Narendra Modi, chief minister of Gujarat, is doggedly working to escape blame for the 2002 riots in the state's capital city of Ahmedabad -- when, at least one court case alleges, he acted to slow the police response and thus contributed to the death of more than a thousand Muslims.
But even if the business-friendly leader dodges a bullet in court -- not long back the Supreme Court refused to indict him, though it instructed the lower courts of Gujarat to hear cases against him -- it looks like there's a fair amount of evidence that his regime has not been exactly Muslim friendly, according to a new article in India's Tehelka magazine.
Cataloging gross inequalities in the fields of education, finance, housing and welfare, the magazine suggests there's more than coincidence behind the continued discrimination against Muslims in the state that has recently attracted billion dollar investments from Ford, Peugeot and Maruti, thanks to Modi's business-friendly policies.
Gujarat has refused to implement a nationally funded scholarship scheme for Muslim students, for example, making the outrageous claim that giving scholarships to some and not all Muslims would cause strife among the community. According to Tehelka, that means 52,260 Muslims who would have qualified for the scheme -- in which 75 percent of the funds were provided by the central government -- got nothing. In contrast, Uttar Pradesh awarded 465,812 such scholarships, while Bihar awarded 320,107 and West Bengal awarded 913,002.
Of 1,958 riot cases reopened after the Supreme Court order, the Gujarat Police made arrests in only 117 cases — 5 percent of the total, the magazine adds.
In 2008, the central government mandated that minorities should get a 15 percent share of 40 percent of all bank loans that constitutes priority sector lending. In Gujarat, this has hovered around 2-3 percent.
Only 13% of the workers in the manufacturing and organized sectors (i.e. non-sweatshop, non-farm labor) are Muslims, compared with the national average of 21 percent.
Meanwhile, Gujarat's urban Muslims are eight times poorer than the state's upper-caste Hindus -- almost twice the income difference in the nation at large.