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Why Muslim headcount in Indian Army necessary?

Nov 17, 2010
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Why Muslim headcount in Indian Army necessary?

By Aziz A. Mubaraki,

The Indian army is expected to remain a truly secular institution, without any prejudice or bias towards any religion, caste or creed. The Chiefs of this national army have come from different religious backgrounds. But interestingly, none came from the Muslim community. The [much-talked] Sachar Committee which was formed by the government to map the Muslim participation in different social and economic spheres in the country recommended the headcount of Muslims in different levels of the army some years ago. However, the idea of Muslim headcount in the army was strongly resisted by the then Army chief, General JJ Singh, who said that any such survey would dent the core of the institution. But there was no harm in getting the information as the government has the right to know the current status of Muslims in India. National security should be a top concern for the government. But to know how the community is faring in all terms of development must also be welcomed as it may help the government chalk out various schemes to improve the social status of the backward community.

But this hue and cry then did not remain confined to the army HQs only. In January 2006, L.K. Advani, then Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, walked out from the house obviously over the proposal of Muslim headcount in the army. But Why Mr. Advani & Company was so afraid by the idea of Muslim headcount in Indian Army? What was so offensive, secret or classified info hidden in it? There have been similar surveys in police and paramilitary forces in the country.

Why Muslim headcount in Army necessary?
In fact there are four important reasons which support the move of the Muslim headcount in the army.

1. The Sachar Committee was constituted to look into the representation of Muslims in various segments of private and public sector employment. So if it was seeking the details of Muslim employees in various levels, what was the fuss about this information in the armed forces?

2. Army already has region or community based regiments in place since British colonial days. The battle cries are based on religion and gods of different religions. Then why there was all this noise about Muslim headcount?

3. Muslims are underrepresented in the army. To rectify it we ought to take a headcount in the first step. This has already been done in the police and paramilitary. So why should army object to this?

4. And most importantly, the army chief is to serve the government as we have seen in the case of incumbent army chief, his valid grievance and the outcome so far, then why the then army chief questioned a decision of the government? And if, is it acceptable in a democracy?

Perhaps the reasons for keeping things such secretly wrapped are the substandard statistics of Muslims serving the army. While there is no official report, but the strength of Muslims is roughly around 2% and the figure comes around 29,000 in the million-strong Indian army, according to a news channel survey programme titled Minority Report. And If the number of Muslims serving in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) infantry that has over 50% Muslims and those in other wings not directly dealing with warfare are excluded, the proportion is definitely too low. So out of a Muslim population of nearly 20 crores, barely 29,000 Muslims were found suitable for Indian Army. Is it not pathetic!

Adding to the woes it’s equally regretful that there has not been a single Muslim Army Chief except Air Chief Marshal Idris Hasan Latif, PVSM who as the first Muslim Chief of Air Staff of the IAF was involved fully in the re-equipment and modernization plans of the air force. He convinced the government to approve the procurement of the Jaguar strike aircraft, a proposal which was lying dormant for over 8 years. He also held negotiations with the Russians and saw the induction of the MiG-23 and later, the MiG-25 aircraft into the IAF. And what could be more unfortunate than the incident that even Rasoolan Bibi, wife (widow) of Hawaldar Abdul Hameed- who was conferred the nation’s highest gallantry award Param Vir Chakra posthumously during the 1965 India-Pakistan war, literally had to beg President Pratibha Patil’s intervention to get her cataract operated in 2008.

History of Muslim under-representation in Indian army
But coming back to the real issue, the reason for the Muslim under-representation in the Indian army lies partly in history, and its public revelation must harm nobody. Whatever the exact percentage, a huge Muslim under-representation in our army is a fact. So is a huge Sikh over-representation. See the contrast. Sikhs form 1.86 per cent of India’s population but number around 8 per cent in the Indian army. While Muslims comprise about 18 per cent of India’s population but are 2 per cent in the army. Why is this truth about Muslim under-representation in the armed forces going censored? But an illogical love of confidentiality causes Indian rulers to hide information whose public admission would harm nobody. Just as Muslims are under-represented in the army, so are the Bengalis, Biharis, Oriyas, south Indians or Gujaratis. And just as Sikhs are over-represented, so are the Jats, Dogras, Garhwalis, Kumaonis, Gurkhas, Marathas and others. The Indian army’s recruitment pattern was set 150 years ago by India’s 1857 uprising. Shocked by the revolt, the British army adopted a recruitment strategy that punished the groups which rebelled against them and rewarded the ones that stayed trustworthy. Because Muslims of Awadh, Bihar and West Bengal led the uprising against the British, the British army stopped hiring soldiers from these areas. Also blacklisted from these places were high-caste Hindus whose regiments in Bengal were also mutineers. In disparity, the British raised the recruitment of castes that had stood by the British to put down the revolution and honored as martial races, they received preferential treatment in army recruitment for the following 90 years. Like any institution, the Indian army is a prisoner of the past.

Even today, the Indian Army favors enlisting men from the martial races. Their over-representation in the Indian army is enormous and figures bear this out. Of 2.87 lakh jawans hired by the army in between 2004 to 2006, a disproportionate 44,471 came from three “martial” states, Punjab, Haryana, and the mountain state of Uttaranchal. So these states which account for 5 per cent of India’s population provided 15 per cent of India’s army jawans.

In contrast, the fewest recruits came from “non-martial” West Bengal and Bihar. These two states account for 30 per cent of India’s population, but they provided only 14 per cent of army jawans in this three-year period. So the Indian army has not only a religion-based disparity in recruitment, but also one based on caste and region. A glimpse of this discrimination was provided by a press release issued by a defence office in Jammu ten years ago. Seeking recruits for the Indian army, the press release said: “No vacancies for Muslims and tradesmen.” Meaning that aggressive Dogras were welcome to apply, but not Hindu business castes like the Baniyas and the Khatris.

Why does India have separate regiments for the Sikhs, Jats, Dogras, Garhwalis, Kumaonis, Mahars, the Nagas, even the Gurkhas, but not a single regiment for the Muslims? This is tragic but it’s the truth which shouldn’t be suppressed. It should be recognized and dealt with. Muslim under-recruitment in the Indian army is an outcome of Partition. India and Pakistan’s antagonism is seen in both countries as Hindu versus Muslim terms, which is absolutely incorrect. But this chauvinism in itself discourages qualified Muslim youths from applying, which drives down Muslim numbers even more. Hence it’s quite right that the Muslims under-recruitment in the army strips the community of a good, life-long source of employment. It’s a sad situation which is not so easy to correct.

India’s armed forces are averse to hire Muslims as soldiers because they suspect the community’s loyalty to India. This discrimination is a natural outcome of the bitter rivalry between India and Pakistan over 60 years. In similar situations, the same thing happens all over the world. The Israeli army doesn’t trust its Arab soldiers in jobs related to defence security. The Buddhist Sinhalese army under-recruits its Hindu Tamils for fear that their sympathies could lie with the Tamil Tigers. And After 9/11, US army recruiters would probably screen a Muslim American volunteer more thoroughly than a Christian American.

Composition of Indian Army
This under-representation of Muslims and other caste or regional groups benefits the over-represented ones. The composition of the Indian army is totally awry numbers-wise. West Bengal’s population is eight times that of Uttaranchal. But Uttaranchal provided almost the same number of army recruits as West Bengal almost every year. Compare a “martial” Punjab with a non-martial Gujarat. Punjab’s population is half that of Gujarat. But it provided four times as many people to the Indian army as Gujarat. The Indian army hired far more recruits in Rajasthan than in Tamil Nadu though Tamil Nadu’s population is higher. So basically, the Indian army is subjugated numbers-wise by Sikhs and Hindi-speaking Hindus of north India. This imperfect current status quo must go. Why Muslims are expected to wear patriotism on their sleeves and there is absolutely no reason to disbelieve or distrust people of this community. Muslims are as much Indian as any other in this country and have always stood firmly on the forefront whenever there’s a call of duty for the country. A few untoward stray incidents must not stand in account for the test of loyalty always, as because going by such biased benchmark it may initiate an awful precedent. As many such incidents had offenders, perpetrators who were not from the minority community.

This unwritten divisive law of mistrust and bias must go. But none of it will end until we help make these things end by taking some proactive steps. This current state of mind and pertinent approach will only lead to more divergence and separation between the largest minority (Muslims) and the ruling majority (Hindus). And the entire country will be perpetually distrustful, forever looking over our shoulders and living a life in fear, that fear framed by metal detectors, security cameras, and sharp glances at people who appear to be with grown beard and a skull cap. Hence in the end following the chart below will enlighten the vocabulary of the people who presume Muslims as alien or anti Indians.

Muslim soldiers who made India and community proud
The following chart divulges the names of some who made not only the community but the country proud:


Param Vir Chakra
Company Havildar Major Abdul Hamid, (4 Grenadiers)

Maha Vir Chakra
Mohammed Ismail: 1947-48 Operation
Brig. Mohammed Usman: Indo-Pakistan War

Kirti Chakra
2007: Mohd. Shan Ahmed (posthumous) was posted as Cash Overseer at post office Jhansi. On 26 December, 2005, resisted looting of cash and in the attempt succumbed to fatal injuries inflicted by armed miscreants. He belonged to Jhansi (UP).

2009:
Lance Havildar Aziz Mohd: 20 Jammu and Kashmir Rifles (Posthumous)
Sapper/Operator Executive Machinery Budhu Khan (Posthumous) Naik Mohd Sadiq

2008:
Rifleman Abdul Hamid Chara: 162 Infantry Battalion TA (H&H)JAK LI/18 Rashtriya Rifles(posthumous)

2007:
Rifleman Raiece Ahmad Ganaie: Jammy & Kashmir Light Infantry/50 Rashtriya Rifles

2006:
Havildar Mohammad Maroof: 23 Rajput Regiment,
Havildar Abrahim: Jammu And Kashmir Light Infantry/47 Rashtriya Rifles
Rifleman Riyaz Ahmad Bhat: Assam Regiment/35 Rashtriya Rifles

Sena Medal (gallantry)

2009:
Havildar Ilyas Ali: 32 Assam Rifles
Lance Naik Javaid Ahmad Wani: Jamm and Kashmir Light Infantry// 44 Rashtriya Rifles
Rifleman Mohamad Hadish: 24 Assam Rifles (Posthumous)

2008:
Subedar Mohd Rashid: Jammu and Kashmir Rifles/28 Rashtriya Rifles
Naik Mohammed Amin Bhat: Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry/62 Rashtriya Rifles
Sepoy Abdul Hamid: 153 Infantry Battalion (TA) Dogra
Sepoy Abdul Hamid: 156 Inf Bn TA (H&H) Punjab/58 Rashtriya Rifles
Sepoy Qumer-ud-din Beg: 156 Inf Bn TA (H&H) Punjab/58 Rashtriya Rifles
Rifleman Ishtiaq Ahmed: Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry/18 Rashtriya Rifles
Rifleman Mehmood Ahmed Itoo: Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry/33 Rashtriya Rifles
Rifleman Mohd Yousaf Lone: 161 Infantry Battalion TA (H&H) JAK LI
Rifleman Mazafar Iqbal: 14 Assam Rifles

2007:
Captain Anas Ahmad: 19 Kumaon Regiment
Lance Naik Mehmood Shah: 3 Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry
Sepoy Mohd Sharief: 159 Infantry Batallion (TA)(H&G) Dogra, 23 Rashtriya Rifles
Sepoy Jabir Khan: Mechanised Infantry/9 Rashtriya Rifles
Rifleman Gohar Ali Khan: Jammu & Kashmir Light Infantry/19 Rashtriya Rifles
Rifleman Mohammad Sayed Mantoo: Jammu & Kashmir Fiels/18 Rashtriya Rifles
Rifleman Abdul Rahim Dar: 162 Infantry Battalion (TA) JAK LI/14 Rashtriya Rifles
Rifleman Nazir Ahmad Wani: 162 Infantry Battalion (TA) JAK LI/14 Rashtriya Rifles
Rifleman Md Ibrahim Khan: 33 Assam Rifles

2006:
Company Havildar Major Mohammad Ashraf Sheikh: 22 Maratha Light Infantry.
Lance Naik Farooq Ahmad Rather: 20 Jammu And Kashmir Rifles

Param Vishisht Seva Medal
The Param Vishsish Seva Medal is awarded to recognize "distinguished service of the most exceptional order" to all ranks of the armed forces. In practice, however, the award tends to be granted only to the most senior officers of the various branches of the Indian military. The award may be granted posthumously and subsequent awards are represented by a bar worn on the ribbon. The award carries with it the right to use "P.V.S.M." as post nominal letters.

2008:
Lieutenant General Zameer uddin Shah, SM, VSM: Regiment of Artillery(General Cadre)
Ati Vishisht Seva Medal

2009:
Major General Syed Ata Hasnain, SM, VSM: Infantry: HQ 19 Infantry Division

Vishisht Seva Medal

2009:
Air Commodore Naseem Akhtar: Flying (Pilot)

2008:
Group Captain Zia Ahmad Rizvi: Logistics

Sena Medal

2009:
Brigadier Khurshid Maneck Balsara: Naga Regiment
Brigadier Pattiarimal Mohamadali Hariz, VSM: Mechanised Infantry/ HQ 91 Infantry Brigade

2008:
Colonel Steve Muzaffar Ismail: 2/1 Gorkha Rifles
Subedar Mohd Ilyas: 3, Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry Regimental Centre

Vayu Sena Medal (gallantry)

2009:
JWO Jawed Hussain Siddiqi, Flt Eng

2009:
Rakshak:
Lance/Naik Abdul Rashid Khan: Territorial Army, 5 Rashtriya Rifles
Rhino:
Captain Mudassar Iqbal: 2 Bihar

(The author is Member, Advisory Committee, Airport Authority of India (NSC), Ministry of Civil Aviations, Government of India)

Why Muslim headcount in Indian Army necessary? | TwoCircles.net
 

Nalwa

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Interesting article. What would be a good proof of the writer's accusations is if we could get data on army's recruitment drives in the eastern regions and muslim dominated areas. If the info shows that candidates in the recruitment drives in these areas are as good as those in the supposedly traditional recruiting grounds of north India, then the writer may very well have a case against the IA.
 
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Well, there is a problem which many people miss while analysing the issue and which, sadly, the author has missed too.

If you pay attention, to get into the armed forces, especially at the officer level, you need a certain level of education to meet the minimum criteria.

Most Indian Muslims don't even study much. They are just not that qualified for most positions of the Army.

I know it sounds exaggerated and neither can it explain the entire problem but it lieast this explains a part of the problem and, in my opinion, a major part.

Most of the other religious minotirities in India including the Sikhs are far better off and far better integrated with the Indian mainstream.

--------------

I have a vision for Indian Muslims.

I believe Muslims in India should be what blacks are to America and in America, and I mean that in a positive way.

Today Blacks have achieved their rightful place in America through their determination and hard work. I wish the same for Indian Muslims.
 

Abingdonboy

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I believe India is a secular nation to its core and all her citizens should be represented in all forms of society. However the IA is no place to be enforcing quotas or "positive action" the military has a very defined role and they should not be made to subvert it based on findings of a committee. The IA at present doesn't select based on caste, religion or creed but on merit- if you can meet their incredibly high standards you can become a member of the proud institution. To be frank- the IA doesn't give a $hit if you are Muslim, Sikh, blue, red,green etc if you can cut they'll have you- end of.
 

Nalwa

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I believe Muslims in India should be what blacks are to America and in America, and I mean that in a positive way.

To day Blacks have achieved their rightful place in America through their determination and hard work. I wish the same for Indian Muslims.
You should elaborate unless people take it in a different sense.
 

SQ8

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Well, there is a problem which many people miss while analysing the issue and which, sadly, the author has missed too.

If you pay attention, to get into the armed forces, especially at the officer level, you need a certain level of education to meet the minimum criteria.

Most Indian Muslims don't even study much. They are just not that qualified for most positions of the Army.

I know it sounds exaggerated and neither can it explain the entire problem but it lieast this explains a part of the problem and, in my opinion, a major part.

Most of the other religious minotirities in India including the Sikhs are far better off and far better integrated with the Indian mainstream.

--------------

I have a vision for Indian Muslims.

I believe Muslims in India should be what blacks are to America and in America, and I mean that in a positive way.

Today Blacks have achieved their rightful place in America through their determination and hard work. I wish the same for Indian Muslims.
That statement could be taken as negative.. since that means that Muslims were originally(and/or/are) regarded as third rate citizens and denied the same rights.Considered untouchables and kept in separate booths and areas. Denied dining with the white("hindu") man ..etc etc.
I dont think that is an accurate analogy.
Muslims in India are suffering an identity loss, they are patriotic but are constantly considered the opposite due to the existence of a Muslim Majority Pakistan next door. In my experience a Muslim Indian has to work harder than other minorities to achieve the same ..he/she feels the need to forcefully mix more into Hindu-Indian culture bracket.. and sing Vande-Mataram more vociferously... all in his/her own mind to identify. This trend may have been started by those in the UP areas.. and seems to be confined there mostly as such.
But I sense a change in that mindset at the expense of adapting an identity and adulterating their religious beliefs in an effort to be part of India. I have a members of family as politicians in India..and met Naseeruddin shah recently as well.
Both seem to potray the same image of being "More Indian than the average Indian" if the question of why India and why Pakistan is asked.
Again.. a personal opinion, not a fatwa :angel:
 

harpoon

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So Sikhs are over represented in IA..So What? Muslims are over represented in Entertainment Industry especially in Films, Gujuratis & Jains are over represented in Business, Malayalees are over represented in expat population and so on.
 
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That statement could be taken as negative.. since that means that Muslims were originally(and/or/are) regarded as third rate citizens and denied the same rights.Considered untouchables and kept in separate booths and areas. Denied dining with the white("hindu") man ..etc etc.
I dont think that is an accurate analogy.
Muslims in India are suffering an identity loss, they are patriotic but are constantly considered the opposite due to the existence of a Muslim Majority Pakistan next door. In my experience a Muslim Indian has to work harder than other minorities to achieve the same ..he/she feels the need to forcefully mix more into Hindu-Indian culture bracket.. and sing Vande-Mataram more vociferously... all in his/her own mind to identify. This trend may have been started by those in the UP areas.. and seems to be confined there mostly as such.
But I sense a change in that mindset at the expense of adapting an identity and adulterating their religious beliefs in an effort to be part of India. I have a members of family as politicians in India..and met Naseeruddin shah recently as well.
Both seem to potray the same image of being "More Indian than the average Indian" if the question of why India and why Pakistan is asked.
Again.. a personal opinion, not a fatwa :angel:
not picking on you.. but we do have examples of mainstream artists..like A.R.Rehman.
His art of mixing traditional music with western music in a unique fashion has made him a hot cake in Hollywood/Bollywood. He was earlier a hindu. Then he converted to Islam. Reason he gave is -"Islam brought peace in his life". However u must have seen the awesome music video of Vande Mataram sang by him.
How does he have an identity crisis ?
All of them are Indian first and Muslim later.
 
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That statement could be taken as negative.. since that means that Muslims were originally(and/or/are) regarded as third rate citizens and denied the same rights.Considered untouchables and kept in separate booths and areas. Denied dining with the white("hindu") man ..etc etc.
I dont think that is an accurate analogy.
Muslims in India are suffering an identity loss, they are patriotic but are constantly considered the opposite due to the existence of a Muslim Majority Pakistan next door. In my experience a Muslim Indian has to work harder than other minorities to achieve the same ..he/she feels the need to forcefully mix more into Hindu-Indian culture bracket.. and sing Vande-Mataram more vociferously... all in his/her own mind to identify. This trend may have been started by those in the UP areas.. and seems to be confined there mostly as such.
But I sense a change in that mindset at the expense of adapting an identity and adulterating their religious beliefs in an effort to be part of India. I have a members of family as politicians in India..and met Naseeruddin shah recently as well.
Both seem to potray the same image of being "More Indian than the average Indian" if the question of why India and why Pakistan is asked.
Again.. a personal opinion, not a fatwa :angel:
Well the thing is that most Muslims in India are Dalit converts, those who converted to Islam to escape the oppression of the caste system .

Islam did give them the freedom from the caste system but couldn't give them wealth neither could it elevate their status in the society.

Even today, these people are plagued by the same problems that they had centuries ago i.e., backbreaking poverty etc.

This results in a lack of education and the inability to meet the tough criteria for selection into the armed forces.

However, I must accept that it is not healthy for any nation if 13-15% of its population is living in such abject conditions, worse if they have no stake in the country's security, definitely not in a country as diverse as India.

We must make efforts to ensure that these people, our people, have their due stake in the country and its security.
 

Sashan

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Religious count in army is not needed. But muslim upliftment is needed. Else about 15 percent population will be left out of the economic growth and that is a situation ripe for disaster.
 

BelligerentPacifist

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I believe India is a secular nation to its core and all her citizens should be represented in all forms of society. However the IA is no place to be enforcing quotas or "positive action" the military has a very defined role and they should not be made to subvert it based on findings of a committee. The IA at present doesn't select based on caste, religion or creed but on merit- if you can meet their incredibly high standards you can become a member of the proud institution. To be frank- the IA doesn't give a $hit if you are Muslim, Sikh, blue, red,green etc if you can cut they'll have you- end of.
When your press release is done, please consider the work of a retired Hindu ICS officer (whose name I'm forgetting) who wrote in 1950s that the number of Muslim state service personnel (civil and military) from hundreds to less than ten in the space of less than a decade because of intended State marginalization. Wish I copuld recall the name. The guy migrated to Pakistan in protest if I'm correct.
 

harpoon

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When your press release is done, please consider the work of a retired Hindu ICS officer (whose name I'm forgetting) who wrote in 1950s that the number of Muslim state service personnel (civil and military) from hundreds to less than ten in the space of less than a decade because of intended State marginalization. Wish I copuld recall the name. The guy migrated to Pakistan in protest if I'm correct.
A Hindu ICS officer migrated to Pakistan from India?...Source or it doesn't happened.

And evenif it is true, thats bound to happen when majority of the Muslim elites that occupied top position in Govt moved to Pakistan leaving behind Muslims who are mainly Dalit converts low on education & wealth in India.
 

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