Next to Indonesia India has the largest number of Muslims. The reaction of the Indian Muslims to the cartoon controversy has been more or less muted. An uncharacteristic thing.

India, a secular democratic nation, was the first country to ban Rushdie’s Satanic Verses, a move that surprised even the Indian Muslims. They hadn’t expected the government to cave in so quickly and easily. It’ll surprise you to know that Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa came later.

There is a strong, powerful Muslim lobby in the Congress party and they always succeed in devising ways to appease the Muslim community to curry favour with them so that their crucial votes help the congress to hang on to power.

India’s vote-bank politics have always seen to that the Muslims, the next majority population after the Hindus, are always kept in good humour, often alienating the Hindus and pushing them into the fundamentalist organizations and political parties.

India has taken a stand against Iran in the current nuclear standoff, triggering a nationwide debate on the issue. But the politicians have already started making noise saying that India can’t ignore the sensibilities of its Muslim population in the issue. (Iran is a Muslim Nation; Indian Muslims want Iran have a Muslim bomb! India should support it, etc.). A strange argument. Dangerous, too.

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