Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 23 July 2009 | Posted in

Does Islam Prohibit Muslims From Befriending People of Other Faiths?

By Maulvi Yahya Nomani

(Translated from Urdu by Yoginder Sikand)

The question is often raised that while Muslims constantly claim that Islam teaches them to live at peace with people of other faiths and to relate with them with kindness, love and concern, the reality is just the opposite, because, it is alleged, the Quran forbids Muslims from having social or other such relations with non-Muslims and has prohibited friendship with them.

This wrong allegation is based on two basic misunderstandings. Firstly, a wrong conception of the terms wali and wala, which are used in the Quran. Secondly, misunderstanding about precisely which group of unbelievers this prohibition applies to. In this regard, the fact is often ignored that at several places the Quran qualifies its statements so as to indicate that this prohibition does not apply to all non-Muslims in general, but, rather, to only a particular type among them. In fact, at one place the Quran also explicitly mentions that this prohibition applies just to a particular group among the non-Muslims, and that friendship with other non-Muslims is not forbidden. As the Quran very clearly puts it:

God does not forbid you regarding those who have not fought you on account of the Religion, and have not expelled you from your homes, that you should be virtuous to them and be equitable with them; surely God loves the equitable. God forbids you only regarding those who have fought you on account of Religion, and have expelled you from your homes, and have given support in your expulsion, that you should take them for friends; and whoso takes them for friends, those are the wrong-doers.( Quran 60: 8-9)

The First Misunderstanding

The first misunderstanding arises from a misreading of certain verses of the Quran that forbid Muslims from taking disbelievers as their walis. The Arabic word wali has been wrongly taken to be the synonymous of friend. In actual fact, there is no strict equivalent of the Arabic word al-wali or its derivatives in Urdu and English and many other languages. That is why it is often translated as dost in Urdu and friend in English. It is this that causes people to wrongly believe that Islam forbids Muslims from taking non-Muslims as their friends.

The word wali actually refers to a person whom one has a very intimate friendship with. This also connotes helping, assisting and being in solidarity with such a person. Imam Ibn Jarir Tabari, an expert in the Arabic language and a noted Quranic commentator, explains a verse in the Quran which ordains Let not the believers take for friends or helpers Unbelievers rather than believers (Quran 3: 28) as follows:

In this verse, God has forbidden the true believers from taking the disbelievers as their helpers [..] That is to say, they are forbidden from considering them as their supporters, assisting them in their [non-Muslims] religion, supporting them against the Muslims and the true believers and sharing the secrets of the Muslims with them. Commenting on the use of a derivative of the term wali the Quran, he adds, In the Arabic language, the general meaning of the word wali is helper and supporter.

From this discussion, it is evident that these verses forbid Muslims from establishing secret ties with the disbelievers or assisting them secretly. These verses have nothing to do with forbidding friendship and good relations with non-Muslims in general. This is made even more clear when the Quran explains that the wala or close bonding that it forbids is that which denotes help against the true believers (for instance, Surah Al-e Imran: 28; Surah Nisa: 139 and 144). This restriction or specification regarding the phrase against the true believers itself indicates that the bonding that the Quran forbids is of that sort that entails helping disbelievers against the Muslims.

The precise context of these verses, which is clearly evident in the verses themselves, must be properly understood. Without this, their actual import is likely to be misunderstood. The disbelievers that they refer to, whom it forbids Muslims from closely bonding with and helping, were those who were determined to wipe out Islam and were involved in a massive campaign for this purpose. They had even unleashed war against the Muslims. These included the polytheists of Mecca , who had declared open war against the Muslims, as well as the Jews of Medina. Besides provoking war against the Muslims, they were also trying to spread internal dissension, conflict and inter-tribal disputes among them and vilified Islam and the Prophet. At that time, Muslims had blood relatives or friends among both the polytheists of Mecca and the Jews of Medina. They had social relations and dealings with them. A number of hypocrites (munafiqin) among the Muslims also sympathized with the Meccan polytheists and the Medinan Jews, and they were proving to be skilled agents of the opponents of Islam in their conspiracies. The Quran unveiled the dangerous activities of this group of people. These subversive activities had reached such a dangerous point that in the ninth year of the Hijra the hypocrites set up their own centre, calling it a mosque, at Quba, whose aim was to undermine and destroy the polity at Medina headed by the Prophet, instigate dissensions among the Muslims, invite an army from outside to invade the town, and fan internal revolt (Quran 9: 107).

Besides these inveterate hypocrites, there was also a group of people among the Muslims with weak faith, who used to oscillate between the Muslims and their opponents, depending on which way the wind was blowing. The hypocrites were, by and large, under the influence of the Medinan Jews, and were working to fulfill their agenda (see Surah al-Maida: 52). The Quran instructed the Prophet to warn these hypocrites to be ready to be punished in Hell for having established secret relations with the enemies of Islam. It is in this context that the Quran berates these hypocrites for choosing those disbelievers as their walis and leaving aside the true believers, in the mistaken expectation that, in this way, they could acquire respect and power. They sat along with the leaders of the disbelieving foes of Islam in their meetings, where the latter would mock Islam and the Prophet. The Quran says that these hypocrites used to remain in waiting, being neither fully with the Muslims nor fully with their enemies, so that if the Muslims were victorious, they could come to them, saying that they were with them, and that if the disbelievers triumphed, they could go to them, saying that they had assisted them in defeating the Muslims.

This behaviour of the hypocrites is what the Quran refers to when it forbids the believers from taking disbelievers as their walis. As mentioned above, this group of hypocrites was heavily under the social and political influence of the Jews, and was hand-in-glove with them in their scurrilous propaganda against Islam and the Prophet. The Quran refers to this situation (particularly in Surah Ahazab and the Surah Noor). The leaders of the Jews mocked and reviled Islam, and in their meetings some Muslims would also be present. The pagan Arabs were also involved in this. These Jews and pagan Arabs tried to incite ordinary Muslims to disobey the Prophet and revolt against him. It was in this context that the Quran says that those in whose hearts there is a disease, that is to say who are hypocrites, rush towards the disbelievers to join hands with them for fear that otherwise they might fall into trouble.

This is the sort of wala or solidarity (a termed related to the word wali) with the enemies of Islam who are bent on uprooting the faith that the Quran forbids. Obviously, a relationship of wala with such people would be a direct contradiction of ones Islamic faith, as well as a grave threat to Islam and the Muslims at the political and social levels, too.

The Second Misunderstanding

Another cause of considerable misunderstanding about Islams teachings with regard to the possibility of friendship between Muslims and others is that the above-mentioned prohibition of wala, or taking disbelievers as walis, has been erroneously interpreted as applying to all non-Muslims in general. It must be stressed here that, as the discussion of various Quranic verses above has shown, this order applies only to those non-Muslims who are enemies of Islam and who are involved in activities aimed at undermining and destroying it. This point is strikingly brought out in the following verses of the Quran:

O ye who believe! Take not into your intimacy those outside your ranks: They will not fail to corrupt you. They only desire your ruin: Rank hatred has already appeared from their mouths: What their hearts conceal is far worse. We have made plain to you the Signs, if ye have wisdom. Ah! ye are those who love them, but they love you not,- though ye believe in the whole of the Book. When they meet you, they say, "We believe": But when they are alone, they bite off the very tips of their fingers at you in their rage. Say: "Perish in you rage; Allah knoweth well all the secrets of the heart." If aught that is good befalls you, it grieves them; but if some misfortune overtakes you, they rejoice at it. But if ye are constant and do right, not the least harm will their cunning do to you; for Allah Compasseth round about all that they do (Quran 118-120).

These verses specify that the foes that they refer to are those whose hearts burn with enmity and who are engaged in plots to destroy the Muslims. It does not refer to ordinary, well-meaning, kind and sincere people of other faiths. The true import of these commandments can be properly understood from the fact that in a very highly secretive and sensitive matter, the migration of the Prophet from Mecca to Medina , the Prophet not only shared his plans with a non-Muslim, Abdullah ibn Arqad, but also fully trusted him. This fact clearly suggests that these verses forbid taking as confidants and intimates only those non-Muslims who are enemies of Islam and its followers. It is, thus, obvious, and needs no explanation, that a non-Muslim of good character is much better to have as a friend and confidant than a person who is Muslim in name alone and is a hypocrite and an opportunist.

The sort of non-Muslims that the Quran forbids Muslims from taking as their intimate associates is also clearly indicated in the following verse:

O ye who believe! Take not My enemies and yours as friends [or protectors] (wali) offering them (your) love, even though they have rejected the Truth that has come to you, and have (on the contrary) driven out the Messenger and yourselves (from your homes), (simply) because ye believe in Allah your Lord! If ye have come out to strive in My Way and to seek My Good Pleasure (take them not as friends), holding secret converse of love (and friendship) with them: for I know full well all that ye conceal and all that ye reveal. And any of you that does this has strayed from the Straight Path. If they were to get the better of you, they would behave to you as enemies, and stretch forth their hands and their tongues against you for evil; and they desire that ye should reject the Truth (60:1-2).

This verse strongly and explicitly forbids Muslims from taking disbelievers as their walis, but here, too, it does not refer to all non-Muslims in general. Rather, it refers only to those who have rejected the Truth [] and have driven out the Messenger and yourselves (from your homes), (simply) because ye believe in Allah your Lord.

Precisely which non-Muslims this Quranic prohibition applies to is an issue that needs to be carefully understood. Conversely, we must also properly understand which non-Muslims this prohibition does not apply to. The Quran very clearly indicates that this prohibition does not apply to the general non-Muslims who relate with peace and goodwill with Muslims. Instead, it restricts this prohibition only to those non-Muslims who are enemies of Islam and the Muslims. Thus, the Quran relates:

Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loveth those who are just. (8) Allah only forbids you, with regard to those who fight you for (your) Faith, and drive you out of your homes, and support (others) in driving you out, from turning to them (for friendship and protection). It is such as turn to them (in these circumstances) that do wrong (60:8-9).

These verses very explicitly show precisely what sort of non-Muslims the Muslims have been prohibited by the Quran to take as their walis, and, on the other hand, which non-Muslims this prohibition does not apply to. From this discussion, it is clear that Muslims can, indeed non-Muslims who do not bear any enmity against Islam and its adherents and are not engaged in any activities against them as their friends.

Critique of An Extremist Position

The above discussion clearly shows that the arguments of some people who claim that Muslims must never befriend non-Muslims and that such friendship is banned in Islam are completely wrong and absurd. These people have not understood the relevant Quranic verses in their totality. Thus, for instance, Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab [the founder of the Wahhabi movementYS] even went to the extent of claiming, A Muslims faith in Islam cannot be proper, even if he believes in one God and has abandoned polytheism, till he harbours enmity for the polytheists.

In a similar vein, a contemporary Saudi Islamic scholar, Dr. Sahal bin Rafa al-Aytabi, who teaches Islamic theology at the Ibn Saud University, Riyadh, claims that Islam has forbidden love for non-Muslims, but, still, instructs them to deal with them with decency. He argues this on the basis of his own reading of the following two Quranic verses:

Thou wilt not find any people who believe in Allah and the Last Day, loving those who resist Allah and His Messenger, even though they were their fathers or their sons, or their brothers, or their kindred. For such He has written Faith in their hearts, and strengthened them with a spirit from Himself. And He will admit them to Gardens beneath which Rivers flow, to dwell therein (for ever). Allah will be well pleased with them, and they with Him. They are the Party of Allah. Truly it is the Party of Allah that will achieve Felicity (58-22), and

O ye who believe! Take not My enemies and yours as friends (or protectors) offering them (your) love, even though they have rejected the Truth that has come to you, and have (on the contrary) driven out the Messenger and yourselves (from your homes), (simply) because ye believe in Allah your Lord! If ye have come out to strive in My Way and to seek My Good Pleasure (take them not as friends), holding secret converse of love (and friendship) with them: for I know full well all that ye conceal and all that ye reveal. And any of you that does this has strayed from the Straight Path (60:1).

It is obvious, however, that Dr. al-Aytabis argument and reasoning is faulty. Neither of the above-mentioned two verses deals with non-Muslims in general. The first verse refers only to those non-Muslims who have waged war against God and His Prophet and are enemies of the religion of Islam. The second verse also refers to the same sort of people. Besides, the general context of these two verses also clarifies that it is only this sort of non-Muslims, and not all non-Muslims in general, that the verses refer to. This point is made clearer when we recall that the Quran makes the Prophet declare:

Say: "No reward do I ask of you for this except the love of those near of kin." And if anyone earns any good, We shall give him an increase of good in respect thereof: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Ready to appreciate (service) (Quran: 42: 23).

On the basis of this verse, can anyone at all argue that it meant that the Prophet was demanding a one-sided love from these people, and that, in return for this, he hated them instead of loving them for being his near relatives? Of course not! Can any one claim that the Prophet hated his uncle, Abu Talib, who had protected him [Unlike Shias, Sunnis believe that Abu Talib, father of Imam Ali, did not accept Islam although till his death he provided protection to the Prophet from his Meccan opponentsYS]? Not at all! No one can make such a preposterous claim. Undoubtedly, the Prophet loved his uncle Abu Talib very dearly.

It is true that Islam is sternly opposed to polytheism and infidelity. But, this certainly does not mean that Islam commands Muslims to hate all non-Muslims. It certainly does not order Muslims not to love, on the basis of their common humanity or common nationality, those non-Muslims who are peaceful and well-meaning. From the above-quoted verses, it is evident that the Quran orders Muslims to deal justly and kindly with the non-Muslims who wish to live at peace with them and who do not oppress them. The Quran instructs Muslims to entertain good and noble feelings for such people, to be concerned, and to work for, their welfare, to be compassionate towards them and to help them in times of need. For, as the Quran says:

God does not forbid you regarding those who have not fought you on account of the Religion, and have not expelled you from your homes, that you should be virtuous to them and be equitable with them; surely God loves the equitable. God forbids you only regarding those who have fought you on account of Religion, and have expelled you from your homes, and have given support in your expulsion, that you should take them for friends; and whoso takes them for friends, those are the wrong-doers (Quran: 60: 8-9).

The words of Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab that I earlier quoted, which drip with extremism, are echoed by another Saudi scholar, the late Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Abdul Aziz bin Baz, in a letter that was a response to an article by the former rector of Al-Azhar, Shaikh Jad ul-Haq, where the latter had sought to justify good relations between Muslims and others and inter-religious dialogue and cooperation. Shaikh Jad ul-Haq had written, Muslims consider the followers of Judaism and Christianity as believers in God and Divinely-revealed religions. There is no difference among them as regards the basic principles of their Divine message.

The Shaikh's argument can be critiqued, because it denies the basic difference between Islam and other religions, which is not permissible. Furthermore, todays Christianity and Judaism have departed from their true, original forms, and so cannot be said to be the same, in their basic principles, as Islam. Bin Baz pointed this fact out, but he went to another extreme by wrongly claiming, Undoubtedly, God has made it incumbent upon the believers to hate, and to be enemies with, the disbelievers and has forbidden them from loving them.

It is obvious that this argument is absurd and erroneous. It represents a gross misinterpretation or misunderstanding of Islamic teachings. There is no basis for such a claim in the Quran. Rather, there are enough references in the Quran to challenge and rebut this argument. It is necessary to urgently critique and to do away with these wrong interpretations, which pose a major barrier in promoting better relations between Muslims and other peoples.

[Maulvi Yahya Nomani is a leading Islamic scholar, based in Lucknow, and associated with the Urdu Islamic magazine al-Furqan. He can be contacted on yahyanomani@yahoo.com. Yoginder Sikand works with the Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Social Policy at the National Law School, Bangalore. He can be contacted on ysikand@yahoo.com]

Indian Muslim News - GENERAL

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in

India's leftists are not "pro-poor"

By Bijo Francis

The poor performance of India’s Left parties has become a new topic for discussion for leftist think tanks as well as their leaders. The top leadership of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has been convening one meeting after another to analyze the party's worst performance ever, where the party's parliamentary representation has hit a record low.

It appears, rather than having a consensus, the leadership is split where accusations are common and agreements rare. The differences and rivalries are at such heights that the CPI (M) politburo, two weeks ago, expelled one of its senior members, V.S. Achuthanandan from the party's supreme body for supporting the move to prosecute the party’s infamous State Secretary Pinarayi Vijayan.

Resentment to openness, accountability and democratic values is a common character of Indian politics across the spectrum, and the CPI (M) is no different. The party has a demonstrated and well-established record of punishing persons who challenge corrupt and dictatorial leadership.

The disastrous failure of the CPI (M) in India’s recent general elections does not require much analysis to understand. A large section of the Indian populace found the party to be hypocritical and its leaders devoid of merits. This was reflected in the ballot boxes.

Yet, most communist think-tanks in the country attempt to criticize the party leadership using soft cautions, while at the same time appreciate it by making generic references like, “the left to regain its credibility as a moral-political force is committed to the poor.” The attempt is to portray a false picture that the party is still good but something unexpectedly went wrong. Most of this rhetoric finds space in publications in India.

The fact is, “pro-poor” days of the CPI (M) have long gone and the poor have realized it. The blind embracing of practices contrary to its once core philosophy has not only alienated it from the poor but also exposed the fact that its leadership lacks commitment to the poor. Its political allegiances, prior to the elections, proved that corrupt and opportunistic politicians join hands to retain power. By associating with some of the most notorious names in current Indian politics like Mayawati, the present chief minister of the state of Uttar Pradesh, the CPI (M) made it unambiguously clear to the electorate that they were no different.

The CPI (M) in the state of Kerala aligned with one of the most infamous figures in the state's politics, Abdul Nasser Madhani and his People's Democratic Party. They supported the PDP and its shady leadership to such an extent that even investigations into some of PDP's activities in suspected acts of terror was interfered by the state administration who misused the state police. Achuthanandan, the CPI (M) deposed politburo member also had a role in it, as chief minister of the state. The public love affair between CPI (M) and the PDP was only to secure Muslim votes in the state, a fundamental negation of their secularist ideals.

The party's leadership further exposed the “copper beneath the polish” by allegedly using its administrative writ in the state of West Bengal to snatch land belonging to poor farmers in the towns of Nandigram and Singur and offering them to business groups, which led to violent incidents resulting in loss of life and property.

Not only did the incidents showcase the shocking scenario of the administrative vacuum in West Bengal, a state under CPI (M) rule for more than three decades, but also exposed the party's dubious stand on the poor and their concerns when its leadership stood to benefit from suspicious and lopsided business deals with international business groups.

With the understanding gained by the party leadership after dealing in selfish business interests, the meaning of words like “neo-imperialism” is close to their heart. The only time when the poor showed their power was during the elections.

Such misadventures of the CPI (M), it is claimed, resulted in distancing the “intelligentsia” from the party. The question is whether any freethinking and intelligent person in India would like to be associated with them?

People, once believed to be close to the CPI (M) leadership, like Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer, has publically denounced the party's leadership. In a recent statement, Justice Krishna Iyer said, the curse of CPI (M) is its politburo, which has to be dismissed en masse. However, its survival as a political party in India without a dictatorial executive organ is yet to be proved.

Yet, leftist think tanks have urged the CPI (M) to “publish papers” and “produce practical plans” to regain mass support and re-educate party cadres. Such suggestions come from fundamentally flawed understanding that the poor lack intelligence. Do the leftists need any further proof in addition to the election results to understand that this is a wrong presumption?

[Bijo Francis is a human rights lawyer currently working with the Asian Legal Resource Center in Hong Kong. He is responsible for the South Asia desk at the center. Francis has practiced law for more than a decade and holds an advanced master's degree in human rights law.]

(Courtesy: UPIasia.com)

Indian Muslim News - ISSUES

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in ,

Report on Round Table on Muslim Development Agenda

A meeting of the Muslim MPs and intellectuals was organised on 14 July 2009 by National Economic Forum for Muslims (NEFM) at India International Centre in New Delhi to prepare next 5 years development agenda for the community. The meeting was chaired by Union Minister for Minority Affairs Salman Khurshhed. Several MPs and other eminent persons from the community participated in the meet.

At the outset Salman Khursheed clarified the confusion prevailing among Muslims on his statements in the press after assuming the charge as Union Minister for Minority Affairs. Khursheed pointed out that neither he nor his Government were against the tabulation of the Mishra Commission report in the Parliament for debate, which has given remedy to the ailments diagnosed by the Sachar Committee report. He said that the Government is examining it and will decide appropriately on its timing and presenting ATR.

He suggested that there is need for Muslims to take maximum benefit of the mass scale schemes such as NREGA, PMEGP, RGURM, RKVY, NRHM etc., while agreeing fully to the need of Government coming up with a special economic development package for minorities aimed at creating better educational facilities, more employment and skills development for self-employment opportunities.

The demand for removal of religion based discriminatory clause 3 under Article 341, which was imposed by a Presidential Order in 1950 and contradicts the secular character of the Indian Constitution, was forcefully put up by most MPs and other speakers. Khursheed expressed his agreement and said that such religion based discrimination under our secular Constitution has no place in our democratic country while adding that the Government is aware of the matter and the same has been recommended by the National Schedule Castes Commission, besides Mishra Commission.

Earlier speaking on the occaison, the Members of Parliament totally dismissed the peanut offered to the minorities in the budget. They pointed out that in the budget, the NMDFC and Maulana Azad Foundation budget has been merged and thus the net increase is only Rs. 100 crore and not Rs. 740 crores, as was made out to be. The MPs were unanimous in demanding that at a crucial juncture, when the community needs to catch up on educational and economic development, it needs a special component plan of nothing less than Rs. 25,000 crore annually.

Earlier making a power point presentation, MJ Khan, President, NEFM set the following agenda for discussions.

Agenda and background note

Widening the jobs and educational opportunities to the millions of its citizens in a cost effective manner should be the national priority for India in the new millennium. Muslims constitute a large segment of those Indians who continue to suffer due to lack of proper education. The literacy levels amongst the Muslim are the lowest, as has been authenticated by Sachar Panel. Thus they have a long way to go before they can catch up with the rest of the country.

Due to the educational backwardness Muslims are not able to participate in the economic development. In jobs many times they face discrimination, which has led to their negligible presence in government services, even at the lowest levels, where education does not matter. With this social handicap, they can look for any respectable level of participation only with effective instruments of support by the government. Removal of religion based discriminatory Clause 3 under Article 341 of the Constitution, creating a Separate Subgroup within the OBC reservation and launch of a Special Component Plan for Muslims of a reasonable size of Rs. 25,000 crores annually, seems logical and absolutely necessary steps.

In the changing dynamics of world order and the emergence of knowledge societies, where the emergence of private sector in playing an important role in education, jobs and new enterprises, the importance of quality education is further enhanced. Thus providing quality education to 50 million Muslims to bring them into national mainstream is a major challenge for the government.

In view of the increasing marginalisation of Muslims in social and economic spheres over a period of time, the feeling is growing that Muslim youths may loose faith in the system and about their future. Thus, there is urgent need for attention by the government, intelligentsia and the political system to devise suitable measures to address their issues and grievances, and more importantly take effective steps to ensure their participation in the mainstream education and social and economic development.

The question of social opportunity and public policy needs to be answered keeping in view the poor economic development of the community. If fair representation in jobs, education and resources allocation is ensured, it will have strong cascading effects on the development of the community and in turn on the economy of the nation.

The issues concerning Muslims are many – from profiling, security, education, jobs, poverty reduction, and economic participation to social and political empowerment. There is however no agreement on the agenda and the course of action to be followed. This needs to be done, keeping in view the emerging socio-economic environment and the political reality of the day so that what is demanded is substantial enough to make impact, and not just statistics. And what is demanded should be possible to achieve.

We believe that Muslims need enabling environment for them to effectively participate in the mainstream activities and contribute to the social and economic advancement of the nation. Reservation may be important, but not the only way to go, especially in the context of increasing role of private sector in jobs, education and economic affairs.

We need to work upon and come out with a clear Agenda, Road Map and Action Plan – what we should pursue with the Government and what we should do ourselves mobilizing the community resources. The issues and agenda may thus be divided between the Action by the Government and the Action by the Community. The same may again be of two types: 1) Social and Political 2) Governance and Developmental

Agenda for the Government

Social and Political

      1. Proportionate Political Representation to Minorities, as for Dalits in India and for Minorities in many other countries.

      2. Expanding overall OBC quota, including more Muslim castes as in many States and trifurcation of OBC Reservation.

      3. Removal of Article 341 (3) the religion based discriminatory clause.

      4. Profiling of Muslims, code for investigating officials and media.

      5. Safety and Security – Control of riots, Acceptance of Inquiry reports, accountability, deterrent punishments and equal compensation.

      6. Annual report to be released by Home / Minority Affairs Minsitry on Minorities Level of Confidence in States, and ranking them on the same.

Governance and Developmental

      1. Equal Opportunities Commission.

      2. Waqf properties documentation, vacation, valuation and commercialization.

      3. Non target, non accountability, low transparency, and corruption loaded execution.

      4. Waqf properties documentation, vacation, valuation and commercialization.

      5. 85:15 ratio basis education scheme, ITI status to Madarsas, meeting criteria.

      6. Special Monitoring Officer for minority schemes in each Ministry / PMO or MMA.

      7. Special Component Plan for Minorities of Rs. 25,000 crore.

Agenda for the Community

Social and Political

Setting up a Monitoring and Response Centre for research, response, coordination and delivery at the National and State levels

1. Image building exercise

2. Coordination on major political and social issues and meetings the Government

Economic and Developmental

1. Operationalising an Economic Development Agency

2. Large Scale programs Mission Skills, monorities concession

3. Creating awareness and empowerment to access major Governmental schemes like SSA, RGURM, NREGA, NRHM, PMEGP, NHM etc.

Mr. Khan emphasised that there is a need to work out a clear Agenda, a clear Road Map and a clear Action Plan for the development of the community. Highlighting the need for a proactive approach and a forward looking agenda in the changing socio-economic environment, he said that the time has offered us a historic opportunity, where the Government is in know of the problems being faced by Muslims and seems keen to deliver. It is stable and is in business like mode. We must seize the opportunity and for that we need to prepare very clear agenda for development, based on the above points.

Based on the deliberations of the Round Table Meet and wider consultaions with eminent community leaders, six point recommendations have been made, as under:

Resolution Adopted

Keeping in view the above dynamics and based on the wide spread consultations among the community leaders; the following resolution was adopted:

1. No Reservation but Correction of the religion based discriminatory Clause (3) under Article 341 of the Constitution, which was imposed by a Presidential Order 1950. The existence of this Clause contradicts the secular character of our constitution, which is mentioned in the Preamble of the Constitutuion and guarnteed under Artcle 14, 15 and 16 of the Constitution “that no discrimination will be made to its citizens based on gender, caste, religion etc.” And yet Muslims and Christens face religion based discrimination under this infamous Presidential Order 1950.

2. No Reservation but Fair Share under the OBC quota, wherein based on the Mandal Commmission recommendations, Muslims OBC castes constitute one third (8.4%) of the 27%. Muslims, like Hindus MBCs, have also not got their share in OBC reservation, as few powerful castes take away the chunk of the OBC quota, say Yadavs in Northern India. Therefore based on the South pattern of Kerala, Tamilnadu, Karnataka and AP, Advanced OBCs, MBCs and Muslim OBCs may be given Quota within Quota, as per their share. This will be in total conformity with the spirit of reservation, where all get Justice, a Just and a Fair Share.

3. No Reservation but Affirmative Actions for their effective participation in the national mainstream by accessing education and economic opportunities through a set of Affirmative Actions. Through Special Component Plan of Rs. 25,000 crores, an annual budget of Rs. 15,000 crores may be created for Modernisation of the Madarsa Educational Network and for opening new educational institutions for Muslims under 85:15 ratio, wherein 85% grant is by GOI and 15% by the host. Another Budget of Rs. 10,000 crores to be created for their large scale skills development programs, creation of small enterprises and other economic opportunities.

4. No Reservation but Equitable Distribution under the spendings by all economic ministries of the Central Government. The apppoitnment of a Monitoring Officer in each ministry or mandating the Ministry of Minority Affairs to ask for status report on quarterly basis of the adherence to the 15% spendings for minorities (10% exclusively for Muslims) will serve the purpose.

5. Safety, Security and Sensitivity towards minorities. Suitable law may be passed by the Parliament for the protection of minorities by covering them under the Criminal Act, on par with the SC/ST Criminal Act. This will ensure that harassment and profiling of minorities is not done. And in cases of riots, blasts and terrorist activities, even before the preliminary investigations are done, some Muslim names are flashed in media, which not only affects the investigations, but create very negative perception about Muslims in the society. Similalry, in cases of riots, Strict Punishment to those responsible, Dettering Compensation to the victims, (Rs. 25 lacs and jobs to the dependents of the victims) and time bound enquiry and adoption of reports, will stop any riots in future.

6. Special Measures by the Community:

Setting up of Indian Minorities Economic Development Agency, coordinated by MJ Khan

Setting up of National Level Monitoring & Response Centre, coordinated by Mr. K. Ansari

Setting of a Political Affairs Committee, coordinated by Mr. Mohammad Adeeb, MP

Setting of a Committee on Education Affairs, coordinated by Dr. Huma Masood, UNESCO

In addition to this, a suggestion was made to the Minister by MJ Khan to form a 12 - 15 member advisory committee for the Ministry, which could meet once a month to discuss the issues concerning minorities, suggest for agenda and action and monitor various programs.

It was felt that if these measures are taken, then Muslims will be able to effectively participate in the national mainstream and contribute to the economic progress and double digit growth of the nation.


Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 22 July 2009 | Posted in

How and Why Muslims Should Dialogue With Others

By Maulvi Syed Nikhat Husain Nadwi

(Translated from Urdu by Yoginder Sikand)

There is no room for coercion in Islam. Islam appeals to peoples intellect, their minds, their sense of logic and reasoning in order to stress its claims. This principle can lay the basis for good relations between Muslims and people of other persuasions. Islam is not opposed to Muslims establishing social, economic or educational relations and bonds with others. This is why, from the early days of Islam onwards, Muslims have had these sorts of relations with others. The fundamental basis of such relations, as Islam understands it, is to jointly work against oppression and for establishing justice and peace. A second basis is the Islamic belief that all creatures are members of the family of God, and that, hence, they must be served. The third theological basis of inter-community relations and dialogue in Islam is the duty to respect the rights of all human beings.

Islam insists that there can be no compromise on its ideological principles, such as faith in the one God, prophethood, and the Day of Judgment. Besides this, there can be dialogue and discussion on all issues. Dialogue should also take a practical form, such as Muslims working together with others for constructive purposes, helping them or taking their help. Islam exhorts Muslims to respect others on the basis of their common humanity. It stresses social justice, peace and struggling against oppression, and for this Muslims can indeed join hands with others to work for a better world for everyone. This is a very important form of inter-religious and inter-community dialogue.

When two individuals are together, inevitably they start talking to each other. Without this, they cannot understand one another. If dialogue and interaction are so indispensable at the level of two individuals, how much more important it must be at the level of two or more cultures and religions! Obviously, unless members of different religious or cultural communities dialogue with each other there is no way they can truly understand one other. It is completely unreasonable to expect that cultural and religious communities can live in isolation with each other and not feel the need to understand each others beliefs, practices, issues, concerns and problems. Such isolationism will spell doom for the whole of humankind. It is also a form of escapism, and, undoubtedly, a reflection of obscurantism. The future of humankind critically depends on people of different communities understanding each other and jointly struggling for a more just and peaceful world, to work towards ending illiteracy, poverty, war, conflict and disease wherever these may be found.

The fundamental foundation of productive and sustainable dialogue is for religious and cultural groups to first understand each other properly and, on that basis, to come closer to each other. For this purpose, it is necessary to study in detail about others cultures and religions, their languages, histories, beliefs, practices and traditions directly, from their primary sources, in an unbiased manner. This should also go along with efforts to devise means to work together with other communities to solve their problems and address their concerns. Only in this way can cultures come closer to each other.

Typically, human beings people do not understand the truth or usefulness of a matter unless they see themselves as benefiting from it. Thus, inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue must provide tangible benefits to people, such as helping them solve their problems or mitigating or ending their conflicts. No ones wounds can be healed or their empty stomachs filled simply by preaching to them about philosophical niceties or lecturing to them about ideological issues. This cannot tear down the walls of hatred that divide people. People have to see direct benefits accruing to themselves from dialogue for them to appreciate its importance. Hence, the most productive form of inter-religious and inter-community dialogue is to understand the causes of conflicts and differences between different religio-cultural groups and then involve people from all parties to dialogue together to jointly work out solutions, which will benefit the parties or communities involved in the dialogue. Similarly, they can work together for their common interests, including on economic, political, and social issues. This effort can start at the local level and then go all the way up to the national and international levels, too.

When seeking to initiate inter-religious or inter-cultural dialogue, it is crucial not to start with negative issues, because this is a sure way for dialogue efforts to fail. Rather, the focus should, as far as possible, be on positive issues and a constructive agenda. Likewise, it is not proper to seek to initiate a dialogue by harping on past events or grievances. Instead, the focus must be on the present, for the aim of the dialogue is essentially to improve the present conditions of, and relations between, two or more communities, not to harp on the past.

For such dialogue to succeed, partners to the dialogue must be willing to make sacrifices. They must be tolerant and broad-minded. They must take into account other peoples sensitivities and emotions and always be conscious not to seek to trample on their rights. Successful dialogue requires that partners be genuinely committed to work for peace, freedom, justice and good relations.

Another principle that must always be kept in mind when thinking about or engaging in dialogue is that to consider any other culture bad or to label it so is not proper. Islam forbids Muslims from abusing the deities of polytheists. This is so because this might provoke them to react in a similar way. This Islamic teaching suggests to us that Muslims must not abuse or vilify other cultures or brand them as enemies.

The rapidly changing world of today requires that all cultures must reconsider their ways of relating to each other, and work together for peace and prosperity for all. In our own country, India , home to numerous different religious and cultural communities, dialogue for this purpose is extremely necessary today. Unfortunately, the different religious communities in India know little about each other. This has given rise to numerous misunderstandings, which, in turn, continue to fuel conflict and violence. Very few Indians belonging to one community have studied, in a dispassionate and detailed manner, the religion, customs, beliefs, traditions and world-views of other communities living in the country in order to properly and dispassionately understand them. There are extremely few Muslims who have studied Sanskrit, the language of the Hindu scriptures, so that they could directly read and understand the Gita, the Puranas, the Ramayana, the Vedas and so on. Hardly any Muslims have studied the Pali language in order to read the Buddhist scriptures. There must be almost no Muslims who have directly met and interacted with Hindu, Buddhist and Jain religious leaders. Probably no Muslim has visited, or stayed for a while in, Hindu religious schools and other such institutions and their pilgrimage sites so as to directly understand them.

The same holds true in the case of all the other communities in India . There are hardly any Hindus who have read the Islamic texts, and have met, interacted and exchanged views with Muslim ulema. The distance between Hindus and Muslims has become so wide now that the doors of Hindu gurukuls and Muslim madrasas are closed to other communities, and both of them are characterized by a heightened sense of fear, insecurity and defensiveness.

All this so alarmingly suggests how distant the various communities of India are from each other. In fact, hatred between many of these communities has rapidly escalated in recent years, making the task of dialogue particularly difficult. Yet, dialoguing is an urgent task that must be taken up at all levels and as widely as possible. Dialogue is not the task only of our religious leaders and organizations, although they have a very crucial role to play in this. They must interact with their counterparts in other communities so as to create a climate of trust and dispel mutual suspicions and misunderstandings. This sort of dialogue is indispensable for the peace and prosperity of our common homeland. The different religio-cultural communities of our country also need to dialogue and unite to struggle against the baneful impact of many aspects of the dominant Western culture that is now playing such havoc with our cultures and mores.

Inter-community dialogue is indispensable to promote the unity and prosperity of our country and its traditional cultures. In this regard, I wish to point out that a major hurdle in this regard, and a cause for much acrimony, is the tendency of some people who, just because they are in a minority, insist that they have accepted the countrys political system and Constitution only out of compulsion, and claim that the moment they are able to gather enough power they will refuse to accept the Government and the Constitution of the land. This attitude has, in fact, become a major cause for concern throughout the world. Extremists, no matter what their religious identity, who espouse this view will not hesitate to use every means to capture power in the hope of thereby bringing about the Revolution of their dreams. Naturally, others will not take lightly to this. That is why conflict, force and violence must be avoided. We need to struggle against these authoritarian tendencies, and, through dialogue, work to ensure that all people get the same rights and opportunities to live and prosper. This is the only way out for global, as well national and local, peace, welfare and justice.

[This is an edited version of translation of extracts from Maulvi Nadwi's Urdu booklet, Muzakirat Ki Zarurat (The Need For Dialogue (New Delhi: Institute of Objective Studies, 2005). Yoginder Sikand works with the Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Social Policy at the National Law School, Bangalore. He can be contacted at ysikand@yahoo.com]

Indian Muslim News - OPINION

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , ,

Why the Budget brings a smile to Bengal's Muslims

By M. J. Akbar

The most communal punishment you can inflict upon any community is to deny it an education. Ignorance is the other face of poverty. No one is illiterate by choice. Which child would bleed her fingers rolling a beedi in preference to a classroom?

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee’s provision of Rs 25 crores for an Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) affiliate at Murshidabad in Bengal is only too little, and not too late. You can only get a degree college with such money. But one college is a million times better than none.

Two objections have been raised in Bengal: that AMU is too much of a Muslim, and not enough of a university. AMU is, today, about as Muslim as St Stephen’s College is Christian. AMU graduates do not emerge flaunting special degrees in ‘‘Islamic fundamentalism’’. You could check this out with our Vice President, Hamid Ansari, who was both a student and vice chancellor. It doesn’t seem to me that he was either a member of, or presided over a secret society of Indian Taliban, during his days at AMU.

If the 1940s are going to be dragged into the debate, then why restrict ourselves to that turbulent decade? Do we really want to revisit the acrimonious debates about the admissions policy of Calcutta University before the 1940s? Should one travel fast forward? When we were students in Presidency between 1967 and 1970, a Muslim could not get a place in its Hindu hostel for the simple reason that the hostel was reserved for Hindus. One does not recall any major media campaign urging reform at the time.

Reform came because Indians wanted it, not because media wanted it. A substantial, if quiet, Indian achievement is that we have retained the best from our past and jettisoned, without any fuss, the worst. Compare this with a certain neighbour, which tends to invest in the worst and deny the best of its history and culture. Indians are sensible heirs. Just as other institutions have moved away from a certain pre-Partition ethos, so has AMU.

Destroying the good in the name of the best is an old and faintly odorous tactic of the artful saboteur. It is perfectly true that AMU’s academic quality has deteriorated, but it remains a far sight better than the proliferating private money-churners that pretend to offer an education. Thirst has outstripped supply, and mercenaries are filling the gap. Those who can least afford expensive education end up paying the most. If there is hunger for an AMU in Murshidabad today, it is because through two decades of Congress raj, three decades of Marxist domination and one decade of intermediate confusion, no one did anything to assuage this hunger.

AMU does have serious problems that demand urgent redress: there is no reason why any quality Indian university should slip towards a lower common denominator. Its administration is, at this moment, a scandal fuelled by sectarian politics at which Delhi is adept. If AMU is required to create affiliated units then it must possess the administrative ability and academic quality needed, otherwise it will be cheating the very Muslims it claims to serve. Rather than lifting its affiliates, the children could drag down the mother even further.

There is a potential paradox in play as well. Many colleges in Aligarh city and Uttar Pradesh have demanded affiliation to AMU, but it has been resisted in order to prevent any dilution of AMU’s minority character. This minority status has, in any case, been transferred to a gray area through an amendment passed by Parliament in 1981. Doubt seems to suit both judges and politicians.

Muslims would be making a grievous generational mistake if they turned AMU into the sole answer to their educational needs. Education has to be community-specific, and the principal objective must be quality at the school level. That is what will make Muslims capable of finding a place in Presidency or St Xavier’s.

The Sachar Committee’s statistics tell many a revealing story about Bengal. The state’s literacy rate is 68.6%; among its Muslims, the figure drops to 57.5%. The urban situation is better; the figures travel up to 81% and 66%. What is truly encouraging, however, is the quantum leap taken in school enrolment. By 2004-05, 82.8% of Muslim children between the ages of 6 and 14 were in school, as compared to the state average of 85.7%. Here is the evidence, if any is required, of the growing conviction that education is the only route to a better future. But what happens after that? The percentage of Muslims who completed middle school in 2001 was 26%. Those who finished the next level and became eligible for college were a mere 11.9%. Some improvement will definitely have occurred since 2001, but the pattern is evident. The higher you go, the less education you get.

That is why the Rs 25 crore Aligarh Muslim University affiliate at Murshidabad is not too late, although it remains too little.

(Courtesy: MJAkbar.org)

Indian Muslim News - OPINION

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in ,

Commissions and Caste Systems should be shut down

By Abdul Hannan

Two reports, this time, are hitting the newspapers and are the subject of discussion among Muslims and other communities.

First thing first, Liberhan Commission report that has been submitted to UPA government on 30 June of 2009 is still a core issue among Muslim community who are hoping, a day this report will be tabled in Parliament.

Secondly, the report of Ranganath Misra Commission is also a very important subject for Dalit Muslims and Scheduled Caste. Muslim MPs are under pressure by their community to use all means to table this report in Parliament without any further delay.

Intellectual body of Muslims and various organisations, since long time, are insisting on central government to implement the recommendations of Sachar Commission, which was appointed by UPA government to know the condition of Muslims in all sectors and was tabled in Parliament on 30 November 2006. Irresoluteness and obscured position of ruling government is enough to know that how much the part of this report will be implemented and how many years it will take.

The people may have forgotten Sri Krishna Commission, which was installed to investigate the reason of communal violence in Mumbai in 1992-93 to bring the justice to the victims. Muslims are insisting on Central and Maharashtra governments to implement Sri Krishna Commission report and arrest all offenders named in this report, but what happened? Years after years, governments in state and in Centre came and gone but recommendations of Sri Krishna Commission are rotting in governments office.

After post-Godhra carnage in Gujarat, three commissions were set up. Two commissions were set up by the railway to know how fire caught in coach and third commission was appointed by the Gujarat government to show its sincerity to maintain the law and order in the state after swallowing thousands innocent lives. All three commissions recommendations were different and rejecting each others findings, even some investigated report were totally biased and were in favor of the criminals, so as political parties, whether it is Congress or BJP, refused to accept these reports. Such as these commissions became escape goat of politics without delivering any result. Those arrested in false charges still in jail, those were involved in crime against a particular community are free without any trial. How the coach came in fire is still a myth.

These are the situation of few unforgotten commissions are being discussed in newspapers nowadays. What happened with countless previous commissions nobody knows.

We are viewing for long times a rash of commissions in every state and the leaders of communities are entrapped in political net without any success as the governments want.

This is beyond the imagination that why we are all trapped in the game is being played in the name of minority or cast or creed. Every one is saying that we are entering into 21st century and this time is better than the past. Religion, race or such thinking has lost their meanings in this enlightened era, so why these leaders and organisations are demanding their rights are based on cast, creed or on religious line. Such thoughts not only weak the positions of minority and low cast people but also grant the governments a chance to delay the matter till another term on non issue. Why they dont want to unfetter the ankles of cast and creed.

When majority and minority, or cast and religion status are unimportant issue for all political parties during election, and when Mr. Rahul Ghandhi not feel any hesitance to sleep in Dailt home seeking their votes, so why just after the election or when deprived community demands their rights and seek equality in all sectors, scheduled cast or minority status appear as an obstacle before them and governments find an easy way to divert their attention to unsolved issues.

Indeed, all layers of society and communities divided and chopped off into religion, cast, creed and into groups to disrupt their unity and dissociate them in order to draw away their attention from the real issues are pushing their generation into dark and causing the reason of suicide, deaths and endless stricken poverty.

Ordinary people, who live in illusions, where no ways but to accept that what is happening with them or with their community, is that they are from lower class or are from minority or are from scheduled cast, hence they are not eligible to receive the rights as majority community is getting, always weeping on their fortune.

Now, Ranganath Commission and Liberhan reports are before us. Same mistake is being repeated by Muslim leaders. They are demanding to table these reports in Parliament, after that they will demand the implementation of these reports. Means, years needed in implementing of just only one report, so could be imagined that what will be happened with other reports and how many years and centuries needed to do better the situation of the community are from minority or are from lower or scheduled class.

Appointing commissions are a bid to amusing the community, leaders and people who have extra interest to solve their communities issues and want to reduce their problems.

Instead to waste their time and energy in raising the voices and in demanding with governments on some commissions report, it is better to reject this phenomenon in which every government give a lure in the name of commissions to the community to puzzle them into the issues will not solve in centuries.

This is the responsibility of all minority and scheduled cast leaders to make a platform to stronger their voices and demand with government to thrash the systems which always remind them that they are from minority or from lower class and their position not allow to get more rights or be close their mouths on little facilities are being given them with keeping it in their minds that what they are receiving is enough.

(Courtesy: DalitMuslims.com)

Indian Muslim News - ISSUES

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in ,

I refuse to sing Vande Mataram By Prof. Kancha Ilaiah With the other students in my small village school, I used to sing the first two stanzas of Vande Mataram as a boy. Though I did not understand what it meant, I used to like the song at the time. Now after 45 years, as I witness the raging debate over the song, I have to think about what the song means to Dalit-Bahujans and in what context its author, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, wrote it. To my shock, I discover that the song was written to instigate Hindu sanyasis to make a communal attack against Muslims in the novel Anandamath. As is well known, maths are Hindu spiritual shrines where only Brahmin sanyasis are allowed to live. Tribals, Dalits and Sudras have no place in these hallowed maths even today. Shankara maths, the epicentres of Hinduism, are the best examples of this Brahminic Hindu culture. In the mid-and late-19th century, when Bankim lived and wrote his books, even Sudras could not enter these maths, leave alone Dalits. Bankim was a contemporary of Mahatma Jyotirao Phule whose book Gulamgiri (Slavery) on abolition of caste was published in the 1850s. In Kerala, even in those days, the festival Onam was being celebrated in praise of Bali Chakravarthi, a victim of the Brahmin Vamana, considered one of the avatars of Vishnu. Even in Bengal, William Carey, the creative evangelist, had started working among tribals and lower castes by having the Bible translated into the people's Bengali language, and not the Brahminical Bengali of Bankim. When Bankim wrote Anandamath, which was published as a full-length novel in 1882 (it was earlier serialised in his journal) he had already witnessed the 1857 sepoy rebellion, in which Hindu (mainly upper caste) and Muslim soldiers participated. Those were the times when preparations were being made to launch the Indian National Congress. In this atmosphere of national reforms and anti-colonial struggle, why did Bankim write a novel with Brahmin sanyasis as protagonists revolting against the Muslims and not the British? The reason could be that quite a lot of Dalit-Bahujan castes and tribals must have been moving into Islam. As M.J Akbar noted in his recent book Blood Brothers, conversion of masses of people into Islam had made Hindus a minority in East Bengal. Caste oppression and the control of Brahminism over Hinduism was the main reason for the productive masses moving into Islam. Brahmin intellectuals like Bankim were obviously more worried about the exodus into Islam than colonial rule. It was probably as a representative of the Brahminic social force that Bankim wrote that novel. Vande Mataram is a song that instigates. It is not a liberating song. There is no reformative appeal in it. The weapon-wielding Durga is the prime metaphor around which the song was woven. It was written to embolden the sanyasis to rebel against the Muslims. Who were these Muslims? The majority of them were SCs, STs and OBCs who moved into Islam because of the caste oppression within Hinduism. Did Bankim ask only the sanyasis to salute Mother Durga or did he address the entire nation including SCs, STs, OBCs and minorities to build a socially harmonious and egalitarian nation? There is no reference to the social mass and its productive ethics in the song. In Aurobindo's translation of the song it reads: "Thou art Durga, Lady and Queen, With her hands that strike and sword of sheen, Thou art Lakshmi Lotus-throned." From the above stanza there is no doubt that the song was meant to instigate violence. It invokes Goddess Durga, whose iconic form shows her holding a trishul and wearing a garland of human heads. This cannot be taken as a symbol of a woman's revolt against patriarchy. We know that Bengal is one of the most patriarchal regions in India. The openly displayed violent Goddess or God images were essentially meant to protect and perpetuate the system of Varnadharma. Bengali nationalist writers used the violent Durga image to fortify Bhadralok Brahminism. What is the relationship of Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati with the SCs, STs and OBC masses? In Bengal, Sudras and Namsudras have no right to priesthood. The situation is the same all over India. Spiritual untouchability is an existential reality. Neither Marxist rule of the last 25 years nor the general democratic rule of last 60 years has changed caste cultural relations in Bengal and India. When Vande Mataram was adopted as a national song it was done with a deeply internalised Brahminic view. It was only after Muslim scholars objected that two stanzas, which do not make direct reference to Durga, were adopted. But the repeatedly uttered "mother" does refer to Durga, with whom the Dalit-Bahujan masses cannot mediate as dignified human beings. The song stands against the annihilation of caste and untouchability and that was why the Sangh Parivar adopted it. It essentially represents Hindu Brahminism. As an OBC I would never sing Vande Mataram as it represents Bhadralok Brahminism and not the nation as whole. [Professor Kancha Ilaiah is Professor of Sociology at the Osmania University, Hyderabad and author of "Why I am not a Hindu."] (Courtesy: DeccanChronicle.com)


Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 21 July 2009 | Posted in

Islam and Inter-Religious Dialogue

By Maulvi Syed Nikhat Husain Nadwi

(Translated by Yoginder Sikand)

In today's world, one of the most crucial issues that we are faced with is the urgent need for different communities and civilizations to understand each other and to improve and strengthen their mutual relations. Modern developments have shrunk the world into a global village. Consequently, countries and communities are now heavily inter-dependent in order to sustain their lives. Different communities are now rapidly influencing each other at the social, economic, cultural and political levels. Increasingly, communities are influenced by each others ways of life, customs, practices and beliefs, not hesitating to adopt those that they find useful or good. Gradually, this is moving in the direction of a composite culture.

In this context, inter-cultural dialogue assumes a particular urgency. This is especially the case in a country where numerous cultural groups live together, where it is imperative that they must learn to respect each others rights, customs, mores and traditions. In the absence of this, particularly if one culture seeks to dominate or impose itself on others, such a society will inevitably move towards conflict and violence. This is why it is so necessary to seek to promote strong bonds of solidarity, based on dialogue, between people of different cultures and religions. This is needed not just for the proper evolution of these cultures and so that can learn from each other, but also for ensuring global peace and security. When cultures learn to not just tolerate each other but also to work together with others for their mutual advancement, they become supports of each other and a means for peace, rather than conflict. In this way, they can translate into vehicles for the promotion of mutually beneficial relations at all levels – cultural, social, political and economic.

Some people argue that each culture should be allowed to grow on its own, in isolation from others. This suggestion is simply unworkable, because if a culture restricts and cocoons itself in this manner its rapid death is inevitable. In todays world, no culture can even conceive of, leave alone claim to, exist isolated from other cultures because every cultural groups very existence is now so heavily dependent on other groups. Global progress, peace and welfare are a common need and a shared aim of all the communities of the world, without which each community cannot properly prosper.

Some other people are of the view that each culture should be given full freedom to expand, even though this might mean that one particular culture finally dominates the entire world. Yet, this is a sure recipe for conflict. The same result would follow from another approach to inter-cultural relations that is rooted in a vision of cultural hegemony that refuses to tolerate the existence of other cultures and seeks to wipe them out or else subjugate them. Obviously, this is a totally unrealistic approach. It is also a negation of a basic message of all Divinely-revealed religions, according to which all human beings are made of the same basic substance and are offspring of the same primal parents, and that, till the Day of Judgment, all human beings will remain tied to each other through their shared humanity. This bond of humanity that knits together all people is the primary, most basic and strongest of all relations.

In a plural society, where people of different religions, ethnicities, language groups and cultures live together, every group must be given equal rights and the same opportunities to progress. This can only be ensured and sustained through continuous inter-community dialogue. In my view, the only way to prevent inter-cultural or inter-religious conflict, as well as to promote harmonious inter-community relations in a plural society and at the global level, is serious dialogue that aims at improving relations between different communities so that they jointly work for establishing peace.

The point then arises as to what the bases of such dialogue should be. Should dialogue concern itself simply with the niceties of the philosophies of different cultural groups? Should dialogue remain restricted only to the theological level? Should dialogue be limited simply to preaching about peaceful coexistence? Or, should it, as I believe, go beyond this to focus particularly on the various social and other such problems and issues that different cultural groups face in common? Until inter-cultural dialogue takes up these common problems as well as issues of common interest as its bases, it will remain very superficial. This is why I believe that the first stage in inter-cultural dialogue is for members of different cultural communities to identify issues of common concern as well as common interest, particularly those problems that are a hurdle to better relations between various communities. The second step is to evolve means to address these issues through peaceful and sustained dialogue. But this must be carried out in a spirit of mutual respect, for no dialogue can succeed if it involves abusing or debasing the religious feelings and beliefs of other communities.

[This is a translation of extracts from Maulvi Nadwi's Urdu booklet, Muzakirat Ki Zarurat (The Need For Dialogue (New Delhi: Institute of Objective Studies, 2005). Yoginder Sikand works with the Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Social Policy at the National Law School, Bangalore. He can be contacted at ysikand@yahoo.com]

Indian Muslim News - ISSUES

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in ,

Are Muslims under represented?

By Dr Malik Rashid Faisal

The results of the recently concluded general elections clearly demonstrate that though Muslims did not vote in masse for one candidate or a party just like previous elections, they voted for a candidate in whom they saw a good prospect of taking care of regional issues like security, development, employment etc. Maulana Asrarul Haque Qasmi is a glaring example of this notion. He is elected from Kishanganj constituency in Bihar on Congress ticket. As President of Talimi Wa Milli Foundation he has been highly active for the educational upliftment of the people of Kishanganj for long. Under this organization he adopted 168 villages to make them fully literate. He says The youths of our country, particularly of Kishanganj are highly backward in the field of education so I will try to remove this lacuna of my people. To create employment opportunities for youths is also one of my priorities. He is the only Congress Muslim MP from Bihar who studied in famous Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband.

The other Muslim MP of Deoband background is perfume baron Maulana Badruddin Ajmal; founder President, AIUDF, Assam, who won the election from Dhubri constituency with a big margin of about two lakh votes getting 51.66% votes. His youngest brother Abdurrehman Ajmal is studying in Deoband. He has seven sons and one daughter. His four sons are Hafiz-e-Quran. He tells convincingly My enemy becomes my friend when he comes to me. I have adopted fill in the blanks formula in my life. People love me wherever I go. He is said to be the leader of Bangladeshi Muslim immigrants. Bangladeshi label annoys these Mulsims who were earlier appeased by Congress. But now Maulana has come to their rescue. He had surprised everyone by winning 10 assembly seats in 2006 by a party that was formed just few months before the elections.

In 2004 general elections, the number of Muslim MPs was 36 while in the current Lok Sabha it is only 31. The states of Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal sent the maximum number of Muslim MPs to Lok Sabha, 7 by each. The other states are J&K (4), Bihar (3), Kerala (3), Assam (3), Tamil Nadu (2), Andhra Pradesh (1), Lakshdeep (1). In total, 769 Muslim candidates fought the general elections 2009 from 281 constituencies on the tickets of many political parties. Congress got an edge over other parties in getting the support of the people who elected 11 Muslim candidates fighting on the tickets of this national party. As mentioned, the circumstances of the voting pattern among Muslims did not remain the same everywhere. Many states like Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan etc did not elect even a single Muslim MP despite a sizeable Muslim population due to different regional circumstances. In Maharastra, the results of Aurangabad and Malegaon, two Muslim dominated towns, were more worrisome for the community. The split in Mulsim votes assured the victiory of BJP in Malegaon while Aurangabad seat won by Shiv Sena. It is surprising that the leaders like Abdur Reman Antulay of Congress, Mohammad Salim of CPM, Azam Pansare of NCP, Aziz Tankarvi of Congress and Dr Shakeel Ahmad of Congress could not win their seats in their respective regions.

Muslim leaders and analysts are of the view that the community has always been politically under-represented. The number of Muslim MPs in the Lok Sabha is unfortunately on constant decline, since the emergence of BJP. Since BJP accounts for 1/3rd -1/4th of the total seats, since 1996, where Muslims do not get ticket for obvious reasons, so they in effect contest in that many less seats. Ideally, secular parties should be compensating for the loss by giving increased number of seats, but that does not happen. E.g. in UP, BSP gave only 14 seats to Muslims, who account 19% compared to 21 to Brahmins, who account for less than 9%. Similalry, Congress gave some 12 seats, where as they should have given 16 seats by population and 25 seats by voting share index. Same is true with Samajwadi party in UP, CPM in West Bengal and so on comments M.J. Khan, President, National Economic Forum of Minorities (NEFM). The general perception amongst Muslims is that even the secular parties are not honest towards Muslims. They only talk sweet, but in effect, they are only as good as BJP, which unfortunately talks bitter.

The only Muslim MP from BJP is Shahnawaz Husain. He consecutively won Lok Sabha third time from Bhagalpur in Bihar. I am not a Muslim leader. I have been elected by Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and all. I do not ask for vote on the basis of caste, creed and religion. I believe in work and people support me for my works only. He argues. It is well known that Muslims never vote for BJP on account of its communal agendas. But if a BJP candidate wins in the elections and gets Muslims support as well, it would be only because of his works and reputation in the constituency. Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister of Bihar and leader of Janata Dal (U) garnered the support of Muslims in Bihar in the recent general elections, although he had an alliance with BJP. It became possible only because he adopted the path of communal harmony, employment and development, the core issues which were nowhere during Lalu regime in Bihar.

Writing exclusively on general elections in Bihar- A paradise lost for Muslims Chicago-based community activist and journalist, Moin Moon Khan gives his tough opinion in harsh words: Nitish was certainly successful in hoodwinking Muslims of Bihar by proclaiming himself as their savior, like a butcher proclaiming himself to be a vegetarian. In fact, Nitish has been a facilitator for the Sangh Parivar in the same way as George Fernandes coalesced the Hindutva fraternity in its glorious days. Of course, not many would agree with this view as Nitish simply can not avoid 13 million population (about 17%) of the state.

Now comes the issue of Muslim women. They have shown no sign of retreat this time. Out of 769 Muslim candidates, 42 were women. Four of them won the elections. This is their highest number since the first Lok Sabha in 1952. These women Muslim MPs are: Mrs Rani Narah, on congress ticket from Lakheempur, Assam; Mrs Tabassum Begum on BSP ticket from Kairana; Mrs Qaiser Jehan on BSP ticket from Sitapur; Ms Mausam Noor on Congress ticket from Malda North. Of them, Mausam Noor is the youngest, only 27 years old and also the most educated. She is LLB from Kolkata University. She is the niece of Congress veteran AB Ghani Khan Chaudhary. The love we receive from Maldas people motivates me. People come out only to see what Ghani Khan Niece looks like says the wildlife and trekking enthusiast and a regular at tiger reserves Ms Mausam Noor.

Mrs Qaiser Jehan, only 8th pass, is wife of Jasmir Ansari, who is a MLA from BSP. She has a clean image in her constituency. If every party decides not to give ticket to a corrupt person, 50 % politics would be cleaned automatically says Qaiser Jehan.

There are some first timers as well like Azharuddin, former captain, Indian Cricket team. He tries to remain shy from the media but after much effort he spoke to us. He said No other party is more secular than congress. This is the only party that talks about the rights of Muslims and that is the reason I joined it.

No doubt, Muslim MPs generally cannot go beyond their party line in policy matters and all. So they cannot do anything for the community even if they want to do something for them. Then why there is much voice and demand by the community for increasing the ratio of representation of Muslims from the so called secular parties?

Under the party based parliamentary democracy, party leaders have total say, and not the individual MPs, unless 2/3rd of them decide to walk away, which is rare phenomenon. It is true that number of Muslim MPs under different leaderships have no role, except that they can put little pressure, if they can, and do little help to their people back in their constituencies. This is too little. Two Hindu MPs under Muslim leadership is better situation for Muslims than 20 Muslim MPs under the so called secular leadership comes the reply from M.J. Khan. It is to be seen in the next five years what comes up from these Muslim MPs.


Number of Muslims in Lok Sabha


Not Available





























[Dr Malik Rashid Faisal is Senior Editor, The Sunday Indian,News Weekly (Urdu)]

(Courtesy: DalitMuslims.com)

Indian Muslim News - BUSINESS & ECONOMY

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 20 July 2009 | Posted in

Islamic Finance to Reduce Fiscal Deficit in India By Syed Zahid Ahmad At a time when economic recovery needs more stimuli by the Government of India (GoI), there is also an urgent need to safeguard the economy from the debt trap because the GDP growth rate fell to 6.7% in 2008-09 from 9% in 2007-08; the debt servicing reached 58.83% of the total expenditure for the year 2008-09. It means maximum receipts are now spent for debt servicing which accounted for 15.87% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while the debt receipts were 9.78% of the GDP in 2008-09. Even the interest payments were 21.39% of the total expenditures by GoI and 5.77% of the GDP in 2008-09. Notably the revenue deficit in 2008-09 is already 30% due to high debt serving ratio to total revenue expenditure. In an attempt to find the actual reasons behind the high fiscal deficit, it is observed that the increased debt receipts by GoI to finance revenue expenditures (especially high debt servicing); increased subsidies on food, fuel and fertilizer; and rural development through schemes like NREGS, farmer’s loan waiving scheme and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan are the three most important factors of high fiscal deficit. Since there is a need for more stimuli to counter recession in the economy, it is expected that the plan expenditures may further increase whereas due to recession, the revenue receipts may decline. This decrease in revenue receipts and increase in plan expenditure may increase the fiscal deficit to an unwanted high level. Working upon different options to reduce the fiscal deficit, it is found that Islamic finance can reduce the fiscal deficit even if revenue receipts decline and plan expenditures increase. Islamic financial products have a great role to play in reducing the fiscal deficit in emerging economies by replacing the debt based investments for infrastructure with funds mobilized through equity based Government Securities for infrastructure projects. Let’s see how Islamic finance may help us reduce our present fiscal deficit. Notably the total revenue expenditure is 142.92% of total revenue receipts reflecting 30.03% revenue deficits. The major cause of this high revenue deficit is high debt service ratio to total revenue expenditures. For a developing economy like India, in the proposed plan we project increasing capital expenditures, but in the revised estimates of 2008-09 budget, the revenue expenditure is 89% and the capital expenditure is just 11% of total expenditure; all due to high debt servicing ratio (66%) to total revenue expenditure. Notably the interest payment alone is 24% of total revenue expenditures. So, with capital expenditure being as low as just 11% of total expenditure and debt serving being as high as 59% of total expenditure, how can we go about planning to foster inclusive growth? Debt Finances crossed the Planned Estimates The debt based finances for investments under 11th five year plan document was proposed to be 48.42% of total receipts for 2008-09, whereas the revised budget estimates reveal that the debt receipts were 96.38% of total capital receipts in 2008-09. This reflects our inability to mobilize targeted amount of non debt receipts, causing high fiscal deficit due to interest payments over borrowed debt receipts. According to 11th plan documents, projected investments in 2008-09 should be of Rs. 321,579 crores while total plan capital expenditure in the revised budget observed just Rs. 41,301 crores. So the plan capital expenditure is just 12.84% of targeted investment in 2008-09. This shows our inefficiency to make budget development pro inclusive growth and to foster growth. So, it is better that GoI reduce debt borrowings which ultimately increases revenue deficits; and shift the focus on infrastructure investments to stimulate the economy at a time when GDP growth rates and employment growth rates are falling. Actual Debt Receipts are 210% of the planned Estimates Since the revised estimates on debt receipts (Rs. 326,515 Crores) is already 210% of estimated requirements of debts (Rs. 1,55,704 Crores) by year 2008-09 as projected in 11th five year plan documents, the GoI should seriously think about this increased debt receipts. The funds utilized for debt servicing (Rs. 530,010 Crores) are already 162% of debt receipts to finance fiscal deficit (Rs. 3.26.515 Crores), the GoI should revisit its budgeting. How good is it to increase the debt receipts at a time when Indian industries are looking for more affordable credits from banks to meet the challenges after the global meltdown? In year 2008-09 the deficit budget cost an amount of Rs. 192,694 crores to GoI which was paid as interest over the debt receipts borrowed to finance the deficit budget. This may be called as loss to GoI because had there been equity based receipts against debt receipts, GoI would have saved this amount. Financing Fiscal Deficit through subsidized bank loans is not good In the 11th five year plan document it was projected that by year 2008-09, to meet the proposed investment needs around 50% debt receipts worth Rs. 63,207 crores would be mobilized as domestic banks credit. However, the figures of revised budget estimates for 2008-09 states that market loans (amounting Rs. 261,972 Crores) are over 80% of total debt receipt by the GoI. The increased flow of subsidized bank loans to GoI for financing fiscal deficit is in fact creating problems for economic growth of the economy because it is creating hurdles for banks to increase the supply of cheaper credit to the private sector at a time when they need it to minimize their output cost and combat recession. It is observed that besides a fall in international demands, the availability of equity finance or cheaper credit sources have affected business confidence. The equity financial sources are drying up after reversal of capital flows from stock markets due to the global meltdown. External Commercial Borrowings (ECBs) and Export Credits have also declined. This has all affected the growth rate for industries. Besides evaluating the fall in annual growth rate of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from 9.0% in 2007-08 to 6.7% in 2008-09, it would also be important to analyze the growth trend for different industries during last year. The Manufacturing industry employing a majority of non agricultural-workers observed the deepest fall where annual growth rate fell to 2.4% in 2008-09 compared to 8.2% in 2007-08. Similarly the annual growth rate of agriculture, forestry and fishing fell to 1.6% in 2008-09 against 4.9% an year ago. However, the increase in annual growth rate for Community, Social and personal services has remarkably increased to 13.1% in 2008-09 as compared to 6.8% in 2007-08 reflecting the impact of increased expenditures by the Government through financing schemes like NREGS. But it is important to note that such expenses have not only increased the fiscal deficit beyond the estimated budget for 2009-10, but only 9% of the Indian workforce engaged in Community, Social, and Personal services is expected to be benefited through it. Thus the excess flow of subsidized bank credits to GoI for financing the budget deficit is ultimately restraining the economic growth. Fearing an even higher fiscal deficit? To reduce the fiscal deficit, it is simple to either cut the expenses or increase the revenues. But under present conditions, it is not possible either to increase the revenue receipts or to cut the expenditures because any increase in taxation will be disastrous at a time when recession has hit the business community and is already demanding for more stimuli to recover. When there is mounting pressure to increase the stimuli, the expenditure is suppose to increase further. Moreover the political promises (to provide subsidized foods and increase flagship programme expenses) by the new Parliamentarians before the election would also increase the plan expenditures. It all increases the possibility of any further increase in the current fiscal deficit. What the Government should do now? Considering the constraints to increase the revenue receipts and cut the plan expenditures to control fiscal deficit, the GoI needs to innovate new products for public finance. As almost 60% of total expenditures are made for debt servicing, GoI needs to substitute the debt receipts with equity funds. Since SEBI failed to protect the stock markets and NBFCs dealing in MFs and VCs are not in a position to mobilize huge long term investment funds, GoI needs to innovate Sovereign equities to mobilize adequate amount of non debt receipts for consolidation of public finance. Considering the available options of capital sources in the international market, there are chances to get Islamic funds instead of mere equity funds from the Muslim countries. The equity funds are somehow different from Islamic Funds in the manner that when equity funds are mixed with debt funds, it doesn’t remain Islamic Funds. Islamic Bond (Sukuk) for public finance in India Islamic economist Dr. Shariq Nisar in his paper ‘Islamic Bonds (Sukuk): Its Introduction and Application’ writes that the recent innovations in Islamic finance have changed the dynamics of the Islamic finance industry. Especially in the area of bonds and securities, the use of Sukuk or Islamic securities have become increasingly popular in the last few years, both as a means of raising government finance through sovereign issues, and as a way for companies to obtain funding through the offer of corporate Sukuk. Beginning modestly in 2000 with a total of 3 Sukuk worth $336 million the total number of Sukuk by the end of 2007 has reached 244 with over US$ 75 billion funds under management. Dr. Shariq summarizes the growth of Sukuk in following table. Recent studies about Sukuk indicate that the Sukuk market has managed to come back modestly, but only for higher corporate issuers. IFIS data show that so far this year, more than $7.6 billion of Sukuk has been issued. Almost all this year's fund-raisers have been governments or government-related, the overwhelming majority from Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia. The Middle Eastern market that drove the pre-2007 boom has also sprung into life this month with a $500 million issue for the government of Bahrain, which was boosted to $750 million because of strong demand. Thus there is no harm if GoI study the feasibility of innovating Islamic products to consolidate public finance in India. Scope of Islamic Bond in India Since India houses the second largest Muslim population of the world, it is expected that at least 20% of Indian Muslims who are economically better off and desperately looking for real Islamic investments would grab it with enthusiasm. Unfortunately, so far India has yet to launch any real Islamic bond or Mutual fund because somehow all the so called ethical mutual funds have been mixing equity funds with debts. Moreover unofficial sources indicate that considering the higher growth rate of India, some larger Islamic banks and financial institutions like Islamic Development Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank and others want to invest in Indian infrastructure but do not find suitable opportunities. So, we study the prospects of Islamic Bond (Sukuk) issues from GoI to finance infrastructures. Fiscal deficits can be reduced by the Sukuk funds Since returns to Sukuk holders come from the actual returns from the project there is no chance of any interest burden on the economy. In case there is any loss in the specified project that will also be duly shared by the Sukuk holders. Thus Sukuk finance negates any possibility of interest burden on the economy and removes the chance of fiscal deficit due to interest payments on borrowed debts to finance infrastructural needs of the economy. We have higher revenue expenditures due to higher debt servicing ratio to total expenditure. The problem is also that capital expenditure is much behind the target and growth rate can’t be fostered if we lack infrastructure. Thus while we need to stimulate the economy, it is better to introduce Sukuk by the Indian Government as it would not only help build infrastructure, increase capital expenses and stimulate the economy, but also reduce the revenue deficits, debt servicing ratio and revenue deficits. Financing the deficit through more subsidized bank loans is creating problems for the banks to reduce lending rates for the private sector; as a result the private sector is getting lower amounts of credit at higher costs. Besides the recent global recession, this hardening credit supply is adversely affecting the growth rate of agriculture and the manufacturing industry, as reflected by negative growth rates during the last 6 months. Thus the finance deficit is not helping the majority of the Indian workforce as agriculture and manufacturing collectively provide livelihood for around 63% of the workers. So, to foster growth and ensure it is inclusive growth by way of providing sufficient and affordable credits to the private sector, the increased flow of subsidized bank loans to GoI should be reduced; otherwise the private sector will continue to suffer and we may not be able to attain a desirable growth rate even by increasing the fiscal deficits to stimulate the economy. Since Sukuk is bounded with religious faith, the economic rationality is a secondary aspect in the decision making by the investors. The top priorities for Sukuk holders are to ensure that – 1. The returns are Halal (legal according to Islamic ethics) and investments will be used for building potential infrastructures for national development. Thus the investments and returns may draw tax incentives as well, which may stand as compensation against lower rate of returns. 2. The investments are meant for legal share (proportionate ownership) in the infrastructure. 3. There would not be any fraud or cheating by the fund managers and the investments would not be spent for promoting unethical and unlawful activities (as prohibited by Islamic ethics). 4. The investments will be in safe hands to carefully develop the assets and not manipulate them. 5. Even if the rate of returns are low as compared to market returns on other investments, the advantage of earning Halal income and the tax incentives on investments in infrastructure, would be some compensatory advantages to the Sukuk holders. Since all sorts of returns on Sukuk are free from interest and does not exceed the actual asset value, whatever is paid as returns to Sukuk holders paid from the actual earnings from the asset created by that particular investment. There is no need to borrow any debt to pay Sukuk returns or repay the whole Shukuk funds because all the Shukuk holders collectively own the asset. They will thus proportionately gain or lose according to appreciation or decline in the value of that particular asset. Indian Institute of Islamic Infrastructure Funds (IIIIF) It is desirable that the GoI set an autonomous financial corporation as ‘Indian Institute of Islamic Infrastructure Funds’ (IIIIF) to grab the national and international market of Shariah Funds and mobilize adequate funds for the infrastructural investments in India. If IIIIF succeeds in soliciting cooperation with leading Islamic investment and development banks around the world, hopefully we may not need debt based receipts for deficit finance especially to meet the infrastructural requirements in India. The services of such banks may be solicited through GoI securities with assured lease rent after completion of particular infrastructure projects. Once India manages to mobilize project based Islamic Infrastructure funds, with such funds specific borrowed debts may be repaid to reduce the debt burdens. Based on the projection by the Planning Commission of India, the estimated requirements of infrastructure investment is Rs. 20,56,150 crores. Considering the commercial aspects of different sectors, it is expected that IIIIF may help us arrange 93% of the total requirements amounting Rs. 19,12,420 crores for 11th five year plan’s infrastructural needs. Only the investment need of water supply and sanitation amounting Rs. 1,43,730 may not be sellable otherwise infrastructure projects of all other sectors seem sellable through equity based Government securities by IIIIF, upon which, any specific amount as % of investment could be assured as returns in terms of lease rents after completion of the projects. IIIIF along with RBI and the Ministry of Finance may design such equity based Government Securities (Sukuk). Further such securities may be traded in open market as RBI has recently framed policy for stripping and reconstitution of Government securities to enhance the trading scope of securities. However for Sukuk, there could be assured lease rent or dividend as rate of returns instead of interest. Conclusion Islamic Finance in terms of Sukuk may help India raise required infrastructure investment funds for the Government and the corporate sector. It may solve the most threatening challenge of our economy by providing equity funds for infrastructure against Government Securities enabling GoI to reduce its fiscal deficit after repaying borrowed debts for capital expenditures through equity funds; and also by arranging equities for the corporate sector. It is hoped that the proposed IIIIF may reduce the fiscal deficit allowing India to foster inclusive growth as it carries following promising features – 1. Reduce the fiscal deficit of India even if the revenue receipts decline and we need to increase the plan capital expenditures to stimulate the economy. 2. Help India save up to 6% of our GDP in the amount we pay as interest over debt receipts. 3. Enable GoI to repay debt receipts borrowed for financing the infrastructure investments. 4. Provide desirable equity fund for the corporate sector at a time when external financial resources are dried up and the cost of domestic bank credits are not affordable. 5. Once GoI succeeds in arranging sufficient infrastructure funds through Sukuk and repays debts borrowed for capital expenditures, it would reduce the load of public finance on domestic banks thus enabling them to reduce the cost on credits specified under PSA for private sector enterprises. There could be many more significanct outcomes of IIIIF if we resolve it without any prejudice for the sake of national interest. (Courtesy: RGEmonitor.com)

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