Skip to main content

Women's rights leaders told to negotiate with Muslimness, as India's donor agencies shun the word Muslim

By Our Representative
Former vice-president Hamid Ansari has sharply criticized donor agencies engaged in nongovernmental development work, saying that they seek to "help out" marginalizes communities with their funds, but shy away from naming Muslims as the target group, something, he insisted, needs to change. Speaking at a book release function in Delhi, he said, since large sections of Muslims are poor, they need political as also social outreach.
Launching the book, "Working With Muslims: Beyond Burqa and Triple Talaq", Ansari said the “years after the Sachar Report, national consensus on development agenda for Muslims is elusive", even as underscoring the need to "eschew the prevalent virus of considering Muslims with apprehension, intolerance and otherness". He added, "The Constitutional promise of equality is only achievable when development reaches the last in line."
The book, authored well-known women's rights activist Farah Naqvi, seeks to focus on how civil society groups have been working with Muslim women in their context of emergence of a new, and how the young Muslim leadership is engaging itself with daily struggles for education, health, livelihoods, women's rights, while navigating the minefield of identity and issues of Muslim-ness.
Suggesting that the voluntary sector's development work with the largest marginalized minority in the world's largest democracy needs to acquire a focused attention, Naqvi told the gathering at the Constitution Club, the book is a result of the post-Sachar exploration of an important link -- what are NGOs doing for the development of Muslims. She regretted, there were “mainstream” and “Muslim” NGOs on the ground, with little mutual engagement.
According to Naqvi, Muslims working on the ground on issues like livelihood, education or women’s rights among Muslims need to negotiate their Muslimness. Pointing out that they try not to be seen as "stereotypically Muslim", according to her,such an attitude sometimes invites the unease of the Muslim community.
She informed the gathering, many organisations did not want to be seen as working with Muslims but tried to use the flat category of poverty, though blaming it, in part, on the present political culture. She added, "Secular baggage necessitates flattening of identities".
The book highlights how Muslim women are leading the way to a new articulation of issues that impact them that go beyond the rhetoric of burqa and triple talaq. It seems to suggest, 12 years after the Sachar report, the development of Muslims still struggles for basic legitimacy, wedged between the promise of the Constitution and the politics of communalism.
Released against the backdrop of increasing view among scholars and activists that Muslims are being invisibilized in politics both at the level of representation and concern, the book claims to put the lens back on core, material issues of development. The book has been published by Three Essays Collective.
Speaking on the occasion, prominent social activist Harsh Mander said, "At a time when the Muslim people are facing violence and social and political isolation at levels that are unprecedented since Independence, the role of civil society engagement with, by and among Muslim people is more important than ever."
Political scientist, Prof Hilal Ahmed from the Centre of Developing Societies felt that the study “greatly enriched our understanding of Muslim communities, and offers us an innovative methodological suggestion: Multiple Muslim identities need to be adequately explored, if we are to make sense of the multi-layered phenomenon of backwardness and exclusion in the Indian context."
While Madhavi Kuckreja of the Sadbhavna Trust said, “The study needed to start a new conversation and galvanize work at the grassroots", Gagan Sethi, a leading civil society leader, called the book, “a clarion call to secular civil society leaders to invest substantive resources in building a robust Muslim leadership specially women who lead civil initiatives as a minimum response to the systematic demonisation of the word Muslim."

Comments

TRENDING

WHO move can 'enable' India to detain citizens, restrict freedom, control media

Counterview Desk  In an an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with copies to concerned Cabinet ministers, bureaucrats and MPs,  health rights network  People’s Alliance for Public Health (PAPH alias JanSwasthya Morcha), has urged that India should not be a signatory to the World Health Organization ( WHO) Pandemic Agreement and Amendments to the  International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005  to be adopted at the 77th World Health Assembly in Geneva from 27th May to 1st June, 2024.

'Enough evidence': Covid vaccines impacted women's reproductive health

By Deepika*  In 2024, the news outlets have suddenly started reporting about covid vaccine side effects in a very extensive manner. Sadly, the damage is already done.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Informal, outdoor workers 'excluded': Govt of India's excessive heat policies

Counterview Desk  Top civil rights network, National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), has demanded urgent government action to protect millions of outdoor workers from extreme heat and heatwaves, insisting declaration of heatwaves as climatic disaster.

'Uncertainty in Iran': Raisi brokered crucial Chabahar Port deal with India

By Pranjal Pandey*  Ebrahim Raisi, the Iranian President, and the country’s foreign minister were tragically found deceased on May 20, 2024, shortly after their helicopter crashed in foggy conditions. In response, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei swiftly appointed a relatively unknown vice president as the interim leader.

Growing stream of pollution infecting homes, bodies in US, Vietnam

By Erica Cirino*  Louisiana’s “River Parishes,” located along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, shoulder some of the worst industry impacts in the United States. As a result, this region has acquired a grim reputation as “ Cancer Alley .” 

Desist from academic censorship, stop threatening scholars: Letter to ICMR

Counterview Desk  In a letter to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) director, the Universal Health Organisation (UHO) which consists of prominent health experts, has insisted that the Government of India’s top medical research agency should lead high quality research on vaccine safety and “desist from academic censorship”.