Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine
Rabi-Ul Awwal/Rabi-Ul Akhir 1423 H
June 2002
Volume 15-06 No:186

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Editorial


Part ruins the Whole

Part ruins the Whole

Those who thought it is Muslims alone, who have been affected by the nearly three-month long mayhem in Gujarat, should review their thinking. Gujarat has been ushered on the abyss of an economic disaster. This prosperous state, which prided itself on being the premier destination of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), is in the throes of an economic crisis, the pangs of which will be felt by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. While for Muslims, the economy needs to be rebuilt from the scratch, the non-Muslim brethren are already feeling the ripple effects of economic downturn. Gujarat Muslims were industrious and had built up a base in transport, hotels, auto-repair and servicing, printing and publications etc.

If the Chillia community had set up vegetarian hotels on highways from Mumbai to Rajasthan, Ghanchis had established a lorry-transport network. Bohras and Memons too had chipped into a variety of businesses. Much of these were insured and naturally, insurance offices are being swamped by claims of damages. Looking at the magnitude of destruction, one only feels that insurance companies will be under heavy pressure during the coming months. And wisdom demands that they will urge the Government to ensure the safety of properties of minorities just the same way as it does with any other section of people. Ports in Gujarat are reporting gross under-utilisation of their capacity. Gujarat has the longest coast in India and has nearly 40 ports. As transport lines are disrupted, ports have no goods to handle. Export-import activities are at their lowest.

Thousands of port workers are out of work. Since a large number of labourers were killed by frenzied hordes instigated by fascists, thousands of others from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have fled to their home states. Garments, textiles and gem industries are now facing unprecedented loss of production. In Ahmedabad city alone, the daily wage losses amount to Rs. 5 crore, according to a Trade Union survey. Industrialists such as Deepak Parekh, Chairman of the Housing and Finance Development Corporation, Rahul Bajaj, Anuradha Agha and Anand Bharatram have outlined the harmful implications of the communal mayhem on the state economy. According to the reputed weekly Newsweek, the Opel-Astra car factory in Halol town of the state has been incurring 20 per cent losses during the last two months. Given this situation, it is doubtful if Shell Petroleum Company of the United States would feel encouraged to go ahead with the proposed $ 1000 crore investment in a refinery. Nearly two lakh shops, factories and godowns, majority of them belonging to Muslims were set afire and destroyed during the three months. Since Muslim drivers and accessory staff manned and operated the transport network in the state and scores of them were lynched by mobs, lorry operators are refusing to carry goods to the cities like Ahmedabad and Baroda. Several banks are reporting difficulties in transactions due to continued mayhem even as Insurance Companies are finding it difficult with the surfeit of claims. There is realisation that the collective psyche of Gujarat people has been hurt. Spelling out grave threat to the economy, advisor to Gujarat Chambers of Commerce Iswarlal Kania has warned the Government that unless it restores its own credibility, business atmosphere will not improve.

The Gujarat mayhem has an important lesson for us, in that, no component of people could be severed from the rest if the economy has to perform well. Economy does not distinguish or discriminate between sections of people. It is sum total of the entire society’s effort. Try separating one section of people and you will be inviting trouble. Even at the time of Partition, the Muslims potters, blacksmiths and carpenters were not allowed to migrate out of Indian Punjab by both Sikhs and Hindus, because there was fear that the agrarian economy would collapse if these sections were to leave for the other side of the border. Sooner the Gujarat people understand this, the better it will be for all of us. The moral therefore is: Part can ruin the whole just as it contributes to the well-being of it.

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