Teri azaān mein nahin meri sahar ka payām. [Your call to prayer heralds not my dawn] – Allama Iqbal
The recent judgment of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI), favoring ‘minority status’ for Jamia Millia Islamia University, has generated vigorous debate. While it seems to me that most of the articulations have probably been reluctant in staging the immanent logics governing the entire controversy, I see this debate as offering yet another opening for democratic transformation within the Muslim community. While I will resist from taking a straightforward for/against position on the issue, it would be my endeavor to trace the discursive ruptures that instantiated the articulation around the ‘minority status’ for Jamia, and to indicate at the need to frame the Muslim ‘community’ now as a contested terrain with multiple sites of negotiations, cleavages and transformations.
Just four years ago, during “Mandal II”, everyone opposing the extension of OBC reservations to central educational institutions were saying we don’t even know how many OBCs there are. Now, when there is a proposal to count the OBCs, these voices are not to be heard. Just like “Mandal II”, a new term, “caste census” has been invented, as if the census already does not count the Scheduled Castes. The term “caste census” is used repeatedly in a way that suggests that a secular, progressive pro-development exercise is being sullied, polluted, by this monster of caste because of those uncouth cow belt politicians. Chee chee!