Let me begin with one question quite often asked : Can we construct what Is called “ Mangalore Model of develop ment “vis-a–vis the Muslims or minorities. This argument is being made on the ground that Muslims in coastal belt are far ahead of their counterparts of India. This is also derived on the basis of the position that the Mangalore/ coastal belt has gone up in the scale of Human Development Index. Coastal districts such as Udupi and Mangalore have topped the second (second in 1991 and 2001 it ranked third) and third position respectively in the Human Development Report.. The last Human Development Report of Udupi brought out in 2008 clearly demonstrate that, “, Udupi ranks 17th in total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 5th in per capita income in the state. The per capita income for the year 2005-06 at current prices works out to Rs.30167”. Incidentally, taking state average, Udupi ranked first in health as well as education .On the contrary, taking per capital income, Mangalore stood second followed by Udupi. Most important is the fact that these two districts have the highest literates. All these have become possible only when different communities must have contributed towards its overall development. Obviously, in that context Minorities cannot be neglected as they constitute big chunk of population .In fact highest percentage Muslims are concentrated in Mangalore, other district of coastal belt Udupi has also substantial number of muslim presence.
In fact series of committee or commission reports such as Sachar Committee, Ranganath Mishra Commission report states that Muslims are lagging behind almost all the spheres including economy and politics, and are facing what is called, “development deficit”. They are literally facing four fundamental problems: problem of identity, problem of security, problem of development and problem of accessibility. Secondly it also argued that at the all India level they are more backward than dalits and tribals. There is one exception that the Sachar committee report makes: Minorities in Karnataka are better off than in other states. How is it possible it happened within ten years, when, earlier Rehaman Khan Committee Report made shocking revolutions that Minorities in Karnataka are Most Backward, despite the fact that Karnataka had a long history of affirmative action and inclusive policy.
But given the Human Development reports it is obvious that Minorities of Coastal Karnataka are not facing the problem of acute “development deficit” even though problem of security, identity still persists. They also face the problem of competitive communalism. It is a paradox that in the midst of acute communalism operating in coastal belt Minorities have moved from small business to big business, they have become big builders or developers, they have established educational institutions from primary schools to University level, they are into health sector, they are into transport sector, they are also visible in hotel, retail markets, beedi rolling,. They have come to occupy the economic space in coastal belt, including the fact that they have occupied the media space too. These changes were un thinkable during the early period of independence. All these shows that Minorities or Muslims have come to play a dominant role in the economy of coastal belt. This makes us to go to back to the question: is there a Mangalore Model of Development vis-a-vis the Minorities, particularly Muslims that makes them different?
It is a fact that Mangalore Model of Development can be construed vis-a-vis the Minorities. This model has created an autonomous Muslim who is enabled to participate in the larger economy, it has created community conscious ness with neo-communitarians taking the modernist position, it has created a civil society which largely believes in upholding libertarianism, it has created a conscious of the “self”, finally it has enabled the Muslims to link themselves with the larger society and economy.
This Model is the product of some historical developments. In fact, what changed the coastal region during the period of post-independence period is the growth of Bombay as central market , and the subsequent growth of middle class. In fact spurt in the OPEC prices in 1970s had its impact on the minorities in the coastal belt. Minorities suddenly became part of Middle Eastern economy, which literally opened up new world for the coastal belt. Local Market suddenly linked through metropolitan cities: Bombay and then Middle East. In the whole process remittance from Middle East formed the basis for modernity. The modernity that the middle eastern economy introduced was reflected in the growing concern for education and subsequently educational institutions. Series of institutions came up after 1980s in the coastal belt
Secondly, the modernity also created conscious of the “self”- it reflected in the series of debates from within with regard to the issues of backwardness, social stereotyping, prejuidices, gender gap, political non-representation etc. All these ultimately converted into different forms of symbolism of modernity. It literally helped in the growth of such symbols of modernity as schools, colleges, political parties, NGOs, non-political organizations, print media, cafeterias, malls, etc.
Mangalore Model grew out of dispersal of houses and location. Uptil the recent decade, there was nothing called “Muslim Locality”- or “Keris” in rural areas, including some of the cities of coastal belt. The houses that Muslims lived in were surrounded by non-Muslims. These location provided spaces for interactions, negotiations, dialogue, and discourses between the communities. This spaces ultimately provided ground for modernity to enter in and to create a Muslims linking beyond the limits of locality.
This does not mean the “Mangalore Model” has completely accommodated or absorbed Muslims into it.This model however has not been able to absorb large number of Muslims to enter into the domain of political structure. As Ramchandra Guha, a well known historian writes, ”How many district collectors and superintendent of Police in Coastal Karnataka were Muslims? And many Judges, Professors or Vice-Chancellors?”. Answer to these questions lies in reworking with the Mangalore Model of Development and try to overcome the “deficit”. The greatest part of Mangalore Model is that it can be replicated in other parts of India so that the community can be projected as “modernist “and also as “progressive”.In this process this will help in demystifying the stereotypes about the Minorities of Karnataka in particular Muslims of India in general.