By Vijaita Singh
February 24, 2015
The government might not have officially released the religious data of Census 2011, but in a presentation before an international delegation in the United States it said that over 180 million Muslims were living in India, constituting 14.88 per cent of the total population. It also asserted that despite a large Muslim population in India, there was hardly any case of the community members joining violent pan-Islamic groups.
Representing India at the White House hosted Summit to Counter Violent Extremism last week, Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) chief RN Ravi told a delegation, where representatives from 60 countries were present, that “the usual alienation of minorities is not valid in the Indian context. Going by the usual definition of minority, their population is over 260 million i.e over 21 per cent of India’s population. There are over 180 million Muslims in India.”
“Terrorism that India faces has their source often outside the country,” he pointed out.
The data given by the government at an international platform assumes significance after US President Barack Obama, during his India visit, said: “India will succeed so long as it is not splintered along the lines of religious faith, as long as it is not splintered along any lines, and it is unified as one nation.”
Due to various political considerations, the religious data of Census 2011 were never released by the UPA government. When the NDA government came to power, they decided to release the religious data, which still has not been done. The Indian Express reported on January 24 that Hindus comprised 78.35 per cent of the total population of 121.05 crore, compared with 80.45 per cent of the total population in 2001. In absolute terms, Muslim population increased 24.4 per cent to 17.18 crore from 13.8 crore during 2001-11. Muslims were 13.4 per cent of the total population in 2001.
Ravi also told the delegation: “The recently held elections in Jammu and Kashmir – a Muslim majority state of the Indian Union – in which over 65 per cent electorate peacefully cast their votes is a testimony of its success story.”
He further said, “India’s response to violent extremism is calibrated in a way that prevents disproportionate use of force by the state.”
On the other hand, one of the civil society representatives from Pakistan told the delegation: “At least 26 terrorist organisations operating in Pakistan like Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Taliban, Haqqani network had people in leadership roles who came from madrasa background. The government had to go into the root cause of this and reform madrasa education.”
India Counters Obama's Religious Intolerance Jibe with Facts And Figures
By Bharti Jain, TNN | Feb 24, 2015
NEW DELHI: Strongly countering US President Barack Obama's charge of "religious intolerance" in India, the Modi government has conveyed to Washington that the usual notion of alienation of minorities is not valid in the Indian context as the government has ensured their socio-economic and political integration with the mainstream.
Addressing the White House summit in Washington DC last week on Countering Violent Extremism, chief of of India's Joint Intelligence Committee RN Ravi reeled off facts and figures relating to minority welfare schemes and measures undertaken by the government, to underline that the social, educational and economic empowerment of the smaller communities was taken due care of.
Drawing attention to the higher population growth of smaller communities in India over the last six decades, India told the three-day summit - attended by President Obama, US vice-president Joe Biden and UN secretary-general Ban-ki-Moon -- that this credibly indicated their "ease and sense of stake in a happy co-existence with the rest". Pointing to institutions such as a Union ministry for minority affairs and National Commission for Minorities, Ravi underlined that these were focused on educational and economic empowerment of smaller communities, as well as addressing concerns relating to their rights.
India argued how its being a liberal, plural and secular democracy was its core strength, and helped to ensure the "socio-economic and political integration of communities comprising the demographic mosaic, with the mainstream".
Stating that the government's response to violent extremism was calibrated to prevent disproportionate use of force, India highlighted how it had never used "air power" or "area weapon" to combat violent extremism. "India's National Security Guard, the nodal counter-terrorism force, is a police organization...the police with its roots in the communities deals with violent extremism firmly yet with human touch," Ravi said adding that even the Army was bound by India civil laws and functioned as "an empowered police".
India took pride in the fact that despite a population of 180 million Muslims, there had been hardly any case of recruitment of Indian Mulsims to any of the violent Pan Islamist groups. "Terrorism that India faces has their source often outside the country," declared Ravi.
Even the 65% turnout in the recent polls in Jammu & Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority state, was highlighted at the US meet as "a testimony to its (India's) success story".
As per facts presented by Ravi at the White House summit, a major chunk of education budget in India was earmarked for the smaller communities, enabling rewarding of scholarships to nearly 40 million boys and girls over the last five years, for higher and technical studies. Under government programmes for enhanced skill development of smaller communities, institutions offered 33% seats to girls. Besides, nearly 1,200 new school buildings, 21,000 classrooms, 700 hostels, 150 industrial training institutes and 4,000 primary health centres had come up in areas dominated by the smaller communities in the last five years.
The government had, over the last two years, trained over 1.7 lakh women belonging to the minorities, under its scheme 'Leadership Development of Minority Women', preparing them for participation in grassroots democratic institutions and for accessing institutional finance.
The National Minorities Development and Finance Cooperation disbursed concessional loans of over $500 million to entrepreneurs from smaller communities, for self-employment.