House for Mr Khan?September 26th, 2010
A few days back CNN IBN aired what they called a 'sting operation', A HOUSE FOR MR KHAN wherein they said that it was very difficult for Muslims to get a house in major cities of the country. Be it Hindus, Sikhs or Christians, no one would let out their house to a Muslim family. Fair enough, I agree that it is not so easy for them to get a house in a non Muslim society. But can you really blame these people who do not give their houses to Muslims? Is it their fault that today they do not trust people from Muslim community? Are they to be blamed if they're concerned about safety and security of their families and kids? Who is really responsible for creating this mistrust?
I really don't think that these people are to blamed for this at all. Their lack of faith is a culmination and not the reason for the way things are at the moment. And therefore, it was sad to see Rajdeep Sardesai trying to paint these people as villains of the piece without trying to analyze the reasons for this mistrust. There was no one on his panel who spoke candidly about how have things come to this. More importantly, Rajdeep himself never questioned anyone on this issue. Was it because blaming politicians is not really masala news any more but blaming citizens of the country is? Well, I somehow have a feeling that it was. And that's the underlying fact of this whole matter.
At another level if you go to smaller cities in the country which have a history, like Allahabad, Meerut or Aligarh, or even older localities of metros you'll see a phenomenon called MOHALLAs. These localities or MOHALLAS are essentially a place where you'll find people from one community and caste only. Haven't you guys heard of localities like Sindhi Colony, Bengali Colony (and market as well), Punjabi mohalla, Gujarati mohalla etc etc? Muslims too over the ages have always preferred to live in their own localities, for a variety of reasons.
What Rajdeep Sardesai conveniently chose to overlook is the fact that vice versa is also true for Muslims in the country. They too generally prefer to let their premises out or even sell their properties to Muslims only. If you google 'house for rent for Muslims in India' you'll get more than three million results. Take a look at this snapshot from a website called http://property.trovit.co.in, which quite clearly lists out houses which will only be sold to Muslims.
There are many such listings in this and other websites. As you can see, it's both ways. To just blame one section of the society is just ridiculous. Sardesai should've been more objective in his reporting and judgement in that so called 'sting operation'.
Apart from this, as you guys would appreciate, there is a regional dimension to this issue as well. People from a particular region like to stick together. Even in modern cities like Delhi, in it's sub city Dwarka, there are Bengali, Gujarati and Rajasthani Societies. And it is not just happening in India only. Even abroad Indians from a particular region like to stay together. For example, the director of the forthcoming movie Crook, Mohit Suri, says that he got the idea for this movie when he saw this ad in a store in Sunshine District of Melbourne which said-
'Accommodation is available for the Indian students for Gujarati boys only'.
Also, have you guys seen the latest ad of IDEA mobile services, which shows an old woman letting out her house only when the would be tenant puts on a facade of being from the same stock? As they say, birds of the same feather flock together. That's a natural phenomenon. And it's quite natural for someone to accommodate another who is similar to you in living and eating habits. Leave aside Muslims, my mom-in-law would not rent out her place to anyone who is a non vegetarian! Can anyone question her right/decision in the name of secularism or anything else? For those of you who do not know her here's a warning, don't even try it.
The divisions in our society are very much there and have been so for ages. As responsible citizens of this country we don't need to be averse to this diversity but we need to respect it. Yes, Muslims do get a raw deal but to blame our citizens for this would be a mistake. They did not plant this seed of mistrust among themselves. It is the way they've been influenced by our politicians who have exploited our diversity for their own gains who are to be blamed for this mess. Who knows if terror had not been such a burning issue in these times in our country things would've been different? If things have to improve, our politicians need to first start building bridges between the communities by amicably resolving issues like Ramjanambhoomi/ Babri Masjid and Kashmir imbroglio first. These are the issues which have been utilized by politicians to create mistrust, and in the bargain, vote banks as well.
Rajdeep Sardesai would do well to be more careful in his assessment than to just point accusatory fingers at non Muslims of this country. Giving out one side of the story will only hurt his own credibility, which after this report, is pretty low in my eyes.
Call a spade a spade
Dr Mrs Hilda Raja
The CNN-IBN telecasted a program on the 16th September 'Because my name is Khan'.The Copra sting operation had revealed that the Muslims are discriminated against when it comes to renting out houses to them-'Urban India shutting the doors to Muslims', 'Metros suffering from Muslim phobia' et al. There is too much of an exaggeration. When it comes to discrimination in renting out houses Hindus, Muslims, Christians are all victims of discrimination at some point or other. After all in this vast country with its teeming billions one can pick what one wants to project and make it look that the Muslims alone are discriminated against. This is far from the true. But given the population breakup ration the proportion of discrimination against the Muslims in actual numbers may be less-compared to the other communities. This is because of the population spread and of the ownership pattern. So one can pick and chose and find what one wants to find. This is unscientific like the Sachar survey.
Now to comment on the cobra sting-:It must be granted that Muslims themselves prefer to live in their own ghettos. If there is so much of discrimination against them where are the Muslim film personalities living? Everyone cannot get land, house of one's choice. But let us face the reality.
First it must be conceded that a house owner is free to sell/not to sell, rent/ not to rent his land or house.One cannot immediately conclude that it is discrimination against a community.The reasons for refusal to Muslims are varied. When Sadhvi Pragya motor bike was sold to someone and that bike was involved in serial blast incident look at the harassment and torture inflicted on Pragya. Similarly we must concede that most of the terrorists are Muslims and what happens if one rents out one's house and some terrorists occupy it or frequent it? Will not the owner also be put to harassment?
Second- even non-vegetarian Hindus and Christians find it difficult at times to get houses and doors are shut at times. But they understand the problem. No one cries foul that it is discrimination. The sentiments –both social and religious of the owner must be also respected.
Third- Muslims do not rent their houses to Hindus even Christians. This from my own experience I can vouch. They like to live among their own. This is not an offence.
Fourth I like to narrate my own experience. I had rented my upstairs when I lived in Chennai to Salim(name changed). He agreed on a whole lot of things-like not parking his car within the compound during the day ,with a month's notice he would quit etc. Salim unfortunately did not abide with any of conditions in the agreement. Payment was not a problem. But when I decided to sell the house Salim refused to quit in spite of giving him two months notice. He point blank told me to go to court. I even tried looking out for a house for Salim but could not tell the prospective leasers that he was reliable. Would anyone point a finger at me and accuse me of being anti Muslim?
There was a high-rise structure of 16 flats on the same street where I lived and when we wanted to rent one of the flats for a niece of ours the answer was that the 16 flats will be given only to Muslims. Though it took time for occupancy the vacant ones remain closed for a long time.
So it is not true that Muslims alone are discriminated against. They discriminate others. Vegetarians will not like to rent out their houses to non vegetarians. This is understandable. It is not the religion but the social customs and eating habits.
For example: opposite my house were a couple of Muslims houses and when they purchase fish the vendor cleans and cuts it outside their gates. The crows pick up the waste and flies all over the place looking for a safe perch to eat! When this was pointed out to the Muslim neighbors and suggested that they get the fish cleaned within their compounds and see that the waste is put in a plastic bag and discarded, they were simply furious and did not heed. These may be simple things but which cause a lot of ill feeling.
For one of the feasts the goat is slaughtered and the blood smeared on the compound posts. This surely is unhygienic, revolting and offends the religious sentiments of others It is not true that Muslims alone are discriminated against in Metros. It is question of habits and a phobia which the Muslims suffer also. It is not as though only the Muslims have religious sentiments which cannot/ should not be hurt; the others too have religious practices and sentiments which need to be respected. It is natural that they protect themselves from being hurt. What is wrong in this?
After all Indians cannot be blamed-The separatist mindset is Islamic-did the Muslim leaders not want a separate land of their own for the simple reason that they found it impossible to integrated with the Hindu population? So now why this great hue and cry that Metros shut the door at the Muslims. They rejected this very country and got a part of it. Now to forced themselves on others and seek the acceptance of the others to their kind of eating habits and social and religious customs is not fair. The electronic media cannot make it look that the Muslims are the victims of discrimination. The Muslims are equally to be blames for they too discriminate the Hindus and Christians. One must learn to call a spade a spade. The media must be balanced in telecasting such views and resist the temptation of giving a one sided picture.
'The doors shut on the Muslims': is the sob story but when the Kashmiri pundits were driven out of their homes and hearths what did it indicate-just indiscrimination or a mind set of intolerance. Where the media was then and even now the Kashmiri pundits are refugees in their own county. How is it justifiable? Why this ultra sensitivity when it comes to Muslims and their hurt sentiments. But stoic silence when Hindus are driven out of their own? What kind of mindset does it reflect?
Finally individual freedom is a Constitution right - to whom one rents/not rent one's house is one's individual freedom and it shall upheld. Call this what you may like-one has one own likes and dislikes based not on just a make-believe world or on appeasement policy but on reality and experience. One cannot barter it away to join the bandwagon of pseudo-secularists or for the sake of appeasement. Is it an offence? The media needs to be vigilant and not fall a prey of discrimination on the basis of religion to which it is often a perpetrator.