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A Seminar that Addressed the Problems of Indian Muslims (A Report)

Indian Muslims have been facing myriad problems and afflictions for long. It is usually assumed that their plight set in motion with the coming of the British and reached its nadir with the victory of the British forces in the ill-fated uprising of 1857. Furthermore, the partition of the country put the Muslims who chose to stay behind in India in a precarious condition and the genuinely secular leaders of the majority community on the defensive. During the last sixty-five years only one phenomenon remained a constant, the plight of the Muslims. What's more, the scourge of Islamic terrorism, whether real or imaginary, has awfully spoiled the image of the Muslims all over the world particularly after 9/11. In India, the Pakistan sponsored terrorist attacks, the worst being the carnage of 26/11, have rendered the Muslims extremely vulnerable to the excesses of various security agencies. The Muslim youths are very vulnerable in the contemporary scenario because on one hand they are likely to be trapped by the terrorist organisations and on the other they may face the wrath of the security agencies. There are also clear indications that some extreme Hindu organisations have adopted terrorism as a strategy to target the Muslims. Some activists associated with such organisations have also been arrested. Nevertheless, the security agencies prefer to go after the Muslims in the aftermath every terrorist act. Who is to blame for this perilous condition of the Muslims? Has the State failed awfully to uphold the constitutional rights of the largest religious minority of the country? Are the political parties that use the Muslims only as vote banks responsible? Should the orthodox mullahs, invariably supported by the ruling elite, who never allowed the bulk of the Muslims to break free the snare of religious-cultural identity and focus on the real issues, be held guilty? Objectively speaking the plight of the Muslims is the result of a combination of the three factors mentioned above. Consequently, the combined energy of nearly twenty crore Muslims of India that should have been used for nation building has been criminally wasted. In recent years, two reports have stirred the imagination of those who aspire to establish an all-inclusive, truly secular India. The Sachar Committee Report has officially authenticated the reality that was widely believed that the Muslims, in terms of educational and economic indices constitute the most backward segment of Indian society while the Rangnath Mishra Committee Report recommended a policy of extending reservations to all the religious minorities in jobs and educational institutions to bring them on par with other Indians. Needless to add that the two reports generated a great deal of heat as their proponents and opponents refuse to de-communalise the debate and treat the whole issue as a matter of uplifting a backward segment of society by means of affirmative action.

In order to bring into focus all the real problems of the Muslims and make suggestions for their redress, Centre for Promotion of Democracy and Secularism (CPDS), a non-profit organisation comprising intellectuals, academics, social activists and journalists of Maharashtra, in collaboration with the Department of Political Science and Maulana Azad Chair of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, Aurangabad and with the sponsorship of ICSSR (Western Region) have organized a twoday national seminar on the theme of What Ails Indian Muslims on October 11 and 12 at the University campus in Aurangabad. Going by peoples response and the animated discussions witnessed in all the sessions of the seminar, it was without doubt, a successful and timely exercise. In the inaugural event, Prof. Zaheer Ali, the President of the CPDS and the convener of the seminar enlightened the large audience about the theme, rationale and structure of the seminar. Ali underscored that the Muslim backwardness was the outcome of the external and internal factors; he identified external factors such as exclusion of Muslims from educational, economic and political empowerment by the state and society while the internal factors like supremacist view of Islam, overemphasis on the life Hereafter and the consequent resistance to modern, scientific and technological education, religious orthodoxy etc. were created by the Muslim religious elite. In this respect the Muslim community, Ali emphasized, had to do serious introspection. Justifying the need of the seminar, he pointed out that if the largest minority remained the most backward segment of the country, India could never achieve the status of a developed nation. Informing about the structure of the seminar, Ali said that in the 8 sessions spread over two days, well-known scholars and social activists of India would make their presentations delineating various problems of Indian Muslims and also make suggestions about their solutions. The Vice-Chancellor of the University, Dr. Vijay Pandharipande observed that the seminar was the need of the hour and hoped it would lead to positive results. Dr. B. S. Waghmare, Professor and Head, Department of Political Science of the University welcomed the guests, the outstation scholars and the audiences. He also gave a brief introduction of the Department of Political Science. Dr. Afaque Khan, the Secretary of the CPDS, let the audiences know about the CPDS and its activities. He said that in its brief existence of three years, the Centre had conducted quite a few activities. Besides, holding the orientation camps for the youths, the CPDS in collaboration with another NGO, BUILD, he informed, had organized a seminar on Sanghi Terrorism in Mumbai and a two-day conference in association with Asha Kendra on the theme of Challenges before Indian Democracy at Puntamba. The two-day national seminar on What Ails Indian Muslims, he informed, was the third and the more ambitious venture of the CPDS. Dr. Intekhab Hameed Khan, Director of Maulana Azad Chair informed that his institution was running a one-year certificate course of communal harmony and national integration for a couple of years.
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The highlight of the inaugural event was the keynote address delivered by the internationally renowned scholar Prof Mushirul Hasan of Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. He pointed out that Muslims were lagging behind in almost all the fields compared to other ethnic and religious communities of India. Their pitiable conditions were officially recognized by the State in the form of Sachar Committee Report. However, Hasan lamented, that the corrective measures adopted by the Union Government were not implemented with sincerity and impartiality. He said that there existed a bias against Muslims in society and state. Therefore, the title, according to him, of the seminar should have been "What Ails Indian Sate and Society?". Prof. Hasan advised the Muslims to participate wholeheartedly in the corporate life of the nation as the responsible citizens of the country. He opined that various problems of the Muslims could only be solved by winning the confidence of the majority community. He said Muslim constituted the largest minority in India but they were not confined to a particular region. They were spread over across the entire territory of India. Therefore, Prof. Hasan suggested that it was absolutely necessary for Muslims to identify with respective regional languages and cultures. In his opinion, the Muslim could find out solutions to quite a few problems by becoming the part of the regional ethnicity in the state of their residence. Thereafter, Justice Babu Marlapalle released the first publication of the CPDS, a book, Reading History: A Bunch of Papers, by S. H. Magrabi, edited with an introduction by Zaheer Ali. In his address Justice Marlapalle highlighted the constitutional solutions that could help ameliorate a number of problems of the Muslim community. The technical sessions followed thereafter. In the first session that was chaired by Dr. Umesh Bagade, Professor and Head, Department of History, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, Aurangabad, Prof. Zaheer Ali presented a paper on Problems of Indian Muslims: Real and Peripheral (an overview). Prof Ali pointed out that the Muslims like any other religious community did not constitute a monolithic social construct and because of it their problems too differed in terms of nature and magnitude. The real problems, in the opinion of Prof Ali, were those that endangered the very existence of the vulnerable Muslims and also destabilized the socio-economic and political interests of the entire community. He said the gravest problem of the Muslims was the protection of life and property. In this respect, he observed, the state had failed miserably. He made mention of the three pogroms of independent India viz. Hyderabad massacre in which as per Prof. Sunderlal Committee Report, about 2,00,000 lakh Muslims were killed by the Indian security forces. The second pogrom was the Hashimpura killing of 47 Muslims in cold blood by the PAC and the third, of course, was the Gujarat genocide of 2001. In addition to these pogroms there were many anti-Muslims riots in which 80 % victims had been Muslims. Prof. Ali observed that by passing the Communal Violence (Prevention) Bill and bringing about police reforms, the life and property of all the minority communities could be protected.
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Prof. Ali pointed out that economic and political exclusion and educational backwardness too are real problems of the Muslims. He also made it clear that in addition to State bias and anti-Muslim politics of the Hindu Right, Muslim political and religious elite were also responsible for Muslim backwardness. As regards affirmative action he disfavored religion based reservations but suggested that the Muslim Dalits should be given the SC and ST status so they could get the benefits of reservation in educational institutions and employment. Irfan Engineer made the second presentation of the first session. His paper was entitled Indian Muslims: Socio-Economic Conditions, Political Mobilization and Emerging New Challenges. He argued that most Muslim of the subcontinent were converts from the sudra castes who were exploited by the upper caste Hindus and therefore embraced Islam. These Muslims came to be known as ajlafs. He also pointed out that as opposed to the ajlaf, the ashraf were nobles and some of whom claimed to have migrated from the Central Asia. They generally held public offices, including the Mansabdars, Nawabs, landlords, Ulemas, etc. It was but natural, he reasoned, that a vast majority of Indian Muslims were rooted in the local culture. According to him there were many syncretic shrines where people of all religions prayed together. He underscored the pluralistic character of the Muslim community in India. He claimed that besides the sectarian divisions within the Muslim community, viz. the Shias and the Sunnis, there were sectarian divisions within the Sunnis the Deobandis, the Barelvis, Ahle-Hadith and so on. Mr. Engineer also traced the history of a few Muslim organisations such as the Wahabi movement and Tablighi Jamat and their impact on the Muslims of the subcontinent. According to Engineer the middle class among the Muslims had always been a tiny one. The creation of Pakistan had further reduced the number of people belonging to the middle class as many of them migrated to the newly created nation. In independent India, said Engineer, the Muslim leadership comprised moderate Muslims whose leader was Maulana Azad. However, after the demolition of Babri Masjid the moderate leadership failed and the community came to be led by the fundamentalists and political Islamists. According to Engineer the political Islamists aimed to establish Islamic State and enforce Islam, or rather rituals of a particular sect of Islam, through the state. Lastly, he made some suggestions like emphasis on education, participation in the democratic process, reforming Muslim community from within and shunning violence that could help Muslims to progress in India. The third paper in the first session was on Sachar Committee Report: A Critique that was presented by Dr. Afaque Khan. He thoroughly analysed the report that had officially authenticated the fact that the Muslims constituted the most backward community of contemporary India. He said that by and large the report reflected the true picture of the socio-economic and educational backwardness of the Muslims. In his opinion the findings of the Sachar Committee officially disproved the false propaganda of
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Muslim appeasement that was carried out by the Sangh parivar. Dr. Khan observed that though the report was commendable the government failed to implement its recommendations properly. Despite tall claims, nothing of consequence was done by the government agencies to uplift the Muslims. Dr. Khan forcefully advocated that the entire scheme that was designed to implement the recommendations of the Committee should be thoroughly revised. Quite a few participants commented on the contents of the papers and asked questions that were responded to by the three paper presenters. At the end of the session Dr. Bagade appreciated the scholarly presentations and the consequent debate that followed. The second session was chaired by Dr. Ramesh Kamble of Department of Sociology, University of Mumbai Presenting his paper, Religious Reform Movement and Othering of Muslims Prof. Fakruddin Bennur enumerated a number of factors that were responsible for the plight of the Muslims. He argued that besides communalism, socio-economic exclusion, educational backwardness, denial of opportunities in almost all fields of life and anti-Muslim genocides and riots perpetrated by BJP and Shiv Sena were the major factors for the plight of the Muslims. Prof. Bennur explained that while a number of reformers from Raja Rammohan Roy to Dr. Ambedkar strived to reform Hindu society, the Muslims were unfortunately remained under the dominance of orthodox Ulema. These Ulema, said Prof. Bennur, did not allow social economic and educational reforms. The Ulema, he argued overlooked the fact that 85% of Muslim Population was consisted of local converts who inherited a mixed culture. However, the orthodox Ulema insisted on transplanting the Arabic social structure in the name of purification of Islam. It led to alienation of Muslims from pluralistic culture of Indian society, concluded Prof. Bennur. Dr. Zeenat Shaukat Ali, Head, Department of Islamic Studies, St. Xavier College, Mumbai was the second presenter of the paper that was on The Dilemmas of Muslim Women in India. She began her presentation by referring to the Sachar Committee Report that though did not cover the concerns of the Muslim women, had observed that the low aggregate work participation ratios for Muslims were due to the much lower participation in economic activity by the women of the community. She, however, added that despite Muslim backwardness the community had the best sex ratio among all Indians. She made a valid point that the plight of Muslim women should be considered in the context of overall backwardness of the Muslim community. Dr. Ali refuted the critics view that the reticent position of Muslim women was due to Islam and at the same time she condemned the position of the Muslim apologists who claimed that Islam gave undeniable rights to women. She explained that in Islam the position of men and women was based on complementary functions. According to Dr. Ali, the spiritual-intellectual approach within Islam could re-establish its ideal of gender equality. The comparatively backward
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position, she pointed out, of Muslim women in the contemporary world was the result of lack of culture among the community rather than the precepts of Islam. The third paper of the session was jointly presented by Dr. B. S. Waghmare and Mukhtar Shaikh. It was entitled Dalit-Muslim Unity Challenges Ahead: Some Observation. Their contention was that though the concept of Dalit-Muslim Unity was an abstract one, the unity of the marginalized people of Indian society was the need of the time. They argued that both the communities faced the crisis of identity and recognition. Thirdly, in Indian society the presence of both the communities was considered as problematic. Despite the commonalities their unity remained elusive. They also numerated certain challenges before the two communities. For instance, they said, both communities were heterogeneous; while Dalits had a long history of socio-political movement, the lower caste Muslims were exploited by the Muslim elite in the name of spiritual concept of brotherhood; while Dalits were alienated and distrusted, the Muslims were labeled as traitors and terrorists and while Dalits made positive use of PhuleAmbedkar ideology within the democratic framework, the Muslim leadership deliberately kept the Muslim masses ignorant to maintain its hold on them. Prof. Shamsuddin Tamboli presented the last paper of the session that was on Muslim Women and Social Justice. He observed that the plight of women in pre Islamic Arabia was pathetic and it was the Quran that guaranteed social justice to women 1400 years ago. However, Prof Tamboli contended, subsequently different interpretations corrupted Muslim society as social evils like oral divorce, polygamy, veil, honour killing and so on became the hallmarks of Muslim society. Consequently, the social status of Muslim women all across the world was much lower than the women of other communities. He argued that to help Muslim women, in a democratic country like India, Muslim Personal Law should either be removed or reformed. He also spoke about social, economic and education backwardness of Muslim women. The fourth and the last session of day one of the seminar was devoted to the subtheme, Media and the Muslims. It was chaired by Dr. Jaidev Dole of the Department of Journalism, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University. Making his presentation Mohammad Wajihuddin, senior journalist with the Times of India emphatically underscored that the media showed bias while reporting about minorities, especially Muslims. The things, he pointed out, that routinely hit the headlines were burqa, fatwa, polygamous men, regressive maulavis, and myopic leaders making incendiary statements. He lamented that in the wave of Islamophobia, objective reporting about the Muslims became the casualty. He argued that since media fed on negative events, negative things about Muslims got reported widely. He advised the Muslim youths to join the media in large numbers. He said that he was witness to Muslim parents mortgaging their properties to fund education of their children. Though, he reasoned, this awareness about education was good, the focus was only on producing doctors, engineers and management personnel. Muslim parents and youth should also get trained in journalism and join
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mainstream media. He clarified that personally he was opposed to have a separate media outlet for the Muslims because such a thing did not work in the past and would not work in the future. He said that media was a weapon with which the Muslims could fight a jihad against the enemies within and without. However, this weapon should be of good quality, he remarked. Presenting the second paper entitled, Media and Its Representation Ms. Babli Parveen, Senior Research Fellow at JNU, made it clear at the outset that the theme of her paper dealt not in its immediacy but in its historical context. Her aim, she pointed out, was not to focus the flawed representation of Muslims but one sided depiction of the past. It was the cause of negative stereotyping of the Muslims. She said that unless we provided a corrective to the past and projected the pietistic elements in Indo-Muslim history we would have to live with the demonization of Muslim history. The third presentation was that of Mubasshir Mushtaq, a freelance journalist who delineated the relationship between media and the Muslims which, according to him, was based on misunderstanding. He commented that the media was far from being fair to Muslims. It would project a rabid rather than a moderate image of the community. The media, Mushtaq insisted, would focus more on terror and crime reporting in which the members of the Muslim community could be involved. He lamented that media that was supposed to be a watchdog of society became pet-dog of investigative agencies. He emphasized the need for improving relationship between media and the Muslims. On the second day (Oct. 12, 2013) three papers were presented in the first session, i.e. the fourth technical session of the seminar, which was chaired by Irfan Engineer. Presenting his thought-provoking paper, Why We Must Become Muslims, Dr. Murzban Jal of the Indian Institute of Education, Pune, informed that his paper was on politics proper in a very Leninist sense. He said that politics proper was about aesthetics: the aesthetics of insurrection. Elaborating on the statement, why we must become Muslims Dr. Jal said that it was not only against the fascist phantasmagoria of Hindutva but it was also against the idea of Hinduism. He admitted that the idea of wanting to become a Muslim by a Marxist might seem to be rather strange, rather frightening and added that it was this very strange and frightening character that we should turn our attention. He clarified that in the era of imperialist Islamophobia, the idea of becoming Muslim also created a dialectical shock to the ruling establishment. He emphasized that his paper was on the very real need of a Marxist to address this question. According to Dr. Jal, the specter of communism that haunted Old Europe remained central to the question of wanting to become Muslims. The second paper, Pawn In, Patrons Still Out was presented by Subhash Gatade. At the outset he made it clear that he was opposed to all sorts of terrorism, Hindu, Muslim or State. Dealing with the rise of Hindutva terror, Gatade explained, that a cursory glance at many terror acts committed by Hindutva activists would reveal two aspects of the phenomenon. First, the bombs would be planted at places where the
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targeted others would be present in large numbers. The second aspect, he stated, would be camouflaging the whole operation in such manner that it should appear an act by some fanatic Muslim group. In this context he referred to Malegaon bomb blast of 2006. He contended that Hindutva terror was a serious threat to secular democratic polity. It had a pan-India presence and had been able to build international linkages too. He further elaborated that Hindutva terror was a very carefully designed strategy by the Hindu Right which had shifted from their earlier strategy of terror of riot to terror of bomb. Commenting on the chain of Hindutva terror, Gatade observed, that most of the people who had been apprehended were in fact planters or executioners of the terror acts while the masterminds or the planners were not touched. Citing the example of Bangladesh, he insisted that majoritarian terror could be reined in. He pointed out that in Bangladesh a combination of political will, proactive judiciary and active citizenry could rein in the menace of majority terrorism. India, Gatade concluded, could emulate Bangladeshs strategy. presented his paper on the Economic Problems of the Muslims in India. He began the presentation by underlying that economic Asad bin Saif, a social activist associated with BUILD, a Mumbai-based NGO, betterment of the people was a crux of a healthy democracy. He informed that the Muslims in India were lagging far behind in terms of all development indicators as per the findings of the Sachar Committee Report. He commented that the findings were shocking testimony to more than six decades of neglect and bias perpetuated against the Muslims. Commenting on the neoliberal policies of the government, Saif argued that they ld to economic deprivation of all the vulnerable sections of society including Muslims. He suggested that in such a situation people cutting across caste, communal or ethnic lines should come together to struggle against anti-people policies. He asserted that there was a symbiotic relationship between democracy and development. The development should lead to all-inclusive nation building catering to the need of all sections of society including the Muslims. He suggested that India needed the institution like Equal Opportunity Commission as [art of affirmative action. The fifth session was chaired by Dr. Surendra Jondhale of the Department of Civics and Politics, University of Mumbai. Dr. Liyaqat Khan, Associate Professor in the Department of Civics and Politics, University of Mumbai presented a paper on Strategy of Minority Political Party: A Case Study of Muslims. The major thrust of his paper was how best the Muslim could make their political representation in India. He suggested that three choices were available to them. The first one, he informed, was the Muslim could join hands with political parties that were sympathetic to them; the second option, he pointed out was that the Muslim could work through a friendly pressure group to ensure the election of candidates sympathetic to Muslim cause irrespective of party affiliation and the last option according to Dr. Khan was that the Muslims could form their own political party.. The second paper of the session, Backwardness and Leadership Vacuum among Indian Muslims: The Need to go Beyond Sachar Report was presented by Dr. Shuja Shakir, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar
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Marathwada University, Aurangabad. He opined that overall backwardness and leadership vacuum constituted the bane of Muslim community in India. He argued that every political dispensation had always treated the Muslims as vote bank. Consequently, the Sachar Report found them extremely backward in terms of socioeconomic and educational indicators. He admitted that State support would help the community but underscored the point that no community could tap its full potential without changing its outlook and attitude. Dr. Shakir made an attempt to explore whether Muslims were serious about bringing a transformation in their socio-political viewpoint or they were interested only in raising symbolic demands like permission to grow beards in government service and asking for acquiescence in matter of Muslim girls wearing scarf in school. He insisted that there was an urgent need for the community to shun its historical and psychological baggage that made it believe that the entire world was anti-Islam. He forcefully advocated that it was absolutely necessary for the community to get itself extricated from the clutches of overtly religious leadership that thrived on pontification and little action. He stressed that the Muslims should imbibe secularism, which did not mean ir-religiosity. Third presentation was that of Dr. (Ms.) Sandhya Mhatre of the Department of Economics, University of Mumbai and a social activist. She spoke on Implem entation of Development Schemes for Muslims in Maharashtra. She was very critical of the manner these schemes that were meant for the development of the Muslims were implemented. Dr. Mhatre argued that first of all there was a need to increase the funds for the schemes in proportion to the Muslim population in the State. She pointed out that Rs. 28000 crores were allocated for the SCs even though their percentage of population was only 10.7. Similarly, Rs. 24000 crores were allocated for the STs who had a percentage of 8 in the population. Compared to these merely 1000 crores were allocated for Muslims who constituted 11.5 % of the State population. What was worse, she argued, that even the meager funds meant for Muslim development were transferred to other schemes and projects. She called such policies as grave injustice to the Muslims of Maharashtra. In order to oppose such anti-Muslim policies of the government, she said that pressure should be exerted at the local level for proper implementation of the schemes. Moreover, the Muslims by joining hands with the members of the majority community should strive for increase in allocation of funds for their development schemes. The sixth session of the seminar was chaired by Dr. Intekhab Hameed Khan, Professor in the Department of English and the Director of Maulana Azad Chair of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, Aurangabad. Dr. Malika Mistry, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, Poona College of Arts, Science and Commerce, Pune presented her paper on Gaps in Levels of Literacy, Education and Exposure to Media among Muslims and other Religious Groups: Evidence from NFHS-3 India. She analyzed the data of the National Family Health Survey-3 and on its basis brought into focus Muslim backwardness in terms of literacy, education and exposure to media. Dr. Mistry clarified that the objectives of her study were: first to know the level of literacy, education and exposure to media among the Muslims and other religious groups in India; second, to make comparison in regard to the aforementioned variables with those of men and women from other religious groups; third to find out the causes of

Muslims current status and fourth, to make recommendation for improving the status of the Muslims in terms of the indices under consideration. Prof. (Ms) Benazeer S. Tamboli presented her paper on Educational Problems of Muslims in India. She approached the issue of educational backwardness from various angles. She first discussed the educational problems of the Muslims in general terms and also suggested some practicable solutions. She underscored the point that if the largest religious minority in India remained backward in terms of education and economy, the progress of the entire nation would be badly affected. She also identified certain causes for Muslims overall backwardness. She made a mention of a silent revolution that was taking place in the area of Muslim education. However, lamented that its pace was considerably slow. She suggested some measures that could help accelerate the educational revolution among the Muslims. The last paper of the session was presented by Dr. Quadri Syed Mujtaba, HOD, Political Science, Maulana Azad College, Aurangabad. In his paper he dealt with the issue of social reforms among the Muslims in India. He acknowledged the pivotal role that Sir Syed played in the context. He informed that Sir Syed was extremely critical of the Ulema whom he held responsible for destroying the original spirit of Islam. Instead of welcoming the reformist zeal of Sir Syed regressive sections of the Muslim hated him and fatwas were brought from Mecca and Medina to declare him a Kafir. Dr. Quadri also mentioned the name of Mumtaz Ali who championed the cause of Muslim women. He, however, stated that despite various efforts the Muslims women continued to lag behind in socio-economic and educational terms. Dr. Quadri concluded by saying that that the main difficulty in reforming Muslim society was the absence of peoples involvement in the process. The special feature of the seminar was the seventh session that was an open house chaired by Prof. Fakruddin Bennur, in which the members of the audiences comprising socio-political activists, religious and political elite, professionals, academicians, journalists, members of women organisations and the common men were given the opportunity to give expression to their aspirations, grievances, demands and ideas pertaining to Indian Muslims. This was a successful experiment as quite a number of people came forward to put across their viewpoints. The notable speakers included, Prof. Mahebub Sayyad an academician-activist from Ahmednagar, Uday Chaudhary, a senior leader of the AITUC, Dr. Saleem Shaikh, Director of Millennium Institute of Management, Aurangabad, Dr. Wasiuddin Rizvi, an activist and many others including women. Based on the demands and aspirations of the audiences a resolution was unanimously passed with the intention to forward it to the Prime Minister, Union Minister for Minority Affairs, Chairman of Central Minority Commission, Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Minister for Minority Affairs in the Government of Maharashtra and the Chairman of Minority Commission of Maharashtra. The resolution inter alia included the urgent need for passing the Communal Violence (Prevention) Bill, police reforms with the purpose to make police personnel accountable, reform in the Wakf Act, putting an end to religious profiling by government agencies and so on. The Valedictory Session was chaired by Dr. Bhalchndra Kango, Secretary, CPI State Council and the valedictory address was delivered by Dr. Gautam Gawali, Professor and Head, Department of Applied Psychology, University of Mumbai, Chairperson, BOS-Psychology and Director, ICSSR (Western Region). In his valedictory address Dr.
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Gawali underscored the pluralistic character of Indian society that were responsible for the inter-group conflicts, prejudice, discrimination, injustice, perpetuation of inequality and oppression. He also differentiated between the conflicts that were the result of communal diversity and the conflicts that were deliberately created. The former, According to Dr. Gawali, could be easily managed but the latter could not be abated easily. Making a psychological analysis of the conflicts of Indian society he opined that the upper caste Hindus had always oppressed the lower caste people and discriminated against the Muslims and Christians. He argued that unemployment among the Muslims and the Dalits was not necessarily because of the paucity of jobs but majorly because of the discrimination against them by the upper caste Hindus. He stressed on the need for abandoning faulty communal assumptions and identifying the areas where in the reconciliation could be possible. In his address, Dr. Kango congratulated the organisers for the success of the seminar which, he pointed out, was timely and significant. He hoped that the seminar would be followed by action that would bring about change for the better in Indian society. He insisted that Islam was a secular and democratic faith. The propaganda that Islam was not compatible with democracy, Dr. Kango asserted, was carried out by the enemies of Islam. Citing examples of Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia and Egypt, Dr. Kango emphasised that there was no incongruity between Islam and democracy. In response to the thematic poser of the seminar, (What Ails Indian Muslims?), Dr. Kango argued that it was the corrupt political practices that ailed Indian society because of which all weaker sections of Indians including Muslims suffered the most. In the era of globalization and the ascendency of neoliberalism, the weaker, vulnerable people all over the world were forced to lead a life of misery and destitution. In India, Muslims who constituted the most backward segment of Indian society were the worst victims of globalisation and neoliberalism. Though he acknowledged the worth of civil society, he stressed that State action was absolutely necessary to offset the backwardness of the hapless sections of Indian society. He cautioned that politics without all-inclusive development was a dangerous trend that should be countered by all those who believed in democracy and secularism. He reminded the audiences that India had a long tradition of secularism and tolerance. We, therefore, should unite to strengthen Indian secularism and the value of tolerance so that everyone, including the Muslims, would live in peace and harmony in this pluralistic society. Lastly, Dr. Shuja Shakir, Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, Aurangabad, proposed a vote of thanks.

____________________Prof. Zaheer Ali

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