MUSLIMS SHOULD UNDERSTAND THEIR STATUS THAT CONGRESS WILL SELL THEM FURTHER IN NAME OF VOTES .
MUSLIMS IN INDIA BECAME POOR UNDER 60 YEARS OF CONRESS RULE NOT UNDER BJP RULE
BJP IS A VERY GOOD OPTION FOR A STABLE GOVT AS FAR AS INDIA IN CONCERNED.
Illegal bride bazaar still thriving in Old City
Activists say that the so-called husbands, hailing not just from West Asia but from African nations like Sudan, Nigeria and Somalia, buy brides for a paltry sum, use them as sex slaves for a fortnight or a month in hotels and lodges and then fly back solo to their countries. “A girl once sold and abandoned loses her right to a dignified life. Most families that benefited from them shy away from supporting them as do the police,” says Jameela Nishat, who runs the Shaheen Resource Centre for Women in the Sultan Shahi area of Old City.
Activists maintain that the ‘grooms’ subject the girls to unimaginable sexual abuse while ensuring they do not get pregnant. After some days, they label them as unchaste and dump them. There are several women, who after falling into the trap once, are forced to marry foreign nationals again as they are left with no other option to eke out a living. “There are several victims who became pimps but there are also others who have learnt some skills and are surviving on their earnings,” Nishat adds.
But the fate of many others, like the 15-year-old girl from Moghalpura who recently sought police protection after she was married off to a 45-year-old Sudanese national, is uncertain. Though she is currently lodged at a rescue home, activists say that in many cases the condition of the girls in state-run homes is no better.
It is the middlemen or pimps who make the most money in this trade. Mostly local men, they know the financial condition of families living in the bastis and lure them with gifts and money. After the deal is done, these brokers, who may also be autorickshaw drivers doubling up as brokers, take away 75 per cent of the money and give the smaller share to the parents.
Mazher Hussain of the Confederation of Voluntary Associations (COVA) maintains that these sham marriages are nothing but a form of trafficking with the sanction of parents. “Some elements are misusing the religious sanction of nikah,” he says.
Activists say that while Muslim Personal Law board states that a Muslim can marry more than one woman, the clause that you do justice to all of them is conveniently overlooked.
Activists say that currently, areas like Vattepally, Golconda, Kalapather, Babanagar, Tadbun, Talabkutta, Shaheennagar and Barkas are the hotbeds for the trade. However, Hussain says that initially, marriages involving Arabs used to happen in Barkas which was inhabited mainly by the Chaush community who are the direct descendants of the Hadhrami Arab military men and bodyguards hailing from the Hadhramaut region of the then South Arabia, now part of the Republic of Yemen. “It used to be a marriage between relatives but it took a different form over the years,” he adds.
But now, says Rafia Nausheen, an activist working with the NGO Mahita, girls are being treated as a burden and in poor families, the priority is to get rid of them at the earliest. “If proposals where there are no demands from the groom’s side come, they fall into the trap,” she says and adds,
“After the marriage is finalised, girls are not allowed to step out of their houses and so not many cases come out in the open prior to the wedding. For instance, a young girl who went to Dubai as a maid was forcibly married and sexually harassed. She was about to be sold off to another man when she ran away and managed to come back to Hyderabad.”
Activists say that the so-called husbands, hailing not just from Middle East but from African nations such as Sudan, Nigeria and Somalia, buy brides for a paltry sum, use them as sex slaves for a fortnight or a month in hotels and lodges and then fly back solo to their countries
HYDERABAD: "Arab Shiekh marries poor Indian girl", "Arab marries, and then ditches teenage Hyderabadi girl", "Arab Sheikhs marry young Indian girls and flee", "Parents marry off daughter to Arab for money" - The headlines aren't from decades old newspapers. But, before you start putting stress on your grey cells to find out in which era such inhuman acts happened, let's make clear that this is a 'harsh present day reality'. Yes, in today's era also Arab Shiekhs marry poor Indian girls paying a paltry sum, live with them for a short while, and then, go back to their countries, abandoning the girls. And, in Hyderabad, also known as the City of Nawabs, the practice has become very common, with marriage becoming a trade and woman a commodity. The auspicious ceremony now has a customer, a broker and a seller. The Arab Sheikhs come to India and fix up with a broker, who in turn finds a girl, fixes her price with her father, and finally after tying the knot lives with her for a few days and goes back to his country. The tragedy is that few parents have learnt the lesson. In a recent case that came to light, an impoverished Muslim family married off their daughter to an Arab Sheikh for a meagre amount of Rs. 5000, offered through a broker. "He gave Rs. 5000, but it was all taken by the broker. My mother didn't get anything. I married him wilfully, even though he was 50 years old," said a girl. Her dreams are all shattered as she has been abandoned by him. Earlier, Arabs used to take their brides back with them, but that stopped when the Gulf nations restricted their citizens from bringing home a foreign bride unless they took prior permission from the authorities. As a result, instances of Arabs flocking to Hyderabad for a young bride continue. Social activists, however, say that the socio-economic conditions of the Muslim community of Hyderabad, are forcing poor parents to marry off their daughters to unknown Sheikhs. While bachelors of the city demand dowry from the girl's parents, adding to their plight, Arabs offer them money in return. This leaves parents with little option. "In our country young men don't marry poor girls, as their parents can't offer them dowry. So a girl's father finds it really difficult to find a suitable match for his daughter - a match who won't demand dowry," said Nadir Almasdoosi, a social activist. The Qazis, who perform the marriages, said that they are not responsible for such marriages, because both parties give their consent on the 'Nikahnama' before the 'Nikah'. "When both the parties are ready, they inform the Qazi, and the Qazi is not responsible for anything after the Nikah." said Chief Qazi, Shariyath Panah. In that case the Qazi could say, "Jab Miyan biwi razi, to kya karega Qazi". But the main problem arises, when the Arabs, some of whom already have one or more wives, flee and the girls are left helpless, and their parents burdened further. But despite all this, poor families continue to get their daughters married to rich Arabs.
Unlike Muslims in rural areas, a disproportionately large number of Muslims in urban India experience abject poverty. While incidence of poverty has declined for all religious groups in India, urban Muslims have experienced a relatively slower decline in poverty than others.
Arvind Panagariya and Megha Mukim in aWorld Bank’s policy research working paper released earlier in December argue that “poverty has declined steadily in all states and for all social and religious groups” in India *. In fact, a sharper decline in poverty was observed for periods of rapid economic growth in 2004-05 and 2009-10.
Economic growth has helped reduce poverty in India. The challenge now is to spread the benefits of growth evenly over the diverse Indian socio-cultural and economic fabric. The poverty landscape in India is spread unevenly across the States and amongst the social and ethnic groups. Poverty has not declined at the same pace for some religious groups, including Muslims. At the same time, the decline in poverty for scheduled castes and tribes has been faster than that for non-scheduled castes.
Panagariya and Mukim estimated the poverty rates for the 17 largest states in India. They generated separate estimates for urban and rural populations and further disaggregated their estimates for socio-economic and religious groups. They wanted to determine if the economic growth had helped reduce poverty in India. Furthermore, they wanted to ascertain if the benefits of growth were evenly distributed among the major socio-religious groups in India.
The scheduled castes and tribes have a much higher incidence of poverty than the rest in India. Consider rural India where incidence of poverty among the scheduled tribes at 30.5 per cnet in 2009-10 was almost two times that of the non-scheduled castes. At the same time, since 1983 poverty declined at a lower rate of 53 per cent for the rural scheduled castes and tribes than others.
Poverty amongst Indian Muslims
While India is a multi-religious, multicultural society, still Hindus comprise an overwhelming majority of 82 per cent of the population. Indian Muslims account for 12.8 per cent of the population, whereas Christians are 2.3 per cent and Sikhs are 1.7 per cent of the population. Almost 34 per cent of the 133 million Indian Muslims live in urban areas with a higher rate of urbanisation than the Hindus.
The incidence of poverty amongst Muslims in India is higher than Hindus, Christians, and Sikhs. Furthermore, Muslims in urban India experience a much higher incidence of poverty than others. The incidence of poverty in rural India is almost the same for Muslims and Hindus where nearly one in five in each community lives below the poverty line. The difference, however, is more pronounced in urban areas. Almost 34 per cent of all Muslims in urban India were below the poverty line compared to 19 per cent of Hindus. And whereas poverty for Hindus in urban India declined by 52 per cent between 1983 and 2009-10, the rate of decline for urban Muslims was much slower at 39 per cent.
With the exception of Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, Muslims experienced a higher rate of poverty in 2009-10 than Hindus in the remaining States in the sample.
Purveyors of the Gujarat Model beware
The State-wide breakdown of poverty for various religious groups paints a revealing picture that challenges several myths that have dominated the development discourse in India. The conventional wisdom on economic development, as is portrayed by the BJP and its sympathisers, projects the BJP-led Gujarat as the model for economic development. The statistics, however, paint a very different picture.
In 2009-10, incidence of poverty for Hindus and Muslims in Gujarat was almost twice as that for Kerala, which is a socially progressive state in India known for its secular and socialist policies. Almost 38 per cent of Muslims were below the poverty line in Gujarat compared to 22 per cent of Hindus. And whereas the poverty amongst Hindus in Gujarat declined by 74 per cent during 1993-94 and 2009-10, Muslims in Gujarat experienced a decline in poverty of mere 11 per cnet. For the same time period, poverty amongst Muslims in Kerala declined by 61 per cent. In fact, incidence of poverty amongst Muslims in Gujarat increased between 2004-05 and 2009-10.
The debate about defining the poverty line has largely been an academic exercise amongst economists. The matter is far from settled in India and other developing nations where economists continue to debate over who is poor. In the meanwhile, the most insightful definition of the poverty line comes from Ashok Mishra who wrote the screenplay for the Bollywood film Well done Abba!. Ashok explains the intricacies of the poverty line through the eyes of the poor. The lead character in the movie, Armaan Ali (played by Boman Irani), is a Muslim and if he were to be below the poverty line, he’d qualify for a subsidized well to be dug on his property under the Kapildhara scheme. To establish his poverty bonafides Armaan Ali explains to a government official that he begins each month above the poverty line, but as the days pass and he pays bills and other dues, he falls below the poverty line.
The causes of persistently higher poverty rates among Muslims and other minorities in urban India need to be further explored. Why religious and other minorities have experienced a slower decline in poverty is a question that should concern Indian planners. The reasons behind such anomalies could be more complex than one would assume. Consider that a large proportion of the educated middle-class of urban Muslims in India left for Pakistan in 1947. The inter-generational effects of losing the educated middle class could take several decades to mitigate.
The post-1990 economic growth in India and China has lifted hundreds of millions out of abject poverty. The Panagariya-Mukim paper offers further evidence for growth induced reduction in poverty in India. The bigger challenge for Indian planners and decision-makers is to find ways for a more even distribution of benefits of economic growth and prosperity.
- A comprehensive analysis of poverty in India by Arvind Panagariya and Megha Mukim. The World Bank. Policy Research Working Paper # 6714. December 2013. Wahington, DC.
31% Muslims live below poverty line: NCAER survey