Washington [US], April 11: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday claimed that Muslims in India are doing much better than those in Pakistan, in a strong rebuttal of negative ‘Western perception’ of India.
Responding to Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) President Adam S Posen’s query about Muslim minorities in India being subjected to violence, Sitharaman said, “India has the second-largest Muslim population in the world, and that population is only growing in numbers. If there is a perception, or if there’s in reality, their lives are difficult or made difficult with the support of the state, which is what is implied in most of these write-ups, I would ask, will this happen in India in the sense, will the Muslim population be growing than what it was in 1947?” According to reports, the condition of minorities in Pakistan has spawned global concern, with their numbers declining by the day.
Minorities in Pakistan are routinely charged over minor allegations, leading to punishments even amounting to the death penalty, say reports. Blasphemy laws, in most cases, are used to fulfil a personal vendetta. Victims are immediately presumed guilty, even without proper investigation and holding the trial under a jury.
“As opposed to, let us say, I take the name of the country and, therefore, the contrast can be sharper. Pakistan declared itself an Islamic country but said their minorities will be protected. However, Every minority there has been dwindling or has been decimated. Even some of their Muslim sects have also been decimated,” said Sitharaman.
Invoking the state of minorities in Pakistan, she said Muslims in India are doing better.
“Violence prevails against Muhajirs, Shia and every other group you can name, which are not accepted by the mainstream. I don’t know, Sunnis probably. Whereas, in India, you would find all Muslim communities going about their businesses and getting their children educated. Fellowships are being given by the government,” she added.
Dismissing allegations of victimisation of Muslims in India, she said, “So, to say that there is violence in India affecting the Muslims is a fallacy.”
“Tell me, between 2014 and today, has the (Muslim) population dwindled? Have the deaths of any particular community been disproportionately high? I would invite people who write such reports to visit India. I would host them. Let them come to India and prove their point,” she added.
At the event, Sitharaman also touched on how emerging markets such as India carry the burden of “you are the emerging market.”
On India’s remarkable post-pandemic recovery, she said, “It’s the resilience of Indians that makes them overcome challenges and even personal tragedies.”
She also urged World Trade Organisation (WTO) to be more progressive.