Connecting Regions of Asia.

The Road forward for Indian Muslims

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I always found it difficult to speak before an august gathering of religious scholars and leaders. What I speak before them will be like showing candle before the sun. But sun creates shadows which it cannot reach while candle can do reach the shadows of the sun. I will try to do that. 

 If we look into the status of education in Islam, Muslims start their education with holy Koran. Koran is an encyclopedia of way of life where every aspect of life is beautifully codified. We can find the origin of all acts and laws of the modern world in Koran. We all start our life by learning Koran before / after learning our mother tongue. But unfortunately 35percent of the world’s Muslim population remain embedded only in Deen without Talim,  That is the core issue of Muslims throughout the world. It is not that talim was not primary in the Muslim society. If we see the world history, the golden era of Islam is evident from 9th to 13th century wherein literature, fine arts, crafts, agriculture, architecture, physics, chemistry, math, astronomy, pharmacology and technology were at its pinnacle Muslim world was all inclusive and evolving , imbibing the best of all the culture it came across during the golden era. Most of the science and technology of this period was latter taken over by west. They utilized and improved it further to improve themselves. But where are we now? We would have been more miserable if Allah had not given oil.

How did it happen? Collapse of Ottoman Empire and concept of caliphate which did not succeed during the golden era drove Muslims into a shell of self-pity, from which we are yet to come out. We started living in a political tradition of belligerent self-pity. At this time the Ulemas took over, stopped Ijtihad under the garb of taking Muslims back to pristine pious past and to look down upon west. Today we are internationally known in the world for being in constant turmoil of killing each other as well as others, beheading, suicide bombing, burkhas and jehadis The latest beheading of ten teenage girls for being found with men who were not guardians is an example. Our contribution to the improvement of human life through science and technology has become minimum. Time has now come for the Muslims of the world to come out of the shell of self-pity and revive the lost golden era of Islam

Now if we look into the status of the 17 crore Muslims in India which is tenth largest in the world. We have the highest young population and have .5percent higher population growth than the national average. Poverty and illiteracy is the hall mark of our population. Our poverty level is 9percent more than the national average of 22percent. 40 percent of the Muslim population does not have basic amenities including proper access to banks. Our literacy level is 5percent less than the national average of 64.8 percent while Muslim women have a literacy rate of 43percent. There are no schools in one third of Muslim majority villages. Poverty with illiteracy and a population with majority young population is a dangerous combination which is not good for the community. In addition to this we are in a precarious condition in the field of education as a country.

If we see the status of education in India we have the world’s largest education infrastructure. We have 26 crore students which is one fifth of our population in 15.1 lakhs schools out of which 12lakhs are government schools. . But what is the outcome? 4out of 10 enrolled in class1 leave the school before completing grade seven. Majority of class students from third to eighth standard cannot read the text of class two. 20percent of the class two students could not recognize alphabets and numbers. Fifty percent of class eighth do not have written and mathematical skills and 25percent teachers are absent. So the world’s largest education system is not delivering what it is supposed to deliver is delivering illiteracy not education. The main reason is lack of government investments in school education. In the year 1966 Hanumantappa committee report had recommended six percent GDP to be invested in education but since than we are spending only three to four percent. That explains the reason for the slide in the quality of our education. The problem of poverty and illiteracy in Muslims is further compounded by our weak education system which is not able to improve literacy and made more complicated by the emerging socio political scenario.

 The socio political scenario in our is poised against the community  We are called vote banks but yet we do not object even though poverty and illiteracy is at the maximum due political indifference to our need , Time has come for the community to object being called vote banks. The bad history of Ghaznavi, Timoor, Babur and Aurangzeb is being frequently repositioned to reap political dividends. Muslim rate of growth, Triple talaq, Jihad with reward of 72 virgins, cow vigilante is being frequently rubbed to bring in sense of inferiority. This in the long run can push the illiterate Muslim youth in the wrong direction. Thus we have a very dangerous scenario of a web of poverty, illiteracy and young Muslim population on one side. A creaky world’s largest education system which creates more illiterates on the other side with a negative socio political scenario. This complex problem calls for a cautious and carefully crafted strategy to overcome this danger not only by the government but also by the community. The strategy has to be crafted with determination creativity and wisdom. I am sure AIMES is one such forum for this exercise.

Now let me discuss about the way forward to come out of this self-pity and isolation. We need to carry out the SWOT analysis of our community and evolve long term and short term strategy. The strength should be utilized to convert it into opportunity, weakness should be converted into strengthen and threat should be converted into opportunity to come out of the dangerous web we are caught in., The strength of our community is that we are worlds tenth largest Muslim population with majority youth . Disciplined way of life with charity as a part of our culture, 44 universities , 92 colleges , large number of schools and madrasas, Gulf oil, 1.5 lakh crore of waqf property worth 10000 lakh crores and 3 lakhs functional mosques while the weaknesses are multifarious. No deen and Talim together, no unity within the community which is divided into 73 sects, gulf money used only to construct beautiful mosques, not utilizing the wakf properties worth lakhs and crores of rupees., not upgrading existing educational institutions, not creating more schools and colleges, not utilizing 3 lakh mosques for education, and finally living in the past glory and self-pity after babri masjid demolition.

 The threats are fundamentalism, jihad violence, looking down on the other majority religion, web of illiteracy, poverty and young population, majority community asserting their position, insulating our self from the majority thru symbolism of Burkha, Beard, caps, and pyjama above ankle. Not condemning Islamic terrorism as frequently as possible, and not being open to reforms. While the opportunities are ,to review the golden era Islamic age for driving education, condemn terrorism as much as possible, learn to respect other religions, come out of social insulation, there is need of 550 million skilled youth by 2030 we need to empower our youths with the required skills,  create world class Muslim  institutions by utilizing The World Class Institution Deemed University Regulations 2016, utilize NUPEA national university for education planning and administration to improve the performance of existing Muslim institutions, utilize NCERT, SCERT and minorities commission to improve education infrastructure, forgo haj subsidy for investments in Muslim education institutions, and improve the income from wakf properties for improvement of the society. Having highlighted the strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats let us all work to convert weakness into strength and threat into opportunity to build a bright future 

However I would like suggest some short term as well as long term strategy for the improvement of our community. The short term immediate strategy should be massive skill development program in Muslim majority area by using schools colleges mosques infrastructure for this purpose, upgrade the existing infrastructure of all schools and colleges to become Centre of excellence in studies, modernize all madrasas, convert all mosques into Centre of learning for religious knowledge and skills as it was during the golden era of Islam, mosques should be centers of progressive learning and religion and finally pay your teachers well for improving the standard of education in all the institutions under you.

The long term strategy should be we should first identify the need for educational institution in Muslim dominated area thru a scientific state wise survey and prepare a blue print for educating the Muslim population in a systematic manner. This can be carried out by reputed MNC survey companies like KPMG etc. The funds for this purpose can be from either charity or thru private government participation, AMES can play an important role. The same exercise should be carried out for the proper utilization of wakf properties state wise, Jmi  Jamia Millia Islamia style institutions in all the state capitals with free boarding and lodging facilities to Muslims under BPL Pool all resources and create coaching centers for preparing our students for jobs . The list is unending. Sky is the limit

.  Incidentally While I was travelling from Chennai to Hyderabad to attend this conference I saw an advertisement in the inflight magazine, I noted down the details. The Karnataka Lingayat education society Belagavi has 256 educational institutes, 125000 students 16000 faculty and 4000 beds health care When a small group of community in one state can do so much why can’t our community do it .I am sure AIMES can play more effective role in this regard. I would advise the AIMES to visit the Karnataka society and try to emulate their model to improve our community.

 Finally I am sure a proper SWOT analysis with short term and long term strategy will go a long way to improve our lot My services are always available to you all for the betterment of our community.

 (K Saleem Ali ,IPS, is a former Special Director of the CBI and a former DGP,Tripura . This is the transcript of his speech before an august gathering of religious scholars and important Muslim personalities) 

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