India is home to the second largest Muslim population in the world and those blaming the country on minority issues have no clue about the ground realities, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said.
Addressing a Washington DC audience during a fireside chat at the Peterson Institute for International Economics on Monday, Sitharaman said the Muslim population is only growing in numbers in India.
“If there is a perception or if there’s, in reality, their lives are difficult or made difficult with the support of the State, which is what is implied in most of these write-ups, I would ask, will the Muslim population be growing from what it was in 1947… The contrast can be sharper as opposed to Pakistan, which was formed at the same time,” she said.
Sitharaman said violence prevails against Muhajirs, Shias and other minority groups in Pakistan, whereas, in India, every strand of the Muslim community is doing its business.
“India was divided into two Pakistans. Pakistan declared itself an Islamic country but said minorities will be protected. Every minority has been dwindling in number, or decimated in Pakistan. Even some of the Muslim sects have also been decimated,” she said.
She said law and order is a state subject in India and each province has its elected government that takes care of the law and order in those states.
She said the notion that across the board in India, violence against Muslims is happening is a fallacy.
“It cannot be so. Each province and its police are different. They are run by the elected governments in those provinces. So, that itself tells you how these reports have no clue of the law and order systems in India,” the finance minister said.
“To say it’s all the blame of the government of India. I would like to say then, between 2014 and today, has the population dwindled, has the debts been disproportionately high in any one particular community,” she said.
“I would rather invite these people who write these reports to come to India. I’ll host them, let them come and travel alone to India and prove their point,” Sitharaman said.
Around 62 per cent of the world’s Muslims live in the Asia-Pacific region (from Turkey to Indonesia), with over one billion adherents. The largest Muslim population in a country is in Indonesia, a country home to 12.7 per cent of the world’s Muslims.