Prashant Bhushan, a legal luminary and social activist, has shown the mirror to the Judiciary in a remarkable way. But that’s not the whole story. Recently two interventions of the Courts do offer hope that the judiciary is the hope for preserving the democratic values in the society. The first was the judgement where the Tablighi Jamaat members were exonerated from the charges of spreading Coronavirus (remember the despicable accusations of Corona Jihad?). The second one is the Courts coming to stop the transmission of the series Bindass Bol by Sudarshan TV.
Its Editor Suresh Chavhanke in his tweet had announced the telecast of the series which aims to expose the UPSC jihad; an alleged takeover of the bureaucracy jihad by Muslims. According to him, through a conspiracy the Muslims are infiltrating (ghuspaith) into our bureaucracy by getting a place in the UPSC exam, which will entitle them to become IAS or IPS officers.
Mr. Chavhanke through a 45 second teaser of his serial claimed that Jamia Jihadis will be occupying the prestigious positions of power through this Jihad. Interestingly of the 30 odd candidates who qualified in the exam 16 were Muslims and 14 Hindus. The Jamia Students approached the Court for a stay on this serial, which the Courts gave on the grounds that this show is likely to spread hate in society.
In a joint letter, retired Civil Servants who have served that Indian Government in various capacities, and who pointed out that they have no political affiliation, stated, “It is completely perverse to allege that there is a conspiracy to infiltrate Muslim officers into the services, or to use terms like UPSC Jihad or Civil Services Jihad in this connection. These communal and irresponsible statements amount to hate speech and are defamatory of an entire community.”
As such “Muslims make up 3.46 per cent of the country’s 8,417 IAS and IPS officers. According to an Indian Express report, of 292 Muslim officers, 160 are among the 5,862 who had been selected through the Civil Services examinations conducted by the UPSC, while the remaining 132 are among 2,555 who were promoted to the IAS or IPS from the state civil services on the basis of seniority and performance, which is also assessed by the UPSC. The other data is also very revealing. In the 2019 examination, 35 out of 829 selected candidates were Muslims. That comes to 4.22%, whereas their percentage in the population of India, according to the 2011 Census, is described as 14.2%. In the 2018 examination, out of 759 successful candidates, just 2.64%, or 20, were Muslims. In the 2017 examination, out of 810 successful candidates, 41, that is 5.06%, were Muslims.
Chavhanke claims that these candidates are given the option of Arabic studies due to which they are able to compete and succeed. All in all, Sudarshan TV and its Chief Chavhanke are on a track where Muslims should not be in any position of power and privilege. This is what their majoritarian politics dictates them to state.
While on one hand, this sees few Muslims, much less than their percentage in population to come to the bureaucracy, which should be operating on the principles of Indian Constitution, above the narrow considerations of religion, Chavhanke and his tribe, who are in abundance, cannot see Muslims having any power and authority. The jaundiced vision of Hindu Nationalists like Chavhanake are now introducing a new dimension to the process of national governance.
As such the percentage of Muslims in the Government services is abysmally low. This average of 4% in top jobs matches with around 5-6% of Muslims in overall Government jobs. This has a lot to do with the economic and educational status of Muslims, worsened by the insecurity caused by the regular repeated violence against them, manifesting in the form of spectacular acts of violence like Bhiwandi, Jalgaon, Bhagalpur, Meerut, Mumbai, Muzaffarnagar and lately in Delhi.
Various commissions and committees have gone into the issue of proper representation of Muslims into Government jobs. Gopal Singh Commission (1980), Rangnath Mishra Commission and lastly Sachar Committee have given the similar observations that Muslims are grossly under represented in the jobs and their representation in jails is much higher than percentage in jails.
Their political plight has also worsened over the years and the representation in the Parliament is on constant decline. Many a Muslim leader has gone to the extent of saying that any way they have been marginalized at political and social level. The need for increasing focus on education has been on the agenda of many a major Muslim group and many oversees Indian groups of Indian origin also try to promote the educational efforts of Muslim community.
It is paradoxical that Jamia Milia Islamia, which has been targeted by Chavhanke ranks among the top Universities of the country. The economic decline of Muslim community, insecurity and ghettoisation have dealt a severe blow on the aspirations of Muslims, Muslim youth in particular.
Saeed Mirza’s classic, Salim Lande Pe Mat Ro (Don’t mourn the plight of Salim Langde), brilliantly shows the dilemmas of Muslim youth in choosing the path for their future. They realize that getting jobs is so difficult for them as they are Muslims, so why bother so much about education!
With Chavhanke’s efforts to introduce a new dimension in the Civil services, the process of communal divide and marginalisation of Muslims will only go in a worse direction. There are photographs of him greeting Narendra Modi and Amit Shah from close quarters. The channel is close to RSS ideologically.
This coming on the back of allegations of Tablighis undertaking Corona Jihad, is a worse move, which needs to be countered. Jihad seems to be the dog whistle to demonise Muslims, land jihad, love jihad, bureaucracy jihad and what have you. Courts by staying this have done a yeoman’s service to promotion of fraternity, the core value of Indian Constitution. And this example gives the hope that Indian pluralism and diversity has a chance to survive.
* The writer is a human rights defender and a former professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT Bombay).
Other pieces by Dr. Puniyani: