For it cannot have a one-size-fits all policy towards the Islamic world
Such paragons of liberals virtue as Saudi Arabia and Libya have said that in order to join the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), “India must prove its friendly and cordial relations with its Muslim community, to counter allegations of oppression of minorities despite maintaining a secular character in state functioning”. Besides, the OIC has indicated that it will need to consult Pakistan and Bangladesh before it even accords an observer status to India. That Chimoy Gharekhan, India’s special envoy to the Middle East, has to put up with this nonsense points to the mindlessness in India’s policy towards the OIC.
For the OIC is an ineffective forum, which, in spite of being dominated by Saudi Arabia has neither succeeded in speaking for the Islamic world nor been able to bring about human development among its members. While it may be a platform for public diplomacy, the OIC pulls very little weight on the issues that matter. This is so principally because of its own contradictions, but also because the geopolitical interests of its members can be very different.
India should stop its attempts to re-join the OIC in any capacity. It would be better off engaging key Islamic countries on a bilateral basis than confering greater legitimacy to a club of largely undemocratic nations whose only common thread is a common religion. From Malaysia to Morocco, from Turkey to Nigeria, there is a case for India to engage progressive Islamic countries more deeply. There is little case, however, for India to have to join a club of autocratic sorts who claim to speak on behalf of India’s Muslims. It will be a sad day if India’s Muslims will have to count on the assorted despots of the OIC to hold up their end.
And if the OIC’s sanctimonious members really care about India’s Muslims as they profess, it is they who should extend its membership to India.