About the Lecture:
With the release in 2006 of the report by Sachar Committee, instituted by the Government of India, the debate on the social, economic and educational backwardness of Muslims came to the forefront of public arena. Discussing the issue of Muslims’ backwardness over longue durée and multiple political responses to the Sachar Committee, this presentation sheds light on the interrelationships amongst democracy, religious minority and “inclusive development” that the Sachar report generated. In so doing, it takes a comparative approach to discuss how democracy has often been hostile to minorities in general –not only Muslims –as manifest in their over-representation in jail in India as well as in Western democratic nation-states. It concludes with general observations on the militarization of democracies and securitization of minority populations and the concomitant discourse about the “development” of the latter.
About the Speaker:
Irfan Ahmad is Senior Research Fellow (from 1 June) at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Gottingen, Germany. Previously he was Associate Professor of Political Anthropology at Australian Catholic University, Melbourne. His second monograph Religion as Critique: Islamic Critical Thinking from Mecca to the Marketplace is forthcoming this fall from the University of North Carolina Press. Author of Islamism and Democracy in India: The Transformation of the Jamaat-e-Islami (Princeton University Press, 2009), short-listed for the 2011 ICAS (International Convention of Asian Scholars) Book Prize for the best study in the field of Social Sciences, he is the founding co-editor of Journal of Religious and Political Practice. He actively contributes to debates in such media as Al-Jazeera, BBC, The Conversation, The Times of India, OpenDemocracy, The Hindu, Tehelka, Channel NewsAsia, People’s TV, Sky News Australia, SBS Hindi and Voice of Russia.