New Delhi, Oct 30 (UNI) Vice President Hamid Ansari today called upon Indian Muslims to recognise the importance of education and social reform to confront the evils of ignorance and stagnation.
He said such an effort would need to focus on autonomous correction of social customs hampering progress, particularly the ones with a tenuous base in religion.
''The priority areas of attention would need to be on primary and middle levels of education, on the education of girls, on vocational training, and on a wide-ranging awareness programme relating to rights of citizens and the facilities available to them by law but often denied in practice,'' he said, while delivering his Convocation address at the Jamia Millia Islamia today.
Urging grass-root level community leaders to be the torchbearers of this effort, he said they are better placed to understand the youth's demands and aspirations.
He observed that the state by declaring itself secular has thrown out a challenge to each and every citizen to show that he can enrich civic life by drawing inspiration from the institutional religion which he professes.
''The objective of creating an identity comprehensive enough to encapsulate both Indianness and Muslimness in the plural, democratic and secular ethos of contemporary India also required creative thinking addressed to changing situations of a modernising India,'' he said.
The task of converting this into a plan of action became, and remains, the principal challenge to contemporary Muslim thinking.
Underlying any such endeavour is the tension between the twin concepts of tradition and modernity, he said.
Calling upon the Muslims to develop a clear understanding of the modern world and the social and intellectual forces emanating from it, he urged them to seek conceptual clarity about tradition and modernity.
Talking of the state of Muslims in India, the Vice President said they number about 150 million and constitute a significant segment - 13.4 per cent - of Indians. At least 51.9 per cent of this population is below the age of twenty and 60.6 per cent below the age 25.