By Nistula Hebbar, ET Bureau | 15 Jun, 2014, 10.53AM IST
The "Good" Muslim
On the other hand, the Vajpayee government did give good sized Haj subsidies, hosted iftaar parties and gave India its first Muslim president in APJ Abdul Kalam to complete a full term. There are nuances of course to this engagement, which will now appear full blown in a BJP-majority government.
In the literature left behind by Sangh Parivar ideologues there is a very clear demarcation between Indian Muslims who are patriotic and those who cleave to a pan-Islamic identity. The formation of the Hindu Mahasabha from the embers of the 1919 Khilafat movement is perhaps the reason for this distrust of a larger Islamic identity. Whatever it was, the BJP has always maintained, as does Narendra Modi that, Indian Muslims, like India's Hindu citizens would be treated no better or worse than any citizen. Kalam, a veena-playing scientist who gave India its nuclear bomb and made it a nuclear power house, was a perfect example of this kind of Indian Muslim. Minority affairs minister Najma Heptullah's assertion that the fast dwindling community of Parsis were far deserving of a "minority community" title was another.
Modernization and Islam
"Muslims in India whose population is estimated to be up to 180 million in 2014 cannot be called a minority, they are India's second largest community. They can't persevere under this complex anymore or allow themselves to be manipulated," he adds.
Ahmad goes on to say that the opportunity that the Modi government represents is particularly important in the way that the community can free itself from the orthodoxy of the clerics. "Islamic clerics who are the most organised section among Muslims are responsible for teaching obscurantist ideas.
The Modi government must confront opposition from orthodox institutions like the Darul Uloom Deoband and begin the modernization of governmentrun madrassas," he added. It isn't clear whether or not this very optimistic prognosis is apt or that the Modi government is quite ready for that battle yet, but the electoral mandate has suggested a tectonic shift.
The engagement through clerics or pandering to the most orthodox elements of the community is clearly not going to be enough in future political battles. The template of the past 62 years is broken.