Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called out Congress for being only a “Muslim-male” friendly party with no thought to Muslim women. His frustration has stemmed from the “triple talaq” Supreme Court judgment last year, still awaiting legislation despite being cleared in Lok Sabha, held up as it is in Rajya Sabha.
On the face of it, it’s a “hara-kiri” by Congress: The ratio of Indian muslim women vis-à-vis men is 951 per thousand. Why risk losing such a significant share of votes when the party is fighting for survival?
The answer is in these bland statistics: As per the 2011 Census data, 13.5 Muslim women are married before they turn 15. The ratio rises to nearly 50 per cent for Muslim women getting married between 14-19 years. The child thus “transferred” at a fragile age is unlikely to resist the patriarchal order, from the one of father to the new one of husband. Such a “captive” audience would do as the overarching men in the family would ask them to do. Love, set and match.
The Muslim women, thus married early, are also unlikely to finish their education. An uneducated women has lesser chance of being employed. Lack of financial security drives them further inside the cage. This is the story from one generation to another to the next one. There is no escaping from this rigid order which acquires a “Quranic” sanction only Mullahs or All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) can decode in this land. In order to keep their hold watertight, they then announce grandiosely to have a “Sharia Court” in every 640 districts of the country.
Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) demands our attention for this body has been active for over a dozen years. It came into existence during Gujarat Riots of early 2000 where, as per its founder Zakia Soman, she felt a common thread of being from a “marginalized gender” with Muslim women in camps. “Marginalized in families; marginalized in community,” as she says it.
Soman recounts a vivid experience: “We were working to enroll girls in school, get scholarships…and find some kind of work with decent wages and social security. After three years, Muslim women started coming to us from all over the country…`You helped my daughter…helped me fill some form for the government. That was very good, but now my husband has divorced me instantly and thrown me out. And I don’t have a home to go to…I don’t know where to go with my children. Can you please help me’?”
So it’s much more than just about “triple talaq.” It’s also much more than polygamy, inheritance or abortion. It’s a state of perpetual slavery, without education, without jobs, without security. You also can’t keep your children with you, if so the men wish. The Mullahs who interpret “Quran” in this manner are lying, pure and simple.
“There are direct verses in the Quran…that support our claim to equality and gender justice… For the first time both women and men were learning that Quran is not about what some groups had been suggesting.” says Soman.
The truth is, the personal laws for Muslims remain uncodified in India. Hindus have the succession act of 1956; the Christians have their own marriage act but Muslim leadership has taken refuge under the Constitution which allows for family law to be based on religion. The Muslim laws remain uncodified in India. The codification of the laws too would solve little for the well-being of Indian muslim women. As long as they are disempowered due to lack of education, and consequent financial independence, they would be herded like sheeps in perpetuity. The patriarchal society would assert its domination.
Neither child marriage nor education/financial independence of Indian muslim women is a matter on which you would see a Congress leader stick his neck out. That’s the vote-base they have cultivated for decades after decades. Never mind the abject situation of muslim women; never a thought as to what a self-confident woman could do to free-up her next generation; never a reflection how it would “de-ghettoised” a community and turbo-charge the growth of country. All muslims in this country have got is religious leadership; there has been no attempt to create social or democratic leadership from within.
It’s facile and silly to play to the gallery with quips like “jhoothon ka sardar” in response to the charge Modi has made against Congress for appeasing muslim men only. Discerners remember at certain times “maut ka saudagar” or “khoon-ki-dalali” one-liners have emerged from the Congress camp. Sometimes, Modi is called “tughlaqi”. At other times “feku.” Rajdeep Sardesai once on stage called him “mass murderer.” His wife Sagarika Ghose kept screaming about Modi and his Louis Vuitton shawl till the company clarified it doesn’t make shawls. Rahul Gandhi mentioned “khoon ki dalali”; one of his senior leaders had the word “neech” in his mind. The parties which intend to form a Mahagathbandhan with Congress are no better. Sitaram Yechuri of CPI (M) mentions “pick-pocket” in reference to Modi. Arvind Kejriwal, the epitome of masculinity, called Modi a “coward and psychopath.” All of these can be referred here.
When a Congress leader spreads the fear of a “Hindu Pakistan”, he ought to remind his party that even Pakistan has outlawed “triple talaq.” So by appearing to support its retention, they actually plan to make India worse than a Pakistan.
Shashi Tharoor’s edit piece in Indian Express on Saturday reminded me of my probation days in journalism with the Times of India in the 80s. My editor would look at my typed report, run circles in red every second line and send the paper flying towards the dustbin: “What the hell do you want to say?”
Chuckling, I set about circling Tharoor’s piece (see image), and literally ran out of ink. The man is as confused as his party, touching every base and sticking to none. “Jaana-tha-Japan-Pahunch-Gaye-Cheen-Samajh-Gaye-Naa” kind of delirium. A piece as bald as palm of my hand. Let’s stick to a few specific ink-circles, and not all, for I can’t afford to bore and lose you, my readers.
“Our attacks (on BJP) are based on our own convictions and about what is good and proper for the nation”: So using “neech” and “chaiwala” are part of your convictions. A wild attack on RSS as murderer of Mahatma Gandhi is part of your conviction. Blaming Centre for violence in “Sterlite” is part of your conviction. Blaming BJP for murder of Gauri Lankesh’s murder in your own governed state is based on your conviction. “Ease of doing business” and a “7.7 GDP growth” in your view is not “good and proper for the nation.” Impeachment of Chief Justice of India (CJI) is good and proper in your view.
“Congress’ core belief…inclusive growth, social justice, abolition of poverty, protection of minorities, women, dalits and adivasis”: Inclusive growth, social justice, abolition of poverty? Are you joking Mr Tharoor? Anyone earning above Rs 33 is not poor is how Congress removed poor and poverty. Six worst communal riots happened under UPA and you call it protection of minorities. Women? Ask Shah Bano. And remember how you had to apologize for making fun of our own Miss World 2017? Dalits? That’s why Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar could get Bharat Ratna only in 1990 and that too not under Congress’ regime. Further, why your heart didn’t beat for a murdered Dalit youth leader found hanging by tree in Bengal? Was it because he worked for BJP? Adivasis? Then how did Maoists and Naxalites proliferate in India?
“Congress is political embodiment of India’s pluralism…preservation of secularism”: Your kind of equality under “secularism” doesn’t extend to Hindus and their problems. “Secularism” ought to be equality; not appeasement of minorities. The world “secular” too is an insertion in the Constitution by your leader Indira Gandhi after suspending the Parliament and slapping the “Emergency” on the nation in the 70s. Secularism is nothing but a cloaked dagger by Congress to keep it plunged in India’s heart.
“We too share Hinduism, albeit an inclusive version of the faith, rather than a bigoted one”: Oh really? May we ask you Mr Tharoor where’s your reaction on 24 BJP/RSS workers killed in Karnataka under Congress rule? Where’s Congress’ concern for Hindu lives as they are butchered in West Bengal and Kerala? Show me one tweet where you have offered condolence to Hindu lives lost? Congress standing by Hinduism almost sounds like an abuse.
“The need of Rural India represents political opportunity to Congress (e.g)…the mounting farmers’ suicides”: So, tragic lives lost is a political opportunity to Congress??? But then what else do you expect from a party which clings to a dynasty and cries democracy in the same breath?
“(Congress must) Help citizens in interactions with the police…”: Now that could only happen if both citizens and police trust you with your intentions. I don’t know how policemen feel after Rahul Gandhi stormed a police station and scolded a policeman in uniform. As for citizens, they still speculate about an unfortunate death in a Delhi five-star hotel as you would recall. Where’s credibility of Congress and its leaders with the citizens of this country?
From housing to transport to potholes-on-roads to drinking water to education to healthcare to public parks to sanitation to waste management, Tharoor leaves little for imagination and a lot for mockery in his piece. Empty rhetoric, typical of Congress, the sound of an empty biscuit tin. Mr Tharoor, irony has died a million deaths in this juvenile piece of yours.