A.G. Noorani at the 12th Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer Memorial Lecture
By Neha Dabhade
“Muslims of India are in worst position today than in 1857 or 1947”, lamented A.G. Noorani, leading constitutional expert and prominent author. He was delivering the 12th Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer Memorial Lecture titled, “Muslims of India: Past and Present” at the Constitutional Club in Delhi on 23rd November, 2018 organized by Centre for Study of Society and Secularism (CSSS). The Lecture was chaired by Hamid Ansari, former Vice- President of India. The Lecture was attended by over 200 people comprising of parliamentarians, former bureaucrats, scholars, professors, students, Bohras from progressive movement, human rights activists and eminent citizens. The participants had come from all over India with palpable enthusiasm to listen to the Lecture. Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer Memorial lectures in the past were delivered by thinkers and authors including Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib, Christophe Jaffrelot and Sukhdeo Thorat.
A. G Noorani in his Lecture primarily mapped the concerns facing the Muslims of India today. He broadly placed the problems plaguing the Muslims in the framework of discrimination and their isolation in public discourse marked dominantly by the binary of minority- majority which leads to their alienation and stigmatization. He said one of the biggest challenges facing the Muslims is that of discrimination at multiple levels. He pointed out that the representation of Muslims in the Parliament is low reflecting their overall lack of representation in decision making positions, political power and other areas like livelihoods, housing etc. He went on to say that the trend of suspecting the loyalty of Muslims in the country is pernicious. The loyalty of Muslims is unfairly linked to volatile Indo-Pakistan relations or the Kashmir issue thus portraying the Muslims in a poor light.