Sunday, September 19, 2010

26\11 ... two years later....

This appeared in Sunday Times today....overwhelming reactions! Touched a raw nerve....

As another 26\11 anniversary rolls up…what’s changed?

It has happened. I guess it had to. Perhaps, it happened a few months… maybe a few years ago. Perhaps, it was always there, but swept under the carpet. Society’s dirty secret is finally out – everybody knows what it is, but nobody talks about it. Ten days ago I received a call from a friend. A Muslim friend. She sounded a little concerned. Her anxiety had to do with a nephew’s admission into one of Mumbai’s better colleges. His marks were good, his conduct , exemplary. He had been a prefect in his school, participated in several extra curricular activities. I asked what the hitch was in that case. She sounded most embarrassed as she said, “Well… we are Muslims… and that seems to be the problem in a lot of colleges.” I was shocked to hear this. ‘Are you sure that’s what it is?’ I said, not prepared to believe it was indeed the situation in some of the supposedly progressive South Mumbai educational institutions. My friend went on to narrate how her nephew had been subjected to blatant discrimination during interviews and told upfront it was his surname that came in the way. She once again apologized for the ‘trouble’ she was putting me through. She added, “ If the boy was not as bright, I would have told him to forget it, and do something else. But he is keen to study science and make a mark for himself – he has always been a good student. If he doesn’t get into a recognized college, his career is as good as over.”
I made a couple of calls to friendly, neighbourhood college principals and asked whether they were really screening students on the basis of religion. One of them denied it, the other one admitted sheepishly that such a directive was in place, but on an informal level. “We don’t want trouble,’’ the principal added virtuously. When I pressed and asked him to specify what sort of trouble a youngster like this boy could possibly cause, the principal replied, “ These days…. you never know… how can you trust these people.” What do you mean by ‘these people’? I persisted.The principal whispered, “ Leave it…. don’t make me spell it out…in any case, we don’t have a vacancy.” I called up another college. The person was enthusiastic and polite, saying their list was still open and the student I was recommending, definitely qualified etc. Then I was asked for the name. As soon as I mentioned it, his voice changed. ‘Let me cross check with the clerk… I think I made a mistake. So sorry… admissions were closed yesterday.” Finally, I spoke to a lady who heard me out and said, “Send the boy to me tomorrow morning. I’ll see what I can do.” This story has a happy ending – the boy got in.
But that’s because his aunt was in a position to make a few calls on his behalf. There are thousands like him in Mumbai and across India, who are up against an invisible wall, unable to move forward, determined not to look backwards, but stymied all the way. When I met the young man and his family, they had tears of gratitude in their eyes. The point is : I didn’t do them a favour. And neither did the college. He was entitled to receive the same access and treatment on the basis of merit alone. Any college should have held its doors open for him. Especially since the colleges he had applied to were in Mumbai and not some backward town in the back of the beyond. I felt intensely sad, as I accepted a box of mithai from his emotional relatives.It was as if they had crossed an impossible hurdle when it was just a routine matter of showing your mark sheet, paying the fees and getting in. Will this boy ever forget the humiliation he has been subjected to? Will his family not go back to those frustrating days when college after college turned them away, adopting some pretext or the other. Perhaps, this experience will toughen the lad and make him excel. Perhaps not. It is the ‘not’ that is worrying . Nearly every known privilege that a non-muslim counterpart of his can and does take for granted, is denied to him, in what was once a liberal, cosmopolitan city with great colleges that produced outstanding leaders in every field - people who came from multi religious backgrounds. Today, those same venerated temples of education are practicing a nasty version of religious profiling which is going to lead to major problems if it goes unchecked.
There is no getting away from the current polarisation . I used to kid myself that some of my Muslim friends were being ‘paranoid’ when they talked about ‘the problem’ ( as we had dubbed it ). That ‘problem’ pretty much covered everything– from getting a job, to finding accommodation. At the time ( post- 26\11), we believed it was a psssing phase that would disappear once everything ‘settled down’. Except that nobody quite knew what exactly was meant to settle down or even if that would ever happen. But we consoled ourselves saying sensitivities at that point were running high… people were angry and afraid. More than that , people were confused. Two years down the line, there are no alibis, no screens to hide behind. Positions have obviously hardened to such a degree that now city colleges have begun to follow their own quota system and turn down eligible students only because they are Muslim. We are a few days away from one of the most horrifying, most devastating, most tragic events that ripped the city apart. No, we cannot and must not forget what happened. That awful attack was the work of hard core terrorists trained to kill at random. What we are doing may be much worse – we are killing the spirit of innocents. The latter crime may have far more lethal repercussions!


For those of you who missed Part 1 of 'Walk the Talk', you can catch it on the ndtv website. Someone sweet ( yoo hoo Aparna) did send me the link. And as you well know, I am terrible at all of this.... so, please look for it.

Oh, the book has arrived in book stores across India, and I am happy to brag ( just a little!), that the reactions have been amazing.

Want your verdict on this plan: I have been offered Round 2 of the Kingfisher Model Hunt as a judge. This year, it will be shot in Kerala, Kumarakom. While I really enjoyed myself last year in Goa, I'm a little worried about the time outlay this time.... especially since it overlaps with my book promotion activities. I won't have much turnaround time either, since I'll be in the Maldives for the prestigious Hay Literary Fest, right after.
Do it.... or dump it???


shivam said...

dear mam,
i have read your blog but sorry to say that i am slightly disagrred with u.i am acollege student in indore and a lot of my classmates and juniors r frm muslim community and as far as i know they r never discriminated by us or any of our teachers or principal on basis of ther religion.sum of my muslim friends have god good jobs in corporates in mumbai and othr cities of india and i am in contineous touch with them and they have never complaint of any misbehaviour.i understand that ther may be sum exceptional cases but most of the indians believe in communal harmony this is what i firmly believe in.

Mehak said...

it's indeed sad this issue you've addressed. i don't really know what to say...
as for the kingfisher model hunt, well, if it interferes with book promotion then you should leave it because the latter is definitely more time-consuming and important!

Anonymous said...

Will say - do it.
Because you having those special Aankhen - correct?

Pooja Rathore said...

It is true muslim are marginalised recently i had a client who had come with his son i told him his son needs to see a counselor the moment i told the counselors name( a muslim) he said no madam not a muslim woh kahi na kahi apni jaath dekha hi dethe hai( at some point they will show their true color) i was shocked how does it matter if he is a muslim he is good at his job , client did not listen to me its sad but true there are exceptions but in majority in one or the other way they are marginalised its not a good sign.

when u have a choice to make go by your hearts desire - do u feel light or heavy in the heart if u feel light go for it if u feel heavy reconsider check for consequences and u will have your answer.

The Panorama said...

Am so glad that you have taken up this issue. I have also heard many Indians talk about how muslims cannot be trusted and it really is a shame that quite a few people have this attitude.

I have always been proud of the fact that I come from a secular am not so sure how proud I can be. But lets not forget that while some muslims are facing this sort of humiliation, there are many that enjoy respect and equality.

But even if there is one boy who is facing a situation like not getting into a college based on his religion, it is the duty of every secular Indian to speak up against such injustice.
Bravo ms De! You did India proud.

goodluck said...

Go for book promotion. Or ask the Kingfisher people to change their schedule.
Let that muslim lady and yourself name the respective college principals who reacted like that. Simply throwing allegations without throwing the names is an act of cowardice and it will do injustice to others who dont have access to people like you. And it will be a selfish act if she does not name them.

NAT said...

Dear Shobha,

I was never a fan of yours (not that it would matter to you)but kept abreast with your writings/blogs, and would comment, whenever I felt/had the time.
Like others, at times i did not not like your running down some personalities, while giving undue importance to some not worthy of the same. When I say not worthy, I mean people who have money need not be raised, put on a pedestal. One has to see how a person has made that money. Pritish Nandi has recently spelt this out in MM in his brief. There is a saying that even Ps make money. Again I do not say that all Ps are no good. They probably have to go through this way of life to earn a living. Each one knows his/her own sorrows.

What i have been trying to get to is that, my image of you has been changing for the better (again not that you are affected either way). But with this article in today's TOI, my respect for you has increased by leaps and bounds, as the need of the hour is compassion and understanding.
Not all Ms are terrorists, neither anyone from other Religions are. We make them by such acts of ommission, neglection and so on.
I am very proud to be a part of your blogdost, and very proud that there are other stalwarts, writers like you, who call a spade a spade. If everyone keeps quiet, we will have another K all over India very soon. God forbid that day.
Trust me there is so much harmoney in business (maybe not 100%) all over India, wherein interaction with different Religious businesmen/women, who work together, resulting in a win win situation for all.
There maybe some back stabbing at times, but when a deal is clean and everyone is happy, no one wants to know from where the other party is, or what Religion he/she practices.
It is these Politicians who have and are messing up this beautiful land of ours, even today for their own selfish motives/means.
Have travelled widely and seen poverty, even corruption in some of the so called first world/rich Countries. Yes it is not so glaring, as the population (in some cases)is not one,100 th of India.
Our Coutry is doing so well today (the poor could easily have 2 square meals a day, if these rogues did not put so much in their own coffers, which will go along with them in their coffins one day), I always wonder why we cannot be happy/content. Why do we have to go a 100 or 1000 yrs. back to see how our ancestors suffered at the hands of another race.....why can't be happy. Life is so short. Live life KING SIZE. Live and let live...


Theyoginme said...

Its shocking to read about the discrimination but not surprising.

nisha said...

Dear Mam,

I am very sorry to say but i don't quite agree with your article written. I just lost my job this saturday because i was a maharastrain working for a mulsim firm. So much so that i called racially abused beacuse i m a hindu. I was told that our f***king ganpati festival is creating noise pollution and traffic through out the city. She was very bias and linen with the muslim staff. I could'nt take this racist comment and quit the job. I could have easily complaint to Shiv Sena or MNS regarding this incident that took place with me but i didn't do so. I didn't want to create another war of religions. I had never gone with the thought in my mind that i will be working for some particular caste or religion. But i was reminded that i am not from their community.
I would definetly like to know your view on this. I would also like to tell you that we are not the ones to start the trouble. We are too involved trying to earn our own bread and butter.

Anonymous said...

Dump it! You are meant for better things!

Another Kiran In NYC said...

Dump the kingfisher hunt. despite the yummilicious milind's possible presence, it is very declasse. And you are not that.

Glad you write about this institutionalised discrimination. If the people who mold opinions do not speak against evil, and keep us thinking and on our guard, evil will overtake us all.

Vinay. said...

Dear Shobhaa,
Get past the King fisher level. you are meant for better things. Moreover, what's new in that? you have already done that stuff last year. Dump it without any second thought.
coming to the discrimination you blogged about, we don't find such a thing in Hyderabad.

praktan said...

This happens with d "open" category students too!!!!
even if he/she has scored 95+% they dont get admissions
but a BC/OBC gets admission into d college even if his scores are 35%
As d college denied admission to this muslim guy. Brahmins or open category student are also denied just because they are not BCs or OBCs!!!!

Aparna Velankar said...

Hey Guys,
here is the NDTV link-

Now, Walk The Talk with dearest Shobaa :-)

Sameer said...

I was going to say dump it but then you bring much needed class to such events. So, I am in double mind. Just know that no matter what you do, you bring a different and real perspective to the whole deal. Now, listen to your heart and do what you like :)Dying to get hold of your book. Do you think it will get translated to some other regional languages (esp. Marathi) -- I think this will be a good gift for folks who are celebrating their eksashThi (61st year grand celebration). I, for sure would be first one to gift this to my parents if it comes out in Marathi (Aparna, are you reading this ? :) I am sure my parents will not be the only ones who will be more comfortable (or rather able)to read the book if it was in their mother tongue. Think about it -- reaching the target audience in their "bhaasha"

pmathur said...

Its amazing - that every single book on religious teachings - be it pertaining to Hinduism, Islam or Christianity, teaches about one GOD - The Almighty, equality of all religions, religious tolerance and so on. Yet, the very people who claim to be scholars and authorities on those teachings, misinterpret them completely, or at least propagate wrong interpretations for selfish gains.

A case in point - The Prophet teaches in the Koran that a 'Kaafir' is he who does not believe in the Almighty or in God.

A common Muslim's understanding of "Kaafir" is he who does not follow Islam.

It is these self proclaimed religious authorities and leaders from all religious communities who help create the divide amongst innocent illiterate followers and the result is a Hindu hates a Muslim or vice versa.

Sadly those in positions of authority pass instructions, and dictats, make policies such as the one illustrated by you, are educated only in terms of the degree or the appointment they hold. From all other aspects they are as illiterate or ignorant as the people they preach to.

Theyoginme said...

PS. Dump the kingfisher gig if your heart is in promoting your book.

cmpershad said...

`screening students on the basis of religion.'

Who is to be blamed? The education system, the mullas, the secularists who untiringly remind us of our religion.... and now CASTE also :)

Priya said...

hi mam i cant agree with u.I lost one year in my carrer because am from foward caste.
I have lot of friends andi never discriminate them by religion.

Radhika Gupta said...

hi shobhaa,
well, these preconceived notions about muslims that these educational insitutions have do not only create a religion based divide, but can even take the people who face such religion-based humiliation to a wrong track... in a way... by doing so..these institutions are themselves being anti-national...

Theyoginme said...

but do visit Kumarakoan, if you already haven't anyway once your book promotion is over..its a great resort. But more wonderful is what is right outside the confines of the resort. The village, the friendly people, the local grungy aryuvedic massages..great place to take a bike out and meet the locals and hire one of those canoe like boats to take you through the backwaters....

Latha said...

I think you should accept the invitation to help a good friend, Vijay Mallya. Books will promote themselves by word of mouth depending upon their value.
My son was asked to compile question paper for 'Gate' (iit entrance for post graduation).
A student who got 97.8% could not get admission to the subject of his choice because he was a brahmin. This was his 3rd attempt. This is not an isolated case. It happens to all brahmins. SC/STs on the other hand get admission even if they have passed the graduation in several attempts & scored minimum in the entrance.
Discrimination because of politicians....discrimination without politicians....
We are a caste ridden society. Caste is ingrained deeply in our psyche, politician or no politician. Politicians are not imported from Japan & Russia. They come from us. That's why they are like us.
Re: Walk the talk...
I think what Shekhar Gupta implied was that you are to glamour (4 decades of success) what Lata Mangeshkar is to music (6 decades of success). I think he was only trying to pay a compliment. I don't see anything objectionable in that.

Karthik said...

Dump the model hunt. Going by the models in the models in the first one, its just not worth ur time.

Akshay said... are absolutely right...there is so much discrimination that the so called "open" category has now become the new minority while these SC/ST absolutely misuse their stupid reservations. Then ppl cry abt the "brain drain" do u expect kids to stay here when you can't even grantee a proper seat for the subject of his/her choice.

Excellent post Ms.De..its true....its pretty sad actually...mostly all terrorist are Muslims but not all Muslims are terrorists.....

Uncommon Sense said...

yeh thats bound to happen, because the muslims have asked for it..

goodluck said...

We rarely hear this sort of complaints from christians and other minorities. The problem is not only deep rooted but a festering one as well. When they are in majority as is in Kashmir, they dont talk about equal rights for everyone and they drove away minority pandits. Even the government did nothing to stop. Even some of the Indian muslims are in 2 minds and sitting on the fence. On one side the country they are living in and on the other side their religion which makes them closer to their brethern cutting across nationalities. There are muslims who enjpoy democracy and mingle freely and are highly tolerant. Likewise there are hardcore hindus who always want to snub the muslims. The demolition of Babri masjid should not have happened at all and the communal riots could have been avoided with firm police action. The fundamentalists of all these religions are getting upperhand with little resistance. But the bright thing is the younger generation which wants to have a broader outlook. We suddenly cannot love someone whom we have not loved for a long time. But we can try to understand them for a change and this understanding will lead to better things if other factors allow. The Khans, the bollywood in general is contributing a lot towards communal harmony through their films, through their real life stances etc.

Amit K Mukherjee said...

Hi Shobha, Much as I would like to sympathise with the boy, I have a feeling that these things will increase and it is because the community is unwilling to live life as a cultured civilization.

muslimpoxbyebye said...

Mohammed’s words translated.

When asked about his marriage to Aisha, which he betrothed in her sixth year, also visited her alone on occasion, and fully consummated sexually, in her ninth year.
“A man can marry a girl younger than nine years of age, even if the girl is still a baby breast fed. A man, however is prohibited from having intercourse with a girl younger than nine, however other sexual acts such as foreplay, rubbing, kissing and sodomy is allowed. A man having intercourse with a girl younger than nine years of age has not committed a crime, but only an infraction, if the girl is not permanently damaged. If the girl, however, is permanently damaged, the man must provide for her all her life. But this girl will not count as one of the man’s four permanent wives. He also is not permitted to marry the girl’s sister.”

True Muslims consider evil don Mohammed the most honourable of all men, and see nothing wrong in emulating his evil activities.
And now that your awakening to the cult of islam has started please remember ..if we don't stop islam in it's tracks YOUR SWEET SWEET great grand children will definately be howling allaaah ohhh akhbar... sounds replulsive na ? thought so.... get smart ..good looking ...please don't pander to islam where the safety of my family and your family is concerned. THANK YOU. and you're welcome too. :)

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My journey said...

It really hurts me when i hear these kind of news. Such people are still there to hamper the path of extremly talented people. Shame on you guyss!!

*Aham* said...

perhaps.. yes, you have touched a sensitive nerve. but well, you have the nerve to call a spade a spade...

yes, we are prejudiced. we do have issues about muslims coming over and staying with us. many of us do view them as extremists. But the fact remains that there are nice and bad people in every sect, culture, religion. issues and concerns like livestock slaughter (an issue for many hindus)is something that could be brought out and discussed with muslims. and an amicable solution could be sought. just that we choose to not use the dialogue route, and conveniently discriminate and avoid them. khair, anyways all hindu's are not all that sacrosanct.

a day before babri verdict, i wonder what new dhamaaka our poor mumbai. all ominous it is.

our city was safe once - the land for all and sundry... and discrimination was labeled just a political party agenda. we saw these political parties as bad examples.

may be too many bad examples, is making us feel that bad is good.


de, same pinch. you and i love ourselves the mostest.. much much like the geet of Jab We Met " Main Khudki Favorite Hu". You should brag about yourself. of course you should. you have achieved it. and why should any one be shy of saying that s/he is proud of her/imself.

you are famous, brave and more than all that - you are OURS. and we should know it all. and anyways we love to make a virtue of being a dukhi bechaari gareeb abla naari... you are a welcome change.
"A Naari Who Is A Khilaadi" (super no! :) )

chalo.chalo... jaldi jaldi share naa..

im utsuk utsuk!

Partha said...

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Delhi Goon said...

I wonder who benefits when communities stay divided?

Did someone say POLITICIANS?

Anonymous said...

Let's hear from the mainstream :)
Community Harmony for the WIN!
Let's understand each other and let be.

Anonymous said...

The very eloquent Abu Easa on how Muslims ought to respond to troublemakers who want to stir up community disharmony.’an-burning-fiasco-jihad/


As Muslims we are responsible for the way we behave in society and accountable to God for each grain worth of hurt we cause others. WE Muslims need to remember that and act accordingly.

Also, I urge the Non-Muslim's who have faced some sort of mishavior from someone who calls themselves Muslim, please don't judge everyone in a community from the personal shortcomings of any one individual.

@ Nisha, I hope you get a better job and with a company that values you as an employee and respects you as such. That company did not deserve your services and you deserve better, and my heart goes hurts for your hurt.


Anonymous said...

I feel the voice of indian muslims to stand up and explain what they follow is to a large extent missing. There is a lack of effective engagement with the non-muslim society at the granula level.

Please see this short video on misconceptions on Islam, Women, it's laws, and why a billion muslims across the globe follow Islam.

This is not to say they should not respect other dcotrines and religions besides Islam, but rather to spread awareness that Islam itself is not a big bad wolf but another religon which certain men and women follow due to agreement to certain tenets which they find gives them peace and comfort.

No one is trying to impose it on anyone else. We are explaining why we follow it - for public knowledge and critical discourse.

Women and Sharia Law:

Who Speaks for Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think:

Dalia Mogahed

Anil Kumar said...

I am not surprised that colleges or companies are hesitant to take Muslims in. Although it should not happen to anyone but UNFORTUNATELY the way the MUSLIM countries treat other minority groups in their own country makes it impossible for any person with common sense to have so much sympathy for this particular community.

I have lot more sympathy for people belonging to NorthEast or Himachal who are always hard-working, discplined and does not create law-order problems 99% of times. These people are mistreated by other Indians who have different features in many respects. But you hardly hear from these journalists taking up their issues.

THIS COUNTRY WAS DIVIDED on Religious lines. Now India has more muslims than in Pakistan but many people who are public figures will be up in arms if Muslims are mistreated but stay away and choose to keep quiet when terrorist attacks happen or issues related to minority groups other than Muslims.

Some of these folks in media do their bits for MUSLIMS at the first possible opportunity. Be it Barkha Butt, sometimes Shobha De or others. Her love for the old bastard who happen to be a pornographic painter is no secret.

Look at what is happening in Kashmir. These Muslims have burnt down the whole government building and locals are being paid money to pelt stones at army by separatists. No one in the media including Sardar prime minister has called for bringing these criminals to justice. They never tried to provide safe return of Kashmiri Pandits who were made to flee their homes.

To sum up the issue if you stand up for a community who belives in dividing this country further with the help of MULLAs from middle east and pakistan then it's a criminal act. The vision of most of these HINDU journalists is limited to pleasing their friends in social circle and don't look at how much trouble Muslims have created in the sub-continent after Firangis have left.

I am sure Shobha De can easily rub shoulders with Burkha Butt on Mulla News Channels NDTV 24X7 if its muslims issues. But Shobha is still far far better than the whole team of NDTV who seems to be paid by some country or congress party to deliver the news the way they do.

Could you pls find out from your sources and share with us whether NDTV 24X7 actually get paid by foreign country or a political party ???
You will do a good service to this country if you can shed some light on this.

ARUN said...

your words regarding the discrimination is only partially acceptable. take for example the case of afzal guru. he has been a silent professor till he came to be known as a terrorist supporter. almost 90%bomb blasts in india, the hand of muslim jihadis claim responsibility. they act in the shadow of their religion.just a month ago few muslim community students have cut the hand of professor Joseph in kerala for setting a controversial question in the exams. have you heard of anything like this before? there are so many ways to show your anger in this democratic country. but certainly not like this! if the muslim community feels that they're not a part of it, then they should stage a peace protest regarding the discrimination and openly declare that they are against this jihadi group and not a part of it. if they cant do so, then they should bear the brunt of it. dont get angry with the college management, madam!only if you get caught in a situation as that of prof.joseph you will know the difficulty of that situation. you will be criticized for whatever decision you make! i am certainly not against muslims. i feel that they have a responsibility in this current situation and make their statement clear and against this jihadis! if you remain silent, then it indirectly means something different!

e_rotica said...

stupid ignorant you really get time our of page 3 parties to think of he social situation in India and care about the real problem muslim community is facing????

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