Saturday, November 29, 2008

Michael Shank's piece in The Guardian (London) on the Mumbai terrorist attack

Following my post on the subject, I am interested to receive from a friend a piece by Michael Shank, Communications Director at George Mason University’s Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, in The Guardian.

Shank points out that
nearly half (43%) of all Muslims live below the official poverty line of $1.25 a day. "This poverty rate corresponds with the Muslim workforce rate: less than 50% of the Muslim male population is employed (contrast this with Dalit male employment of 53%). Additionally, Muslims are less likely to have electricity and water than Dalits. Politically, Muslims remain unrepresented in the government (holding 5.7% of all state jobs), in the foreign, police and armed services (holding 2-3% of all jobs) and in politics (holding roughly 4-6% of all House parliamentary seats, or less than one-half of the Muslims' population share). What is noteworthy about these numbers is that while the Dalits were previously devoid of the ideological and instrumental mechanisms to respond violently to the inequity in India's democracy, the Muslim community is equipped via national and international sources (both ideological and instrumental)....ethnic and religious dominance doubles the risk of violent conflict....What tips India's increasing risk of violent conflict into reality is the shame experienced by the underclass. Shame - in the case of Indian Muslims, stemming from socio-economic and political exclusion - is a powerful motivator towards violence. ... Agent provocateurs, in response, whether native or foreign, come equipped with the ideological and instrumental means to give voice to this shame through violence....Reducing the risk of India's violent conflict, then, requires not only recognition of the culprits, national or neighborly, who wreaked havoc on Mumbai but perhaps more importantly, in an effort to curb sustained endemic violence, recognition and a willingness to remedy the root causes of conflict - that of poverty and underrepresentation, politically and economically".

I repeat what I said in my post on the subject: justice and security are necessary, not only for Mumbai, but also for Muslims in India, before we can see an end to this sort of violence.
There must be, in Shank's words, "a long-term commitment to eradicating the climate in which violence grows. Until a majority of Muslims see the tangible benefits of India's democracy - socially, economically and politically - India will not only be the world's largest democracy but also the most dangerous".

Chilling words. And we should take them to heart if we don't want to see our country destroyed.

In fact, we cannot build prosperity in our country if most minorities (Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and so on) as well as
the MAJORITY (Dalits and OBCs) feel disadvantaged and alienated - even if they do NOT take to violence.

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