Taleem, Tanzeem aur Tijaarat: The Changing Role of the AIJQ
Voluntary associations based on caste, occupation or endogamy have for long been important elements in the political landscape of India. The role of such associations was to facilitate social mobility, political power and economic advantage. Scholars working on social change have often focused on the role and importance of caste associations in India. The Rudolphs (1960) regarded them as agents of ‘modernity’. Hardrgrave (1969) locates the importance of the Nadar caste associations on the social and political mobility among the Nadars. Other studies, for instance, those of Kothari and Maru (1965), Wilke and Mohan (1978), Mukherjee on North Bengal (1994), Arnold et al. (1976) on south India, Shah (1975) on Gujarat have also shown their role in the adaptive mechanisms of various caste groups among Hindus. Though full-length studies on caste associations are rare these days, scholars have often emphasised the importance of such associations in contemporary politics. Gill (2006) discusses the role of the Mundka Plastic Recycling Market Association (MPRMA), in the political mobilisation of people in the informal plastic recycling industry. Michelutti (2008) explains how the All India Yadav Mahasabha (AIYM) is an agent that helps to achieve and revive ‘ancestral’ fame. Michelutti shows that association meetings draw parallels between the past and present political success of the Yadavs. However, direct or indirect studies on such associations among Muslim communities in India have not been attempted by anthropologists or sociologists. This essay focuses on the role of the All India Jamiatul Quresh
(AIJQ) and analyses how it is reviving, mobilising and democratising itself to adapt to the changing economic, social and political environment to address livelihood issues.