April 29, 2009


As part of its election coverage, last Monday's Hindustan Times carries a "Constituency Watch" for two nearby constituencies, Thane and Kalyan. Part of this feature is a small table titled "Demographic Details".

Here's the data from the two tables.

* Kalyan:
Maharashtrians: 49%
Sindhis: 15%
North Indians: 12%
Muslims: 10%
Others: 14%

* Thane:
Maharashtrians: 45%
Gujarati: 10%
North Indians: 15%
Muslims: 10%
South Indians: 10%
Others: 10%

Looking at these two, a few questions occur to me.

* Why are Muslims listed separately? And since they are, why do these tables not also list Christians or Sikhs? Why not Hindus?

* Are Muslims not Maharashtrians? Not North Indians? Gujaratis? South Indians? What does it mean to list Muslims who live in Maharashtra separately from Maharashtrians?

If you have any answers, I'm all ears.


Anonymous said...


Totally wrong. Its a shame.


George said...

This is heights! I added them up twice hoping they would come up to more than 100.

Anonymous said...

Because of the accepted perception that Muslims are 'special' in our political discourse. Pseudo secular political campaings only strengthen this type of listings

zap said...

Its a demographic that politicians and psephologist's find useful.
And a statistic that a lot of Indians are drawn to in news reportage, or if you are planning to stay in a particular locality.

ubernerd said...

Because us Muslims are a homogeneous vote bank who decide to cast their vote to only that candidate who is unanimously endorsed by the maulanas (or at least that's what Hindustan Times seems to believe).

deepdowne said...

It's funnY!
(Dilip, just noticed the running book on the left bar. Are you into bookcrossing?, I'm an ardent bookcrosser myself :) )

Aam Aadmi said...

They're listed separately, because they form a considerably large vote bank. Christians and Sikhs are not listed probably because their population is too small to form a prominent vote bank.

Just a guess...

Baby Vaijayanthi said...

Dear D'cubed

Because according to Samuel Hungtington there is a clash of civilization between the Hindu Civilization of India and the Muslim Civilization. Hence, they are different. There is a clash. And we have to support our civilization i.e Hindu Civilization.

As for Christians, "they are Europeans" and Sikhs and Jains "they are after all our people only, yaar!", Buddhists "they are ofcourse our people but we don't dine together for scientific reasons prescribed by our great ancestors who were very wise and only ocassionally got high on soma (a divine drink)"

Maharashtrians are an eternal people who gave India its independence. Gujrathi's are a business minded people who have business "in their blood" vis a vis Maharashtrians who have mostly water and corpuscels.

The "Others", I don't understand what these people are doing in India. They should be banned or lined up and shot.

Baby V
Call us and we will tell you which one of your various group identities can get you killed or rich or both.

Anonymous said...

ya ya... I see you voting for the SS/BJP combine if they had published ads spelling out their plans etc..

Anonymous said...

sorry .. the earlier comment was for the earlier post..

See Mee Shivajirao Bhonsale Boltoy and there too anyone who has been in Maharashtra termed ( including Muslims) have been termed Maharashtrians...

Maybe you should check with HT why they did this

I guess constituencies with higher perc of one group had been listed .. I saw in some other constituencies, they had specifically listed Christians

Aditya said...

I think you should also put forward this question to the guys at HT.

Anonymous said...

Baby V,

You are on slippery ground...
Don't understand why you are attacking the whole communities that are listed. Did you ask those communities if they are happy to be listed like that before directing your ire?..Anger should be directed against the guy who made this listing not at the communities listed.....classic case of putting the cart before the horse.

zap said...

@ Anonymous May 01, 2009 7:38 PM -

Baby V makes a point,
The interesting way,
No vanilla joints,
To explain twisted plays

That smashing Vaij,
She's clicking open the cage,
So one can exit,
To consider his beast.


Anonymous said...

That's based on vote bank. In vote bank politics Muslims are Muslims, they are not Maharashtrians, Not North Indians, Not Gujaratis, Not South Indians.

wise donkey said...


Neeraj said...

Is there anything wrong with wanting to know how many people of each division(for lack of a better word..apologies if it offends anyone) live in you area? Come on we all know, Maharashtrian means Marathi speaking people etc..

Agreed the parties use it to their benefit but they probably have these statistics already..probably even more accurate. As readers I dont see anything wrong with getting to know say how many sikh people are there per 10 Marathi speaking people in ones locality.

We are diverse and its better we accept our diversity as a people rather than say that we are not different.

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

I was about to mention something that bugs me - the (still) common Bangali distinction between Hindu Bongs who are called Bangalis and the Muslim Bongs who are classified as 'Musholmaan'.

Then I saw Neeraj's comment and gave up.
In case you're reading this and wondering, Neeraj, I can appreciate your accepting Maharashtrians as a distinct linguistic group. But who exactly speaks 'Muslim'?


Anonymous said...

In India, almost no one has a single identity --- a person's identity depends on context. I might be a Tamil, a "South Indian" (an improvement over the offensive "Madrasi"!), a Hindu, an upper/lower caste etc. in different contexts.

The perception in the news report, misguided as it might be, is that for voting purposes, it's the religious identity of a Muslim that matters over his/her linguistic identity while for non-Muslims, it's their linguistic identity that matters. This says something about perception of Muslims but I would not go so far as to call it a "shame." Or rather, if it is a "shame" then there are any number of similar instances which also deserve to be called "shameful."

Here's one: In Delhi, people from the North-East -- especially women -- have to face all sorts of problems which by now, are well-known. (It doesn't take much imagination to figure out what North-Eastern women have to put up with in Delhi.) Indeed, the Delhi Police, in 2007, put out a pamphlet Security tips for Northeast students/visitors in Delhi as a "guide" for North-Easterners. Far from solving anything, the pamphlet ended up infuriating the North-Easterners because it more-or-less implied that they were responsible for their problems! See Kalpana Sharma's report:


Let's face it: we all have stereotypes about one another. Given our diversity, this is not surprising. Muslims certainly suffer from stereotyping but so do so many others. Just to clarify, I am not defending stereotyping of Muslims, just trying to put it in context.

Neeraj said...

J Alfred- Ive been checking ever since I made the comment for anyone who replied to it. Look all I'm trying to say is that its a statistic. I think we read too much into it. I'm sure we all accept that stereotyping takes place and stereotyping leads to bias but to say that a statistic that appears in a newspaper is shameful is a little far fetched.

The religions in India are such that people who speak Marathi, Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada and all the other gazillion languages are (basically) Hindus. Muslims are Muslims. If they speak Tamil or Bengali as you point out its because they have stayed in a Bengali speaking region. Even Christians for that matter. Now tell me what is wrong with knowing how many such Muslims live in a given region? Obviously its when we make distinctions based on these things that it becomes shameful. The politicians do it all the time and they sow the seeds of such distinctions in our minds. We just have to be more open and think for ourselves.

I hope I have made my point.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Plenty to respond to here, but I'm on a road trip (in Chikmagalur as I type this) and I have not been able to manage time and access to the WWW.

But this, quickly:

people who speak Marathi, Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada and all the other gazillion languages are (basically) Hindus.

Really? Well, let's take me, shall we? I speak Hindi, Tamil and Marathi. I'm not Hindu, not even basically.

Muslims are Muslims.

That they are. Oh of course. Not to be mixed up with those other folks who actually speak a language, oh no.

Neeraj said...

Hi Dilip...I'm a fellow BITSian (from Goa though)

Anyway look, again you're reading too much. Yes you speak several languages but isnt it because you were brought up/have lived in an area with those languages being spoken there? Dont you follow Christian traditions? Isnt it first important to know how you are different from me for me to embrace you?

Maybe I used the wrong words but dont get me wrong, I have nothing against anyone. All I want to say is reading too much into statistics is stupid.

zap said...

@Neeraj - So you are saying that anyone but a Hindu speaks a language because one was "brought up/has lived in an area with those languages being spoken"?

Er.. And why do Hindu's speak the languages they speak??

Neeraj said...

Hi Zap..this argument is getting rather silly.

Isnt it first important to know how you are different from me for me to embrace you?--Dont you think so? Arent people of other religions different from each other? If you dont think so I give up.

All I want to say is reading too much into statistics is stupid.---THAT IS MY POINT.

So you are saying that anyone but a Hindu speaks a language because one was "brought up/has lived in an area with those languages being spoken"?---ok this is a little bit flawed. What was in my mind was that if we date Indias history, we realize that Muslims were not natives of this land. So for a Muslim to speak say Bengali, he would have had to settle in a Bengali speaking region. Right or wrong? Not that it should be held against him in any way. Why I say it is slightly flawed is because I have gone way back in history but it serves as good frame of reference. The problem off course is how far back in history do you go? I dont think there is an answer to it because at different points of time in history you will find different representative samples.

The only people who are creating the divisions are the politicians and to some extent the media. The statistic gives us an idea about the demographic features of our land. End of story.

bnihal.com said...

bahut achha likha hai

Abi said...

Apparently during elections, a new state called Muslim emerges!!

zap said...

@ Neeraj - Conversely, the statistic in the newspaper also points out to how our society, in politics, media or otherwise, reads those labels a statistic to base action/s on.

zap said...

*as a statistic to base action/s on.

Jai_C said...

I found this article very relevant

by Aijaz Ilmi

especially the following:
....A young graduate from AMU said recently: “Do not look at the Muslims as a religious minority but as a component of the deprived majority.”.....


Suresh said...


Your sniping from behind an "anonymous" id is par for the course for the more idiotic of the Hindutvavadins. Now that says something.

Your logic reminds me of the Nazis. Traditionally in Europe there was discrimination against Jews but in *principle*, the discrimination ended when a Jew agreed to convert to Christianity. The Nazis changed that. In the Nazi viewpoint, "Jewishness" was a "racial" category and hence was unchangeable. There was no action that a Jew could take that would make the Nazis spare her/him.

Now about Dilip. He has asserted, umpteen number of times, that he is *not* a Christian. But of course, the accusation continues. There's nothing that Dilip can do, can he, that will satisfy you guys that he's not a Christian? Presumably, like the Nazis, for a Hindutvavadi, once a Christian/Muslim, always one. You know, I thought the comparison of Hindutva to Nazism by some (like Christoph Jaffrelot) was stretching it a little too far. Thanks to you, I stand corrected.

I wonder if you guys realize that the only consequence of your actions is to push even non-observant Christians/Muslims into becoming hardline Christians/Muslims. Probably not.

PS: In the above, I emphasize the word "principle." That's because in Europe there was always suspicion regarding the genuineness of the conversion. The Spanish Inquisition was born out of such suspicion.

AmOK said...

Anonym-ass? You think with your gonads, friend! Go wash your mouth off with soap. What would your mother think if she heard you talk like that?
Perhaps you came from Central Asia during the Aryan invasion of India. You should go back there. Quit India. Take a short-cut there, use the secret passage located in your gluteus maximus. Yes, look it up, Anonym-ass.

Neeraj said...

LOL..olook whos talking..a person behind an anonymous id

Neeraj said...

by they way anon, thanks for singling me out for special praise :-B

Dilip D'Souza said...

Still on the road with minimal net access, want to reply here but a longer one will have to wait.

For now: Suresh, you're seriously trying to reason with a guy who thinks "Mary not a legal wedded wife but who was enjoyed by a roman soldier" is both an argument and an insult?

You should know better!

Anuja said...

It's tragically ironic. Even the "liberal" media can't get past the stereotype of Muslims as outsiders.

And in response to the history discourse some comments have thrown in: hell, if we all start counting back, we're all Africans.

Anonymous said...

That list, Dilip, whether you and me like it or not, reflects today's reality. There is no point arguing over it. The question is how to craft a new reality.

Anonymous said...

So as long as Sachar like committees are constituted these kind of lists will exist. When we justify these commissions what's wrong with this king of listing?. It cuts both ways