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Deb Mukharji

By Nafis Ahmad Siddiqui
S. Chand & Co., 1976, 189, 30.00

VOLUME I NUMBER 3 July - September 1976

The task of attempting a study on the population geography of Muslim Indians, assessing the present in the historical context, as Dr. Siddiqui has done, is a particularly hazardous task since India today has only about a third of the Muslims who inhabit the sub-continent. It should, however, have been possible to refer objectively to the facts and consequences of Partition to achieve a more balanced perspective. Anyone not conversant with the recent history of the subcontinent would be puzzled by the introductory remark, ‘With a considerably long period of co-existence of a variety of entities, the (sic) Indian culture has emerged as a unit of diversi­ties. The exclusion of any single component can disturb the whole fabric of Indian life and destroy the very form of Indian society’, being followed by the subsequently reiterated reference to the ‘Muslim populations who in the wake of the partition of the country had to leave their home country either to die on the way or reach a new country for refuge, i.e. Pakistan’. To say, ‘Thus, through the last two thousand years and (sic) so, the Muslims like their predecessors, the Aryans, became a part and parcel of India and today over 61 million Muslims in­habit the country’ tends to further confuse the perspective. In the preface the author expresses the hope that the book may help remove ‘misunderstandings and allay misgivings created by mal-interpretation of facts’. This is a laudable objective, necessary, in­deed, in the interest of national health. Far too many people are prone to be swayed by the commu­nal Hindu prejudice of the Muslim population out­stripping the majority Hindu population of India. To the extent that Dr. Siddiqui's book attempts to place some facts on record and achieves a clearer understanding of Muslim demography it is a com­mendable effort. The author reveals that unlike the other mino­rity religious groups in India, the Muslims are pre­sent in substantial numbers in as many as thirteen states ranging from 22.27% (of the Muslim popula­tion of India) in U.P. to 2.89% in Rajasthan. This compares with the distribution of Christians in seven states, Sikhs in five, Jains in six and Buddhists in three. This emphasizes the demographic importance of the Muslim minority in the body politic of India ranging from Jammu & Kashmir to Tamil Nadu and from West Bengal to Maharashtra. Another point well taken ...

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