The Mirage of Muslim Malaise for Narendra Modi
It is that part of the year when Modi bashing will be at its peak. Yes, it is the 11th anniversary of the post-Godhra riots. Unfortunately, the silence deserved by the souls of victims will get engulfed in a cacophony of shrill voices fighting for ulterior motives. To ward off Modi's achievements, development is also subdivided into secular and communal. Anybody talking rationally about Modi's Gujarat is admonished. An entire species thrives on creating a Fear Psychosis among the Indian Muslims.
A false atmosphere of contempt and prejudice against Modi is created. A mirage of contrived ideas and distorted facts has been concocted using the springboard of the post-Godhra riots. With the first hand experience of good governance and percolation of benefits, it seems that these venom spewing species representing the entire Muslim community may be reduced to mere fossils!
The key question here is who or what represents the Indian Muslim? Mercenaries , who turn up with a stirred and shaken conscience after several years in the wilderness and claim to be waging a battle at their behest? NGOs involved in all sorts of dubious activities which sprout up to act as their true representatives? The political party claiming to be their voice in Andhra Pradesh? Or the politicians showering honourable prefixes and suffixes to terrorists with an eye on the Muslim vote?
Actually, Muslims in India have more representatives than their entire population! But what defines the Indian Muslim community? The answer is Aspirations! Just like other communities, the Indian Muslims too have aspirations, dreams and hopes. Aspirations of creating an identity devoid of victimhood. Aspirations of good education, aspirations of jobs, aspirations of business! And it is these aspirations which are halting the march of vote-bank politics in India.
Even after 65 years of empty promises, the Congress has taken Muslim loyalties for granted. Its assumption is based on the theory of Muslims voting en-block and their assumed contempt for Modi based on the Fear Pyschosis created! Sadly for the Congress, their ploy, though theoretically perfect, backfired in Gujarat and could give similar results in 2014! The BJP under Modi, has been slowly but steadily garnering Muslim support since 2002. But this has become more than evident after the recent 2012 assembly polls.
It is interesting to note that in the 66 seats with a Muslim population upward of 10%, BJP won 40 seats. Zooming in further, there were 34 seats with more than 15% Muslim population, of which BJP won 21 seats. Of the 15 seats where Muslim proportion ranged from 20% to as high as 61%, BJP won 9 seats! It is fascinating to see that Narendra Modi, who has been aggressively branded as a nemesis of the entire Muslim community, has led the BJP's victories in Jamalpur Khadia, Vejalpur, Bharuch, Surat(East), Bharuch, Vagra, Bhuj which have a sizeable proportion of Muslim population.
It seems as if the common man has finally managed to look through the farcical prism of Modi phobia and realised that his policies and politics revolve solely around development! Salaya, a Muslim dominated town in Jamnagar has set off a precedent in the recent Municipality elections. Speaking in Obama lingo, it said ‘Yes We Can' to the development of Modi! This victory is remarkable because the Salaya municipality has been a Congress bastion since its inception and this time BJP managed to win all 27 seats. These electoral gains over the last couple of months reflect a paradigm transition in the thought process of the Muslim voter.
Has this change evolved suddenly? No. Infact this change just represents the tip of the iceberg. Desperate attempts by the cottage industry to keep Muslims wary of Modi have failed. Slowly, but steadily the community is warming up to Modi and his governance and this transition could well accelerate into the top gear by 2014. The people of Gujarat realise that the last decade has perhaps been the most peaceful decade in the history of the state! Along with safety and security, all communities have got equal and ample opportunity to flourish.
Modi's policy of ‘Development for all, Appeasement to none' has helped create a new story of sustainable growth and development for the Minorities! It won't be exaggeration to say that the Muslims in Gujarat have identified that certain forces acting as their sympathisers want them to remain permanently etched to 2002, while the world is taking giant strides in 2013. The Sachar Committee findings also confirm that the condition of Muslims is way better than that in the rest of the country.
While Muslim Literacy stands at 59.1% nationally, in Gujarat it is 73.5%. The national literacy rate for Muslims in urban areas in India is 70% and the corresponding figure for Gujarat is 76%. Similarly, in rural areas, 69% of Gujarat Muslims are literate, while only 53% of Muslims in India are literate!
The Poverty Incidence also provides interesting insight into the economic condition of the Muslims. The Poverty Incidence among Muslims in Urban India was 44, but it was 34 in Urban Gujarat. Remarkably, the poverty incidence among rural Gujarat was only 13, while that of India was 33!
In terms of providing state employment to Muslims, Gujarat was beats a lot of states! Considering the Monthly Per Capita Income, Muslims in Gujarat are far more prosperous than the national average. The average monthly per capita income in Gujarat for Muslims is Rs 875, while the national averages stands at Rs 804!
Our so called secular politicians can brag about their promises to the Muslim community, but have not delivered on the ground. On the other hand, Gujarat Government under Modi,in the last decade, has silently marched ahead on the route to delivering justice, equality , sustainable growth and holistic development. After all Modi promised, Sauno Saath, Sauno Vikaas (All together, growth for all)!
(The views expressed in this article are the author's own. You can follow Dr Nirav Shah on Twitter- @niravshah112)