Friday, January 22, 2010

Beyond borders: Pakistanis show concern for Indian minority

New Delhi, Jan 22 (UNI) Even though the relation between India and Pakistan has touched a new low after 26/11, people from the neighbouring country work as a binding force as they share views on minority and education in India.

Recently, a group of 30 students from a management institute in Pakistan visited Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) here to interact with the university students on a variety of issues, including the status of minorities in India.

The team from Lahore University of Management Studies (LUMS), often called as the Harvard of the East, was led by professor Rafiq Ahmed.

In an interactive session with Prof Shambhu Nath Singh, Director of School of Journalism and New Media Studies, IGNOU, the Pakistani students showed concern regarding the treatment given to minority population in India.

Replying to their questions, Prof Singh asserted that the concept of minority in India was different from that in Pakistan and said in Pakistan, minority or majority was decided in terms of faith, unlike in India.

''India has various minority communities. The concept is not according to religion, but according to castes, sub-castes, languages and cultures,'' the professor explained citing an example.

A Muslim from Kerala, Maharashtra, Bihar and West Bengal would differ from one another fundamentally and would hardly be able to even communicate with one another, he said.

''India is the unique success story in diversity in habits and lifestyles. The Indian Constitution has not allowed religion to play the main role here,'' Prof Singh said.

The team was also inquisitive about what draws Indian students to developed countries for professional education and not developing nations, including Pakistan.

Subsiding their anxiety, IGNOU students asked how many world-class institutes Pakistan had at present and whether the social ethos were conducive enough to pursue career studies there in peace without tension and worries.

Replying to another question raised by the Pakistani professor on the issue of proportional representation of Muslims in public services in India, Prof Singh said there was no discrimination.

''Most of the Muslims fall in the workers' group and they earn just as other Indian workers do. As there are not many Muslim middle class families in India, their representation is also low comparative to other middle-class groups,'' he stated.

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