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Caste System in India more pernicious than Apartheid: Saeed Naqvi

Veteran Journalist Saeed Naqvi launched his book “Kahan Gaye Musalman” the Hindi version of the play “The Muslim Vanishes in Lucknow. The book conjures up the long-shot possibility of an India devoid of its largest minority- The Muslims.

Not only are the Muslims missing but so are the heritages linked to them- The Taj Mahal, Qutub Minar, etc.

However, the situation opens up new vistas for the lower castes- the prospect of Dalits and Avarnas taking over the void and the properties left behind by the Muslims. A scenario that rankles the upper castes.

Through the characters, Naqvi tries to accentuate the hypocrisy of the upper castes and the ironies of vote bank politics. It touches upon the fact that the Hindu and Muslim elites share more congruencies than lower-rung people of their respective religions.

The symbiotic relationship between Muslims and the Savaranas is presented through the consternation of characters like Shuklaji, who is a politician and depends upon Muslim votes to win elections.

The prospect of the Dalits and Savarnas, no longer being the mere cogs in the wheel but themselves staking claim to power, unnerves even the liberal and secular journalist son of Shuklaji- Brijesh; who explores the possibility of going against the constitution if the votes go against ruling classes.

The character of Anita, the daughter-in-law of Shuklaji, and wife of Journalist Brijesh toys with the idea of distributing the property left by Muslims to poor Hindus, but realizes that Anti-Muslim Hinduism is at odds with Socialism.

In a conversation with veteran Lucknow-based journalist Sharat Pradhan at the launch of the book at Hotel Lebua, Lucknow, he said that communalism has been tied to nationalism through the issues like Kashmir and Pakistan and therefore it is gaining a political heft.

However, the alumni of La Martiniere college were exuberant on the future prospects of India, viz, the economy and international relations, but warned that the country will have to address the internal disrepair (communal)

Talking about the Caste System in India, he said that it is more pernicious than even the Apartheid in South Africa, because in the latter it was institutionalized, whereas in India it is uninstitutionalised.

Saeed Naqvi is a Journalist having more than five decades of experience in journalism. His earlier books include Reflections of Indian Muslims (1993) the last Brahmin Prime Minister (1996), being the other: The Muslim in India (2016).

The Book Kahan Gaye Musalman is the Hindi Version of the English Play The Muslim Vanishes and has been translated by Deepak Mandal.

Pratikshit Singh
Pratikshit Singh
Pratikshit Singh is Senior Sub-Editor at The Mooknayak. He has done English Journalism from IIMC, and worked with Bloomberg UTV.

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