Since almost every
      riot ends up in more killings of Muslims, Dalits and OBCs, the
      inimical relations increase. This mode of constructing an enemy image
      among the oppressed communities is a desired agenda of the Hindutva
      forces. This diverts attention from the basic economic, social and
      political issues haunting the oppressed.

      Following the attacks against the community in Gujarat and elsewhere
      by the Sangh Parivar, India's Christian intelligentsia launched a
      global campaign against the fascist nature of the Parivar damaging
      its credibility in the West. The VHP's attempts to get the United
      Nations to accord it NGO status were also thwarted. All global NGOs
      and Government bodies received full information of the attacks and
      even the U.S. Congress and the European Union Parliament took note.
      The Sangh Parivar is now planning to install P. C. Alexander as
      Rashtrapathi.

      The Muslim intelligentsia failed to establish a rapport with the
      Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and the OBCs at the ground
      level. Though there are a number of Muslim intellectuals who can
      document the atrocities against the community and place such facts
      before the U.N. and other human rights bodies, they never did so.
      They remain inward looking and have adopted the tactics of mass
      defence and politics of retaliation. This is unfortunate because the
      U.N. as a global body gives more credibility to the voices of the
      victims. Instead of allowing the Muslim community to indulge in
      retaliatory politics, U.N. involvement may reduce the scale of
      violence in India. The responsibility for not taking the Gujarat
      carnage to the U.N. lies entirely with the English-speaking Muslim
      intelligentsia of India.

      The Muslim intelligentsia must also be held responsible for an
      indifference to the issues of caste and untouchability. Historically,
      before the British came, the Muslims rulers and scholars did not
      bother to understand the caste question. A visiting scholar like
      Alberuni threw a cursory glance at the question but no Indian scholar
      or poet wrote at length on these issues. Quite surprisingly, they
      took no social or educational work to the Dalit-Bahujans. Because of
      the influence of the Brahminic ideology, the Muslim scholars thought
      that caste system and untouchability were spiritual and that they
      should not interfere.

      Before the Bhakti movement, a few Sufi propagators mingled with the
      Sudras/Chandalas of that period. But in the modern era, particularly,
      in the post-Independence period, no Muslim intellectual worth his
      name has worked among the Dalits, Adivasis and OBCs. No Muslim
      intellectual stood by Ambedkar when he started the liberative
      struggle of the Dalits. Following the Mandal movement no Muslim
      scholar wrote even one serious book formulating an Islamic
      understanding of caste and untouchability. How do bridges get built
      among communities? They get built only when one oppressed community
      gets the support of another and each relates to the other on a day-to-
      day basis. For that, a theoretical formulation is very essential.

      Muslim scholarship has mainly operated within the ruling class feudal
      ideology. Except for a few scholars such as Irfan Habib, who came
      under the influence of communism and studied Indian society from a
      class point of view, no Muslim scholar has done a detailed study on
      the caste question. Given Islam's literary and educational culture,
      they should have been the first to fight against caste and
      untouchability. They should have been the first to write about the
      inhuman living conditions of the Dalits. However, they remained
      totally silent. Though the Sufi saints moved into the Dalit and the
      OBC communities for a spiritual campaign, they too did not build a
      literary anti-caste, anti-untouchability genre.

      Though the British rulers were exploiters they took a keen interest
      in understanding the caste system. William Carey's "An enquiry into
      the obligations of Christians to use means for the conversion of the
      Heathen" made a serious analysis of caste and untouchability in the
      late 18th century itself. Many issues that became the concerns of
      Raja Ram Mohan Roy later were raised in his report. During the Mandal
      debate, many Hindu scholars went to the extent of saying that the
      British invented caste.

      The Muslim intellectuals know that in the Hindu system, the Dalits
      and the OBCs were forcefully stopped from getting an education. The
      Christian missionaries introduced education to them irrespective of
      whether they embraced Christianity or not. Jyotirao Phule and
      Ambedkar have acknowledged the service of missionaries in their
      writings. However, such constructive work never came from the Muslim
      intellectuals.

      The educational and health services the missionary activists rendered
      to the poor masses made their activity a socially integrative one.
      Even during the attacks on Christians in Gujarat and other places,
      the missionaries were able to defend their activities in India at all
      world forums. Even the thoroughly communalised State machinery of
      Gujarat had to balance its governance between the Hindutva forces and
      Christian missionaries. The Muslim intellectuals did not take up the
      social causes of the Adivasis, Dalits and OBCs and hence there are no
      deep sympathies for them.

      In the case of Islam there is not only no investigative tradition,
      there is no social service tradition with a sense of social
      interaction before someone embraces Islam. Muslim intellectuals must
      learn from Christian missionaries and work among Dalits, Adivasis and
      OBCs so that a relationship of trust is established. All oppressors
      must learn to work for each other's liberation and build social
      bondages among them. That is the best way to prevent another Gujarat.



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