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Indian Muslims turn forward-looking

Indian Muslim and education

Indian Muslims turn forward-looking

Dr George Karimalil

With more Muslim children taking to formal education, winds of change seem to be sweeping across the community in India, which till the other day had been labelled orthodox, averse to anything modern. A reawakening is finally happening, leading to their joining the mainstream in nation building.

Razia Sultana is hardly 20. After Class XII and a diploma course in computer applications, she now works as a software engineer, earning $ 150 a month. She supports her brother who is doing his high school studies. Her father who runs a small shop selling cigarettes and betel leaves says he is happy with the change. “I allowed her to study in spite of mounting pressures from my own people. And she has not let me down.”

Similar is the story of 21-old Aziz Khan, one of grit and perseverance. His father died when he was very young. It was his mother who brought him up by doing odd jobs in the neighbourhood. In his case it was his mother who insisted on continuing his education. After doing his B Com along with a crash course in computers, he is now employed with a travel agency taking care of their accounts. “I am grateful to mom for all her sacrifices. Today I am in a position to take care of her,” he says with a touch of pride.

Like Razia Sultana and Aziz Khan, there are hundreds of Muslim girls and boys working, earning to look after their parents and siblings. This is in contrast to their being married off at a tender age and becoming parents even before they turn 18.

Muslims constitute about 13 per cent of the Indian population, numbering more than 130 million, the second largest Muslim community in the world. While the country has made rapid progress in almost all spheres of activities, the members of the Muslim community have remained socially and educationally backward.

Apart from suffering from social and educational backwardness, the community is inadequately represented in the services under the state. The issue of reservations for Muslims has not been seriously pursued to logical ends. And on their part, the Muslims have somehow failed to adopt convincing methods to justify the demands for protection of their community under the law.

The recent initiative by the Government of Andhra Pradesh in South India to keep 5 per cent seats in education and government jobs for Muslims in the state has failed to work, as the Court has stayed the implementation on a petition filed by students of other communities contending that such a step is against the spirit of the Constitution of India.

This is happening especially when reservations for Muslims, in matters of admissions in educational institutions and appointments to government jobs, under Articles 15 (4) and 16 (4) of the Constitution of India, have been suggested as a solution to the problems of Muslims in India. However Articles 15 (4) and 16 (4) of the Constitution merely enable provisions and do not impose any obligation on the governments. It is left to the discretion of the governments to make special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward community.

It is against this background, a kind of resurgence seems to be happening in the Muslim community. As Daily Awam editor Shahid Siddiqi says, “A change in outlook has been due for the last five decades. I am happy that a new thinking is sweeping across the community. This is also necessary for them to get integrated into the mainstream.”
Published: 2006-07-15
Author: George Karimalil

About the author or the publisher
I have been in the print media journalism for more than 30 years. At present I work for a corporate based in Hyderabad, India, taking care of its communciation needs.

I also work as a media consultant to All India Christian Council, taking care of its contents. The remaining time is used for freelancing in India and abroad.

I have a doctorate in English Literature. I enjoy writing. I am now getting ready to write a novel.

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