Scales of social economics
Humra Quraishi

Muslims In North India — Frozen In The Past 
by Syed Iqbal Hasnain.
Pages 139. Rs 295. 

THIS slim volume written by Syed Iqbal Hasnain who is a professor of Environment Sciences is not about environment issues but about a community. As the title suggests, he has focused on the Indian Muslims living in the northern states. And with that take off, he dwells on some very relevant issues that confront the community.

Not dwelling on the superficial, Hasnain questions the reasons for the supposed economic and educational backwardness of the community. These reasons, ranging from poor infrastructure in schools and colleges, unfulfilled promises of the so called leaders to the political circumstances, have made an impact on the status of this community in the different parts of the country.

What could be termed different about this volume is the fact that Prof Hasnain has brought into sharp focus the difference between the educational and economic patterns of Muslims living in the northern and southern states.

"Education is one of the main fields in which Muslims in the North and South display a shocking digital divide. In this field, South Indian Muslims are far ahead of their counterparts in the North. And in some parts like Kerala, they are even outpacing other forward groups in the majority field `85the root cause of educational backwardness of Muslims in North India is the low access of lower middle class to school education."

And with that he more than hints at the political mood and very approach prevailing in the north and south of the country.

"Political participation of the community leadership, not only in Kerala, but in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, has helped in creating a positive and conducive climate for growth. Kerala’s political leadership is also unique and mature compared to that in northern states in terms of delivering their commitment to the Muslim community." Along with community leaders, it’s the so called political leaders of the land who are also to be held responsible for this dismal state of affairs. Just to pinpoint one such glaring example — Why were the much-hyped and publicised findings of the Sachhar Commission not put to some pratical use?

The list of what Hasnain focuses on in this book is rather long and winding, and along the expected format. But as mentioned earlier the very backbone of this study is the obvious differences vis-`E0-vis educational and economic status of Muslims living in northern and southern states.

This volume is a reminder that time is ripe to introspect on this aspect. Introspection by not just the community leaders but also by the political leaders of the land also. Introspection by all those who believe that any given minority (be it along religious or regional or language or caste and sub-caste slots) ought to be on par with the majority. Together we move on, together we move ahead.