I thought along similar lines some years ago. I still advocate targeting the ideology and not its common followers for erasure. What you are proposing is the "dilution" method for "identity" through so-called transition to "stakeholder" in extra-identity processes. I will tell you why I am skeptical about this particular route.
The transition to stakeholder that I propose, is only one facet of how to pursue erasure of the ideology, with the ultimate aim of eroding the identity so that economic prosperity and furtherance of national interest is no longer perceived by the stakeholders as an "extra identity" process.
There are other facets to what I propose... identification of those aspects of that ideology most inimical to syncretion, and ruthless elimination of the Agencies who for one reason or another exploit these inimical aspects, even at the sort of systemic level that plagues the Indian judicial and political system today.
Brihaspati ji, it is certainly possible that a certain proportion of Muslims, once economically empowered will drift towards jihadism.
The gradient, however, is not only about prosperity. It has naturally occurred that a large number of Muslims who travel from Pure Backwardness to Upward Mobility, become of necessity subject to influences beyond the Pure Islamic. This is a result of the free marketplace of ideas, traditions and ethos that Indian society is. A Muslim, like anybody else, is subject to the pressures and imprecations of his environment. If that environment is essentially a Dharmic and tolerant one, and most importantly is responsible for affording him prosperity, that alone is a countervailing force to the compulsions of an atavistic religious identity that demands domination, subjugation etc. If integration becomes a necessity for advancement, the countervailing force becomes increasingly powerful; and if the crucial importance of such integration for advancement is made even more emphatic by subtle and deliberate means, then the countervailing force has a chance of dominating the identity equation.
I will list what the problems in the assumptions being made, are:
Sociological studies of "in-group" and "out-group" interactions show that two very different types of reactions are possible when two dissimilar groups face each other or come in contact : either they allow mixing and adopt or absorb elements of the others idntity - or - they sharpen the "divide". This crucially depends on how much self-esteem is attributed to belonging to the group.
When to start with, there is a very high self-esteem attributed to belonging to a certain group, then typically this group hardens its identity when it comes in contact with another identity which is perceived is being potentially an agent for dilution. The closer become the identity, the greater will be the efforts and stress to maintain differences. In fact almost all radicalization in muslim communities are observed exactly at the point of contact with "non-Muslim" societies which otherwise offer much greater opportunities in the modern economic or educational sense than Muslim societies themselves.
You have hit upon the exact sociological dynamic that is in play here... self-esteem.
First we have to consider that self-esteem in India of today is defined by very different parameters than India of even ten years ago. Self-esteem can come in various forms. It can come solely by virtue of belonging to a group, because of the lore and traditions and narrative of that group. However, the aspirational ladder that beckons to all classes of Indians in this age of post-globalization consumerism, is another route to self-esteem that never existed before.
During my childhood in the early 1980s, social mobility in India crawled at a snail's pace. There were a few very rich, masses of poor, and a substantial middle class that glacially improved its lot. People took it for granted that the next generation of a family may incrementally advance their economic status but by and large, they would remain in the same social class, with the limited range of trappings and possessions, that their parents inhabited. In those days, self-esteem came largely from identity... caste, religion or otherwise... because in a world with two kinds of cars, one kind of black-and-white TV, one kind of rotary phone, there was no other means to externalize it.
This is not the case today. Money is abundant, particularly in urban centres, and the opportunities for externalized evidence of wealth is plentiful in a new consumerist culture. The son of a slum-dwelling roadside vendor (of any religion) can quite realistically aspire to owning a motor vehicle, perhaps even a flat with a fridge and TV. The sudden appearance of opportunity strengthens the attraction of an aspirational route to self-esteem as opposed to a purely identity-based one.
This is why I think it is possible that the Gradient will in any case start to have a stronger effect than before, and can potentially be strengthened to have a profound effect. The pure backward Muslim always had his Islamic group status as a source of self-esteem. However, that means less and less as he sees that he lives in the cesspools of Mumbra or Dharavi while others arising from similar environs own motorcycles and have, in many ways, a chance of getting out. The question before the pure backward Muslim will be, what does he want for his children? Which self-esteem will they prize more dearly... that of pure Islamic identity or that of ascension up the social and economic gradient?
The trick is to ensure that self-esteem acquired via the gradient overwhelms and neutralizes the self-esteem that came from a pure Islamic identity. The forces of economic and social change favour this dynamic, but it will have to be reinforced with considerable deliberate effort.
In studying and suggesting methods of tackling Jihadization of Islamics, we usually make three fundamental errors :
(a) we assume that the early conditioning of a Muslim child and in the formative years inculcate values to evaluate "reason" or "rationality", which are the same as in non-Muslim societies. "Rationality" of a certain degree is common to all humans, which implies that logical process will be similar in most humans. But the axioms on which that nearly universal logical process will be applied can make completely contradictory conclusions from the same logical method. Because of little deep interaction with Muslims not just in "peace time" but also in "conflict" situations, and lack of familiarity with Islamic "records" - non-Muslims can be duped as to the fascinatingly delusional inner thought process in many seemingly "normal/moderate" Muslim minds.
This is true. But I present again the unique situation of the Indian Muslim. In no other nation of the world, at no other time in history, has the Indian Muslim found himself faced with the opportunity for socio-economic upward mobility as he does in India today.
In most Muslim countries, the pure backward Muslim will remain pure and backward all his life. In the West, the Indian Muslim has the opportunity to pursue upward mobility but he will never be treated as an equal, and his isolation gets the better of him so that he retreats further into his Islamic identity as a source of self-esteem. In the Gulf he has it even worse, as his Arab "brothers" openly scorn him as inferior. Only in India does he have the option of acquiring social and economic status on par with a nation full of people with whom he can blend invisibly, where his ethnicity and race will not be a detriment to him.
As for non-Muslims in India, we have the advantage of experience to realize what kind of mindset we are dealing with in no uncertain terms. If we are duped by the nature of the Muslim mind into believing that everything is OK, that no agenda of social-engineering need be enacted, and that things will turn out all right on their own... it would certainly be our own fault! The onus is ours to strengthen the gradient and prevent poaching en-route by inimical Agencies, through all necessary means.
From this error comes the fatal misconception that the "incentives" and "tempting deviations" that could be induced in say "Dharmic" "Hindu" Indians by the British social engineering project could work along similar lines on the Muslim society on the subcontinent. Not that the British did not try - but they actually failed to win "converts" in significant numbers. Many excuses are given - that the Muslims were "hurt" from "loss of pride" in being removed from "lording it over non-Muslims", so they shut themselves off. But, well, actually Hindus were defeated too, Sikhs were defeated too - but apparently similar "loss of pride" phenomenon did not happen. At the time, the Brits "won" - the Muslims were already on the retreat, and their loss of power could not have been more evident than in their failure to defend Delhi from storms from the NW. So given very similar conditions otherwise, they did not take the "bait" - at least not on condition of diluting their core values of Jihad, Ghazwa and subjugation of all else - as proved in the ease with which riots could be organized and the violent preparations for 1947 could be undertaken.
I had brought up the British social engineering as a very general example of what was possible to achieve... but let us not forget that they had a vastly different overarching strategic goal than we do, and of course, employed very different means to get there.
To say that they tried and failed, seems an oversimplification to me. As you can surely narrate with more erudition than I, the process of British social-engineering among Muslims of India was a complicated business. Broadly, the recalcitrant elite were culled in the reprisals following 1857; of the remainder, "Macaulayization" necessarily pursued a significantly different tack than it did among Hindus, because of critical differences between Hindu and Muslim societies.
A key difference was that unlike Hindus, among whom an educated middle class already existed, Muslim society was with few exceptions polarized between an elite class and abject masses. Even among Hindus the British only sought to influence groups from the middle class upwards, not the "hewers of wood and drawers of water," but the Macaulayite ladder of aspiration did not seek only to recruit the landed wealthy or the aristocracy... it also beckoned to clerks, munshis and the like from strata of society economically and politically less privileged than the rajas.
In Muslim society on the other hand, wealth, political power, social status and education were all concentrated together in the hands of a rarefied elite, and belonged not at all to the tradesmen, craftsmen and peasantry who were a very long distance further down the scale. It was a proto-Pakistani society... no true Muslim Middle Class has existed in India until after independence, with the few exceptions (Dawoodi Bohras and so on) simply retaining a status and wealth-generating capacity by carrying forward almost unchanged the traditional socio-economic roles and occupations of their Hindu antecedents. So of course, different techniques were employed by the British for social engineering of Indian Muslims.
However, to say that the British failed in their social engineering of Indian Muslims, I would personally not agree with. Indeed, the fact that Syed Ahmed Khan appealed to the British as being preferable masters compared to Hindus who were not "people of the book", reflects an attitude that was very successfully inculcated among the section of Muslims Macaulayized by the British. The British agenda was never integration or syncretion... once they had learned the lay of the land, it was divide et impera at all levels.
You certainly know far more than I do about Morley-Minto, Partition of Bengal and all that, so no point my going into it... but you see what I am saying.
Ultimately the proto-RAPE of Rehmat Ali Chaudhrys, Jinnahs etc. were exactly what the British were aiming to create by their Macaulayization of the Indian Muslim, as opposed to their Macaulayization of the Indian Hindu, so where was the failure? Without such proto-RAPEs, what would have fed the Muslim League which served the British so well in their time of retreat?
The British used limited means and resources to effect changes in both Non-Muslim and Muslim societies in India. Had their priorities for success or their overarching strategy been different, they might have invested more effort in changing the Muslim society as profoundly as they changed the Non-Muslim... in altering the core values of ghazwa, jihad etc. that you mention. But it was not to their benefit to do so. In fact, the preservation of Muslim radicalization was to the benefit of the British so long as it did not threaten the British. What they needed came readily to them from the Muslims.
In fact every Muslim who partially or wholly joined the incentivization scheme ultimately contributed to the revival of the violent traditions. Jinnah the "westernized" legal luminary who fought on Tilak's behalf ultimately used that association to gain political prominence to stake a claim of British favour to carve out an Islamist state. The common foot soldier who joined the BIA, returned and took up training duty under secret ML organizations to prepare for Ghazwas by Muslim villagers and townsmen on unsuspecting neighbouring Hindus when the org gave the signal. Those who opposed the Partition did so on the fear that it would make the task of subjugating the whole of the subcontinent under Islam more difficult.
That's precisely the point. Muslims socially engineered by the British did exactly as the British wanted them to do... turned violently against Hindus, to the extent of precipitating partition and creating Pakistan. They were an effective means of sabotaging the Congress' vision for India. And they engendered a client state which sustained the geopolitical interests of an empire freshly bankrupted by war.
The British technique was not "incentivization" in the direction that I am proposing. It was not implemented by appealing to Muslim socio-economic aspirations (except among the rareified elite layer of Muslims). To the British, all these values of jihad, ghazwa and so on were an asset as long as they never threatened the security of the Empire. They were a fulcrum of divide et impera.
So I would not say that the British experience of social engineering among Indian Muslims, in specific terms, was even oriented towards the sorts of goals that we seek to pursue today. The British did not try to encourage syncretion by enjoining socio-economic aspiration to a systematic erosion of Islamic identity. It was not worth their while, once they had administered the drubbing post-1857... the Muslims were in Taqqiya mode anyway, and the British were confident (as the West is today) that Muslims would be subservient to Britain as long as they were given some free rein to bully the Hindu.
(b) The second fundamental error is that we fail to go deeper into the reason why Islamism appeals to a certain section of the population. The modern society is an increasingly complex society with a phenomenal load of knowledge on the individual brain. Moreover, the type of upward mobility that we are discussing here, and will be the norm for most developing economies - will be the knowledge based one. So increasingly youth are coming under pressure to face up to this complexity and absorb it in order to get a stake in the economic and other fruits of modernization.
Islamism however offers an escape route from facing up to this complexity. It provides the principal provider of coercion in any society - the young male - the complete ideological and philosophical justification to claim fruits of others labour, and women, without the need for obtaining a complicated set of qualifications and a huge knowledge load. The faith aims to be micromanaging and rule-based, which also reduces the load of knowledge and complexity in dealing with society. Pure coercion, and ability to inflict pain audaciously, without having to invest a lot in gaining productive skills relevant for the economy concerned, has always been a profitable business - the foundation perhaps for all royalty - and the "rajasya" virtually a protection tax. Islamism thrives and survives on this basic principle.
Thus the modern knowledge based economic prosperity model that India has taken could actually intensify this trend within Islam, and the indirect "environmental" signals could actually force accelerating radicalization rather than any "change of heart".
You are right, and that is the ultimate reason why the Agencies I have described manage to siphon off Muslims en route from the Pure Backward Category to the Upwardly Mobile Category... the existence of this escape route that Islamism offers.
There is no denying that a large section of Muslim youth start their journey up the Gradient; some are taken away and radicalized by Muslim underworld gangsters in the neighbourhood, others by opportunistic politicians, and still others during a tenure as migrant labour in Gulf countries. In each case the seduction of Islamism plays a role. If uncontested, it could play a role at the top of the Gradient as well.
That is exactly why the "environmental" signals cannot be left to occur as natural manifestations of the aspiration ladder in a knowledge-based economy. That is why they must be engineered, manipulated and focused, to disincentivize as well as incentivize in a systematic fashion. The rewards of upward mobility along a Gradient which simultaneously leaches Islamist tendencies must be balanced by a maximized opportunity cost that offsets the allure of the Islamist "escape route." No question about that.
How that can be achieved, is a matter to think about, once the goal itself can be established as desirable.
Will some Muslims who climb to the top of the plateau, diligently nurse the dagger of jihadist identity in their hearts? Very likely. The point is to ensure that the critical mass of the Advanced Muslims, however, has too much invested in an essentially Hindu-defined status quo, in economic and social terms, to want to rock the boat. Jihad is after all a choice, and it comes with an opportunity cost. If that opportunity cost is maximized for the overwhelming number of Muslims ascending to the top of the gradient, the chances of Jihad are minimized, and the transformation of Indian Islamic identity into something more consonant with Dharma is advanced.
This is a crucial question. What is that "essentially Hindu-defined status quo"? What makes the "Hindu defined status quo" as we see in practice essentially against "Jihadism"? if there were any elements of that "status quo" that opposed growth of eventual Jihadism then there would be the need for Islamics to rock the boat. However what we see - is complete lack of opposition to any dance that any Islamic claim of distinction and atrocity makes on India. Actually, the "status quo" as we see today sets no restraint on Islamism so no need to rock the boat.
Of course, it does not, because what exists today is NOT a "Hindu defined
status quo" at all... it is something that came about by default and has been preserved by the relentless assaults of Agencies inimical to the eventual goal of syncretion on Dharmic terms (including your Thaparites, Samajwadi Parties and so on.)
To clarify, I am not talking about the status quo that prevails today. I am talking about one that must be built up with definitive, broad public understanding of what a Dharmic identity implies on a socio-political level, of what Dharmic interests are on a socio-political level. Only then can we define specifically what syncretion on Dharmic terms means, and choose the specific incentives/disincentives to achieve that syncretion.
Even though the strategy plays on existing strengths of Bifurcation and aspirational Gradient, there remains a lot of work to do!
I will not make any comments on the "practicality" of the three solutions you first mention. Let us suppose that they are not "practical" (or "practicable"?) so that the only option left is "dharmicization of Islam". Now how would you propose dropping core items of the Quran? What gives the guarantee that in that reformulation those particular elements of the Quran are declared anti-Quran and "qufr" - for example the passage from "al Baqara" where the God of Muslims makes it explicit about "right hand possessions"? Something used to justify enslavement of non-Muslims? Contradicting and rejecting any part of the Quran will be acceptable to Muslims? Without such modifications can you have a syncretism?
To employ an analogy, there are two ways in which an individual can be made to lose the use of his limbs.
The first is by catastrophic amputation... something analogous to the "impractical" options detailed above.
The second is by induced atrophy. If something is not used for a sustained period of time it withers. Islam is codified in a book, but Indian Muslims are a living society. The key is to render vestigial the aspects of Islamic religious tradition that threaten syncretism on Dharmic terms without making the entire process contingent on primary disavowal of those aspects (which will destroy the impression of a free choice between Categories, and will only win us a temporary Taqqiya at best).
This can be achieved by precise and ruthless application of disincentives when those aspects of Islamic religious tradition are specifically acted upon, and rewards for migrating to a position of having a stake in the system, where the opportunity costs for indulging those aspects are maximized.
Of course nothing gives us any "guarantee"... but I contend that of all options, this is our best bet.
Is it impossible? I don't think so. Within a few decades, a mere handful of Britishers managed to successfully create a dominant class of Indians who were " Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, words and intellect." If a Dharmic civilization vastly more learned and experienced than the Anglo Saxons, completely outnumbering and encompassing Indian Muslims, cannot accomplish this type of goal, do we really deserve to survive?
I am not so sure - as pointed out in my earlier passage on how Brit attempts failed to "incentivize" the subcontinental Muslims, and even when there were partial responses, it was ultimately used to carve out an Islamist state.
Yes it was, and that suited the agenda of the Brits perfectly! As I discussed previously, the Brits never "incentivized" the subcontinental Muslims towards syncretion... rather, after 1857 they took all measures to pre-empt the possibility of such syncretion because it posed a threat to their hold on power.
No doubt there will be difficulties to overcome, mostly posed by such Agencies as I have mentioned. These Agencies must be ruthlessly and relentlessly crushed even as we help the Pure Backward Muslim to improve his lot. As Rajesh A-ji has mentioned, the education of Muslim women will have to be advanced and control over the finances of "charities" and "social welfare concerns" that serve Indian Muslims will have to be concentrated in Indian hands. The Muslim criminal underworld, its ties to politicians and jihadi interests locally and abroad, will have to be exhaustively eliminated. Many battles will have to be fought, but the carrot... promise of ascension through the gradient, will always have to be held out convincingly enough that the majority of Indian Muslims continue to buy into it.
What do studies on the effect of education on Muslim women show? It does not show essential improvements where it matters, for example population growth rates. There are studies which show panel studies indicate that Muslim women support or prefer larger progeny when discounted for educational level and economic background compared to non-Muslim women of similar factors.
I have not seen those studies, but I will take your word for it that this is the case. With a caveat, however, that the specific nature of that education, what type of influence it is designed to inculcate over Muslim women (to what extent it is PC-"culturally sensitive" or otherwise) should be taken into consideration. So should the overall nature of the society where those studies are being conducted.
I mentioned in another post the French ban on headscarves in schools. That by itself is a small symbolic step, but it would be interesting to see whether Muslim girls are being manipulated towards paradigms of Western-style female "emancipation", subtly and systematically, in other ways by the French educational system. And to monitor what effect that has over time.
In the case of integrating Pakistani Muslims, again, this appears the only viable option. Since the centre of mass of Pakistani Muslim population is of the Pure Backward Variety, similar in many ways to the Pure Backward section of our own Muslims, we are offered an opportunity for sociological jiujitsu. If the Pure Backward Muslims of Pakistan (or POGWI, or ex-PO WI, in the future) buy into the gradient, the recalcitrant P-type Muslims above them will be marginalized, and can be dealt with by harsher means. The alternative is that this overwhelming mass of Pure Backward Pakistani Muslims becomes the footsoldiers for the recalcitrant P-type Muslims in resisting Syncretion on Dharmic terms. It is just that many more we will have to fight.
The Bifurcation that created these two Categories of Muslims, and established the Gradient between them, has taken shape in a self-evident manner, mostly without deliberate interference by any social or political power in our land. However, it must now be nurtured and strengthened so as to make it profound and definitive. All Agencies and interest groups that threaten to disrupt it must be deliberately and systematically suppressed. It has to become an overwhelmingly stable working model for the Muslims of India, because we may not have much time before it also has to accommodate the Muslims of what is now Pakistan.
A lot will depend on the mode of absorption. The process of absorption itself may be part of the solution.
Yes, definitely. My point was only that the process of social engineering should be initiated, and got under way if possible, within India before such time as the absorption even takes place. Then we will have a model for how to deal with the aftermath of absorption. After all it is the failure of Islamism engendered in pre-partition India that we need to crystallize and manage. Pakistan is only a symptom of that Islamism.
Many may share in the perception that they are being deprived from the legitimate privilege of subjugating the Non-Muslim. But that number will decrease as long as ascent along the gradient is systematically coupled with erosion of the atavistic, pan-Islamic identity that nurtures this perception.
Today we live in a world of pan-Islamic global jihad. We are trying to plug the bursting dike one finger at a time, busting that particular terrorist cell, engaging in XYZ talks with Pakistan, accommodating US concerns in PQR ways, building bridges in Afghanistan, allowing this Mahdani or that Dawood Ibrahim associate to walk free because of political patronage or votebank compulsions. If we keep this up, exerting our efforts in a random and ad-hoc manner, we don't stand a chance.
We urgently need to organize our efforts towards the accomplishment of an overarching strategic goal. That goal must be to redefine, for the Indian subcontinent, the entire paradigm of what it means to have an Islamic identity... to shape that identity into something consonant with Dharma... and to defend it from the assaults of global pan-Islamism.
To do this the Indian subcontinental Muslim must become a partner in the project with a real stake in its success. The Indian subcontinental Muslim defined by this means will himself be the faction of Muslim standing against the adharmic, atavistic Muslim who seeks to disrupt the system.
Maybe. But it will need an initial coercive step that will have to eliminate the capacity to retaliate andd jeopardize this assimilation attempt. Which means targeted elimination of all institutions of ideological continuity and dissemination, as well as personnel already committed to those structures, as well as the potential military strength of the community. All that this implies.
Agreed. The ruthless destruction of inimical Agencies is a must.
On a separate but related note: I don't believe that the picture of global pan-Islamism that exists today, is going to remain unchanged permanently. It has had its heyday in the previous decade, and that heyday might last for a while longer, especially if the US withdraws in a shambles from Afghanistan. But it is not permanent. Nothing is.
Consider this post that I made in the West Asia thread. viewtopic.php?p=894290#p894290 It may be fanciful, and represents only one possible shape of things to come. But ultimately I believe that the various strata of identity subscribed to by the world's Muslim population, particularly in West Asia where all the trouble comes from, will collide catastrophically in the not too distant future. The scenario I posted on the West Asia thread depicts a WWI-type situation of conflicts between two alliances in numerous theatres, ultimately leading to all-out war. Like the Great War did for Europe, it will have profound impact on the nature of Islamism as we know it today. Maybe the implications will not be suddenly felt or realized in the immediate aftermath of such a war... there may need to be another war before that happens completely. However, I sense the denouement is beginning.
That is an interesting post you made. Definitely one possibility. But I think another route is coming, and the "northern" alliance you mention is going to lose out. Dramatic changes in both Iran and PRC within the next 20 years. That will alter equations completely radicalizing the whole Ummah to an unprecedented level.
Please do elaborate, though perhaps on another thread. I would be very interested to read how you envision that panning out.
You are right. What I am proposing is a social engineering project to reshape that identity, not only within our borders but in a manner that can be extended to occupied Western India as well. To achieve syncretion with subcontinental Islam on Dharmic terms. If any civilization in the world can pull off something like that, it is ours. But given the scale and degree of ideological commitment and organization required, it will have to be handled as no project has been handled in independent India to date.
syncretism, perhaps, but even for that the ground has to be cleared first with coercion. Otherwise it will fail, and the resources put up to "incentivize" will be used to build a future much larger Islamic state.
Agreed, again with a caveat... the nature of that coercion must resemble a PGM assault rather than saturation bombardment, which would be self defeating. Whatever the truth, the perception must prevail that the coercion is being applied to inimical Agencies and not to the community... otherwise it will only end up strengthening the influence of the Agencies themselves.
Of course there are interests (other Agencies) in India today who would portray any such attempt at coercion as being directed against the community... to save their own skin. As I said, there is much work to be done first.