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Muslim thinker Faiyaz Ahmad Fyzie says Pasmanda Muslims have always identified themselves with Hindu customs & traditions as they have co-existed with them for centuries now



Representational image: Muslims offer Eid al-Adha prayers at the Jama Masjid

Social activist and Unani doctor, Faiyaz Ahmad Fyzie, has ruffled many feathers among India’s Muslim community. He has become a marked man with his mother getting threatening phone calls about the safety of her outspoken son.

Hailing from a family of freedom fighters, who were closely aligned to the Congress, Fyzie has been often found supporting Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He is also the man who is putting the hitherto hidden problem of casteism among Muslims on the frontline of debate and discussions in India.

On the occasion of India’s 75th independence anniversary, India Narrative speaks with Fyzie about raging topics like Hindu-Muslim relations, social harmony, the Modi government’s relations with the minority community and why the Muslims do not discuss caste discrimination within the community as fervently as the Hindus discuss their own relationship with caste. Fyzie says that almost all Muslim bodies are undemocratic and represent the views of the miniscule upper caste Muslims.

Excerpts from the interview:

IN: We complete 75 years of independence. Where has Indian society reached in these decades?

Fyzie: Socially India has progressed. We have completed a satisfactory journey till now. I will say we have done better than average.

I say this because the political dispensation and the administration have tried to deliver social justice in the country. Efforts at eliminating social inequity were more pronounced among the Hindus than among the Muslims because even the Brahmins agreed that the upper castes have wronged the low castes. But the leaders among the Muslim community do not allow the low caste Muslims to break out of the social barriers because they deny caste and discrimination among Muslims.

I will say that people professing the ideologies of the Left, liberal and Muslim right wing did not allow the Muslims at the lowest socio-economic ladder to come up in the social hierarchy because of personal selfish gains.

I, as an Indian, as a Muslim and as an individual from a low socio-economic class would say that the country is on the right track in terms of uplifting the society. This is because government schemes have benefited low caste Muslims while schemes targeted at minorities have only benefited the upper caste Muslims because they garnered the gains from such schemes.

IN: You speak about caste-based fissures among Muslims. Can you elaborate about casteism in the community?

Fyzie: We look at this from the context of caste among the Hindus—which is largely-occupation based discrimination.

Among the Muslims the highest caste of people are the Ashraafs—which comprise the ruling classes in India who came from abroad. Here we also have the Rajputs who had converted as they too were the ruling class in India.

Next come the Ajlaaf—most of the working class of people comprising weavers, ironsmiths and artisans.

The lowest in the Muslim castes are Arjaals—sweepers, scavengers and those who work with leather.

Among these three castes in the Muslims, we have clubbed the Ajlaafs and the Arjaals together as the ‘Pasmanda’ Muslims. I call them ‘desaj samaj’ or indigenous Muslims. These are the Hindus from the Other Backward Classes (OBC), the SCs and STs who converted to Islam.

The Ashraafs—the upper caste Muslims say that casteism in the community seeped in from the Hindus. This is a widely-accepted view among the Left, the Hindus and everyone else. But I do not agree with this argument—I ask them that after having lived with the Hindus for centuries you only absorbed the vice of caste from the Hindus. Why did Muslims not absorb the positives—liberal values, secularism and harmony, from Hinduism? It is because the Muslims had their own discriminatory practices based on classes, races and sects as it spread from the Arab world.

IN: Do the Muslims in the other countries of the sub-continent also practice casteism, for example, in Pakistan and Bangladesh?

Fyzie: Both Pakistan and Bangladesh are basically India. Therefore, the caste issues that we see in India are to be found there also. However, in India, the constitution and government schemes have improved our social condition. In Pakistan, the Pasmanda Muslims are in a bad shape because the rulers treat them like slaves.

Pakistan is a heaven for the ruling Ashraaf Muslims while it is a hell for the Pasmanda Muslims.

We have to go back to the Arab world and the pre-Islamic tribes to understand casteism and discrimination among the Muslims. Though Prophet Mohammed tried to control racism related issues, he could only succeed partly.

We have to understand that the Saudis, the Turks, the Iranians, and now the Afghans, have practiced discrimination on the basis of race and ethnicity. What I am trying to say is that discrimination exists in Islam from ancient times. It is not entirely a Hindu import.

IN: Why is it that casteism among Muslims is not discussed by the community as it has been discussed and debated within the Hindus?

Fyzie: The Muslims do not want to discuss casteism in Islam. The Ashraafs—the Muslim upper castes, want to protect their turf. They feel that social justice in India will take the power out of their hands. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) does not hold elections because its luminaries fear that they will lose control. In fact, no Muslim organisation has democracy.

Even if the Muslims are a minority in India, the benefits go to a small section of upper caste Muslims. A low caste Muslim finds it easy to get admission to the Benaras Hindu University (BHU) but not in the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) because the Muslim leaders have cornered the benefits for themselves.

That is why the low caste Muslims—the Pasmandas, do not want minority status. We do not want benefits based on our religious identity. We can only uplift ourselves through government schemes that provide us socio-economic benefits.

IN: You say that Indian society has made progress. We also have many Muslim activists and NGOs, so how is it possible that Muslims from the lowest classes and castes have not progressed?

Fyzie: No social reforms exist among the Muslims. There is no concept of social justice in the community because it is led by the upper caste Muslims. There is no discussion or acceptance of criticism in the community.

The NGOs are all run by the Ashraafs. They run such organisations under the garb of ideologies—Left, minority and some are run by Maulanas. Yeh sab log aapna varchasv banaye rakhna chahtein hain (They all want to maintain their hegemony).

When I contrast the situation with the Hindus, I find they realise the need for social reforms. That is why they accept the evil of casteism and debate its elimination. Indians have always been diverse for 5,000 years. They do not bother about the differences and have accepted diversity.

We feel that we are still being led by Mughal rulers. Would you believe that the low caste Muslims were not allowed to go to madrasas by the Mughal rulers. Similar examples of discrimination and racism against the low caste Muslims abound in times of Islamic rule.

IN: Is India becoming communal?

Fyzie: If the Hindus are becoming communal, they talk about it and then take steps to eliminate it. But then we also see that communalism among the Muslims is not discussed. The fact is that communalism among the Muslims is very strong.

For example, the Muslim League was formed much earlier than the Hindu Mahasabha.

My take is that if you want to finish off communalism from India, then you have to eliminate Muslim communalism first. The communal thinking among the Hindus will reduce on its own.

IN: Do you think India is becoming Islamophobic?

Fyzie: Regarding Islamophobia in India, the Ashraafs use Islamophobia as a tool. The moment you talk about social reforms and social justice among the Muslims, the upper caste Muslims begin alleging Islamophobia. If you ruffle the Muslim society by talking about reforms, the Muslim right wing immediately labels you Islamophobic.

These concepts are harming the Indian social fabric. The secular, Left and liberal establishments accept whatever is said by the upper caste Muslims.

There are Hindus who are communal but they are very less in number.

IN: The BJP government has been criticised over a number of policy decisions it has taken related to the Muslim community. What is your take on these?

Fyzie: I think the Modi government has taken steps to bring about reforms in the community.

Banning triple talaq has benefited the Pasmanda Muslims, particularly women. Divorce among the lower levels in the community brings shame not just to the woman but her family also. Divorce and remarriage are acceptable among the upper classes, but not among the people at the bottom of the hierarchy.

The elimination of Article 370 will benefit the Pasmanda Muslims. Certain castes or sections of Muslims like the Bakkerwals, the Gaddis and the Van Gujjars will be benefited. Till now all the political power in Kashmir was with the Ashraafs. The low caste Muslims did not enjoy the benefits of government schemes in Kashmir.

IN: Can there be truth and reconciliation among the Muslims and Hindus? How can we see religious harmony among the communities?

Fyzie: Jab aap Pasmanda samaj ko aage karanege tab aasani se Hinduon aur Mussalmano mein samjhota hoga (If you uplift the Pasmanda Muslims, harmony will happen automatically between the Hindus and Muslims).

We have to remember that the low caste Muslims have always identified themselves with Hindu customs and traditions because they have co-existed with the Hindus for ages. The Pasmanda Muslims will wear sarees, use sindur, and gift shringar during weddings—all of which are Hindu customs. But the high caste Muslims call these Hinduana (Hindu beliefs), therefore, gair-Islamic (non-Islamic).

This cultural discrimination has remained within the Islamic society because of Ashraafs.

Truth and reconciliation will happen if the Ashraafs are controlled. They still act as if they are the rulers, therefore, they look at us with the same mentality. When they go abroad, they give hate speeches against India and portray the Hindus in a negative light.

I think India has progressed well till now. In my opinion, the country has a bright future in terms of social progress and harmony between faiths. Meri rai mein 1947 se aab tak ka safar aacha hai (In my opinion, the journey from 1947 till now has been good).

I am optimistic about a bright future of India. Inshaallah!

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Post 370, investment climate brightens in J&K



Post 370, investment climate brightens in J&K

After witnessing decades of violence, the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed tremendous changes in economic activities after the abrogation of Article 370.

After Article 370 was repealed, Jammu and Kashmir became subject to 890 central laws, while 250 unfair state legislation were eliminated. Additional 130 state legislation have undergone changes. The elimination of certain hurdles has led to a conducive business atmosphere. Due to the country’s strong leadership and increased stability in the region, foreign businesses are considering investment opportunities here.

The Lulu Group, Apollo, EMAAR, and Jindal are among the few commercial organizations that have investments in Jammu and Kashmir. The UT has inked five more Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) with Al Maya Group, MATU Investments LLC, GL Employment Brokerage LLC, Century Financial, and Noon E-commerce, respectively. Magna Waves Pvt. Ltd. and Emaar Group, and Lulu International have also signed a single Letter of Intent.

In 2021, the Union Territory attracted investments of USD 2.5 billion, showcasing the region’s vast opportunities and business potential.

Even Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with delegates from the United Arab Emirates seeking business opportunities in Jammu and Kashmir, noting that private investment bids in the Union Territory have topped Rs 38,000 crore.

The government is fully aware that investments play a crucial role in economic development because they lead to the accumulation of public wealth as well as advancements in science and technology. As a result, a framework for increasing the region’s manufacturing viability and economic growth is established.

The Jammu and Kashmir government established a five-person committee on June 23 to communicate with the Minister of External Affairs regarding the G20 meetings. India is starting to get ready for the big event.

In order to promote fresh investment and bring industrial development to the block level, the J&K administration introduced a new industrial development scheme with an outlay of Rs 28,400 crore in January of last year. The new regulation, valid until 2037, also made it possible for more prominent investors to invest in J-K.

Before the repealing of Article 370, there were not many investments in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Indian government is aware that investments play a key role in the economic development of any region. Hence, it is no letting stone unturned to establish a framework for increasing the region’s manufacturing viability and economic growth.

Infrastructure development in the Union Territory got a big push after the abrogation of Article 370.

After the abrogation of Article 370, the execution of new roads, tunnels and other basic Infrastructure has gained momentum to ensure the overall development of J&K.

Noting that roads are now being built at twice the speed as before, the Lt Governor of the Union Territory Manoj Sinha had said there has been a radical change in its progress under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana.

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Raise retirement age of SC, HC judges: BCI




Raise retirement age of SC, HC judges: BCI

The Bar Council of India (BCI) in a joint meeting that was held last week has unanimously reached a conclusion that there should be an immediate amendment to the Constitution and the retirement age of Judges of Supreme Court and High Courts.

“There should be an immediate amendment in the Constitution and the retirement age of Judges of High Court should be enhanced from 62 to 65 years and the age of superannuation of the Judges of Supreme Court should be enhanced to 67 years,” stated BCI in a press statement. The copy of the resolution was decided to be communicated to the Prime Minister of India and Union Minister for Law and Justice for immediate action on the resolution, stated press statement by BCI.

Moreover, the joint meeting has also resolved to propose to the Parliament to consider to amend the various Statutes so that even the experienced advocates could be appointed as the Chairpersons of various commissions and other Forums.

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PM to hold bilateral talks with world leaders: MEA




PM to hold bilateral talks with world leaders: MEA

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is looking forward to exchanging views on topical, regional and international issues at the 22nd Summit of the Council of Heads of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Member States (SCO-CoHS) to be held in Samarkand.

“At the SCO Summit, I look forward to exchanging views on topical, regional and international issues, the expansion of SCO and on further deepening of multifaceted and mutually beneficial cooperation within the Organization,” read Prime Minister’s Office departure statement ahead of his visit to Uzbekistan. PM Modi will attend the summit on Friday. He is expected to have bilateral meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iranian President, Ebrahim Raisi and Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev on the sidelines of the SCO summit in Samarkand.

“I will be visiting Samarkand at the invitation of President of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev to attend the Meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO),” added the statement.

Under the Uzbek Chairship, a number of decisions for mutual cooperation are likely to be adopted in areas of trade, economy, culture and tourism.

“I also look forward to meeting President Mirziyoyev in Samarkand. I fondly recall his visit to India in 2018. He also graced the Vibrant Gujarat Summit as its Guest of Honour in 2019”.

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A new age of peace and harmony in state will undoubtedly begin with the signing of the pact, said Assam CM





The Centre and Assam government on Thursday signed a tripartite peace accord with eight tribal militant outfits of Assam. The accord was signed in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

The eight rebel groups include Birsa Commando Force (BCF), Adivasi People’s Army (APA), All Adivasi National Liberation Army (AANLA), Adivasi Cobra Military of Assam (ACMA) and Santhali Tiger Force (STF) and the remaining three outfits are splinter groups of BCF, AANLA and ACMA. The accord was signed 10 years after the peace process started. Birsa Commando Force (BCF), Adivasi People’s Army (APA), All Adivasi National Liberation Army (AANLA), Adivasi Cobra Military of Assam (ACMA) and Santhali Tiger Force (STF) have been in a ceasefire with the government since 2012 and since then the cadres of the militant outfits are staying in designated camps.

“I am sure signing of the agreement will usher in a new era of peace and harmony in Assam,” Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had said.

On January 27 this year, a total of 246 insurgents of two militant groups of the state laid down their arms and returned to the mainstream.

In an arms-laying ceremonial function held at Srimanta Sankardev Kalakshetra in Guwahati, 169 insurgents of the United Gorkha People’s Organisation (UGPO) and 77 insurgents of the Tiwa Liberation Army (TLA) laid down their arms before Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, Assam DGP Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta, Chief Executive Member of BTR Pramod Boro, CEM TAC Jibon Chandra Konwar.

Earlier, the Assam CM had held a meeting with rebel Adivasi groups regarding the final settlement which is currently under a ceasefire.

Amit Shah had in January 2020 also presided over the signing of a historic agreement between the Government of India, the Government of Assam and Bodo representatives in New Delhi to end the over 50-year-old Bodo crisis that has cost the region over 4,000 lives.

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Modi is no political novice; he has his cards close to his chest and would not be cowered by dragon. If communism has steeled Xi, democracy has bolstered Modi





Chinese President Xi Jinping has stepped out of the country for the first time since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic that originated in his country in early 2020 and forced global lockdowns, clobbered large economies and caused death of thousands across the world, not to forget the millions who fell sick and escaped death but paid with lifetime of infirmities.

But, we won’t discuss the pandemic here even though any discussion in the world today is incomplete without mentioning the affliction that has acquired a universal character.

Xi, wearing a face mask, landed in Nur-Sultan, the capital of Kazakhstan, to a red carpet welcome by his Kazakh counterpart Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Tuesday. The Central Asian republic is celebrating 30 years of the establishment of diplomatic relations with China.

Central Asian countries are of strategic interest to China not only because they can help the second largest economy deepen its economic footprint in the region but because they also provide a diplomatic perch to ride on as Beijing faces increasing isolation from the West.

Later in the evening, Xi flew to Samarkand in Uzbekistan where he will attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit from Thursday to Friday. Beyond the security implications of the meeting of the strategic group of eight countries, the spotlight on Samarkand this fall is on bilateral talks.

Though Xi is thousands of kilometres from home, his heart would be in Beijing as the Chinese leader who would be virtually crowned for the third term to lead the nation of 1.5 billion is just two months away from the grand event – the upcoming Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

Xi carries loads of baggage on his shoulders. The baggage is made of political pledges and expectations, declarations of social and cultural resuscitation of the nation and the promise of reuniting Taiwan with mainland China.

Xi is in Samarkand not only as the President of his country but as a reservoir of hope for the millions of Chinese of his generation who want to live by the ideals of communist leader Mao Zedong and believe in the revival of an ethos that the China of today may have strayed away from amid lapping waves of globalisation and the unnerving war cry of capitalism over communism.


The presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the summit adds to the precariousness of Xi’s situation. While northern neighbour Russia is seen as a renegade by the West for attacking Ukraine and bringing the region to a military ferment, India has to speak its mind to Beijing that was behind the Galwan standoff which brought two nuclear powers quite close to a full-blown war.

A Xi-Putin summit will see the Chinese President trying to leverage the opportunity to buy more support from Moscow for its stance on Taiwan. President-for-life he may be, but nothing prevents Xi from catalysing more support from a country that again stands isolated among most nations of a community comprising mainstream international politics.

Ahead of the 20th CPC National Congress on October 16, Xi has to show his constituents (Chinese people) that he is capable of standing tall in the Great Hall of the People.

In Modi, Xi will find an adversary who straddles the eastern and western hemispheres with equal ease. In the summit with Modi, Xi will try his best to turn the tables on India over the spy ship Beijing sent to Sri Lanka or have the upper hand on border disputes with New Delhi. After all, the delegates at the 20th Congress need to see their leader unfazed.

But Modi is no political novice. He surely has his cards close to his chest and would not be cowered by the flaming dragon. If communism has steeled Xi, democracy has strengthened Modi.

“We should join hands to combat terrorism, separatism, extremism, drug trafficking and transnational organised crimes, and ensure the security of oil and gas pipelines and other large cooperation projects and their personnel. We should resolutely oppose interference by external forces and work together for lasting peace and long-term stability of our region,” Xi said in a signed article published on Tuesday in the Kazakhstanskaya Pravda.

If words were horses, all politicians would ride them. Let’s see which way the dragon sits and the elephant trumpets.


China emerged as the world’s second-largest economy by registering exceptional growth in the last four decades but at the cost of widespread corruption, environmental degradation, food safety issues and income disparities.

Prof Justin Yifu Lin, formerly senior vice-president and chief economist of the World Bank (2008-12), in an analysis explained the institutional price China paid for its economic success, reported Financial Post.

In 2018, China celebrated the 40th anniversary of its transition from a planned economy to a market economy. And it was an astounding success. In 1978, the country was closed and suspended to the world. It was a poor country, if not among the world’s poorest.

Its per capita was less than a third of even sub-Saharan African nations. Over 80 per cent of its people lived in rural areas, as many were living below the international poverty line and China had a closed economy where trade made less than 10 per cent of its GDP.

But in the last 40 years, the annual GDP growth rate was 9.4 per cent on average and trade grew at an average rate of 14.8 per cent. In no time, China was the world’s second-largest economy overtaking Japan. It was the largest exporter, beating Germany. It even surpassed the US to become the largest economy, measured by ‘purchasing power parity,’ and the largest trading economy.

But China paid a price for its unprecedented success. In addition to environmental degradation and food safety issues, which have attracted many public complaints and are the results of rapid industrialization and lack of appropriate regulations, the main issue during the transition is widespread corruption and the worsening of income disparities, said Prof Lin.

“Before 1978, China had a rather disciplined and clean bureaucratic system and an equalitarian society. According to the Corruption Perception Index published by Transparency International, China ranked No. 79 among all the 176 countries or territories in 2016,” added the professor.

The negatives are attributed by economics experts to China’s “dual-track transition strategy”. At one level, “the government provided transitory protection and subsidies to the nonviable state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in the old, capital-intensive sectors to maintain stability”.

At another, it “liberalized and facilitated the entry to the new, labour-intensive sectors which were consistent with China’s comparative advantages to achieve dynamic growth,” reported Financial Post. Prof Lin points out that one of the most essential “costs of investment and operation for the old capital-intensive sectors was the cost of capital”.

Before the transition in 1978, the “government used fiscal appropriation to pay for investments and cover working capital, so SOEs did not have to bear any cost for capital. After the transition, the fiscal appropriation was replaced by bank loans.”

The Chinese government set up four large state banks and a stock market to meet the capital needs of large enterprises and to “subsidize SOEs, the interest rates and capital costs were artificially repressed”.

The research shows, “When the transition started, almost all firms in China were state-owned. With the dual-track transition, private-owned firms grew and some of them become large enough to get access to bank loans or list in the equity market.”

“As interest rates and capital costs were artificially repressed, whoever could borrow from the banks or list in the stock market was therefore subsidized. These subsidies were paid for by the low returns to savings in the banks or in the stock market made by individual households. Those people providing the funds were poorer than the owners of the large firms they financed.”

“The subsidization of the operation of the rich’s firms by poorer people was one reason for increasing income disparities. Moreover, the access to bank loans and equity market generated rents, leading to bribery and corruption of the officials who control the access.”

The analysis argues that some natural monopoly industries, such as power and telecommunication, were operated by state-owned enterprises and the government “liberalized the entry to those industries gradually”, adding that “those monopoly rents were also sources of inequality and corruption,” reported Financial Post.

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EU to raise $140 bn with windfall swoop




EU to raise $140 bn with windfall swoop

The European Union wants to raise $140 billion by tapping the windfall profits of some energy companies to help households and businesses pay eye-watering gas and electricity bills, media reports said.

On Wednesday, the European Commission proposed capping the profits of renewable and nuclear electricity producers, and taxing the windfall earnings of oil and gas companies, CNN reported.

Profits at power generators using wind, solar and nuclear energy have ballooned because their tariffs are linked to the wholesale price of natural gas, which soared to a record high in March after Russia invaded Ukraine, and now stands about 550 pert cent up on year-ago levels, the report said. Europe sanctioned Russian oil and coal exports after the invasion, prompting Moscow to slash supplies of gas in return.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday that the bloc would conduct a “deep and comprehensive reform” to decouple the cost of gas from the price of electricity.

“These companies are making revenues they never accounted for, they never even dreamt of,” she told EU lawmakers in a speech in Strasbourg, France.

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