Social Scientist. v 4, no. 47 (June 1976) p. 67.


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DISCUSSION

Problems of the Muslim Minority in India

MUSLIMS CONSTITUTE nearly ten per cent of the population of India. They are spread all over the country forming significant minorities in all states except Kashmir where they are in a majority, and Punjab from where they were expelled after the partition of the country. Muslim masses can form an important component of the people's democratic front if their problems are properly tackled. Alternatively they will continue to be exploited by the reactionaries and used against all progressive forces. The emergence of the Muslim League as an all-India party and the resurgence of the Muslim Majlis in Uttar Pradesh are indicators that the danger of this happening is very serious indeed.

The Programme of the Communist Party of India Marxist GPI (M) has stated the basic principles which should guide the working class on the question of the Muslim minority: Religious minorities should be given protection, and any discrimination against them forbidden;l and the Urdu language and its script are to be protected . In other documents., such as the Election Manifesto for the fourth general elections,8 more extended statements towards the Muslims and Urdu have been made. However^ in general, the democratic movement lacks a detailed and specific definition of its tasks in relation to the Muslims.

The Muslims are a religious minority. Theoretical purists may say that they constitute not one religious minority but minorities,since Muslims form respective minorities in the various linguistic nationalities of India:

Gujarati-speaking Muslims being a minority in Gujarat, Bengali Muslims in Bengal^, and so on. But in Stalin's classic definition of a nation, ^psychological make-up" is still an essential factor. Although Muslims are neither a nation nor a nationality, having no single language and no definite territory,, they are more than a religious community. Partly by historical circumstances, a common religion has also inculcated certain common cultural traits and social customs. These common features have been highly intensified in recent times by deliberate effort,through movements such as the propagation of Urdu in non-Hindustani-speaking areas with the professed object of making it the {'in^na franca of all Indian Muslims; the tabligh and such other movements, designed to exclude



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