SOCIAL BIAS AND ACCESS TO OPPORTUNITY: A CASE STUDY IN MUMBAI
Sharma, N., Indian Institute of Technology, India
The study aims to understand social bias and the implications it has on the Muslim trading community in Mumbai. The data and the surveys available on Indian Muslims tend to bring out the discrimination the poor and the deprived sections of the Muslim community faces. We are more familiar with the literature that shows the socio-economic backwardness and poor education and poor living conditions of the Muslims. We know much less about the more indirect and subtle forms of violence and bias that Muslims face during peace times and moments of conflict. Moreover, unlike those employed in the organisations, which may have mechanisms of grievance redressal, the self-employed traders have to bring into play a variety of strategies and ploys in order to negotiate day to day interactions with individuals and institutions. The study has located the problem of social bias in a larger theoretical framework in ideas of group identity, relative deprivation, surveillance and stigmatization and construction and representation of the other. The study concludes that Muslims do face bias in the society. It clearly emerges from the study that while traders at individual or professional or occupational level do not face much discrimination, but with reference to community level facilities both at residence and place of work they face bias or discrimination. These kinds of bias not only restrict their access to public spaces, clean environment but also to life and property. Their capabilities are diminished and not allowed to develop to an optimum level.