Bursting the myth of Muslim Backwardness

published on June 23, 2012

Sub Quota for  Muslims:  Some Observations
By R. Upadhyay

The May 28 order of the Andhra Pradesh High Court quashing the decision of Union Cabinet on 4.5% minority sub-quota within the existing 27% reservation in government jobs and admission in educational institutions for the OBC has revived the protracted debate on the issue of reservation for Muslims. Many Muslim leaders while terming the court’s verdict unfortunate urged the centre to take up necessary steps to ensure that Muslims should get the privilege of reservation. Same evening a senior Muslim leader from Andhra Pradesh during a TV channel debate on the High Court’s verdict said that so long the Muslims do not get the separate reservation quota; they will not be able compete with their Hindu counterparts. The appeal of the Central Government in the Supreme Court for the stay of Andhra High Court’s order was also refused on the ground that the scheme of reservation was not supported by any constitutional or statutory provision.

The reservation for Muslims on the ground of their social, educational and economic backwardness has been an  unresolved debate in post-Independence India. But in view of the following scenario the issue is seemingly not the backwardness of the Muslims but a re-play of the divisive  politics of British India.

i.  From Islamic point of view Muslims are an enlightened group of human race and therefore not backward

ii.  Reputed Islamic theologians have glorified the poverty and illiteracy as will of Allah

iii.  Even if Muslims in India are economically backward, their leaders are responsible for it.

iv.  The reports and surveys of various committees endorsing the backwardness of Muslims are not based on ground reality.


The recommendation for reservation to Muslims is primarily based on the thesis that the community is economically backward in comparison to the majority  counterparts. However, the rise in the economic condition of Muslims with the rise of oil power in middle-east countries was seemingly not considered before the recommendation. The fact is that from 1970 onward the Indian Muslims migrated to the oil rich countries for jobs which improved their economic condition to the extent that they are even better than the Hindu OBCs. Visits to Muslim villages may be an eye opener that how the flow of Arab money has improved the living condition of the Muslims.

The Aligarh Muslim University and the Jamia Millia Islamia the two prominent centres of modern education for the Muslims have increased the number of educated Muslim middle class but since the Islamic fundamentalist forces have a deep infiltration in both the institutions the modern learning to the Muslim students have hardly turned them into a forward looking and liberal citizens of the country for liberating the community from the medieval siege and promoting social change.

The financial help from the oil-rich Islamic world to the Islamic organisations in India Added more teeth to the Muslim politics in the country and the leaders of the community became more and more assertive towards their demands linked with political Islam which is apparently a recast of the communal politics of the Muslim League. Moin Shakir, a known Muslim writer in his book (Secularisation of Muslim Behaviour, p.72) observed, “Although politically Islam is the dying ideology of the stagnant elite, yet it cannot be replaced unless a change in the political elite takes place”

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