Survival of madrasas facing severe crisis; community leaders must focus on education, well being of the young
With govt grants pulled back and the socio- economic condition of the Muslim community sliding, getting hopeless, the very survival of madrasas and the students is facing severe crisis and challenges
With the Yogi Adityanath government's acceptance of the state cabinet’s proposal to exclude new madrasas in the state of Uttar Pradesh, from the government’s grant list, it is becoming more than obvious that the establishment of the day will not extend support or give grants for educational facilities for children run by the minority community.
After all, what are madrasas? An affordable place for learning, both religious text as well as mainstream education. Though in those earlier decades, Munshi Premchand and hundreds of non-Muslim children were sent by their parents and families to madrasa for education but today with the communal virus unleashed in the atmosphere, it is only Muslim children who are sent for madrasas.
With the government grants pulled back and the socio- economic condition of the Muslim community sliding, getting hopeless, the very survival of madrasas and the students is facing severe crisis and challenges. Not to overlook the basic fact that these madrasa students come from humble backgrounds and many are orphans.
Even at the higher educational level, there are very few subsidized educational coaching centres for those who cannot afford expensive tuitions or coaching classes. Jamia Hamdard, situated in New Delhi is one of those institutions where free coaching plus lodging and boarding is provided for aspirants taking the civil services examination. Several civil servants have told me that they could clear the entrance examination because of the facilities provided by the Jamia Hamdard.
Also, only a handful of individuals are reaching out to the disadvantaged. In 2006, when I visited the Hyderabad based office of The Daily Siasat, I was in for a very pleasant surprise. Around noon when I reached the office of the managing editors and proprietors, Zahid Ali Khan and Amer Ali Khan, I was told that they were in the adjoining building, busy with a training course. And when I walked in there, I saw young men getting trained for the constable level recruitment. The training was given to them by a small team of volunteers which included Zahid Ali Khan and Amer Ali Khan. Amongst the volunteer trainers were the former judo champion, Mohammad Abdul Aziz, and also a retired government official, Syed Hameeduddin.
Zahid Ali Khan and his son Amer Ali Khan explained that seeing the grim conditions of the Muslims in Hyderabad city, they had decided to reach out to the community by holding training courses for recruitment in the police force. Mohammad Abdul Aziz added, “Muslims are disillusioned to such an extent that they don't even want to try for government jobs; they feel it would be a futile exercise. But now we are trying our best to train as many as we can…”
As another volunteer put across, “There should be representation of Muslims in the police force in accordance to their population percentage. Right now Muslims are under-represented in the police force and also in the other government departments and this in itself is being unfair to the community.”
Later that evening, I had met senior journalist, Mir Ayub Syed Khan, who was then working as the bureau chief of a national daily. He spoke of the dismal facts about the Muslim population in Hyderabad, “The reality is that almost 80 per cent of the Hyderabad city's rickshaw pullers and auto drivers are Muslims. And Muslims' representation in the government is very low…very few Muslims are there in government jobs.”
The next day, after I had met several Urdu journalists and heard them detail the dismal conditions of the Muslims in Hyderabad city, I’d headed towards the Osmania University to meet the Journalism Department’s former head Dr K. Stevenson, who had been recently appointed as the Chairman of the Board of Studies. And Stevenson had this to say, “The number of Muslim students enrolled in the Journalism Course remains low …very low numbers. Why? There's lack of awareness, parents and students don't know the potential of the course, so they could be opting for other courses. There’s an element of despair, discontentment and poverty, more so amongst Muslims living in the old city.” And as our conversation came to a close, he’d added , “The blame for this should not just go to the State, the Muslim leaders are equally responsible for this. "
As a COVA functionary had detailed, "There's lack of education in the Muslim community. In the old city area every second child is a school dropout. Why? Because it is question of survival for the kids and their families. Though education is free till class 10, but much before he reaches that class, he opts out to work in a cycle repair shop or at some other small shop."
During my interactions with Muslim students in Hyderabad, they’d stressed that what’s urgently required is that the community leaders together with religious heads should reach out to the students. “There is a feeling of helplessness and despair amongst the young Muslims. Very low literacy rates and in the midst of a bleak economic scenario, social ills are bound to come up. And an individual cannot fight this on his or her level. It has to be tackled in that persistent way by the community leaders.”
Today, it would be an under-statement to state that it indeed is a tragedy that we have reached such dismal lows that the largest minority community in the country is battling on all fronts, right from education to employment to the very survival!
In fact, it seems a wakeup call for the community. Wake up time for the community! The community has seen the controversial role of the rulers of the day and the machinery under their control. In these recent years the condition of the Muslim community has only further deteriorated. An alarming situation where even the basic survival gets difficult. During my journalistic travels I have met Muslim families who recounted traumatic experiences, focusing on cops barging into their homes, detaining if not arresting their young sons. They also told me they do not have the resources to fight legal battles — financial constraints and also lack of legal awareness and education come in way.
It is about time 24 hour helpline services cum legal aid centres come up for the victims and their families. Also, counselling centres ought to come up. One can grasp the range of emotions Pehlu Khan’s sons must have gone through, when they saw their father lynched in front of their eyes. They could do very little to protect him. But Pehlu Khan’s murderers managed to get political-police protection!
In fact, why just Pehlu Khan’s family or any lynch victim’s family? Ask any of the survivors of mob attacks, the range of emotions they go through, as their tormentors sit untouched whilst the victims get subjected to varying levels of harassment as long as they live!
It is about time the community leaders focus on the young and on their survival and well–being. The young have got to be educated and protected, so that they don’t succumb to the severe pressures and provocations unleashed from all quarters.
Views are personal