The community also needs to realize that the presence of different streaks and streams is a boon not bane. We need “The Soft liners”,” Hardliners” and “moderates”. Sometimes a soft line is effective; occasionally a hard-line does the trick but moderate approach delivers in most cases. However the work of “moderates” is made easy by the presence of “hardliners” and “soft liners”
Dr Javed Jamil
After the formation of the new Lok Sabha, which will have the lowest representation of Muslims for several decades, it is time to move on. We have suffered hugely in terms of our political empowerment, and are in danger of further sliding in terms of socioeconomic and ideological empowerment. With a government in place, which faces no danger in near future, it’s time to refresh our strategies. Fortunately, this seems to be the new thinking in almost all the intellectual circles. I have been receiving regular calls from various quarters about the need of taking stock of the situation at the earliest and embark upon a mission of self-reliant socioeconomic empowerment. In addition of course, we have to revise our political strategies.
I have repeatedly argued that if we have to succeed we have to develop a comprehensive strategy. Ideological empowerment, Social Empowerment, Political Empowerment and Economic Empowerment — all these four areas need comprehensive and sustained efforts. As I had argued in some of my previous articles, the time for action is immediately after elections and not a few months before elections when the atmosphere is emotionally surcharged and partisanship is in full flow with the partisans of different political set-ups arguing their positions without any substantial grounds.
We have to realize now that we have to distribute our work at different levels: Public, Organizational and Legal. Our public programmes and positions which can include demonstrations of various kinds when needed must revolve around national issues of common importance including the social and economic policies of the government. We must try to involve other communities in these programmes. At the organizational level, we must negotiate with political and social organizations of all hues and colors to highlight our specific concerns. We have to negotiate on our demands and get things moving. There is no need to make these negotiations a public issue. Time has taught us that whenever there are public posturings on any issue with communal sensitivities, it almost always benefits the communal parties. If Modi has been able to reach the top, one reason has been the continuous opposition on Gujarat riots, which only strengthened his position. The so-called secular parties use these issues to grasp Muslim votes without doing anything substantial.
One field that has largely remained unused is the legal course of action. There are many issues, both ideological and social where legal course including public interest litigations can prove more fruitful. We have to move to the Supreme Court arguing that Muslims are being denied rights on the ground of their religion. There are many ideological and social issues too where legal course can be very effective.
The biggest obstacle in the path of a coordinated action is the mutual rivalries between important personalities. Those who have contacted me for exploring the strategies are unfortunately at loggerheads with one another. They love talking negatively of others, and more often than not, individuals are attacked at personal levels. Unless we decide that we will never indulge in personal attacks and will only debate on issues, we cannot succeed. Leg pulling does not help anybody, and mutual respect and support helps everybody. The community also needs to realize that the presence of different streaks and streams is a boon not bane. We need “The Soft liners”,” Hardliners” and “moderates”. Sometimes a soft line is effective; occasionally a hard-line does the trick but moderate approach delivers in most cases. However the work of “moderates” is made easy by the presence of “hardliners” and “soft liners”. We should give up our habit of launching attacks against anybody that speaks in a different tone. At times of crisis, these very people can come to your rescue. We need people in all national and regional parties. Instead of attacking them on the ground of their political affiliations, they must be persuaded to pusue the right course of action.
Finally, we have to learn that we are not only a minority (legally), but also second largest majority (ideologically) and part of majority (socially). We have to work on all the three fronts. We have to try to influence the direction of the national policies in all matters. The day we realize this we will be on course to carve a new future. Emotional issues need to be sidelined for the time being. And even when the right time comes, emotional issues should be addressed in a non-emotional way. If we learn this art, we can have our way without undesirable effects.
On the political front, Muslims must realize that they cannot succeed unless they garner a support of at least 17-18 percent of non-Muslims. Strategies are to be planned as to how and from where these can be mobilized. Once we are able to develop a group with about 32 percent representation, we can surely play a more meaningful role for the country.
* Dr Javed Jamil is a thinker and writer with over a dozen books including his latest, “Muslims Most Civilised, Yet Not Enough” and “Muslim Vision of Secular India: Destination & Road-map”. Other works include “The Devil of Economic Fundamentalism”, “The Essence of the Divine Verses”, “The Killer Sex”, “Islam means Peace” and “Rediscovering the Universe”. He can be contacted at:email@example.com or 91-8130340339.