India’s population has reached now 1.3 billion. Followers of Islam, Muslims number about 175 million, the largest number anywhere except Indonesia. One out of five people in India is a Muslim. Most of the people in India follow Hinduism. Both religions preach non-violence and respect for other faiths.
Muslims and Hindus have lived relatively peacefully in India for centuries. India was ruled by Moghul kings, followed by British colonialism for hundreds of years. The Moghuls did not try to convert Indian people to Islam. On the other hand, the Philippines was ruled by Spain for 300 years and its people were converted to Christianity. There were hardly any Christians in the Philippines before Spaniards occupy them, now most are Christians.
The Muslims and Hindus are easily recognized in India by their name, attire and the way they greet. Unfortunately, rampant discrimination against Muslims in India persists, despite good intentions. They are denied entry in public service job opportunities. Dr. Manmohan Singh, the ex-prime minister of India, established a commission to assess the conditions of Muslims in India. This commission was headed by an ex-justice of the Supreme Court of India, Rajinder Sachar. The commission determined that Muslims are worse off than any other group in India. They are worse than dalits (the untouchables) of India. The dalits are given reserved seats in public service as minority. However, the Muslims are not regarded as minority in India. There are hardly any Muslims in the Indian police or army. The rather small group of Muslims selected for jobs in such services are usually assigned desk jobs. It is unfortunate that nothing was done to improve the condition of Muslims even after the report of this commission.
The writer is happy to note the progress India is making in this regard. The prime minister of India is a dynamic leader and certainly capable improving the plight of Muslims. God bless India.