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Doha Debate in Delhi: 62% elites think Muslims get a fair deal in India

Wednesday, February 17, 2010 09:08:00 AM, Agencies

Doha Debate at St. Stephan College, New Delhi

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New Delhi: 62.1% of around 300 people who participated in the Doha Debate on February 15, 2010 at St. Stephan College in New Delhi voted against the motion 'This house beleives Muslims are not getting a fair deal in India'.


The debate was organized by Qatar-based The Doha Debates, considered to be a unique forum for free speech in the Arab world and chaired by Tim Sebastian.


The panelists of the Debate were, Seema Mustafa, Teesta Setalvad, M J Akbar and Sachin Pilot.


Total voters were around 300 consisting of St. Stephens alumni and students.


While speaking against the motion, Sachin Pilot, India’s Minister of State for Communications and Information claimed the government is addressing cases where Muslims had been disadvantaged, but insisted they are playing a full part in Indian society.


“Muslims are represented by the top three Bollywood actors. They are in the top echelons of sports and culture. Muslims have a better deal in India than they have in any neighboring country or indeed anywhere in the world.”


Taking his side, M.J. Akbar, a senior journalist and publisher asserted that, it would be a dismissing suggestion that, Muslims were not getting a fair deal in a country where for “decades they have been engaged in uninterrupted democracy”.


While admitting that some lived in severe deprivation, he said their situation was no worse than a proportional cross-section of any other religious group. India’s 130 million Muslims represent 13 per cent of country’s 1.17 billion population.


However, Seema Mustafa, prominent journalist and political commentator, arguing for the motion, said the government had done little for Muslims who had been especially victimized by security forces since the 9/11 attacks on America.


"Muslims have also been barred from many jobs in the Indian civil service", she insisted.


Teesta Setalvad, a prominent civil rights activist while joining her stressed, that Muslims were being excluded from the “elite political and economic leadership of India.


“The Muslim today lives in a segregated class leading to ghettoisation and a consequently very dangerous situation. Above all, Muslim women are discriminated against to make sure a credible leadership does not emerge", she observed.


"Moreover", she said, "Wherever Muslims get a level playing field, they succeed. But, while “Indian people” can accept Muslims at every level “it is the government that is prejudiced.”


Meanwhile, barely 24 hours after this poll at the Doha Debate, many people have emerged who are not ready to accept the poll.


Dr. John Dayal, member of National Integration Council, Govt. of India, today in a reception organized by The Doha Debates says, “The poll seems to be biased because anyone who knows even little bit about Muslims’ condition in India can’t say that they are getting a fair deal”.


Joining him, Tania Sarkar, one of the active participants of the debate while talking to the media at the same venue said, “I got the shock of my life when I saw 62 % percent voting against the motion”.


“How and where, Muslims are getting a fair deal? Are not they grossly represented in each and every field?”, she asks.





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