‘Muslims in India highly underrepresented’

December 05, 2023

Islamabad: French scholar Prof Christophe Jaffrelot has regretted that Muslims’ significant proportion in India’s overall population, they were highly underrepresented in government offices, but over-represented in jails.

Prof Jaffrelot was speaking at a roundtable discussion on “The plight of Indian minorities under Modi’s India” organised here by Institute of Strategic Studies (ISS).

Prof Jaffrelot affirmed that it was necessary to mention vigilantism and hate speeches and that there was a lot more to cover when Muslims’ marginalisation in today’s India was contemplated. In this context, three facets -- namely institutional representation, socio-economic condition, and educational status --- of Indian Muslims were worth examining, he continued.

A combo of images shows speakersat a roundtable discussion on “The plight of Indian minorities under Modi’s India” organised by the ISS in Islamabad on December 1, 2023. — Facebook/Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad

Prof Jaffrelot pointed out as to how Muslims in India were facing a consistent decline in their condition since 1947. He asserted that the most deplorable reality about Muslims under the BJP was that their representation in elected assemblies, either in the Lok Sabha or State Assemblies, was severely decreasing. From the 1980s to 2019, Muslims participation in the Lok Sabha had decreased from 9 per cent to just 4.6 per cent. In major Indian states like UP, Muslims had been facing political marginalisation.

He also highlighted the yawning socio-economic gaps between Muslims and Hindus. Muslims in India were more deprived institutionally than other backward communities like Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other backward classes (OBCs). Muslims’ share of wealth was just 9.5 per cent compared to 36.1 percent of Hindu Upper castes and 33.3 percent of Hindu OBCs. Same was the case with education. There was a huge decline in Muslims going for higher education, and this gap increased under the BJP government. In 2021-22, only 19.8 per cent of the whole Muslim population entered higher education institutions. These factors had collectively caused Muslims’ deprivation under Modi’s India, he said.

During the interactive session, Prof Jaffrelot further illustrated the wealth gap, job losses, decreasing educational opportunities and the threat to Urdu language in India. The discussion also touched upon the challenges faced by other minority communities, including Christians, and the role of the diaspora in spreading the Hindutva ideology globally. The ongoing de-Kashmirisation process, developments in South India and the issue of Akhand Bharat were also discussed. D. Khurram Abbas, Khalid Mahmood, Chairperson, BoG, and Suhail Mahmood, DG. ISS, also spoke on the occasion.