Being the Other: The Muslim in India

MUMBAI – 23 August 2016, Asia Society was delighted to welcome to its platform Saeed Naqvi, Journalist and Author of ‘Being the Other: The Muslim in India’ and Kumar Ketkar, Journalist, for a wide ranging discussion on Naqvi’s latest publication. Centered on ‘Being the Other: The Muslim in India’, the conversation highlighted the contemporary forces that have shaped modern day India.

Naqvi began the discussion by speaking of his childhood in Awadh, highlighting the harmony that existed between both Hindus and Muslims, and the fervor of patriotism in the region toward a unified Indian State. Acknowledging that all that India is today is a consequence of how the nation began, Naqvi and Ketkar spoke of Bollywood as the last citadel of secularism in India. Focusing on the role of the media, both speakers agreed that the media had a role to play in perpetuating the global Islamophobic narrative. Tracing the origins of this narrative back to Operation Desert Storm, Naqvi stated that the televising of the operation divided it’s viewership in half, the Muslim world was left feeling angered and humiliated while the rest felt triumphant.

Naqvi also detailed that the peril of the current Islamophobic narrative is that it consolidates Muslims as a singular monolith. Among the Hindus, the Muslim is identified as the Mullah, however many Muslims don’t identify with the Mullah as much as they identify with Muslim poets. Bringing to the fore anti-establishment sentiments, Ketkar and Naqvi acknowledged that times are changing very rapidly. Naqvi poignantly stated that “people are by and large secular, it is politics that is communal”.

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