Najma Heptullah gets her Calculations Right

Najma Heptullah

By Fawaz Shaheen,

Ms. Najma Heptullah, the Minority Affairs Minister in Mr. Modi’s newly sworn in Cabinet, has shocked the public in her first public statement by saying that Muslims must not be called a minority in India since they are “so large in number”.

Data from the 2001 census puts the population of Muslims in India at around 13 percent. In the 2014 elections, most estimates put the Muslim population at around 170 million, which is just shy of 15 percent. This population includes, as various government reports and high-level studies have repeatedly shown, some of the most economically deprived and socially disadvantaged sections of Indian society.

Compare this with the fact that India’s largest religious community, the Hindus, stand at over 80 percent even by the most conservative estimates. By all means and calculations, Muslims are a minority in India.

So what could have prompted Najma Heptullah’s inexplicable statement? Since she did not reveal any groundbreaking study or survey report, it must be assumed that her statement was not based on statistics. But it would be foolish to assume that arithmetic was nowhere involved. In fact, it would be safe to say that her statement was based on arithmetic of both the literal as well as the political kind.

Ms. Heptullah is probably in the prime of her political career. Having defected to the BJP from the Congress just before the 2004 elections, at the height of the ‘India Shining’ electoral debacle, she has been rewarded for her patience with a ministerial berth.

This reward has come over the heads of BJP’s other, more popular Muslim faces, including five-time M.P. Shahnawaz Hussain and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi. In fact, Shahnawaz Hussain, who lost the elections by a whisker this time, is BJP’s only Muslim who has a proven electoral record, and was considered a shoe-in for any BJP Cabinet.

In other words, Najma Heptullah had much to thank for and prove her loyalty to the BJP. In Delhi’s durbari culture, accuracy is quite often the first casualty of sycophancy. What Ms. Heptullah said is merely the unspoken position of most in the Sangh Parivar(nowadays echoed frequently and rather aggressively on social media platforms) but even the RSS shies away from making such blunt statements officially.

India’s political discourse, while leaning more and more to the right in the last three decades, has always been sensitive to the constitutional mandate of preserving diversity and recognizing the need for providing special assistance to the underprivileged.

This sensitivity has often been reduced to tokenism and narrow-minded appeasement by the very forces who most vehemently proclaim their secular credentials. While it has done little to better the lot of minorities, this hypocrisy has consistently created more and more space for Hindutva forces to push their distorted notion of ‘equality’ devoid of justice or a multicultural consciousness.

The 31% vote share of the BJP in these elections contained a huge chunk of people disillusioned by the cynical opportunism and meaningless tokenism carried out by the Congress party and its ilk in the garb of secularism. For the Sangh Parivar, the obvious next step is to capitalize on this disillusionment and cement the idea that our constitutional values about creating equality and protecting diversity are nothing but a conspiracy against the Hindus, hatched together by ‘sickular’ Nehruvians and evil Muslims to destroy Hindu culture and tradition.

The effects of this distortion of ‘equality’ will not be limited to Muslims alone, although Muslims may be its first victims. Reservation for SCs and STs, special rights of forest tribes, minority –run educational institutions, cultural and linguistic rights, basically any recognition of being different from the Sangh’s idea of a ‘Hindu’ will slowly be rolled back.

Najma Heptullah has no illusions of being a mass leader, and rightly so. Her career has been built by banking on her political legacy and gambling on the winning team. She has finally made it big, and by speaking the Sangh’s mind she has reasserted her loyalties.

On a larger note, however, being the only Muslim face in Modi’s Cabinet, her statement has illustrated what it would take for a Muslim to have a seat at the table in Modi’s India. Before long, we will have many similar durbaris falling over each other in their effort to prove themselves more Sanghi than the Sangh itself.

We can hope that is not true. But if Najma Heptullah has got her calculations right, it most certainly will be.

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  1. Muslims don’t need to be called minorities,leaders like you and other congressi & samajwadis have taken the community for ransom for thier worldly gains.Muslims need right to equality and right to be treated equal before law which is guaranteed by the constitution adding on community really need is the right to live with dignity and equal opportunities for livelihood.Enough is enough we don’t need is the leaders like you and all those parasites who fed on the name of minorities since Independence & due to leaders like you are responsible for the pathetic state of muslims in india.

  2. I think there is a urgent reason to define what a minority is
    I think minority should be defined as group of people, who comprise of following traits

    1) They are less than 1-1.5% of population.. This 1 to 1.5 number is has been scientifically derived the fact that any living colony which is is is more than 1.5 % of total population has inner potential to survive of its own. In fact in medical world a disease is declared epidemic when it starts affecting more than 1% of population(as it can perpetuate from that threshold). It is not that i cam comparing people to disease, but that the scientific rational behind that 1-1.5% number is same.

    2) Their % population has seen decadal undergrowth. For e.g parsis and sikhs have seen lesser growth that national average.

    Similarly, if brahmins for e.g become less than 1.5% of india someday they too should be treated as minority…if shias become < 1.5% of population, and their shia community sees a decadal undergrowth then shias too should be declared as minority and so on so forth.

  3. Mr Naveed it doesnot seem you read the article Or you did not understand it fully

    Najma Heptullah is not Congress She is speaking your language of BJP Minority resevations SEcurity Genocides cant be decided on the opinion of one even if she is Minister

    • Mr.Abbasi you seems to be loyal congressi muslim but alas your party literally betrayed the muslims for over 60 years.For me both Congress and BJP are the two faces of same coin.And Muslims will never forget the deeds of Muslims leaders of both Congress and BJP.

    Najma H is her self face of “minority” no denying and if there was no void in alloting a quota token if ATLEAST one minister she not only was not deserving but has been
    unsucessful as Congress and more so when she jumped the ship in 2004 unsucessfully almost drowned before on sympathy QUOTA she was rewarded for her MISFORTUNE having to deal with two losses in 2004.Also she is undeserving .Just imagine what great grand neice means a sister of moulana produced a daughter that daughter produced another daughter who iwth genes of an out side family inlaws produced another daughter a great grand neice of moula na called Najma A NOT ABUL KALAM.How nehrus sister nayantara sehgal and Pundit Vijay Laxmi be came unlucky not to simply produce a great neice atleast get a berth in Sonia Gandhi for there daughters daughter for being great grand neice of Nehru

  5. even BJP admits that muslims are minority, evident from the fact that the party has reserved the ministorial seat (minority affairs ministry) for a Muslim, who did not even win MP seat.
    The party would have appointed a parsi as minority affairs minister, if it would have been of the same openion on the minority views of Ms Haptullah.

    This act of BJP attest to both reservation and the minority status of Muslims.

  6. It does’nt matter if Najma Heptullah is Congressi or Samajwadi because in her very first interaction with media she showed least her true intent towards the muslim issues.Now majority of muslims the true face of muslims leaders in congress and other so called secular parties ,they these just obey their masters and are least concerned about muslim community.

  7. It does’nt matter if Najma Heptullah is Congressi or Samajwadi because in her very first interaction with media she showed least her true intent towards the muslim issues.Now majority of muslims know the true face of muslims leaders in congress and other so called secular parties ,they these just obey their masters and are least concerned about muslim community.


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