Is Gujarat Vibrant?

Myth of Vibrant Gujarat

An E Digest

Compilation of Articles on the development-decadence of Gujarat
Compiled by Ram Puniyani

(For Private Circulation)

Institute for Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution
All India Secular Forum
602 & 603, New Silver Star, Behind BEST Bus Depot,
 Santacruz (E), Mumbai: - 400 055.
1.     Introductory Article. 4
2.     Anna Hazare’s Comments about Development of Rural Gujarat: 9
3.     Modi thanks Hazare for praise, Sarabhai upset.. 12
4.     Whose Gujarat Is Vibrant?. 14
5.     Vibrant Gujarat Again. 15
6.     The monumental myth of vibrant Gujarat.. 16
7.     Farmer’s Suicide. 18
8.     Rural Modiland is No Model, Anna.. 19
9.     Nano in Gujarat, Make Believe Stature of Modi. 23
10.       Margin Speak.. 24
11.       'Muslims left behind in Gujarat's growth story' 28
12.       Relative Development of Gujarat and Socio Religious Diferentials. 29
13.       Marginalising Muslims in Gujarat.. 31
14.       Interview... 33
15.       Resources. 35


During my childhood I had heard a story from a friend. A Nawab had borrowed a lot of money and had no means to pay back to his creditors. He would attend to his rather demanding and angry creditors oh is doors and tell them that he had sold every furniture of his house to pay them and had nothing left and pleaded them to be left alone. However the creditors could not believe as they imagined a beautiful palace behind the beautiful curtains that were drawn all the time when they peeped through the windows of the palace. Once an angry creditor pulled down the curtains to get a better view of the palace. He was shocked to find nothing in the palace except the walls and all the members of the house did not have even clothes to cover their naked bodies. The Nawab gave away the costly curtains to the creditor pleading that whole world has now witnessed the naked truth and the curtains are of no use to him now.
The MOUs touted by the Nawab of Gujarat are much like the curtains of the palace in the story acting like a smoke screen to cover the nakedness of its occupants. The more naked the family members in the palace, the costlier are the curtains put up to cover up the nakedness. The Public Relations machinery of the Gujarat works hard to juggle with selected figures and statistics and spreads it far and wide through expensive PR budget – the curtains that cover Gujarat are not only expensive, but also thick and impregnable – so the Nawab of Gujarat thinks. The MOU curtains cover, for example the fact that the most backward district of the country is the Dangs district of Gujarat. The creditors of the Nawab are the people of Gujarat, the tax payers of Gujarat.
The Nawab in the story was at least trying to protect the dignity of the members of the family by putting up those costly curtains, though he had borrowed a lot of money for his pleasure and to showcase his status. The Nawab of Gujarat invites the capitalist vultures from outside in his vibrant Gujarat programmes and assists them to pull away the remaining scanty pieces of clothes from the bodies of the helpless members and raid the remaining furniture inside the ‘Gujarat Palace’ in the form its natural resources, land, water and environment. In return, the Nawab has been promised that he will supported by them to become Emperor of India.
The creditors (tax payers) of Gujarat are not yet as demanding and feel powerless as compared to the creditors of the Nawab in the story. The smoke screen of development and MOUs is intact.
The compilation in this digest to be circulated through e-mail networks and in hard copy is the act of angry activists and academicians representing the tax payers of Gujarat, particularly the marginalized sections in Gujarat – the adivasis, dalits, farmers, the landless, women, artisans, workers, casual labourers and the backward classes amongst the minorities, who resemble the creditors in the story and are pulling down the curtains one by one to enable a peep in the palace (swarnim Gujarat) that Narendra Modi claims he has made. As the reader goes through the articles in the compilation, the curtains are pulled one by one it is for the reader to judge whether the inhabitants of the palace are naked or well provided for. The contributors to this compilation have done a difficult job as the mountains of propaganda have to be dug to tease out the mole of truth. To penetrate the thick and strong veil of swarnim Gujarat the tools in the hands of the activists and academicians are preliminary but they do the job honourably.
Our thanks the Ram Puniyani for the painstaking effort.
Irfan Engineer
14th April 2011.

1.    Introductory Article

Myth of Vibrant Gujarat
Ram Puniyani

early nine years after the carnage of Gujarat (Feb 2011), a perception has been created that Gujarat is developing with rapid strides, there is all peace and harmony and minorities are happy. Like ‘Shining India’ a word has been coined, ‘Vibrant Gujarat’.

Nothing can be farther from truth. In the aftermath of the violence, the death of over two thousand Muslims, the rapes, the humiliation at the hands of instigated mobs, are still fresh in the air as the state has totally been unjust to the victims of the violence. There was no rehabilitation worth its name, the ‘refugee camps’ were closed too soon. State totally washed its hands off the rehabilitation process.

Today while the few amongst the Muslim minorities, especially a section of traders, have been won over by the BJP and dominant social forces, the majority of Muslim community has been forced to live the life of severe social and economic deprivation. The trend of ghettoization is increasing in major cities and expanding. Juhapura is the showpiece of the fear and insecurity which has gripped the Muslim community. Many a traders are trying to continue with their businesses in old localities while settling their families in the Muslim ghettoes like Juhapura. Most of the Muslim establishments have changed their names and patterns to sound like being the Hindu establishments, with the hope that this will prevent their religion being identified in the future pogroms, protect their property, and this move will overcome the economic boycott from the majority community. Incidentally this call of economic boycott of Muslims has been given by VHP. The domination of Modi/BJP in the social and political arena is leading to the situation where a large section of Muslims is forced to hide their pain and anger and carry on with the ignominies of their situations. Remarkably many a social groups from amongst Muslim communities are concentrating their work in the area of education; preparing the youth to take up jobs in the fields that are free from discrimination, and to prepare them to traditional and newer avenues of self employment.

A major study by Abdul Saleh Sharif (Relative Development of Gujarat and Socio-Religious Differentials, 2011) is very revealing about the condition of Muslims. This shows that Muslims fare very badly on the parameters of poverty, hunger, education and vulnerability on security issues. The study shows that levels of hunger are high in Gujarat alongside Orissa and Bihar. Muslims are educationally deprived. Muslim community which at one time was dominating in diamond and textile trade has been pushed behind. Poverty of Gujarat Muslims is 8 times more than high caste Hindus and 50% more than OBCs. Twelve per cent Muslims have bank accounts but only 2.6% of them get bank loans. This study concludes that Muslims in Gujarat face high levels of discrimination, even on the roll out of NREGA, Gujarat is at the bottom of the pile. (TOI, Feb 18, 2011, Mumbai)

As per the report of Pratham, an NGO devoted to the issues of education (Annual Status of Education Report), Gujarat is worse than Bihar when it comes to educational standards. Gujarat has been doing miserably in Social development indices and its budgetary allotment in this sector is low compared to other large states, being 17th amongst the 18 large states. While all this is happening, the mental ghettoes, the emotional partitions have become fairly strong and physical ghettoes tell the real truth of Gujarat, the ‘Hindu Rashtra in One State’. Those displaced due to carnage are living with no civic facilities reaching them. The banks and telephone companies are shunning these areas and children’s education is one of the major problems for the victims.

Through conclaves like Guarvi Gujarat, and the annual meetings of NRIs; Industrialists, investment is being solicited and more than the forthcoming investment, projections are being made of the flow of dollars, creating the image that it is during Modi regime that Guajarat has begun to progress. The fact is that there are some investments; there is some industrialization; but it is far from what is being projected. In previous Vibrant Summits claims of big capital investments have been made. For example in 2005 claim for Rs.106161 crores had been made. Out of that investment of Rs.74019 crores (63%) was made as stated by Chief Minister but in reality as per the information availed under R.T.I. only Rs.24998 crores (23.52%) projects were under implementation.

As per Teesta Setalvad, “…Likewise, in 2007, 363 MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) were made in which Modi Government claimed to have mobilized capital investments of Rs.461835 crores. Factually this amount was Rs.451835 crores and not Rs.461835  crores so an excess investment of Rs.10000 crores was claimed. Out of this State Government claimed to have made an investment of Rs.264575  crores but as per the figures by Industry Commissioner of Gujarat projects worth Rs.122400.66 crores (27.08%) were under implementation. Actually out of the investments in 2003, 2005 and 2007 only 20.28% of projects were under implementation in Gujarat.”

While Gujarat was already amongst the most industrialized states, it has been able to invite good deal of investment. Still it remains next to Maharashtra which leads the pack. While one does not hear much about the Maharashtra progress, through different types of media hypes the image of Gujarat phenomenon has been built up. The industrialization in Gujarat has a pattern. Two decades back, the growth rate of Gujarat was something between 12 and 13 per cent. The national average was six to seven per cent then. Today, Gujarat has the growth rate of 11 per cent while National growth rate is 10 per cent. This fact should make the matters clear to us.

As such Gujarat state has opened its coffers to subsidize the industrialists. Land, water and soft loans are the order of the day; they have been given to the industrialists at extremely cheap rates. It was one of the reasons because of which Tata shifted his Nano project to Gujarat. The subsidy, which this small car gets, is huge. Industrialists are having a free run and the social concerns like job creation are very poor in the Gujarat pattern. Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra are far ahead of Gujarat in the Job creation ratio on the investment. The investment figures which are flashed are not all actualized. One of the major victims of the reckless industrialization is the ecology, which has been ignored totally far as Gujarat is concerned.

The growth differentials in Gujarat are very appalling. On one hand, there is the growth, on other there is a serious decline in the social indicators of like sex ratio. According to ‘India State Hunger Index 2008’, Gujarat is shockingly ranked worse than Orissa. Gujarat is ranked 13th in the 17 big states which were calculated in this list. Gujarat is only above Jharkhand, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, which are globally equal to the hunger situation in Ethiopia. Poverty levels are rising; employment and agriculture are not in good shape. The agricultural production has been declining, e.g. from 65.71 lakh tones in 2003-2004 to 51.53 in 2004-2005. A survey conducted by NSS in 2005 reveals that approximately 40% farmers of state said that given the option they would like to shift away from agriculture. Recent studies show that during the last decade agriculture and labor both have suffered extensively.

Modi, in a reply given in state assembly stated that in one year up to Jan 2007, 148 farmers had committed suicide and the condition is worsening on that score. While on one side the state exports electricity, its villages are having a power deficit. Indian Express 8th April 2007 reported that state is reeling under the shortfall of 900 mega Watt of power, the victims of this are mainly in the villages. One of the indices of poverty, prevalence of anemia, is very revealing on this count. The percentage of women suffering from anemia has risen from 46.3% in 1999 to 55.5% in 2004 (Third round of National Family Health survey report 2006) among women. Amongst children it rose from 74.5% to 80.1%. Some of the reports point out the conditions of dalits and women has deteriorated during last decade. For women, one of the indices is the declining sex ratio in Gujarat during last decade. The plight of Adivasis is no better.

Gujarat is facing problems at the level of living conditions more of poor, women and minorities. The media hype is meant to change the image of Narendra Modi from the one who led the carnage to a development man. But deeper look at the economic and social situation tell us another story. 

Vibrant Gujarat summit-2011 – Ridiculous show-off of Power

Teesta Setalvad

ne more summit of Vibrant Gujarat is to be organized in January 2011. Prior to this such summits have been organized in 2003, 2005 and 2007. These summits have been organized to attract industrialists and industries to state. In which Chief Minister of Gujarat offers land at cheaper rates to industrialists interested in capital investment, free water or water at cheaper rate to use in industry, if such industries lead to pollution then freedom to them from laws related to pollution, exemption from tax for five years and in this duration of five years freedom from laborers’ act will also be given and thus would give a feel of his power. He would show that he can give land at cheaper rates to industries he wishes to and in return would expect industrialists to appreciate him and say that he is best Chief Minister of country.

In previous Vibrant Summits claims of big capital investments have been made. For example in 2005 claim for Rs.106161 crores had been made. Out of that investment of Rs.74019 crores (63%) was made as said by Chief Minister but in reality as per the information availed under R.T.I. only Rs.24998 crores (23.52%) projects were under implementation.

Likewise, in 2007, 363 MoU were made in which Modi Government claimed to have mobilized capital investments of Rs.461835 crores. Factually this amount was Rs.451835 crores and not Rs.461835  crores so an excess investment of Rs.10000 crores was claimed. Out of this State Government claimed to have made an investment of Rs.264575 crores but as per the figures by Industry Commissioner of Gujarat projects worth Rs.122400.66 crores (27.08%) were under implementation. Actually out of the investments in 2003, 2005 and 2007 only 20.28% of projects were under implementation in Gujarat.

Figures of capital investment in each state and expected employment opportunities out of it as per the memorandum submitted by industrialists to Ministry of commerce and industries in central government under industrial policy has been put up on its website by Ministry. These figures are of the year 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and up to September 2010. The analysis of these figures has revealed that compared to investment coming to Gujarat less employment opportunities will be created.  That is wealthy capital investment industries will come to Gujarat due to which direct benefit of availing employment will be less which is clear from the below mentioned table.

Employment opportunities (Rs. in crores)
2010 (Up to September 2010
Total of all years mentioned above




Above mentioned table reveals that in Gujarat in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and up to September 2010 memorandum of Rs.5, 35,873 crores by industrialists was filed with Ministry and out of that expected employment opportunities creation was 6, 47,631. Whereas in Maharashtra memorandums of 4,20,546 crores were filed (less than Gujarat state) and expected employment opportunities were 8,63,395. Which means one lakh rupees less capital investment than Gujarat yet 2, 18,000 more expected employment opportunities than Gujarat. Whereas in Tamil Nadu during this time period against capital investment of Rs.1, 63,280 crores, 13,09,613 expected employment opportunities will be created against this,

At the end of the year 2009-10 in Gujarat there were 8, 32,000 educated unemployed people. Number of educated unemployed people was 9, 64,000 in 2004, 9, 00,000 in 2005, 8,30,000 in 2006, 7,78,000 in 2007, 8,25,000 in 2008 and in 2009 also it was 8,25,000. Now if in the year 2003, 2005, 2007 there has been capital investment as per Chief Minister’s say then why there has not been any significant decrease in the number of these unemployed people.

On the other hand, out of the memorandums filed before Ministry of Commerce and Industry in the year 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and up to September 2010, 8,97,782 crores have been filed in Chhattisgadh i.e. 3,61,909 crores more than Gujarat and 8,35,048 crores have been filed in Orissa i.e. 2,99,175 crores more memorandums than Gujarat had been filed during the same time period.

If in Chhattisgadh and Orissa without any Vibrant Summit, memorandums (I.E.M) worth 3,61,909 crores more than Gujarat in Chhatisgadh and 2,99,175 crores in Orissa are possible then in Gujarat why inspite of summits, it is lagging behind Orissa and Chhattisgadh in capital investment memorandums? Also without vibrant if Maharashtra and Tamilnadu can have more expected employment opportunities with less capital investment  then in Gujarat why less expected employment opportunities compared to investment? Compared to other states inspite of Vibrant Summits why there is less capital investment in Gujarat? Vibrant Summits are nothing more than a means through which industrialists praise Chief Minister and avail financial benefits, and to show off that Chief Minister is more capable than other Chief Ministers of country.

2.    Anna Hazare’s Comments about Development of Rural Gujarat:

i)                   Response by Mallika Sarabhai

Dear Annaji

We are deeply shocked by your endorsement of Narendra Modi's rural development. There has been little or no rural development in this state. In fact gauchar lands and irrigated farmlands have been stealthily taken by the government and sold off at ridiculous prices to a small club of industrialists. There has been no Lokayukta in Gujarat for nearly seven years so hundreds of complaints against corruption are lying unheard. From the Sujalam Sufalam scam of 1700 crores to the NREGS boribund scam of 109 crores, the fisheries scam of 600 crores, every department is involved in thousands of crores of scams. The poor and rural people are being sold to Modi's friends the industrialists. The state is in terrible debt because of his largess to industry while 21 lakh farmers wait for compensation.

               Your endorsement is apalling and we will be forced to distance ourselves from            
                the Lokpal movement unless it is irrevocably retracted.

Mallika Sarabhai
   ii) Response by Rohit Prajapati and Trupti Shah
Rohit Prajapati and Trupti Shah
Date: 12th April 2011

Dear Annaji,
We received your reply in the form of your ‘press release’ to media in which you have once again retreated that “I praised only the developmental work done by Shri Narendra Modi and Shri Nitish Kumar in rural areas.” That is what we are questioning - the “rural development model” of Mr. Narendra Modi based on the ground realities in Gujarat.
Our letter dated April 11 highlighted the ground reality of downtrodden masses of Gujarat from farmers to fishing communities, tribals and salt pan workers.  Please read it carefully. Most of us in Gujarat working for the working class, women, farmers, dalits, tribals, landless laborers and the downtrodden who wrote to you on April 11, have focused on the development that Modi claims has happened, but is a contrast in reality. 
Your endorsement of Modi's development led to Modi writing an open letter to you minding you of a “vilification campaign”. We hope you realise the implications of endorsement now.
For a chief minister who turned his backs on scores of farmers who demand their right to farming (the Mahuva agitation), on tribals who seek forest land, of turning blind eye to pollution in towns and villages (Ankleshwar, Vapi, Nandesari, Vatva, Saurashtra and Kutch). Fishing communities being deprived of their livelihood in Kutch, the instances are numerous - will you call it development Annaji.
Your vague clarification is only related to communal harmony and politics - which is not we in Gujarat raised to you in our letter on Monday, while pointing out your praise of Modi's development model is misplaced.
You could either visit the state to have a first hand look or could reach out to those affected and working in the state. We hope that you will relay on the facts and not ‘false propaganda of the Government’.
Even your mention about communalism is very vague and you had not said anything about the role of Mr. Modi’s Government in 2002 and the continuation of the worsening of the plight of most affected people particularly poor Muslim women and men.
We need to look at the situation holistically and not in isolation as the rise of fascist communal forces in Gujarat who use ``development claims'' to mask all their shortcomings. The rise of fascist communalist forces in Gujarat is closely liked with the neo-liberal globalised development model.
We hope for a suitable and prompt clarification on your comments now.
Rohit Prajapati & Trupti Shah
(Social Activists of Gujarat)
37, Patrakar Colony, Tandalja Road, Post-Akota, Vadodara - 390 020
Phone No: + 91 - 265 – 2320399, 

iii) The Reply – Email received in the form of Press Release by Us.
Press statement by Anna Hazare

I am issuing this statement to clarify one of my statements which has been misinterpreted.

On a question asked in my press conference today, I praised only the developmental work done by Shri Narendra Modi and Shri Nitish Kumar in rural areas. Alongside I clarified that I am equally opposed to any form of communal disharmony. I am completely opposed to any kind of communalism or discrimination on religious or caste lines. I strongly condemn and oppose any kind of communal violence. People from all faiths and religions are founders, supporters and participants in this movement. This includes, Arch Bishop of Delhi, Mufti Shamoom Kashmi and others. I strongly believe in Gandhian values and principles of communal harmony.

I also wish to clarify that we are not attached to any political party. The movement is completely non-partisan and will remain so.

I sincerely urge the press to understand my intentions, which is to save this country from corruption by taking people of all faiths and religions along.

  K B Hazare

iv) Teesta Setalvad

e, academics, activists, artists and intellectuals strongly condemn the recently reported statement made by Anna Hazareji in which he has brazenly endorsed Narendra Modi, a politician who not only symbolizes the politics of division but unconstitutional governance. For the veteran anti-corruption social activist, Hazare to endorse a politician against whom a Supreme Court led investigation into conspiracy to commit mass murder and rape, subversion of evidence and pressure and intimidation of key witnesses is still underway reveals a narrow and mercenary understanding of the meaning of corruption. Worse, given the support base of the recent high profile and highly televised event agitation, that included open support from Ram Madhav and the RSS as also Baba Ramdev, Hazare’s move could be construed as a bid to actually influence this SC-driven criminal investigation.

Modi stands accused, and has not been yet cleared of serious charges of actively masterminding mass murder, loot and rape of 2,500 of Gujarat’s innocent citizens consciously perverting his position and power as chief minister in 2002. This and other investigations have been rigorously pursued by victim survivors of these gruesome massacres and Hazare’s statement, more than anything else rubs salt on deep wounds. Not once in the nine years since the state sponsored carnage has Modi, who has written a tear-filled communication to Hazare wiped tears from the heavy hearts of Muslim victim survivors in Gujarat. Nor has Modi even apologized for failing to perform his Constitutional duty.

On the issue of corruption and good governance too, Modi may yet fail the exemplary test. Allegations of serious corruption in state government schemes have been steadily documented and printed within Gujarat but have rarely made it to the headlines of national television. There has been little or no rural development in this state. In fact gauchar lands and irrigated farmlands have been stealthily taken by the government and sold off at ridiculous prices to a small club of industrialists. The ridiculously low interest loan given at the expense of five crore Gujarati taxpayers to Tata’s Nano project suggests a corrupt loan write off f public finances.

The irony of Modi being hailed by the leader of the National Lok Pal movement is cruel since there has been no Lokayukta in Gujarat for nearly seven years! Hundreds of complaints against corruption are lying unheard in that state as the common Gujarati reels under his mercenary dictatorship. From the Sujalam Sufalam scam of 1700 crores to the NREGS boribund scam of 109 crores, the fisheries scam of 600 crores, every department has been accused of being involved in thousands of crores worth of scams. The poor and rural people of Gujarat are being sold to Modi's small coterie of friends, the industrialists. The state is in terrible debt because of his largesse to industry while 21 lakh farmers wait for compensation for the land seized from them. How hen can Haraeji call Modi non-corrupt or hail his model of development?
Little or no funds have been released by the GOG to the Minority Finance Development Corporation, even less to the Gujarat State Wakf Board. No figures are provided by the state government for funds allotted to the religious minorities.

The corrosion and corruption in our system is not merely monetary but the subversion of the Indian Constitution and Constitutional Governance has been in large measure due to the unbridled and unchecked growth of state and non state actors who are sworn to partisan politics, ideology and governance. While their was more than some discomfiture felt by many of us when we saw this worthy anti-corruption movement being supported by RSS cadres and Baba Ramdev, guilty of amassing crores of money and property himself, this discomfiture increased as accusation of bus loads of supporters arriving to Jantar Mantar from Gujarat came in and finally dues were extracted by the ruler of that state, Narendra Modi, in the form of praise from Anna Hazareji.

Teesta Setalvad.

v) Mallika Sarabhai on Hazare’s Comments

3.    Modi thanks Hazare for praise, Sarabhai upset

New Delhi: Social activist Anna Hazare's praise of Narendra Modi Monday fetched a prompt 'thank you' from the Gujarat chief minister himself but danseuse-activist Mallika Sarabhai, a vocal supporter of the anti-graft movement, expressed her disapproval and asked Hazare to retract.

The Congress, in a guarded reaction, said that no secular person can condone the "black events" of 2002 in Gujarat.
Sarabhai, one of the prominent supporters of Anna Hazare's anti-corruption crusade, Monday asked the social reformer to retract his praise of Narendra Modi for development work.
Sarabhai, who spearheaded support for Hazare in the state, said she will distance herself from the Lokpal Bill movement if he does not take back his endorsement of Modi.
In her e-mail to Hazare, Sarabhai said: "We are deeply shocked by your endorsement of Narendra Modi's rural development. There has been little or no rural development in this state. In fact, village grazing lands and irrigated farmlands have been stealthily taken by the government and sold off at ridiculous prices to a small club of industrialists."
Sarabhai said there had been no Lokayukta (ombudsman) in Gujarat for nearly seven years, so hundreds of complaints against corruption are lying unheard.

vi) Social Activists’ Response to Hazare’s comments on Gujarat
     12th April, 2011

Anna Hazare’s statement endorsing and appreciating the ‘Modi-Raj' is
unfortunate and unacceptable

It was shocking to find that Anna Hazareji after receiving support by all of us, with millions, publicly appreciated the rule as well rural development work by the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Mr. Narendra Modi. The entire world knows the role played by him and his administration in the Gujarat’s communal riots. His government has only indicated callousness and contempt for the farmers and other natural resource based communities in Gujarat, including those fighting against displacement from their land and livelihood or for rehabilitation.

On the issue of corruption, Modi’s response to the initiative to bring in a strong enactment or to wipe out corruption is, to say the least, only politically motivated. If only he was committed to an institution like the Jan Lokpal, how could the Lokpal’s post be vacant in Gujarat since 2005? His government has suppressed massive corruption in the land purchases while submitted exaggerated data on benefits to the drought areas of Kutch and Saurashtra and the rural population. 

In Narmada, we have seen how the adivasis in Gujarat, screaming against the legal violations and deprivation in the rehabilitation work do not receive any response and the Modi Government is ready to submerge the best of agricultural land and generations old villages and township in the dam reservoir in three states.
 As a shrewd politician, Mr. Modi knows how to divide the secular force and seek advantage for himself and his party. We shouldn’t however fall prey to this. Anna too must hear and heed to the serious grievances and charges coming from the activists and people in Gujarat against Mr. Modi and his government. Gujarat is growing only for and with the industrialists at the cost of those contributing their land or human labour and now the local communities in Gujarat have also stood up to the challenge the injustices.

All of this clearly indicate a betrayal of rural needy population for his corporate vision. We surely would join many of Gujarat’s progressive activists who know the ground reality and the atrocities against the dalits, adivasis, minorities and other downtrodden population to tell Anna that he should stay away from supporting politicians until and unless they prove their mettle and commitment to people’s causes.  We agree with the letters written by activists Rohit Prajapati and Trupti Shah to Anna, seeking an explanation. The common people of India have supported the battle against corruption with faith in our campaign and credibility as people’s movements based on the core values of equity, justice, democracy, secularism and plurality. This should not be compromised at any cost.

Endorsed by:
Medha Patkar
Saraswati Kavula
Kavita Srivastava
Maj Genl. (Retd.) Sudhir Vombatkere
Sandeep Pandey
Anand Mazgaonkar
Madhuresh Kumar
Thomas Kochhery
Sister Celia
Simpreet Singh
 Rajendra Ravi
Arundhati Dhuru
D. Gabriele
Suniti S.R.
Uma Shankari
Faisal Khan
Ashish Ranjan

4.    Whose Gujarat Is Vibrant?

Pravin Mishra /  Ahmedabad Mirror

Gujarat produces some of India’s wealthiest. What is not known widely is that the state has the highest percentage of poor population, a whopping 31.8%
Chief Minister Narendra Modi started Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit in 2003 to attract investors to the state. The first summit attracted proposals worth Rs 69 crore. The figures kept increasing since: Rs 1 lakh crore in 2005, Rs 4 lakh crore in 2007, Rs 12 lakh crore in 2009 and almost Rs 21 lakh crore in 2011. The corporate giants heaped praises on Modi and some even endorsed him for prime minister’s job. Gujarat has voted him to power with a landslide majority twice. But is today’s Gujarat really an economic model?
Thousands of farmers have been protesting the allotment of land to Nirma by the Gujarat government for a cement plant in Mahuva. According to Kanu Kalsaria, the BJP MLA from the region, the government had granted land rights to Nirma in the heart of a water body created through prolonged efforts of locals over the years. Nirma demanded a total of 4,415 hectares of land on lease for the mining of limestone from nine villages in Bhavnagar district. This includes wet, privately owned agricultural land of 3,583 hectares and “gauchar land” of 232 hectares. The Gujarat government has already given in-principle approval to 3,460 hectares for mining limestone across the coastline.
The farmers said that the upcoming plant would destroy their agriculture and livestock and cause irreparable damage to the environment. Five thousand people, including women and children, travelled 350 km on foot to Gandhinagar in protest against the cement plant demanding cancellation of the land lease to Nirma. Their demand was rejected by the chief minister.
While this was happening, acres of land were granted to Orpat Limited at Rs 40 per sq metre to construct a tourist resort in Wankaner taluka. Shockingly, a water body, the only source in the area for drinking and irrigation was blocked by 20 feet high surrounding walls. The desperate farmers knocked the doors of Gujarat High Court. The court has stayed all the activities in the ill-gotten land and has ordered the reconstruction of the irrigation channel by demolishing the walls. Was the prime concern for the government creating of a resort at the cost of depriving thousands of villagers of drinking water?
A good investment climate demands cheap labour and a freehand in exploiting the natural resources. But the third requirement, land, is not an easy proposition. The super-inflated MoUs give the government tremendous political mileage. For the corporate, the priceless land comes free or dirt cheap with no deadlines of the promised investment. The adivasi farmers who are dependent on the forests and agricultural land are pushed away. These thousands of landless farmers have no option but to sell their labour for cheap to survive. Some do not survive.
Sixteen thousand Gujarati workforce committed suicide during Modi’s tenure. The number consists of 9,829 workers, 5,447 farmers and 919 farm labourers. The ‘rich’ government of a ‘vibrant’ state cannot save lives of its own people who kill themselves because they are unable to survive. State Congress president Arjun Modhwadia said that these figures were from the state government statistics.
That Gujarat produces some of India’s wealthiest is well known. What is not known so widely is that Gujarat also has the highest percentage of poor population, a whopping 31.8 per cent, as per a Planning Commission data. The vibrant face of the state is full of thick makeup where the real face is no more traceable.
The plight of the marginalised is not heard in the deafening decibel of vibrant Gujarat celebrations. Millions of Gujaratis cannot even have two square meals a day whereas our home-made billionaires plan billions of dollars of investment overseas. While our chief minister attempts to attract more investors to our state, let’s look at it through the eyes of those who cannot afford to survive in this ‘thriving’ state. Let’s ask ourselves — who is Modi vibrating for?

The Planning Commission, in consultation with the Union ministry of Rural Development, has ranked 447 districts out of a total of 604 districts.  In its May 2003 report, the 'Task force on identification of districts for wage and self employment programmes' had selected three variables for computing the index of backwardness. These were: agricultural productivity per worker, agricultural wage rate and schedule caste (SC)/schedule tribe (ST) population.

It is interesting to find 6 districts of Gujarat in the 50 most backward districts, with the Dangs at No. 1. The list has 20 districts out of Gujarat 25 districts. If nothing else this at least shows Gujarat is as backword as the rest of the country.

Though there have been enough indicators to show the myth of Vibrant Gujarat ( farmer's suicides at the peak of Mr Modi's rule, more than 6000 'accidental deaths' of farmers during the same period, growing violence against women- domestic as well as rapes, murders, kidnappings as shown by the latest report on Ahmedabad done by awag and iim, Ahmedabad and National Family Health Surveys of 2005 and 2006 showing very high anemia rates in women and children , growing violence against dalits so on), the regional as well as the national media continues to pay tributes to the fascist dictator.


Status of Women in the Modi's Mega study

A pilot study conducted by Ahmedabad Women’s Action Group under the ‘Mental Health Care Pilots in Gujarat’ project undertaken by the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A ) revealed that a whopping 58 per cent of women in Ahmedabad suffer significant mental distress. Ahmedabad which was projected as a Mega city and an example of Modi’s developed Gujarat.

The study revealed horrendous forms of physical violence which included slapping, punching, biting, kicking and even branding with cigarette butts! 

The abuse extended to the bedroom too, where 50 per cent women admitted that they were forced to engage in forcible sex amounting to marital rape! 

65 per cent women conceded to being abused in public and in front of neighbours!
35 per cent women reported that their children, especially girls, were victims of violence and were physically and verbally abused by the father.

50% were subject to forcible sex (rape) , 50% were deprived of sex *Social violence , 76% abused before family , 69% before neighbours , 60% before friends , 67% in public places , Emotional violence , 70% report verbal abuse, threats , 62% report lack of support, appreciation 
69% excluded from decision making , Slapping | 68 % , Kicking | 62 % , Punching | 53 % , Hitting with hard objects | 49 % , Biting | 37 % , Choking | 29 % , Branding with cigarette butts | 22 %

Nothing is black and white ever but Gujarat’s grey spots are getting frighteningly glaring. Last fortnight validated this again.

Narendra Modi’s beefy rhetoric stressed Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) had put Gujarat as top investment destination of 2008-2009 with 19.91 per cent of the country’s total investment coming to Gujarat in mid-June report.

Chief minister Mr Modi tomtommed on Twitter about being number one in providing vocational training and employment. A state official explained how Gujarat led the nation in providing jobs through employment exchanges. Out of the total jobs provided in India through employment exchanges, he said the highest, 72.77 per cent were provided by Gujarat, he contended. Soon, Gujarat will become the first state to have a Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) with bus stands competing in style and functionality with Curitiba, Brazil, which is home to the first and one of the most successful BRT systems in the world.

Did you know that the Gujarat government has promised that all 1,8,000 villages in the state will have all the facilities present in the chief minister’s chamber, that Gujarat will become the first place in Asia where villages will have IT connectivity," the official informed.

Gujarat is the No. 1 state in India when it comes to economic freedom index also. Economic freedom index means absence of government coercion or constraint in the production, distribution or consumption of goods and services beyond the extent necessary for citizens to protect and maintain liberty by itself, he explained adding he was indeed sorry for all those "pseudos" who fail to see Modi beyond 2002 riots. Modi’s vision is more important than his role, if so any in Gujarat riots, he earnestly explained.

Past is past and 2002 is history. Gujarat has moved on, he reasoned.
Admitted it’s a good to have great roads, uninterrupted power supply and world-class mall-multiplex culture besides Golfing societies and plentiful profit churning businesses. It’s a pleasant feeling to be in a state which is number one in so many sectors besides investment, infrastructure and industry. But the bad news refuse to fade in the background.

In fact, several of them. Here are a few samples which are dubbed as stray cases in an otherwise vibrant Gujarat. A 40-year-old pregnant woman went for her check-up to the G.G. hospital in Jamnagar. Two qualified gynecologists along with the staff pasted a tape on her forehead that screamed her HIV positive status. She was then paraded in different wards of the hospital. Shockingly, none of the medical, paramedical staff who were aware that HIV status cannot be declared this way, objected to the woman’s public parade. The woman got her two-month-old foetus aborted because of her health condition, but the humiliation of public parade with a tape screaming HIV-seropositive will hang forever.

Little before that, a 12th grader, a brilliant science student with great career goals, left her home for tuitions when she was intercepted by three men posing as cops a little away from her home early morning. She and a male co-student were forced in the car and the girl was gang raped for 90 minutes before being dumped at the same spot.

This happened in Surat, Gujarat’s fastest growing economic paradise. The rapists filmed the gang rape on their mobiles. After the arrest, the police recovered about half a dozen "live" gang rape videos from them.

Because Mr Modi scores high on the luck quotient in developed but divisive Gujarat, some local media pithily put it that the rapists were Muslims feebly attempting to spare the state government of any blame about the law and order situation. What followed was worse. In the HIV positive case, the only positive action the state government initiated was to ask the doctors and nurses involved to go on indefinite leave. Sadly, in the last three months, 10 HIV positive persons have committed suicide in Gujarat after they were socially and economically ostracised. The No. 1 state did not offer them enough motivation to continue with their lives.

In Surat, the first response of the police commissioner was that the girl was a soft target for rape because she was with a male co-student. Indirectly hinting at the teenager’s character, the police commissioner craftily justified the gang rape. When Surat literally took him to task, the state government, just to avoid confrontation, transferred the police commissioner, Deepak Swarup.

Here is more to Vibrant Gujarat. The Annual Status of Education Report by Pratham, a non-governmental organisation, points out that Gujarat is worse than Bihar when it comes to education standards. The report, sponsored by Google, Oxfam and Unicef, categorically says that Gujarat students are behind their Bihar counterparts. The percentage of students who can read their textbooks, do basic subtraction, tell time or do basic currency tasks is much lower in Gujarat than in Bihar.

Several other reports also authenticate that Gujarat has been doing miserably in almost every index of human development. Gujarat’s developmental model and module has been questioned and dubbed flawed by several social commentators and researcher who have been casually dismissed as "anti Gujarat" or "pseudo secular". Infant Mortality Rate(IMR) in Gujarat was 69 per 1,000 in 1991 compared to 80 of India. While the national IMR became 58 per 1,000 in 2005, that of Gujarat became 54. So, while India on the whole really did much better to cut down its IMR, Gujarat’s performance was not actually impressive. The gap between Gujarat and India reduced because states like West Bengal, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand fared much better than Gujarat. Experts stress IMR is a sensitive indicator of women’s status in general besides being a mirror of healthcare facilities for pregnant women.

A February 2007 Reserve Bank of India report put Gujarat as 17th among 18 large states when it came to social sector budget allocation. With 31.6 per cent budgetary expenditure on social sector, Gujarat dipped from 12th spot in 1991(then there were 15 large states category) to 17th of the 18 large states proving expenditure on social sector had considerably declined in Mr Modi’s regime. In the past, former President Abdul Kalam has also commented on the need for Gujarat to focus more on its social development index

Mr Modi is described as an iconic leader with innovative thoughts. A leader for whom progress matters more than propaganda. Mr Modi’s resolve is to put Gujarat on top of human development index.

Resolution and reality, however, seems to have a huge gap which is steadily widening.

* * *

7.    Farmer’s Suicide

16,000 farmers, workers ended life during Modi’s tenure’
Posted: Thu Mar 17 2011, 03:52 hrs

State Congress president Arjun Modhwadia on Wednesday claimed that 9,829 workers, 5,447 farmers and 919 farm labourers have committed suicide in the state during Narendra Modi’s tenure as Chief Minister.

During the debate on the supplementary budgetary demands in the state Assembly, he said these figures were provided by the state government.

Modhwadia further claimed that Gujarat has the highest poverty rate in the country as per the Suresh P Tendulkar Committee appointed by the Planning Commission.

He said that 31.8 per cent population of Gujarat is poor followed by Andhra Pradesh (29.9 per cent), Tamil Nadu (29.8 per cent), Himachal Pradesh (22.9 per cent), Punjab (20.9 per cent), Kerala (19.7 %), J-K (13.2 %) and Haryana (2.1 %).


8.    Rural Modiland is No Model, Anna

BY Anumeha Yadav
From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 8, Issue 17, Dated 30 Apr 2011

AS VILLAGE pramukh Madhuben Shiayal finished addressing the meeting, a dozen koli men and a handful of women who had taken off
In the pipeline The waterway built by Mahuva villagers
time from weeding the bajri fields got up to go. The hot April sun blazed over Khared, a village in Mahuva taluka in Bhavnagar district of southern Gujarat. Unlike others, Natha Shiayal, an elder with a quiet demeanour, walked barefoot.
Shiayal is one of the five farmers who have gone barefoot the past two years to protest against the permit given to Nirma to build a cement plant in the catchment area of their village reservoirs. His village Khared is one of nine where the government handed over 4,415 hectares, including irrigable farmland, pastures and wetland, against the will of Gram Sabhas.
Mahuva has since become the strongest voice of dissent in Gujarat, a state that otherwise claims a deep consensus over development and land use. Over 12,000 farmers from Mahuva walked 350 km to Gandhinagar when the Assembly was in session last month. These protests are key to understanding the sparring that erupted when Anna Hazare endorsed Narendra Modi’s model of rural development.
“We will go again and again if they don’t listen,” says Dhakuben Bariya. Surrounded by her grandchildren in her hut in Gujarda village, she narrates her padyatra to Gandhinagar, walking over 10 hours a day for 14 days. She describes being detained by the police at Sarkhez police station on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, while protesting in February 2010.
And before that, at Sola police station in 2009. Learning not to be intimidated by police batons is not the only thing 60-yearold Dhakuben has inculcated in two years of fighting for her 5-bigha plot. Hers was one of the 3,000 families that laboured three months to dig a km-long channel between Malan and Samadhaliya last June when the state government refused to do so to coerce Mahuva’s farmers to give up their demands.
“They stopped work on the spread channel connecting the two reservoirs saying it was not a priority. When I went to Gandhinagar to meet Irrigation Minister Nitin Patel in April, he tried to barter with me saying if we did not take our PIL to the Supreme Court, he would allow the work on the canal
Gandhian protests Villagers hold up cards signed in blood
to go on,” said Kanubhai Kalsaria, a three-time BJP MLA from Mahuva. Kalsaria led Mahuva farmers to pool in their resources and build a waterway.
When TEHELKA contacted Patel, he denied Kalsaria’s allegation of arm-twisting farmers but declined to reveal why the irrigation department abandoned work on this Rs 3.74 crore, 5 km-long channel meant to bring water to five villages.
Ironically, farmers in Mahuva are struggling to retain the benefits that accrued to them from state interventions. There are 543 villages on the limestone-rich Saurashtra coast that struggle for drinking and irrigation water because of a problem of rising salinity in the soil. It is here that the Gujarat High Court intervened last year after RTI activist Amit Jethwa was shot dead outside the court in July, three weeks after he filed a PIL accusing BJP MP Dinu Solanki of operating illegal limestone mines.
Following recommendations of two state committees in 1976 and ’78, the Irrigation Department’s Salinity Ingress Prevention Cell (SIPC) built three check dams in Mahuva between 1998 and 2002. This helped replenish groundwater in 30 villages. Much to the farmers’ disappointment, the government handed over land containing the catchment area of these reservoirs in the land allotted to Nirma in 2003 to build a cement plant.
“Earlier we could grow only one kharif crop, and my sons had to go to Dholka to look for work. After the check dams were built, we were able to grow cotton, groundnut, bajri, wheat and maize all in one year. Our income has doubled,” says Shiayal. “How can the government allow a cement plant on the same check dams?”
Long-drawn court battles have made the churning in Gujarat more visible even to an otherwise insulated middle class. “Stop selling Gujarat!” said Chief Justice SK Mukopadhyaya rebuking the government while presiding over the Mahuva case in 2010. This February, the high court issued a notice to the Adani Group’s SEZ off the Kutch coast when farmers from Mundra filed a petition that their pastureland had been usurped, violating Gram Sabha resolutions.
It is tenuous struggles such as these that the civil society and Gandhians jumped to defend following Hazare’s endorsement of Modi’s Gujarat. “This government is an expert in melas and rallies and trumpeting its own name. Outsiders hear only the trumpets starting, they do not listen to what happens when the music dies down,” lamented Chunnilal Vaidya, a 93-year-old Gandhian based in Ahmedabad.
Gandhian protests Natha Shiayal, who goes barefoot to oppose the Nirma plant in Mahuva
Gujarat has been one of the five top per capita income states in India since independence. In this industry-driven revenuerich state, villages have also prospered because of a robust rural cooperative movement and strong farmers’ lobby in the ’60s. But the current government’s stance of suppressing any dissent and feeding off superficial endorsements like Hazare’s has civil society activists worried. “Hitler’s machinery is like child’s play compared to Modi’s PR work; they send out thousands of SMSes and mails the second anything breaks out. I have great respect for Hazare’s work but the ground reality in Gujarat is different from what Modi portrays,” says Ahmedabad-based classical dancer Mallika Sarabhai who has declared that she will distance herself from the Lokpal movement unless Hazare retracts his statement.
Beyond the stance taken by activists, what is happening in Gujarat reflects in the numbers. According to the study ‘India State Hunger Index’ by The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), a US-based research organisation, Gujarat with its 9 percent growth rate does worse than states like Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Assam in feeding its poor. On average, a person living in Gujarat gets 1,632 kcals per day (The calorie norm Planning Commission uses is 2,400 in rural areas and 2,100 in urban). By the government's own admission, one out of two children in Gujarat is underweight; 80 percent adoloscent girls have anaemia.
Academics say this paradox of hunger amid riches is not explained by the farmers’ shift to cash crops or a shift from agriculture to industry. But it reveals how Gujarat’s rural poor slip through the cracks.
“National Sample Survey data shows that a male labourer in rural Gujarat earns Rs 68 and females get Rs 58, much lower than the national average. How will people buy food when they don’t have the money?” asks Indira Hirway, economist and co- author of Gujarat’s Human Development Report, 2004.
It is tribals in the state’s eastern belt — the poorest section of Gujarat’s population — who are the most vulnerable. Since 2008, Manji Mogha Damorh of Shankarpura village in Jhalod taluka of Dahod, a tribal- dominated district, has watched a son and a daughter in their 20s die of silicosis, a respiratory illness they contracted while working at less than minimum wages in Godhra’s mineral factories.
He has mortgaged his 5 bigha to raise Rs 60,000 for the treatment of his two surviving sons, who also have this fatal condition. “I try to work on others’ farms but this land is undulating and does not support much,” says Damorh. He brings out from his hut the MGNREGA job card issued to him in 2006, one of the few proofs of his entitlements from the state government. It records only the date of issue, 27 February 2006: All other entries are empty.
In April 2010, the Modi government was found diverting MGNREGA funds to other departments. Union Rural Development Minister CP Joshi then set up a probe in July to inquire into this. “They see MGNREGA as a source of Central funds and undermine the scheme. Tribals in Narmada, Dahod, Panchmahal are forced to migrate and work at less than minimum wage,” says Paulomee Mistry of the 15,000- strong Gujarat MGNREGA workers’ union, which first reported that a circular diverting MGNREGA funds was doing the rounds after a meeting chaired by the CM.
It is a similar attitude with other pro-poor legislations. Five months ago, the Saxena Committee on Forests Rights Act found the state has one of the highest rates of rejection of individual forest rights claims. Of 1,82,568 claims, the government had arbitrarily rejected over 75 percent. “They say they are relying on satellite imagery, but this is poorly designed. They have done even less work on acknowledging community forests rights that would enable Adivasis to support themselves on minor produce like bamboo,” says Ashish Kothari, a member of the committee.
One of this government’s flagship propoor interventions has been to bring Narmada waters to Gujarat farmers. But here too, it has failed to build 75 percent of the canals and distributaries without which the water does not reach small farms. Farmers are in a bind as they watch Narmada waters flow by but when they try tap it, they are treated like thieves. “Officials seized the pump and fined me Rs 10,000, saying it is illegal to draw this water,” laments Bhechra Bharwad in Ganeshpur village in Surendranagar district. Not too different from the kind of mirage that this government has lured others into.
Anumeha Yadav is a Senior Correspondent with Tehelka

9.    Nano in Gujarat, Make Believe Stature of Modi.

Ram Puniyani
03 November, 2008

Shifting of Nano to Gujarat has been projected as a feather in Modi’s cap. With this his already rising popular rating due to the projections by a section of media and blind apologists of current pattern of development has got a big boost. Some from the world of business/vested interests have started saying that Modi is the future of India and if there are five more Modi’s the country will prosper in the real fast way! The additional point being made is that he has shown the path to deal with ‘terror’; he can control this problem in effective way etc.!
The alternative patterns of development, what are the different components of the process apart, lets see his record and the ‘achievements’ in Gujarat. He is the one who gave the final push to convert Gujarat from being a part of democratic India to ‘Hindu Nation in one state’. His projection of Godhra as the preplanned act by Muslim community and unleashing the carnage against this hapless minority has few parallels in the history of India. He presided over a tirade to convert the minorities into second class citizens in his state. Not only did he refuse to let the refugee camps continue, today over five lakh Muslim minority are staying in the proliferating ghettoes of Gujarat, denied the facilities by state and the civic authorities. Most of the indices of Gujarat development relate to increasing affluence of the sections of middle classes while the condition of average and poorer sections are declining badly.
Poverty levels are rising; employment and agriculture are having a bad time. The agricultural production has been declining, e.g. from 65.71 lakh tones in 2003-2004 to 51.53 in 2004-2005. A survey conducted by NSS in 2005 shows that approximately 40% farmers of state said that given the option they would like to shift from away agriculture. Recent studies show that agriculture and labor both have suffered extensively during last one decade. Modi in a reply given in state assembly stated that in one year up to Jan 2007, 148 farmers had committed suicide and the condition is worsening on that score. While on one side the state exports electricity, its villages are having a power deficit. Indian Express 8th April 2007 reported that state is reeling under the shortfall of 900 mega Watt of power, the victims of this are mainly in the villages. One of the indices of poverty, prevalence of anemia is very revealing on this count. The percentage of women suffering from anemia has risen from 46.3% in 1999 to 55.5% in 2004 (Third round of National Family Health survey report 2006) among women. Amongst children it rose from 74.5% to 80.1%. Some of the reports point out the conditions of dalits and women has deteriorated during last decade. For women one of the indices is the declining sex ratio in Gujarat during last decade. The plight of Adivasis is no better.
Gujarat also witnessed the anti Christian violence during Modi regime and Adivasis have been a totally neglected lot in the state, reeling under the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashrams Gharvapasi (Conversion into Hinduism) campaigns. Minorities have been reduced to scapegoats and the social partitions are becoming rigid by the day. Some development has taken place in the state, but Gujarat was always amongst the more developed states of the country. It is not that things have started from the scratch.
As far as terrorism is concerned, the acts of terror did take place in the form of attack on Akshardham during his regime. After this Akshardham attack he romped home to electoral victory. A bit later with his bloated chest he started claiming that terrorists dare not enter his state, till of course the bomb blasts in Ahmedabad (2008). After this he propagated that he cannot deal with this phenomenon as he does not have effective laws! This deliberate lie is meant to while wash the fact that terrorism has deeper roots, which cannot be uprooted by brave rhetoric’s which he is adept to dishing out. He has mastered the art of using the opportunity to project him, well assisted by the section of media.
The pattern of things in Gujarat today is clear, it intimidates and brow beat minorities, take up policies which help the affluent and upper middle class, project this and hide the backyard where the poor and minorities stay. No wonder this is what attracts the ilk of Tata, who are very appreciative of Modi, as the backyard of the state, the violation of democratic norms has no meaning for them, the only thing which matters for them is the proliferating coffers of their companies. The considerations of ethical and holistic development don’t matter there. This is no different from the attitude of big industrialists towards Hitler. They backed him to the hilt in his rampage against the democratic norms. It is not for nothing that serious academics like Ashish Nandy describe Modi as the person with classic fascist traits.
The carnage of 2002 and the parallel intimidation of Christian minorities have already paved the way for the religious authoritarianism in the state. Modi is basking in the glory of ‘personally efficient and disciplined’ person. A person should not be judged by a small part of the policies. What is overlooked in this shortsighted evaluation is that whether the said person is committed to democratic values, values of Indian Constitution or not. While the management Gurus and money bags are comfortable with the likes of Hitler/Modi, for the large sections of deprived population such rules are a nightmare. What more can be said about such a person who comes to power through polarizing the society and then rules in a manner where false claims about amity abound. The aura created around him is a sign of ominous dark times for the nation, the times threatening to engulf the values of our plural culture and values of our freedom movement, which emphasized on democracy and equal rights for all. 

10.            Margin Speak

10 April 2, 2011 Vol xlvi No 14 EPW Economic & Political Weekly
From The Underbelly Of Swarnim Gujarat
By Anand Teltumbde

Nobody noticed little vibrations on the literal margins of vibrant Gujarat on 24 January 2011 but potentially they could cause significant tremors across the country. In a nondescript village of Joradiary in Vav taluka of Banaskantha district in North Gujarat, practically on the borders of Rajasthan and Pakistan, a procession of 200 odd Dalits accompanied by beats of drum and slogans of “long live Ambedkar” marched into a farm under illegal control of a Rabari to restore its possession to a Dalit. The Ahmedabad based Council for Social Justice (CSJ), who led this struggle to its culmination was justifiably apprehensive of the beneficiaries daring their upper caste tormentors in taking this bold step and had therefore strategized to collect Dalits from all villages in taluka at Vav for a public meeting before taking the victory march. Indeed, the beneficiary Dalit family, the de jure owner of the farm for last 28 years, literally trembled to do a little ritual, to mark the taking of its de facto possession. More such take-overs followed until evening to embolden people to take possession of their own lands, being illegally cultivated by the upper castes. In the Vav taluka itself 35 Dalit families would be benefitted by the ownership of over 150 acres.

Unknown even to Dalits, it was a landmark event that could be verily likened to the one that took place in Mahad on 20 March 1927 when the delegates to the Bahishkrit Conference there had marched under the leadership of their new found leader Dr Ambedkar to the chavadar tank and asserted their civil rights to use its water.

Caste Residue of Land Reforms
At the time of transfer of power in 1947, the land ownership was virtually concentrated in the hands of a few landlords, who were erstwhile feudal lords. The ethos of the freedom struggle led the new rulers to announce the policies like abolition of Zamindari and redistribution of surplus land to tillers. It had salutary impact in calming and confusing radical peasant movements that demanded land reforms. The glorious Telangana struggle, for instance, was called off by the communists precisely because of these policy announcements, pushing them onto the parliamentary path that would never reach their cherished goal of revolution. Land reforms did take place but in a calibrated and truncated manner. Some amount of land was taken from the upper caste feudal lords and distributed among the middle caste tenants. No one fully comprehended the far reaching consequences of this innocuous development, which would change the basic complexion of rural India. The capitalist strategy of Green Revolution immediately following it brought in huge enrichment to these middle castes, which leveraged it to hegemonize most spheres of national life.

Speaking of Gujarat, UN Dhebar, the chief minister of the then Saurashtra state had enacted the Saurashtra Land Reforms Act, 1952 , giving occupancy rights to 5 5000 tenant cultivators over 12 lakh acres of land, out of 29 lakh acres held by Girasdars , spread over 1726 villages , the balance being left for their personal cultivation . Girasdars were mainly upper caste Kshatriya, known as Darbars , literally meaning rulers. Tenant cultivators were mainly Patels by caste, who became the owners of this land. The Patels enriched them by undertaking massive cash crop cultivation like groundnut, cotton, cumin and later graduating to set up cotton ginning, oil mills, and other industries. This has been the evolution of the Saurashtra Patel lobby, euphemistically known as Telia Rajas (oil kings), who came to occupy the dominant position in the politics of Gujarat. With their social capital and state backing, they went on acquiring huge tracts of agricultural lands all over the state but most notably in the tribal belt of south Gujarat. Laws were suitably amended to facilitate this acquisition. Two of the most notable changes in Law were: 1. taking away 8 km limit for an agriculturist to own agricultural land from his residence thereby allowing absentee landlordism and 2. changing the order of priorities from ST, SC and OBC to original landlords and then others for the right to cultivate government surplus land.

Through the other Act, (Estate Acquisition Act), the government acquired ‘uncultivable' and cultivable wasteland, gochar land (village grassland for cattle grazing) and other assets by compensating Girasdars. The huge land that came in possession of the state became theatre of the land grab struggle in early 1960s by Dalit landless peasants and agricultural laborers, under the leadership of Dalit textile workers of Ahmedabad. In the words of Mr. Somchandbhai Makwana, an influential leader of that movement, estimated 2 lakh acres of land was grabbed by Dalits and other backward castes, which still remains in their possession, albeit without regularization by the government.

In many cases Dalit and OBC peasants and/or their co-operatives, tilling lands under the government's ek-sali (one year renewable tenure) scheme for several decades, were evicted and the land was reverted back to the ‘original' upper caste landlords.

Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat, has been a meek witness since last three years to many Dalit families (mostly from Saurashtra) offering satyagrahas on the footpath near the Assembly against this intrigue. The amendments to the Acts referred to above emboldened the upper castes and the state machinery to violently evict Dalits from land they have cultivated for decades. This had manifested into a macabre incident on 27 November 1999 in Pankhan village in Saurashtra, in which a mob of 800 upper caste men had attacked Dalits with swords, spears, pipes and fire arms and seriously injured 60 men and women and effectively evicted them from 125 acres of land.

 A Strange Struggle for Land
 In 1997, santh (title) orders were given for a total of 150 acres to 40 Dalits of Bharad village in Dhrangadhra taluka of Surendranagar district. Two of these 40, Devjibhai and Kanabhai (a blind agricultural labourer) asked the upper caste Patel to vacate the land allotted to them. Upper caste landlords responded with violence but were met with serious resistance. Violent group clashes ensued and in one such six persons suffered serious injuries. Dalits endured severe social boycott by the upper castes. Devjibhai was apprehended and imprisoned under PASA (Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act) for daring to enter the land although he was its de jure owner. It was at this stage that the CSJ stepped in. CSJ creatively combined legal and agitational strategies and got Devjibhai released. It organized “Ambedkar Rath” through 28 villages over seven days to mobilize Dalit support, which culminated into a massive rally of over 10000 landless Dalits on 6 December 1999, the death anniversary of Dr Ambedkar. The struggle encompassed all 12438 acres of prime agricultural land declared surplus vide the Agriculture Land Ceiling Act, for which 2398 Dalit families and 50 tribal families were given the santh before 3 to 10 years, but not the actual possession. The land, apart from being very fertile, was potentially valuable because Surendranagar district was to be the biggest beneficiary of the Narmada irrigation scheme.

 A parallel struggle was articulated in another village Kaundh, where a young textile mill worker Dungarshibhai of Ahmedabad gave up his job to take cudgels for his people in village. In defiance of one of the biggest and tyrant Darbars in the district, who owned nearly 3000 acres of land, he drove the tractor on the land given to his family in santh but which still was in possession of the Darbar. As the entire dalits stood behind him, the Darbar allowed Dungarshibahai to cultivate but took away the crop. CSJ filed a criminal complaint and put three Darbars behind bars. Dungarshibhai today is revered as an unchallenged Dalit leader in the Surendranagar district.

These struggles were strange as they were waged by the de jure owners of land for its possession from the illegal holders. While the government eagerly publicized distribution of lands to the SC/ST beneficiaries, it intentionally or otherwise ignored their physical handing over. The process for handing over physical possession involved village talathi preparing the records of rights (7/12) and ‘farmers' book' along with a rough map of the plot. After receiving these documents from the Collector's office, the District Inspector of Land Records (DILR) had to send surveyors to prepare final map, physically mark it out and hand over its possession to the beneficiary in presence of the collector's representative. This procedure was not carried out in most cases. The beneficiaries were also deprived of Rs 5000 per acre due to them as per rules. The officers responsible for it could be punished as per a government notification of 1989 but no action was taken. In case of the SC/ST beneficiaries, Atrocities Act also could be invoked.

The CSJ struggle set the state machinery into action, enabling Dalits in Vav taluka to take possession of their lands. But alas, this impressive struggle sadly failed to enthuse the reservation-obsessed middle classes of Dalits, revealing the ugly faultline of emerging classes among Dalits.

Anti-Dalit Attitude of the State
Although, like any other Dalit episode, this may also be a pan Indian phenomenon, nevertheless Gujarat strangely comes out as a piece of villain in recent revelations vis-à-vis Dalits. A CSJ study of 400 judgments delivered by the special courts in 16 districts of Gujarat since 1 April 1995 revealed a shocking pattern behind the collapse of cases filed under the Atrocities Act: utterly negligent police investigation at both the higher and lower levels and distinctly hostile role played by the public prosecutors. In over 95 per cent of the cases, acquittals had resulted due to technical lapses by the investigation and prosecution, and in the remaining five per cent, court directives were flouted by the government. The government's casual attitude was underscored by the statement of its chief minister in the Assembly when he stated, contrary to the Rule, that the cases under the Atrocity Act was to be investigated by an officer not above the rank of DSP.

One wonders whether this plight of Dalits at the hands of Gujarat government is because of its ideological adherence to Hindutva or because of its neoliberal vibrancy. As it appears, perhaps it is the result of both these mutually reinforcing factors, a kind of vile resonance!

Anand Teltumbde is a writer, political analyst and civil rights activist with CPDR, Mumbai tanandraj@gmail. 


Gujarat far behind, Muslims most backward there

The Milli Gazette
Published Online: Mar 29, 2011
Print Issue: 1-15 March 2011

New Delhi: Dr. Abu Saleh Sharif, noted economist who was also a member of Justice Sachar Committee which submitted a report on the overall condition of Muslims in India, said here while speaking in a conference on ‘Social and religious discrimination of Muslims in Gujarat’ sponsored by Institute of Objective Studies (IOS) on 12 February that Gujarat is very much behind in the race of development and Muslims are the most backward.
This in fact is the first programme of this series under which the overall progress and development in different states and the condition of Muslims will be reviewed. Presenting the power point in IOS office in Delhi Dr. Sharif said that a lot of propaganda is made about the progress of Gujarat but in the light of statistics, the facts are to the contrary. He said that considering the overall progress it (Gujarat) is below Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, adding that the proportion of poverty in Gujarat should have been low or small but it is large. He said that in rural areas poverty among Muslims is eight times more than other sections whereas in urban areas the ratio is two percent.
On the starvation front, Gujarat is nearer to those states whose condition is worst, he said, adding that Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme is very important for the employment of common man but Gujarat’s share in this scheme is 5% only and as far as condition of Muslims is concerned, working ratio of Muslims as compared to Hindus is 10% less.
Referring to Reserve Bank India’s 10-year report on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) he said that in Maharashtra, FDI was worth Rs. 17 lakh crore, in Delhi, Haryana and NCR (including some parts of UP) it was worth Rs 10 lakh crore but in Gujarat during the course of 10 years it was worth Rs 2.8 lakh crore.
In reply to a question he said that it is true that during its first term the UPA government had described this state as number one from the point of view of development and had honoured it with award but the statistics of 40 years do not confirm it. Hence the attention of government and media should be specially invited to this aspect. He also said that this programme is very important in the light of discussions and talks held recently in the country about the progress and development of Gujarat and it will greatly help in understanding the facts.
This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 March 2011 on page no. 21


11.            'Muslims left behind in Gujarat's growth story'

Nandita Sengupta, TNN, Feb 18, 2011, 03.11am IST

NEW DELHI: Muslims in Gujarat have a long way to go. A new study shows there's deep-rooted poverty and income inequality among the state's lower castes and Muslims. The latter, in particular, fare poorly on parameters of poverty, hunger, education and vulnerability on security issues — nowhere benefiting from the feel good growth story of CM Narendra Modi's state.
In the study titled "Relative Development of Gujarat and Socio-Religious Differentials", economist Abusaleh Shariff used the NSSO, NCAER's human development data and the Sachar Committee report, among others, to tabulate the status of Gujarat's Muslims. "Estimation of poverty by social group is rare, but the NCAER survey data, and NSSO, allow for such estimates," says Shariff, also chief economist at National Council of Applied Economic research (NCAER).

Disturbingly, and surprisingly, says Shariff, Gujarat's levels of hunger are high alongside Orissa and Bihar, with only Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh having higher hunger levels. Urban poverty among the state's Muslims is eight times more than high-caste Hindus, 50% more than OBCs.

Muslims are educationally deprived: despite 75% enrolment of Muslim children in primary school, a mere 26% reach matriculation. This is against 79% enrolment of 'others except SCs/ STs', 41% of who make it to matriculate levels.

Worsening matters, the study shows 2% Muslims in Gujarat face theft and burglary, though they make up merely 11% of households. At the national level 13% Muslims face theft and burglary with the same share of households. Harassment of Muslim girls is high, with 17% reporting it in urban areas, though they make up only 11% of share of population.

12.            Relative Development of Gujarat and Socio Religious Diferentials.

By Dr Abusaleh Shariff
(Chief Economist, NCAER, New Delhi &
 Member Secretary, Sachar Committee, New Delhi) 
February 12, 2011
Organised by
Institute of Objective Studies

New Delhi, Feb. 12: Gujarat fares relatively better on direct income measures, but the apparent prosperity masks “higher poverty levels and much lower ranking in human development”, Dr Abusaleh Shariff, chief economist National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), said here today.

Dr Shariff was speaking at Institute of Objective Studies on “Relative Development of Gujarat and Socio-Religious Differentials”. On income measures Gujarat comes fourth after Punjab, Haryana and Maharashtra, but in Human Development Index (HDI) it trails behind Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Karnataka.

L-R: Dr. Abu Saleh Shariff, Dr. M. Manzoor Alam and Mr. Mushtaque Ahmad

“In fact, Orissa has resilience in improved HDI at its own level of development and poverty”, Dr Shariff noted. He said that Gujarat had registered high levels of hunger among its citizens, though higher levels of hunger were not expected of a state with high levels of income.

This suggested deep-rooted poverty and income inequality, Dr Shariff observed. He backed his assertions with figures during his power-point presentation.
He drew the attention of the audience towards what could be termed “the politics of development”. He talked of the hype and hooplah built around foreign direct investment (FDI) in Gujarat.

“Gujarat is a game for NRI and corporate politics … played by the corporate to seek higher tax subsides, cheap licensing, underpriced land and low royalty payments”.

Investments announced in Gujarat were largely promises, as the real amount invested was a fraction of the amount promised due to practical reasons, he said.

His figures, sourced from SIA Newsletter (various years) showed the actual FDI inflows in India from January 2000 to march 2010, as follows: Maharashtra, Rs. 17 lakh crore; N. Delhi, Rs. 10 lakh crore; Tamil Nadu, Rs. 2.4 lakh crore; Karnataka, Rs. 3 lakh crore; Andhra Pradesh, Rs. 2 lakh crore; Gujarat Rs. 2.8 lakh crore. So much for Gujarat being the first destination for FDI in India.

Putting the Muslim situation in this larger framework, Dr Shariff observed, “Empirical evidence suggests that relative to other states and relative to other communities, Muslims in Gujarat are facing high levels of discrimination and deprivation”. He prefaced the remark with the statement that Gujarat had some positive features, namely: 90 percent paved roads to villages; 98 percent electrified villages with 80 percent electrified homes and 18 hours of electricity everyday; 86 percent piped water supply and better phone connections, banks, post offices, bus connection compared to other states. Agricultural extension work, too, is better than in other states. Amid all this, poverty, hunger and lack of sense of security thrive.

Muslims have lower levels of work participation rates suggesting higher unemployment. “WPRs for Hindus in Gujarat are 10 percent higher, suggesting better employment. Muslims in Gujarat have higher unemployment rates compared with Maharashtra and West Bengal”.
He presented some startling facts about the Muslim situation in Gujarat where 60 percent Muslims live in urban areas. Urban poverty among Muslims in “Gujarat is eight times compared to high-caste Hindus and “50 percent more than H-OBCs, even more than SCs/STs. Rural poverty is two times more than HHS”. Banking access to Muslims, who have 12 percent of the accounts, is only 2.6 percent in terms of bank loans/outstanding.

The village and neighbourhood conflict in Gujarat is an astounding 63 percent which is as high as in West Bengal. However, it is lower than UP (82 percent) and Uttrakhand.

In general terms of poverty alleviation, Gujarat has fared very poorly. “MG-NREGA is a national wage employment programme for the poor. Gujarat is the worst performer in MG-NREGA. It has failed to provide employment to the poorest of the poor”, he said.

Muslims in Gujarat have fared rather poorly across the board. Regarding pre-matric scholarships for minorities, a Central government initiative (with effect from April 1, 2008) he said Gujarat happened to be the only large state that had not implemented this programme for 55,000 students, which included 53,000 Muslims along with other minorities.


13.            Marginalising Muslims in Gujarat

Submitted by admin on 20 March 2011 - 9:06am

By Kashif-ul-Huda,
History of Muslims in Gujarat is older than the idea of Gujarat itself, then how is it that Muslims now find themselves at the edge (both figuratively and literally) of the present day Gujarati society?
In the aftermath of partition when most of north India was burning, Gujarat remained peaceful. The first major post-independence
Erasing Muslims: Fatema Masjid, the only mosque on Ahmadabad-Gandhinagar highway was bulldozed in Dec. 2010
Hindu-Muslim violence took place in Ahmedabad in 1969. But if we go back in
history, from 1714 to 1969 there were only two incidents of communal violence – 1941 and 1946. The violence of 1969, in which more than 1100 people were killed, was the beginning of separation of Hindus and Muslims but it was 1985 riots that sealed Muslims’ fate in the state for years to come.
Since the formation of the state in 1960, Gujarat remained a politically unstable state. Between 1960 and 1990, Gujarat had eight assemblies, nine chief ministers, and 20 ministries. Only one, Madhavsinh Solanki was able to complete his term as chief mister. This was also a time of many political mobilizations and rioting.
In 1950s Mahgujarat movement led to the formation of the state of Gujarat. 1970s saw the anti-corruption Navnirman movement led by socialists and joined by Sangh Parivar, giving Sanghis their first lessons inmass mobilization. This came in handy during 1980s anti-reservation movement when it was hijacked by Sangh activists and turned into anti-Muslim violence. Ram janmbhoomi movement of 1990s and the genocide of 2002 was the pay off for the Sangh Parivar’s work of spreading hate over three decades.
Dr. Ornit Shani of University of Haifa has studied the communal violence of 1985 in details. She marks 1985 as an important point in the marginalization of Muslims in Gujarat. She writes in her book, Communalism, Caste and Hindu Nationalism:

“In the 1985 riots, conflicts around the reservation of places in educational and government institutions for backward-caste Hindus transmogrified into communal violence even though there was no prior religious tension between Hindus and Muslims, and local Muslims had no part in the reservation dispute between forward- and backward-caste Hindus. These riots marked the beginnings of the shift from several decades of Congress dominance to the triumph of the Hindu nationalist BJP in Gujarat as well as in Indian national politics.”
The violence of 1985 came just days after Congress rode back to power with a thumping majority under the leadership of Madhavsinh Solanki. Successful social engineering of KHAM (Kshatriya, Harijan, Ahir, and Muslim) alliance returned Congress MLAs in 149 seats with a vote share of 55.5% which still remains a record. A week after the formation of the new government, on March 18th, 1985, a Gujarat bandh was called by organizations opposed to the reservation policy. Muslims had remained aloof from the anti-reservation movement as it neither harmed nor benefitted them.
Another image of Gujarat: grave of Wali Gujarati was razed in 2002 and road built over-night, it is yet to be restored. [Photo by Nasiruddin Haider Khan]
On the night of March 18th, while savarna Hindus were busy in sounding a death-knell to reservation as part of the day’s bandh, a stone hit a Muslim boy in Naginapol area of Ahmadabad. Soon, this turned into a major violence between Hindus and Muslims. Army was called in the next day and the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi paid a visit on March 23rd. Violence continued for next four months.
Amarsinh Choudhry replaced Solanki as chief minister on July 6th and soon after he agreed to the demands of the anti-reservationists. Reservation increase was rolled back and all those detained for violence released. From February to July of 1985, 220 people lost their lives. Only in Ahmadabad 662 anti-reservation and 743 communal incidents were recorded. Muslims were the main victims of the riots with 2,500 houses damaged, 1500 shops burnt, about 100 killed and hundreds severely injured.
Die was cast for Muslims, Hindus who have continued to live close to Muslims in old areas of Ahmadabad began to move out, forming a segregated city that continue to widen the gulf between Hindus and Muslims. “Physical separation between middle and upper middle classes grew to the point where young Ahmedabadis would be unlikely to encounter a Muslim. Few Indian cities have managed such a systematic separation based on caste, class and community,” writes Prof. Arvind Rajagopal.
That physical separation was necessary for things to come in 1990s and especially the genocide of 2002. While the world watched with horror the violence unleashed in Gujarat in 2002, the man who presided the genocide was none other than Narendra Modi.
It was no accident that Narendara Modi was at the helm of affairs. Modi a life-long member of RSS was a key organizer of Gujarat BJP in 1980s and early 1990s. He was the man behind Nyay Yatra in 1987, Lok Shaki Yatra (1989), Gujarat leg of Advani’s Somnath to Ayodhya Yatra (1989), and Ekta Yatra (1991). Gujarat was among the state that sent highest number of karsevaks for demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992. All these yatras and mobilization helped make Muslims as the “other” or the “enemy” in Gujarat.
Muslims, according to Sangh Parivar, have no right to exist, are not part of Gujarat, have no history worth remembering or contribution in making of Gujarat. Perhaps, this is best symbolized by the grave of Vali Gujarati which was destroyed during the violence of 2002, overnight a road built over it and a decade later the road still exists over a poet’s grave who sang high praises of Gujarat’s plural society.
Vahan sakin hain itne ahle mazhab
ke ginne mein na aawe unke mazhab
Agarche voh hai sab ibn-e adam
vale binish mein ranga rang aalam

[there live people of different religion, it is impossible to count them all
Although all are sons of Adam, they appear in all colors of the world]
The new Gujarat doesn’t believe in pluralism and it is better if a poet who sang about Gujarat and celebrated its pluralism and diversity remain buried in the ground and forgotten.
Arvind Rajagopal, Special political zone: urban planning, spatial segregation and the infrastructure of violence in Ahmedabad. South Asian History and Culture, 1947-2501, Volume 1, Issue 4, 01 October 2010, Pages 529 – 556.

Changes Taking Place among Gujarat’s Muslims: Afzal Memon
Afzal Memon is the Director of the Gujarat Sarvajanik Welfare Society, Ahmedabad, and Gujarat. He is also a prominent activist of the Tablighi Jamaat, In this interview with Yoginder Sikand for New Age, he talks about the changes taking place among Gujarat’s Muslims.
Q: Do you think there is any major change in the situation in Gujarat now as far as inter-communal relations and the attitude of the state are concerned?
A: Not really. Muslims still live in fear and inter-communal relations are still tense. There has been no change in the attitude and role of the state government, which is still very anti-Muslim. Muslims have suffered a major loss of confidence and dignity and they feel that they have no hope for justice. The families of those who were killed in the violence have not got justice, and it appears that, if things continue to proceed the way they have been they never will. Even today most Muslims do not feel secure. That is why even those Muslims who call themselves secular and progressive and are not particularly religious now prefer to live in Muslim localities, such is the level of insecurity.
To add to this is the fact that Muslims had been ruined economically in the violence. Many of their businesses were totally destroyed. And now they get little or nothing from the government. In the name of Hindu Rashtra, it is the ‘upper’ castes, rich capitalists and big farmers, who are having a field-day, while marginalised and oppressed communities like Muslims, Dalits and Tribals remain as they were. In fact, their position is steadily worsening. Even when Muslims want to do something to improve their economic conditions themselves, the state government puts major hurdles in their way.
Q: Are any efforts being made to promote better relations between the different communities in Gujarat?
A: No major or very effective measures are being taken in this direction. Whatever scattered efforts that might be being made are like putting ice-cubes into a boiling cauldron. Even NGOs that talk of social justice and peace seem to be doing very little in this regard. Many of these NGOs have little or no grassroots presence. They organize conferences on communal harmony in fancy hotels, but how can that impact on people on the streets and in the slums?
Since I am a believing Muslim, I looking at the issue from an Islamic perspective. Many Muslims wrongly blame Hindus alone for communal hatred and conflict Muslims are no less responsible and we must acknowledge that. Islam, as I see it, exhorts me to establish good relations with people of other faiths, and that is what Muslims should also try to do. Yes, we must promote secularism, but secularism, as I understand it, does not mean that you abandon your religion, culture and identity. Rather, it means that you follow your religion and I should respect it, and if you are a Hindu and come to my house and want to pray I should allow you to do so and must not hurt your religious sentiments in any way. If we approach religion in this way, I think we can help promote better relations between the different communities.
Q: What about modern education among Muslims in Gujarat? Is there any move to promote modern education, given that at the higher levels of education Gujarati Muslims are relatively under-represented?
A: Muslims have generally not engaged in any sort of planning for the community’s future, but, yes, now there is definitely some sort of soul-searching happening. There is an increasing realisation that we have to be self-dependent in all fields, because, given the fascist anti-Muslim character of the state government and the enormous influence and power of Hindutva groups in Gujarat, we cannot hope for the state and the wider civil society to help us. Earlier, some Muslims thought that religious education was enough and that worldly education would lead their children astray. However, that is largely a thing of the past and now people, including the ulema, believe that both sorts of education are essential and both go together. Islam says it is impermissible to abandon the world for the sake of the faith. Some Muslims say, “What is the use of higher education? Why should we waste money on this because we know our children won’t get good government service jobs because there is so much discrimination against Muslims in Gujarat?”. Their allegation about discrimination is right to an extent, but I don’t agree with their opposition to higher education. I think it is imperative that more and more Muslims go to colleges and universities so that they can help the community to assert its rights and can play a positive role as community leaders.
This realisation of the importance of modern education is evident even in ulema circles. The ulema have never opposed modern education as such. However, they insist that while acquiring modern education, Muslim children must also learn about their religion. And now, a small but increasing number of madrasas in Gujarat, as in other states of India, have begun introducing secular subjects in their syllabus, which is a very positive development I think.
Q: What about higher education for Muslim girls?
A: That, too, is vital. We have very few well educated girls and women in our community and I think that must change. Increasingly, many more Muslim families are sending their daughters to colleges if they can afford it. To give a personal example, my own daughter is training in a Christian college to become a doctor. Some people find it surprising that I, as an activist of the Tablighi Jamaat, should allow this, but I don’t see it as un-Islamic, provided proper decorum and rules are followed. I think the opposition on the part of some Muslims to girls’ higher education stems from the few cases of college girls marrying their non-Muslim classmates. So, they fear that if their daughters go to college they might do the same. But I don’t quite agree. There is a chance that while driving a car you might meet with an accident but just for that reason you don’t stop driving!
Some Muslims are also against their children, especially girls, studying along with students from other communities. I am against this sort of narrow approach. Both my daughters studied in Christian schools and I am on good terms with some local Catholic priests. I think people of different communities ought to study together. This will lead to friendships across community lines. People will go to each other’s homes and will begin to see each other as fellow human beings. But now, because of the enforced ghettoisation of Muslims all over Gujarat, how can that happen?
A regular columnist for, Yoginder Sikand works with the Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion at the National Law School, Bangalore.



15.            Resources

1.       The Wretched: A Profile
by Gauhar Raza and Surjit Singh
           A Report of the Socio-Economic Conditions of Internally Displaced in Gujarat
           Published by Anhad and AVHSR 2008
           Anhad, 23 Canning Lane, New Delhi 110001 (
2.      Fear and Forgiveness: Aftermath of Massacre
            By Harsh Mander: Penguin Delhi 2009

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