A smart alec Muslim young girl, perhaps to be in the fashion fray of fiery women from Bengal in the likes of Mohua, Mimi and Nusrat and the hanger on Ms Hakim, decided to also write an open letter to Mamata Banerjee. In what she was supposedly vindicating my arguments against the Hindu fascists of their discursive position around Muslim appeasement by the present CM, she has, noticeably due to a lack of command over her language, kicked the ball into her own goalpost. She writes in a tone of accusation that while Ms Banerjee, the Hon’be CM has so-called appeased Muslims by granting them access to cemeteries and doles to Maulvis, she has done nothing to look after the fact that the Muslims are barely represented in higher education and in jobs commensurate to their proportion in the population. This, the writer construes that the CM, in a manner of a Hindu upper caste Bengali and true to her innate bias against the Muslims, is hatching the grand conspiracy of keeping the Muslims as Muslims and not helping them emerge as full citizens of the country. Not only is this post ungrateful and daft, this is mindless and suicidal for the Muslims in the state.
No one would have been as happy as me perhaps if the Muslims had really improved their representation in higher education and employment and lessened their representations in the prisons and police lock ups. For, in that case, West Bengal would have been a rare instance of a government that would have really been successful in structurally altering the redistribution of income and wealth towards greater equality. Some of this has really happened as well because Mamata’s policies were directed at the land, improvements in farming and what is more important, in integrating much of the Bengal village to the rest of India. Such integration may also have been the route through which the BJP much like the forces of Ikhtiyar Bin Bakhtiya Khiljee came and overran Bengal. But all said and done, it is Mamata who raised Bengal as a probable venue for investors, traders, transporters, shippers and even people who thought of settling down in Bengal for good. A modern historian of Bengal’s Partition, Rakesh Batabyal tells me that it is a dream for every Bihari to settle down in a small flat in Kolkata. I have witnessed hostile cab drivers fuming violence against the Bengali farmers who resist the Biharis buying up agricultural land. It is a well-known fact that the community of Gujaratis had a lot to do in stoking riots in East Bengal for they made a killing buying and selling abandoned properties of the Hindus. Such Hindus settled down in Bijoygarh, Jadavpur and Santoshpur if they had money, or else they were relegated into shacks of Garia, Belgachia and Kadapara. Biharis have a similar eye towards the newly constructed flats in Kolkata. Also, as more and more goods are exported out of Bengal farms and mines there is also an interest in controlling the transport business; a reason why Singur voted against the TMC is because it is a transport hub. The transport advances are controlled by people outside Bengal, usually the Marwaris. In short, the rising fortunes of Bengal, like fascism anywhere else, has made it vulnerable to the vicious deliveries of the BJP. The rising prosperity of Bengal brought many immigrants into the state and it is interesting that in an atmosphere of falling employment, Bengal was perhaps the only place where the jobs were being created. Because it is Bengal, both Hindus and Muslims benefitted as can be seen in the number of rising Biharis and especially Burkha clad Bihari Muslims. Bengalis usually don’t don the abeya as much as the Hindi Deobandis do.
As Hindus and Muslims, Bengalis and non-Bengalis all did well and perhaps as well as the other, social hierarchy, in an unprecedented manner was challenged in the state. No wonder then every segment of the society imagines that Mamata has appeased the other. What a backhanded compliment, really!
The Muslim girl, our letter writer writes that Mamata needs to assure them jobs in order to really áppease’ them. Really?? For what? This is another way of saying that Muslims want reservations. Dalits get reservations as a compensation of bad behaviour of the caste Hindus towards them. But Muslims have exercised a choice in opting out of the Hindu fold and Hindus have no onus towards them to make their lives happy. However, in a liberal democracy like ours, all that we can guarantee for all actually is safety of life and property and by assuring that Muslim public properties by way of mosques and cemeteries, madrashas and other assets of public life are protected, Mamata has done all that is there to be done towards minorities. She has given them the confidence by which today Muslims can write such foolish and self-harming letters as the low IQ smarty two shoes has written.
Jobs are no longer won through reservations because the share of the public sector in creating jobs is going down alarmingly. The private sector, which works for money have their own preferences of people who can deliver. If Bengalis cannot deliver, Muslims cannot deliver, so let it be the Biharis if they do better. Instead of hoping for reservations in jobs, Muslim children should focus more on their studies, get better marks and then apply for jobs. There are no reasons why Muslim children will be discriminated against if they repeatedly get good marks.
Identity politics and affirmative action is a victim syndrome raising both contempt and resistance. The problem is that such politics offer no transactional angle. Does this smarty Muslim girl ask, how as a Muslim can she contribute towards the society? Does she ask that if she wants to be a citizen and not a Muslim and has a problem with Mamata keeping her back as a Muslim, then how can she raise herself to a comparable level of citizenry? Her position is like that of the BJP’s which says that the Congress has appeased the Muslims and if Muslims are still not doing well then, the Congress has kept them back as Muslims. A self-falsifying paradox which now must be explained by yet another level of conjectured theory of ulterior motives whereby Mamata is the Maulavi. This is going nowhere.
The point is that politically Muslims can only negotiate protection of life and property; they cannot demand anything more for they qualify for nothing more. This all Muslims should understand; we can only ensure them protection of physical survival and once that is assured it is entirely up to the community to make the best for themselves. Muslims must realise that their religion is a matter of choice for them and all that they can vie for is the freedom of religion and nothing else. The rest is entirely up to them to make the best of their lives on earth.