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Who’ll protect them?
Minorities, irrespective of nation, region and society, are discriminated against globally. And this attitude is the ultimate enemy of peace

Minorities (be they ethnic, religious or racial) are defined by anthropologists like Charles Wagley and Marvin Harris as having five inherent characteristics. The most important is arguably the powerlessness of these minority groups. In spite of demonstrations by the minorities being so widely prevalent across the world, they are known to be engineered by the system (or state) in most countries to be discriminated economically, socially and culturally.

The pitiable situation of Hindus in Pakistan, who face constant threats, forced conversions and marriages of women, has been the subject of much controversy recently as some families travelled to India to seek safety. Alarmingly, a report by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute of Islamabad reveals, “Four primary themes that emerge most strongly as constituting the bulk of the curricula and textbooks… are that Pakistan is for Muslims alone; Islamiat is to be forcibly taught to all the students, whatever their faith, including compulsory reading of Qu’ran; the ideology of Pakistan (sic) is to be internalised as faith, and hate be created against Hindus and India; and students are to be urged to take the path of Jehad and Shahadat.”

Though India has far better textbook credentials, Muslims here have also been unable to benefit from India’s economic success. They are largely associated with poverty, unemployment and illiteracy. In the 2001 census, against the backdrop of a national average literacy level of 65.1%, Muslims were confined to 59.1%, compared to 80.5% for Hindus. Their share in salaried jobs is as low as 13% compared to 25% for Hindus. This is compounded by poor representation of Muslims in police and paramilitary forces, which is less than 3%, even though they constitute 13% of India’s population. The Sachar Commission Report further states that Muslims have to face lack of basic infrastructures like sanitation, roads and schools.

In US, large scale suppression of African Americans and Hispanics has contributed to their frustration and a stalemate on racism issues. Around 21% of Whites have a bachelor’s degree compared to 13.6% Blacks and 9.4% Hispanics, while 8.4% of Whites secured a Master’s degree with Blacks and Hispanics lagging with 4.9% and 2.9% respectively. In professional degrees too, 3.1% of Whites hold them compared to 1.3% of Blacks and 1.0% of Hispanics (2008 figures). Unemployment among Blacks is much worse than Whites during the current recession. China is no exception. The separatist Uighurs (Muslims) have been voicing their concerns on economic discrimination and cultural suppression for a long time against Chinese authorities. The Chinese have retained an agenda to neutralize the Uighurs (they blame Uighurs of resorting to terror tactics) with an iron fist. Amnesty International has also chided the Chinese for years of neglect in the region where money was spread too thinly compared to eastern China. In Britain foreign trash signifies Blacks & Asians. Coloured people are 26 times more probable to be stopped & searched by the police. Blacks are twice as unlikely to be educated and employed as Whites. The colored are multiple times likelier to go to jail than Whites for the same crime and are more likely to serve a longer term.

Although most civilized countries have a framework in place to fight the issue – the inherent xenophobia on the ground prevents it – as a government is a representation of its people. In democracies, they are often paid lip service in elections and face disappointment later. Clearly, if progressive societies have to guard themselves against future unrest and social tensions, they must collectively work towards upliftment of minorities and truly treat them as equal stakeholders in progress.

By:- Sayan Ghosh

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