Tuesday July 16, 2019
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Will religious census stir up India’s political cauldron?

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Lucknow/Patna: Will the religious census released by the central government on Tuesday stir up India’s political cauldron? Reports from two states with a sizeable Muslim population suggest that it just could.

In Uttar Pradesh, the answer seemingly is in the affirmative, fear many, as the already polarized polity of India’s most politically crucial state is set to be harvested for electoral gains in the run-up to the state assembly elections due in early 2017.

While most political leaders in Uttar Pradesh — including the ones known for competing with their professional adversaries for quotes and sound bytes — have refused to come on record candidly, there is an overwhelming sense in the state that the “religious census will precipitate into a politics-based on religious lines”. The Muslim population in the state has grown to 19.8 percent in the last 14 years — an increase of 0.86 percent.

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“The census on religious lines had been held back for long and we all know its release has a political statement to it,” a Congress leader, not wishing to be named, told IANS.

He further pointed out that the fact that the Hindu population had slipped below 80 percent for the first time — juxtaposed with the marginal growth of Muslims — was “sure to be used by those who play politics of religion”.

State spokesman of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Vijay Bahadur Pathak, though not ready for a usual full-length statement, told IANS that the census had thrown up two things which needed to be immediately tackled and with all seriousness — jansankhya niyantran (population control) and jansankhya santulan (population balance).

“Anybody who wishes for development will think in similar fashion,” he elaborated.Eminent Sunni cleric Maulana Irfan Mian Farangi Mahali saw the release of the religious census as a “political stunt which will only end up widening the growing gap between two communities”.

“The real issues are much different like price rise and corruption but such data is sure to stoke the imagination of india-sikhs-2009-1-3-6-34-49

political parties,” he averred.Of a population of 19.98 crore in 2011, Uttar Pradesh now has 15.93 crore Hindus, 3.84 crore Muslims, 64.35 lakh Sikhs and 35.6 lakh Christians.

The districts with highest concentration of Muslims are Moradabad, Muzaffarnagar, Bijnore, Bareilly and Saharanpur. In the sensitive area of western UP, which has been a communal flash point over the past few years, in 17 districts the ratio of Hindus and Muslims is very wide and only Amroha and Rampur have more Muslims.

Senior journalist Rajiv Ranjan Jha said Uttar Pradesh was a sensitive state and one where politics revolved around caste and community. “There can be no doubt that the release of the census would trigger a political chain-reaction and harvest divisive results,” Jha told IANS.

A report from Patna said that taking Bihar’s sizeable Muslim population into consideration, not only are the RJD, the JD-U and Congress eyeing their support, but even the BJP is also trying to gain their support ahead of the assembly polls expected in October.

“No political party can ignore this sizeable population in view of the coming polls,” social activist Nayiar Fatmi told IANS.

Soroor Ahmad, a socio-political analyst, said the Muslim population is the highest in Bihar’s most backward pockets with high degree of poverty, illiteracy and migration.
Muslims in districts like Kishanganj, Purnea, Araria, Katihar and Supaul — known as the Seemanchal region as they share border with Nepal and Bangladesh — have been playing an important role in the polls.

Ahmad said that AIMIM president Asadullah Owaisi recently visited and addressed a public meeting in Kishanganj to explore possibilities of contesting the Bihar polls.

According to the 2011 census, Bihar’s population stood at 10.5 crore, of which 16.5 percent were Muslims.

 

(IANS)

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Sport Hijab: A Sportswear Solution for Muslim Woman and Girls

Hijab, a head or body covering that conforms to Islamic standards of modesty.

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Sport Hijab, Sportswear Solution
Many young Muslim girls when they start playing sports, can’t focus completely on the game, because they are also focus on their hijab. Pixabay

When in public, Muslim woman and girls may wear a hijab, a head or body covering that conforms to Islamic standards of modesty. These women may also want to participate in sports without compromising their religion and clothing, and with a sport hijab, they can do just that.

Fatimah Hussein is co-founder of ASIYA (pr. ah-SEE-yah), an activewear company that is changing the lives of Muslim girls and women by producing culturally-appropriate athletic wear. Hussein owns the business with partner Jamie Glover, and the company is named after a woman revered in Islamic history.

“Many young Muslim girls when they start playing sports, can’t focus completely on the game, because they are also focus on their hijab. They either take it off or don’t play,” Hussein says. “They didn’t have any accessibility of a sport hijab that they felt very comfortable with. Many hijabs require pins as fasteners. When playing a sport, hijabs can be hot and unwieldy. If it comes unraveled, another player could trip on it, or the pin could jab the wearer or others, making it dangerous for everyone. So, I was like, there should be some kind of a solution for this,” says Hussein.

A sports hijab was the answer. ASIYA markets hijabs that are for fast paced physical activity. The headwear is made from a sweat-wicking fabric, designed to be comfortable and safe for play.

Sport Hijab, Sportswear Solution
ASIYA Sport. VOA

Hussein, a Muslim woman was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, and came to the United States at age six with her parents and sister, fleeing civil war. She says that she played sports in school as a child but was preoccupied with thoughts of her hijab.

“This doesn’t look right, this is falling, I don’t feel comfortable inside,” she says she remembers thinking.

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Hussein is still involved with sports in her hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota. In her free time, she is a basketball coach. She is also a licensed social worker.

“A lot of girls in our community want to try new things and play sports, but they aren’t confident, says Hussein. “They’re constantly told they shouldn’t be doing something boys are able to do, they get intimidated,” she says.

Hussein also found an indoor neighborhood gym for girls to play sports on their own.

She also established Girls Initiative in Recreation and Leisurely Sports (G.I.R.L.S), a nonprofit program for Muslim girls.

Sport Hijab, Sportswear Solution
ASIYA Sport. VOA

Hussein talks frequently of identity, community, and taking pride in being a Muslim. She says the hijab is important for Muslim women.

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“It makes a statement about her identity. Anyone who sees her will know that she is a Muslim, she is modest and has a good moral character,” says Hussein.

Sport Hijab, Sportswear Solution
Fatimah Hussein, CEO & Co-Founder of Asiya. VOA

Hussein says ASIYA is helping to break down barriers for Muslim girls who want to participate in sports.

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“We view ASIYA as a social venture looking to increase participation rates, as we believe there is huge value in sports participation for young girls in developing critical skills that set them up for success later in life.” (VOA)