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SPECIAL REPORT: Mr. Narendra Modi, Read this and Tell where is your Rajdharma?

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By Abdul Hafiz Lakhani   


Ahmedabad: Gujarat   Chief Minister Narendra Modi is all set to woo Muslim voters of the state for ensuing state Asembly election by using some fudged and unreal facts and figures to show the rosy picture of Muslims, but the real picture is quite different. 


Social activist from Vadodara, J.S.Bandukwala in an exclusive talk with Indian Muslim Observer said that Narendra Modi is known for playing with facts and figures, which are very often completely bogus. For example, in his speach to the BJP Minority Morcha he claimed that "his government has spent Rs. 140 crores over 63 lakh Muslim students in 10 years". 


"Not that Muslim population in Gujarat is about 55 lakhs. Assuming this figure is correct and spread over ten years, it works out to about Rs. 220 per Muslim student per year. Does he call this scholarship? It is worth noting that he refused a Gujarat contribution to Government of India minority pre-matric scholarship that would have benefitted about 55,000 students per year, with amounts ranging from Rs. 700 to Rs. 1,000 per year. The Gujarat contribution was barely Rs. 1.25 crores, and Modi refused on grounds that he does not beleive in helping only Muslim students. Modi represents the hardcore RSS anti Muslim lobby. He has done tremendous damage to Muslims -- mental, physical and financial.Yet he realises that a passive Muslim community could help him in the December elections. Hence this drama of addressing a Muslim BJP morcha forum. To our misfortune Muslims like Mehboobali Bawa and Mukhtar Naqvi take pride in standing next to him," Bandukwala said.


Gujarat is very much behind in the race of development and Muslims are the most backward. Considering the overall progress Gujarat is below Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, adding that the proportion of poverty in Gujarat should have been low or small, but it is large. In rural areas poverty among Muslims is eight times more than other sections, whereas in urban areas the ratio is two percent.


On the starvation front, Gujarat is nearer to those states whose condition is worst that Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme is very important for the employment of common man but Gujarat’s share in this scheme is 5 percent only and as far as condition of Muslims is concerned, working ratio of Muslims as compared to Hindus is 10percent less.It can be said with certainty on the basis of a survey conducted by National Countil for Applied Economic Research (NCAER), a central government organisation, that in Gujarat, Muslims have been and are backward in every field. There was a time when both Hindus and Muslims had equal opportunities and were progressing but after 2002, Muslims have become second class citizens. They have educationally become very backward there. There are only a few Muslims in every field who are progressing and who can be seen frequently in discussions on television but the process of common Muslims becoming backward that started after 2002 knows no end. Experts and economists working in NCAER have brought out a survey report according to which Muslims of Gujarat have been left far behind economically.


This survey report is based on the statistics of National Sample Survey Organisation, NCAER and Sachar Committee Report. Just as during the prime ministership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, BJP had been propagating ‘Shining India’, exactly in the same way these days the progress of Gujarat is being parroted everywhere, but the truth is that in Gujarat there are difficulties and unrest everywhere. This survey indicates that the statistics of hunger and economic conditions in Gujarat are the same as in Orissa and Bihar, while in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand conditions are even worse. This means that out of eight states where BJP claims to have its government, in five states statistics of hunger are most disappointing.


This survey also shows that the poverty graph of Muslims of urban areas is 50 percent more than that of upper caste people (Hindus). Educationally also, Muslims are very backward, seeing that 75 percent children of Muslim population take admission in schools but only 26 percent reach the level of 10th class. Among Dalits this figure is 41 percent which in any case is more than Muslims. This is certainly a matter of concern but from BJP side it is propagated every now and then that Muslims are progressing in Gujarat. The need to bring this misconception to an end is therefore much more today than it was ever before.


It is also said that in Gujarat, riots don’t take place but the common feeling in civil society is that the feeling of terror and fear is so much ingrained in the minds of Muslims of Gujarat that they cannot even think of opposing any thing or opening their mouths for making complaints. The barbarity with which Ishrat Jahan of Mumbai was killed was felt all over the world and Gujarat police was condemned for it. On Gujarat High Court’s instructions, a special investigation team was constituted to enquire into her fake encounter. Satish Chandra Varma, IG of this investigation team, stated in his affidavit filed in the High Court that Ishrat Jahan’s encounter was fake but effort is being made to protect those who had killed her in a fake encounter. 
Obviously, under such state of terror and fear, no Muslim will stand to complain against such injustice. This means that the condition of Muslims in Gujarat is extremely bad. Needless to say that if other political parties, central government and Indian society do not take notice of such state of affairs immediately, Gujarat will become a ruthless and barbarian society.


Educationally, Muslims are the most deprived community in Gujarat.   A mere 26 percent Muslims reach matriculation and a large dropout takes place at about 5th standard. A disturbing trend was noticed in case of education at the level of graduation. Muslims, who had about the same level of education in the past, are found to have been left behind compared even with the SCs/STs. Despite 75% net enrolment, about similar levels compared to other groups, Muslims are deprived at the level of matriculation and higher levels.


The research team, which was headed by Tripathi, a professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, highlighted the fact that the four government primary schools in Juhapura area of Ahmedabad and govt. schools are able to enroll only 10 per cent of the children in the locality in the first standard, while there are only four classrooms for every 818 students.


There is a serious problem of lack of space. The schools are not able to accommodate all the students. Though around 6,000 children are born in Juhapura annually, there are not enough schools to accommodate them in the secondary and higher-secondary levels.


Inquiries with the Central Government reveal that the Gujarat Government demands 100 percent funding against the present norm of 75 : 25 Centre-State sharing. The officials in the Ministry of Minority Affairs point out that the Gujarat Government expressed its inability to implement the scheme until 100 percent grant (against the current Central contribution of 75 per cent) was provided by the Centre.


On the other hand it is the high caste Hindus who have benefited most in the recent years from the public provisioning of higher education, the SCs/STs are catching up and the Muslims are left behind. The disparity in access to higher education is increasing over time. This clearly is an evidence of discrimination in provisioning of higher education access, infrastructure and related services.


To overcome the Muslim deficit in different levels of education, the central government has launched a nationwide scholarship scheme with effect from April 1, 2008. All states have responded favourably, with the only exception of Gujarat which has not implemented even the pre-matric scholarship for minorities. There are 55,000 scholarships allocated to Gujarat of which 53,000 are to be given to deserving Muslims, but Gujarat has not cared to implement this programme.


A senior state bureaucrat admitted that the Gujarat Government believes that the scholarship creates discrimination among non-minority groups, hence it cannot be allowed.


[Abdul Hafiz Lakhani is a senior Journalist based at Ahmedabad, Gujarat. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Gujarat). He can be reached at lakhani63@yahoo.com or on his cell 09228746770]
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