INTERVIEW/PROF. DR BALADAS GHOSHAL.
How has global Islamic resurgence affected Indian Muslims?
Globalisation, the internet and the global war on terror have affected Indian Muslims. There is also a victim mentality growing out of their sense of insecurity, which makes them ghettoised, and an attempt to search for scapegoats instead of looking into their weaknesses.
Is the consolidation of Muslim identity among Indian Muslims a mere reaction to right-wing Hindu fundamentalist forces?
Hindu extremism is both a cause and an effect of Islamic fundamentalism. One couldn’t find Hindu extremists in the way one sees today in the 1950s and 1960s, even until the 1980s. The transformation of Pakistan under Zia-ul-Haq and the Islamisation of that society had an effect on Indian Muslims, creating an assertiveness on their part, which produced Hindu extremism, and in turn produced a sense of insecurity among Indian Muslims.
Is there an increasing feeling among Indian Muslims that their ancestors were once rulers of this land and are today powerless?
Surely, that feeling is there, but then that also brings a dichotomy between the upper class Muslims, who trace their pedigree to their Arab origin, and the so-called converts from lower social strata. One has to blame the Muslim leadership for this. They never tried to reform their own society or spread modern education which would have lifted their society from the backwardness. Instead, the more privileged ones tried to get into the mainstream. Some promoted madrassa education, which further alienated the Muslims from the mainstream and introduced them to the Arab type of Islam.
Do Indian Muslims look to the Arab world for inspiration? If yes, is it because of socio-economic or historical reasons?
Religious inspiration as well as for ideas about Islamic banking, insurance and such. Osama bin Laden is surely an inspiration, which they may not admit publicly.
How will Arabisation impact Indian society and polity?[There will be] greater polarisation along religious lines as Arabisation will produce greater reaction from Hindu extremist organisations. The crisis is within Islam and needs to be addressed by the Muslims themselves, as it will affect them more if they want to stay away from modern culture and economy. But the intellectuals and elites within the Muslim community are silent because they fear they might be accused of not being good Muslims.
Ghoshal is visiting professor at Academy of Third World Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia, and visiting senior fellow, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi.