Print Friendly, PDF & Email

EDITORIAL ANALYSIS : Changing features of Muslim representation in India


Source: The Hindu


  • Prelims: Current events of national importance(democracy, Uniform Civil Code (UCC), Minorities etc
  • Mains GS Paper I & II: Social empowerment, development and management of social sectors/services. Minorities and issues associated with them.



  • The representation of Muslims is more of a lightning rod for present-day political divide.





  • Currently, only those communities notified under section 2(c) of the NCM Act, 1992, by the central government are regarded as minority.
  • Muslim minority(Census 2011): population of Muslims in India 2(fourteen point two)% of India’s population.


Minorities in India:


Constitutional Provisions for Minority:

Article 29:

  • It provides that any section of the citizens residing in any part of India having a distinct language, script or culture of its own, shall have the right to conserve the same.
  • It grants protection to both religious minorities as well as linguistic minorities.
  • However, the SC held that the scope of this article is not necessarily restricted to minorities only, as use of the word ‘section of citizens’ in the Article includes minorities as well as the majority.


Article 30:

  • All minorities shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
  • The protection under Article 30 is confined only to minorities (religious or linguistic) and does not extend to any section of citizens (as under Article 29).


Article 350-B:

The 7th Constitutional (Amendment) Act 1956 inserted this article which provides for a Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities appointed by the President of India.

It would be the duty of the Special Officer to investigate all matters relating to the safeguards provided for linguistic minorities under the Constitution.


Political representation(Hanna F. Pitkin-The Concept of Representation (1967):

  • Descriptive representation: It means the degree to which the representatives resemble the people they claim to represent, such as the social/cultural identity of the representatives.
  • Symbolic representation: It denotes the ways by which the representative “stands for” the represented — through speech, actions and symbolic gestures.
  • Substantive representation: It means the ways in which the representative serves the interest of the represented, such as by advancing the political agenda or policy preferences of the represented.


Political representation of Muslims in Uttar Pradesh(fifth of the State):

  • They have been provided by a mix of descriptive and symbolic representation
  • Descriptive representation of Muslims: such as the proportion of Muslim MLAs and Ministers in the previous period of dominance often lagged behind its population share
    • They also offered symbolic representation: “standing for” the protection of a package of ‘Muslim issues’.
  • Muslim issues in UP:
    • Cultural issues such as Urdu
    • Uniform Civil Code (UCC)
    • Aligarh Muslim University (AMU)
    • Babri Masjid


Components of symbolic representation of Muslims which have been hollowed out by right wing:

  • Silence in their rhetorical response to the policies relating to cultural concerns of minorities (UCC, madrasas, AMU, Babri Masjid, etc)
  • Protector: Self-consciously shirked away from the role of “protector” of minorities.
  • Markedly indifferent attitude towards the systematic destruction of the political career of Muslim politicians.



Way Forward

  • All the three parties cornered upwards of three-quarters of the Muslim vote (an unprecedented figure), according to surveys.
    • But the long-term viability of this strategy also remains uncertain.
  • The partial outsourcing of the task of mobilizing Muslims stemming to some extent from a long-standing under-representation of Muslims in party organization, remains a risky political maneuver.
  • Secular parties of North India need to integrate the productive elements of the more robust southern model, promising “substantive representation” to Muslims while fending off the ‘attacks’ of “minority appeasement”.



Q. Are tolerance, assimilation and pluralism the key elements in the making of an Indian form of secularism? Justify your answer.(UPSC 2022) (200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)