Discrimination against Muslims in India

Published at May 30, 2015 12:33 AM 0Comment(s)7725views

Abdul Majid Zargar

Discrimination against Muslims in India

The denial of job to a Muslim MBA graduate by a leading Indian diamond export firm has created some ripples in the Indian media and political class. What is interesting to note is that the operations of this firm are spread over to seventy-five countries in the world and earns more than 50 percent of its profits from Muslim countries but is not inclined to employ a Muslim. Indian media continue to use word “alleged” before the denial, though the delinquent firm has already accepted its wrong doing albeit due to an error by one of its trainee employee.


The discrimination against Muslims in the so-called secular India is nothing new to warrant any surprise. It has always been a blot on India’s much touted secular record since inception. When Rajendra Prasad became the first President of the Republic on 26 January 1950, his first instruction was to sack all Muslim employees from Rashtrapati Bhawan. Nehru was annoyed. As M.O.Mathai writes in his book Reminiscences of Nehru age: “He asked me to get all these Muslim employees transferred to the government hospitality department in exchange for Hindu employees. The displaced Muslim employees were detailed to duty in the Prime Minister's house even though the security authorities were unhappy about it.” Incidentally this practice is still being followed in our own Raj Bhawan, where inspite of many secular Governors at the helm, Muslims, barring few gardeners and bawarchis are kept at bay in employment.

Immediately after sticking to his job, Dy. Prime Mister of India, Sardar Patel issued a classified circular which directed that no Muslim be appointed to senior-level positions in the defence forces.  The intelligence agencies were further instructed to keep a watch on Muslim employees posted at senior levels. Writes Sheikh Abdullah in his book Aatish Chinar:  "After Kashmir's accession to India, it was expected that the restriction on the recruitment of Kashmir Muslims in Indian defence forces would be lifted and they will be given adequate representation. I was taken aghast when a secret circular came to my attention that directed recruitment officers not to enlist Muslims in the Army. Word about this circular spread among the young men who took out a procession to Mujahid Manzil .When the Defence Minister Gopalaswami Ayyangar came to Jammu, I took up the matter with him. He feigned ignorance. I asked Gen. K.M. Cariappa why Muslims were not recruited in Indian Army, to which he replied that their loyalty to India was suspect."

Concerned at the discriminatory attitude towards Muslims in government sector Indian prime minister then, Nehru, in a letter dated September 20, 1953, to Chief Ministers of all States noted that the position relating to Muslims in India is deteriorating. “Our Constitution is good and we do not make any distinction in our rules and regulations or laws. But, in effect, changes creep in due to various administrative practices and mindset of various officers. In our Defence Services, there are hardly any Muslims left. In the vast Central Secretariat of Delhi, there are very few Muslims. Probably the position is somewhat better in the province, but not much more so. What concerns me most is that there is no effort being made to improve this situation, which is likely to grow worse unless checked. I am distressed to note about this discriminatory attitude towards Muslims”. (Jawaharlal Nehru; Letters to Chief Ministers 1947-1964; vol. 3 1952-54; pages 375-376). But 68 years down the line, has Nehru’s distress been addressed? The answer is plain no –going by the facts and figures brought out by 2006 Rajinder Sacher committee in its report on social, economic and educational conditions of Indian Muslims. The report notes a bare negligible percentage of Muslims employed in government and non-government enterprises. If at all their presence is overwhelming, it is in jails and police lock-ups, notes the report. The position has remained unchanged during the eight years post Sachin committee findings, notes Amitab Kundu report- appointed by ministry of minority affairs to evaluate the status of Muslims post implementation of Sachin Committee recommendations.

It is not only the government, bureaucracy or private sector which practice discrimination against Muslims. General Sam Manekshaw is on record having said once that two Defence Ministers belonging to avowedly secular Congress, Swaran Singh and Babu Jagjivan Ram prevented and opposed him from promoting two deserving Muslim officers to the rank of Lieutenant General for reasons of bias and prejudice.

At a personal level I have witnessed how discrimination is practiced against Muslims both in employment and service sector. In 1978, after having passed my CA examinations, I applied for a job in Shri Ram group (manufacturers of Usha fans and sewing Machines). A frank and flat refusal greeted me for being a Muslim. Similarly the like-minded bureaucrats posted at Comptroller and General of India’s office allot lucrative audit assignments to non-local, non-Muslim chartered accountants while ignoring the deserving Muslims, throwing to winds the constitutional provisions which they are supposed to uphold.

Author is a practicing chartered Accountant. He can be mailed at abdulmajidzargar@gmail.com

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