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From ruling class to underclass

Six hundred and sixty six years separate the ascension of a victorious Mohammed Ghori to the throne of Delhi in 1192 and the banishment by the British of the defeated and decrepit Bahadur Shah Zafar to Rangoon in 1858. The curtains had closed upon Muslim rule in India, marking the beginning of the descent that has seen the erstwhile rulers sink from the top to the bottom of the pyramid.
To find ways to reverse this slide, we must understand the reasons for this loss of power and privilege. The first thing that one must understand about the advent of Muslim power in India is that it was not about religion but about conquest and empire. Muslim conquerors from the north came to India not with the purpose to proselytize, but with the mission to rule. The waxing and waning of power and empire is a common theme that runs through history and across geographies. Muslim rule in India too has to be understood in terms of the rise and fall of dynasties. The emergence of British power in India was both a cause (among many others) and a consequence of the demise of the Mughal dynasty. Muslims ruled as long as they possessed competitive advantage. They had superior skills, not only in warfare, but also in governance. The industrial revolution turned the tide in favor of the West. The British came to India with superiority in arms, military organization and competence in governance. They had a clear competitive advantage over those they displaced.
If the loss of competitive advantage lies at the root of the loss of power, regaining competitive advantage must be the route to empowerment. At the core of the quest for competitive advantage lie educational empowerment, technological advancement and the creation of skills that the market values. Thought leadership must provide the springboard for action. Muslim thought leaders must come together and try to assemble an agenda for empowerment that would determine a roadmap for regeneration and revival through the building of competitive advantages. Can an educational institution or a foundation take the initiative to host a think-tank of Muslim thought leaders in an effort to develop an implementable action program within the constitutional, economic and political ambit of our nation?

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