Recent attacks on Muslim street vendors are markers of a deepening political polarisation and attempts at further economic marginalisation of informal workers of the minority community, says the author.
Deepanshu Mohan, Associate Professor of Economics and Director, Centre for New Economics Studies, Jindal School of Liberal Arts and Humanities, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.
Today, India is increasingly witnessing a state-sponsored effort towards vilifying and criminalising its largest minority population, the Indian Muslims – and this has an ‘economic’ cost. But first, let me offer some background context.
The intricate, often complex relationship between an economy’s macro and micro-foundations and society and the underlying forces that drive human interactions were first discussed in a series of research studies put forth by renowned social scientist Karl Polanyi.
Polanyi’s work gave the disciplinary roots to what was later termed the modern field of “economic sociology”. In the basic tenets of his work in The Great Transformation (1944), he argues that the discipline of economics emerged from the observations of human beings and their practices in society.
Because of the social nature of humans, ‘embeddedness’, ie, the process of interaction between social relations and economic foundations, becomes a necessary condition for the economy.
Importantly, for an economy to function smoothly and to expand across social and cultural networks across time and space, maintaining communal harmony is both essential and a prerequisite.
Muslims Fare Worse than Other Marginalised Groups
India is home to some two hundred million Muslims, making it one of the largest Muslim populations in the world but a minority in a predominantly Hindu country. From the time of the British colonial era, Muslims across India have faced systemic discrimination and violence despite constitutional provisions.
This lived discrimination has only worsened over the last eight years under the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) administration. Social media and state-supported media propaganda have unfortunately made the day-to-day life of an average Muslim in India almost unbearable.
Published in: The Quint
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