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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Muslim India: A security perspective Firdaus Ahmed calls for the muslim liberal intelligentia to initiate reversal of the decline August 2002: It is counter-intuitive to look at a community through the perspective of security analysis. Theoretical paradigms available for such an examination are inadequate. The realist perspective privileges state security and the human security paradigm focuses on individuals. Besides, the community in question is essentially imagined, quite like any other, only more so. For muslim Indians, local dynamics and linkages are more relevant than any pan-Indian integrative tendency. The last movement that eventuated in Partition effectively ended any such imagining.
Nevertheless, two factors compel a look at the Indian muslim community through the security lens. One is the starkly obvious one - it being that a muslim Indian is insecure today merely on account of being a member of the community. We need to look no further than Gujarat for evidence. The second is that security literature is replete with commentary on the threats in which are implicated diverse muslim communities. These learned tracts account for threats to national security arising from issues ranging from the implication of muslim habitation for the security of the 'Chicken's Neck' to the likelihood of subversion of muslim community across the land by a ubiquitous Pakistani intelligence agency. The 'muslim' is largely hyphenated (Kashmiri muslim, fundamentalist muslim, muslim mafia etc). This serves to preserve the secular credentials of security experts, notwithstanding the political usage to which their writing is put by rightist formations.
The contention here is that security compulsions indicate that it is time for such a consciousness to emerge. The foremost reason is that a muslim community has already been created in the imaginings of majoritarian extremists as an 'Other', ironically facilitated by the limited narratives of avowedly secular, realist dominated, strategic community. Insecurity that presently haunts its members cannot be combated individually. Reliance on the state to fulfill its constitutional obligation may not be prudent. This apprehension owes to the recent lurch further to the right of the ruling dispensation as part of the succession process underway to give continuity to its ideological project. Evidence of saffronisation of institutions charged with responsibility for law and order (witness, Gujarat police) is not encouraging. Local communities, anchored socio- politically in respective regions, can at best seek to address the source of insecurity in their immediate environment. The point is that the threatening source has a national presence, and therefore local agendas have to be supplemented by communitarian action the national level. Such action presupposes realization in the several muslim communities, that are part of the mosaic called India, of an overarching unity.
Certain assumptions need to be set out at this stage. The first is that the upholding the constitutional order in face of threats is in the best security interests of the wider muslim community and its segments. Second is that a reliance on the strengths of Hinduism and liberal hindus to ensure their security in no way endorses the position that the minorities practice their religion or survive at the tolerance or sufferance of the majority, notwithstanding the opinion of no less a personage than the Prime Minister. Lastly, the global and regional context will impinge on, and influence perceptions of, the intent and any actions undertaken to cohere as a community. At the global plane, the islamist has replaced the Soviet threat in the 'clash of civilisations'. At the regional level, Pakistan can be trusted to further its geo-strategic interest, irrespective of the repercussions for co-religionists in India.
What then are the essential contours of this effort?

See for deletion -

This is not as response to the motivated criticism that the community does not condemn some or other terrorist atrocity vocally enough. To respond as desired by these critics would be to justify the illogic that since Godhra was not condemned enough and early enough, the mobs in Gujarat vented their anger on neighbouring muslims. A ghetto mentality that can only serve the hindu communalist has to be assiduously resisted. This is predicated on an internal renaissance as prelude to engaging in a stereotype busting exchange. The onus of initiating the same is with muslim liberal intelligentia and professional class. To secede from the community, as has the gentry, would not be a service rendered to either the community or the nation.
It is axiomatic that a secure muslim community is in the national interest. This would vacate even the contrived linkage that strategists are wont to draw between muslim conglomerations all over the country and our western neighbour. It would deprive the hindu communalist of leverage being used to the political end of making of the majority a homogeneous vote bank for a democratic take over of the state. It would enable participation in a progressive national endeavor by self-confident muslims as part of a invigorated community. It is time that the juncture brought on by the Gujarat tragedy is used to effectively reverse the substantial decline in the collective status and security of the community that arguably began with the deportation of Bahadur Shah Zafar to Rangoon.

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