On an average I get about 50 – 60 calls a day, of which, several are from unknown numbers. One such call from an unknown number flashed on my screen at about 5:30 pm today. I should say that the phone call left me feeling very uneasy about myself. The 4 minute conversation has left me thinking if I’m indeed the “forward thinking” guy living in a metropolitan city.
The caller was a guy called Abu who was interested in my renting my apartment in Mira road. Due to the housing society rules and fear of unknown on my part, I ended up telling him that the flat is let out only to Hindus. He promptly apologized for having “wasted my time”
What is in a name? You may ask. Well, if you are a Muslim, try getting a house on rent in Mumbai, The city that never sleeps, the financial capital of India is divided over religion and cast behind the veneer of glamour. It is a daunting task for a non-Hindu, especially a Muslim, to go about looking for a house on rent. While there are enough and more flats available, they are out of bounds for Muslims due to a multitude of reasons.
In the forward-looking India, secularism has become a slave of religious lobbies. Religious open-mindedness is measured in economic and cultural terms. Ironically, the Muslims who are aired as examples of the ‘good’ ones are not in a position to speak on behalf of a large community who live lives of abject poverty and fear.
They are also dehumanized by the media. The media creates the larger part of most people’s reality here and they look to it as almost the sole source of their information and reality and wait to be told what to think The world media has portrayed minority communities as being opposed to modernity, women, and world peace. Such ideas have percolated deeply everywhere, including India, and destroyed the centuries-old bonds of friendship and tolerance. The state should make efforts through the media and educational programmes to change this scenario. Political parties should ask their cadres to propagate Hindu-Muslim unity. Only persistent and organized effort with a considerable measure of internal order and purposeful orientation, maintaining group solidarity, a successful political activism can yield results.