The former Union Minister’s book looks at a range of issues facing the community
While the plight of Indian Muslims during partition has been widely debated, it is their role in socio-economic spheres and politics, particularly during elections, that draws attention. Veteran Congress leader and former Union Minister K. Rahman Khan’s latest book Indian Muslims: The Way Forward, reflects on the present socio-economic conditions of Indian Muslims and their political leadership.
The four-time Rajya Sabha member and former Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman, Dr. Khan argues that Muslims should concentrate on educational and economic development and not “allow themselves to wallow in victimhood syndrome.” Despite their numbers and resources, the author contends that Muslims are themselves responsible for their socio-economic and educational backwardness.
Referring to the Shah Bano case and Babri Masjid demolition, Dr. Khan asks, “What did the Muslims get at the end of these two disputes?” Muslims should stop blaming others for their present plight, he argues. The book, published by Chennai-based Notion Press, suggests various practical reforms, and ways of harmonious inter-community relations.
Speaking to The Hindu about the book, he said Muslims have been traditionally backing the Congress, but “the party has not been able to build a credible political leadership in the community.” Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, who fought for the country’s freedom and served as a Minister in Jawaharlal Nehru’s Cabinet, was the “last acceptable leader for all sections of Muslims,” he argued.
On considering Muslims as a vote-bank during elections by political parties, Dr. Khan argued that it was a misnomer to consider the community, which has more than 200 million population, as “minority.” “Don’t consider yourself as the minority, empower yourself and be part of India,” the author said.
The community supported Congress because of its secular ideology and firm belief in democracy. With Congress losing power in many States, the author said the community explored alternatives and supported SP and BSP in Uttar Pradesh, TMC in West Bengal.
Asserting their space
Moving forward, Dr. Khan said the community should evolve a strong political leadership to formulate the democratic space of Indian Muslims as equal citizens and chalk out a strategy to assert their place in the country’s political power structures. Besides the failure to provide good political leadership, Dr. Khan said, the community has also not been able to provide good religious leadership owing to many factions.
The Indian Muslims, the book suggests, should engage in serious introspection and chart a positive way forward. “They should be good Muslims and good Indian citizens, useful members of the wider Indian society,” it says, adding, “Let them build confidence in themselves, rather than feel insecure and weak.”
The author, who has served as the Union Minister for Minority Affairs in the UPA Government, deals with major issues facing the community in five chapters in the book that runs to 200 pages.
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