Mh. Hamid Ansari
India and China today signed three MoUsReuters

Vice-President Hamid Ansari on Tuesday released a book based on the life of minority communities and their socio-economic condition in Indian cities. The book is titled "Muslims in Indian Cities" and is edited by Laurent Gayer and Christoph Jafferlot.

"Muslims in Indian Cities" was produced after a thorough study of Muslims minority classes across the nation, a subject which Ansari said had remained largely un-studied or understudied for several decades.

The vice president opined that the public is now realising that "as equal partners in a democratic polity governed by the ideals of social, economic and political justice, they can make the weight of numbers felt in political decision-making and seek a fair access to it."

He was also quick to add that Muslims in India are, in more ways than one, sui generic. "They are 13.4 percent of India's population; at the same time, they are the second or third largest Muslim community in our world of nation-states," said Ansari.

"In March 2005 the Government of India set up a High Level Committee under Justice Rajinder Sachar to collect authentic information about the social, economic and educational status of the Muslim community so that it could be used for formulation of specific policies and programmes to address its socio-economic backwardness," said the vice president. "The Sachar Report has become a landmark and is being used by the Government for affirmative action in different areas."

"The volume before us today adds some useful empirical data to the debate. It is yet another example of the thoroughness and diligence of the CNRS, Paris and of its guiding light, Professor Jaffrelot, who needs no introduction to an Indian audience," Ansari said.

However, he disagreed to the editors' perception that Muslims are losing ground, which led to  him saying that the conclusion of the book may be contested on two grounds.

"In the first place, any generalisation for so large a number spread over a vast area, is hazardous. Secondly, and as the editors point out, the Muslims of India are NOT a homogenous entity. Different strata of the community have performed differently," he said.

"The elite of a feudal past have lost ground but some amongst them have adapted themselves well in new callings. New elites have sprung up amongst those who in the past were socially under-privileged and are now doing well in terms of educational levels and economic wellbeing," he added.