Exposing the myth behind the vibrant Gujarat, Outlook
magazine in its latest issue has come out with a chilling fact sheet
that shows how Muslims in Gujarat despite big claims on the contrary are discriminated against
and are forced to live in a climate of fear, segregation and
"The state’s ‘Vibrant Gujarat’
propaganda has made things worse. Development isn’t being equally
distributed, and self-congratulation has dulled the weapons needed
to deal with discrimination—like state intervention to support
education, nutrition and employment. For instance, a scheme for
minorities that would sponsor the education of around 60,000
minority students every year (including Christians, Sikhs and Parsis)
has been turned down by the state government for three years now",
this is how Hanif Lakdawala, whose NGO Sanchetana runs community
health programmes, sums up the ground realities in Gujarat for
the Outlook correspondent.
The experience of Habib Mev, member of the municipal
school board, Ahmedabad is even worse.
“In Gujarat’s universities and
schools, it is difficult to get Muslim children admitted", Mev
reveals to Outlook.
himself is educated, and appears successful. His office has a
picture of him marching next to Sonia Gandhi at a rally. But he is
agitated by suggestions that his success is a sign that Gujarat is
coming to terms with its communal past and embracing all—Hindus,
Muslims, Christians—in the path to development.
Two years ago, he
says, he brought a nephew to a reputed school for admission and was
told, “Ladka hai, Musalman hai, nahin milega.” Children
enrol in primary school only to drop out soon. State figures reveal
that while few Hindus finish school (41 per cent) even fewer Muslims
and SC/STs reach matriculation—just 26 per cent.
On one hand is Ahmedabad, the city
Gujarat government showcases as one of the symbols of the Vibrant
Gujarat. Across Ahmedabad, college girls and boys own demat
accounts, living up to the famed dhando-mindedness of Gujaratis.
Scores of cafes line roads, upmarket housing and business locations
are ambitiously named ‘New York Trade Tower’, ‘Springdale
Residency’, ‘Pacifica Companies’.
On the other are the places like
Bombay Hotel, a sprawling slum on Ahmedabad’s outskirts. It is is 25
minutes from the city’s upmarket western districts, dotted with
thousands of atms, business centres and multiplexes, criss-crossed
by the best metalled roads in the country. Originally built to house
20,000 people, it now accommodates 90,000 or more, swelling with the
2002 riot-affected and others who arrive looking for work. What they
get though is denial. It took multiple years, petitions and court
cases to get a primary school approved for the area. Residents wrote
letters to authorities demanding a school. One was built, but too
far for little children to walk to. Then it was demolished to build
a new metro line. More petitions somehow got it rebuilt. There is
still no bank or health clinic, Outlook claims in its report.
The two opposite sides of Ahmedabad
are best described by Hanif Lakdawala. “There are beautiful malls,
bridges and flyovers —happiness is everywhere, but not in Gomti
Nagar, not in Juhapura", Outlook quoted him as saying.
And according to Abusaleh Sharif,
Chief economist, NCAER, “The economic and social life of Gujarati
Muslims is worse than in some least developed states. The reason is
The result is that the Muslims in
Gujarat are driven into backwardness with every passing day and
nobody is ready to realise what hell the community is experiencing
in the state. The most painful part of the entire episode is that
the real picture of the community is deliberately brushed aside even
by some Muslims, who are perhaps able to somehow enjoy the fruits of
the 'miraculous development and investment opportunities in
Gujarat', described by Vice Chancellor of Gujarat Vidyapeeth, Dr Sudarshan
Iyengar's, in these words, “Gujarat’s pseudo-religious sects are flourishing,
industrial sops are snowballing and anti-Muslim sentiments
Against these chilling facts, it is
ironic to note that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is neither
ashamed of what he is doing nor is ready to mend his ways. Worse, he
tries to assert at every national platform that everything is all
right in his state and even projects himself as a 'role model' for
other heads of states. Why, it is best replied by Dr. J.S.
Bandukwala, a retired professor.
“Hurt by refused visas and with an eye
on national politics, Modi is projecting himself as
minority-friendly. People know better.” Outlook quoted Dr.
The complete Outlook
report can be accessed here: http://outlookindia.com/article.aspx?271161