By Siddhant Mohan, TwoCircles.net

Over the past five days, news outlets have been flooded with stories of beef ban, protest over beef ban, declaring cow as the national animal and the hilarious ‘logic’ put behind the sexual activity of Peacock, the national bird of India. But if you look beyond these issues, it is also clear that important achievements of the Muslim community have been conveniently overlooked because like always, they do not match the agenda of the mainstream media when it comes to Muslims. 

Yesterday, the Union Public Service Commission declared the result for its most prestigious civil services exam, and around 50 Muslim students, including women, cleared the exams. This is the highest number of Muslim candidates in the recent history. 

Just a couple of days back, when the ICSE declared the class 10th board exam results, Pune-based girl Muskan Anndullah Pathan scored the highest mark and secured the first position in the country.

The success stories do not end here. One cannot forget, or ignore, the West Bengal Madhyamik results in which five Muslim students made it to the Top 10 list. What was even more encouraging was that the Muslim girls got an edge of 10.76 percent over Muslim boys in the same exams. The list keep increasing when we add JEE results and other competitive exams.

What do these results, and achievements says? May be the fact that Muslim society is looking way ahead of the media and government propaganda. It is a view that is endorsed by Muslim intellectuals and activists. 

Nazia Erum, TEDx speaker and a writer, considers the younger generation of Muslim Society as the one which is taking things forward. Nazia said, “Our younger generation is taking advantage of tools, resources and technical advancements which are reaching, albeit slowly, to far and  unreachable areas. So this brings the idea that development is for everyone; development does not discriminate on the basis of caste or religion.”

“These success episodes are surprising and delightful. These are backed by technology and resources reaching in hands of Muslim society,” she added. 

Nazia pointed out that changes and advancements were either rejected by, or unreachable to, the older generations of Muslim community  but the younger generation has broken that trend. Nazia said, “Older generation was deprived of the changes because of various factors like fear or taboo, but younger lot has taken the charge in their hand and they have stepped towards mainstreaming of the community.”

More importantly, the success stories coming out of the Muslim community denotes that there is a huge difference between the actual news coming out of the Muslim society and the news being projected by mainstream media, which often prefers the government’s version where Muslims have various issues. 

To this, Erum points out, “When does mainstream media run positive stories from any community? They run bad stories because those stories make headlines.”

Navaid Hamid, the president at All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, thinks that scholarships, schemes and programs started during UPA – 1 are a major factor which has helped younger Muslim generation in representing themselves. Hamid said, “Issues of Triple Talaq, beef eating, Love Jihad and all are media manifested issues, and you might have easily observed that corporate-owned media houses are happily running these stories because their corporate structure is being favored by political parties who demonise Muslims.”

Hamid further said, “But when you see the actual news coming out of the Muslim community, you will observe that Muslim students are achieving various heights right from Gujarat to Maharashtra, Telangana, West Bengal and now in UPSC. Why is this happening? First, because of scholarship schemes for minorities introduced by Manmohan Singh government in 2006, and economically weaker section taking advantage of these schemes. Their children started applying for these and focused themselves on studies. That is one factor behind these success stories.”

“Secondly, Muslim community has started to think that if they have to compete with others, they have to focus on their studies. This self-awareness and policies by the previous government has surely helped the Muslim community in making their way into the competitive society,” he added.

These success stories are also supported by the various philanthropic organisations and coaching institutes, which have helped students in cracking UPSC alongwith helping the younger generation achieve success in board exams. All these efforts which, as Nazia Erum says, are representing the proportion of Muslim population in Indian society, are still not relevant for mainstream media. Hamid adds, “More important is the issue of beef and everything else. Why would Muslim achievers matter to the media?”

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