Tuesday, December 8, 2009

On India

Why India has a long way to go before I will believe in its long-term economic success:

We live in a democracy, but it is not for Muslims. We live in silent dictatorship.

-- an Indian Muslim lamenting the failure of inter-faith cooperation, in today's New York Times

There are 161 million Muslims in India.


Adam Rogoyski said...

The percentage of black people in America is roughly the same as the percentage of Muslims in India. America became the dominant country in the world despite black people lacking much political power. China is another example with similar numbers and similar economic gains.
There is no reason to discount India's economic potential based on any recent historical precedent relating to minority political power. What you are pointing out is just your own ethnic and cultural bias, not anything real related to economics.

Matt Rafat said...

Adam, thanks for your comment. I did recognize the similarities between India and modern-day America in terms of having large numbers of underrepresented minorities. There are two major differences, however, between African-Americans and Indian Muslims:

1. We rarely have widespread riots in America that cause thousands of deaths. For example, we have to go back almost 100 years to see an example of a white majority rioting and killing hundreds of African-Americans. The Rodney King and Watts riots are more recent, but they did not involve the majority killing large numbers of minorities. In India, majority-vs-minority riots are far more commonplace, partly because many Indians may believe that Muslim Indians should move to Pakistan. As a result, majority-minority differences are more combustible in India, and such visceral violence tends to create a cycle of perpetual violence. (There is one fairly recent instance where riots caused the deaths of almost 2,000 Indian Muslims.)

2. In America, most African-Americans have converted to Christianity (which is interesting, given Islam's high prominence of Bilal, a slave freed by the Prophet Mohammad). As a result, unlike India's population, both majority and minority have the same religion and therefore either a common ground to identify with each other, or at least the removal of a combustible difference.

I hope we can agree that there are major differences between India and America in terms of its majority-minority populations.

I don't know enough about China to comment, but its treatment of the Uighurs won't derail its growth because there aren't enough of them to cause widespread problems. If I wanted to demonstrate a bias, I would have to also agree that China will have problems with its long-term growth because of its treatment of Muslims, and I have not made such a statement.