Yesterday the internet was abuzz with reports of a Muslim man who’d been denied a job because of his faith. Zeshan Ali Khan had applied for a marketing job with a multi-national jewellery exports company in Mumbai. Within 15 minutes, the 23-year-old received an email that said: “We regret to inform you that we hire only non-Muslim candidates.”
The nation was understandably outraged over this incident. India is a secular democracy that prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion. This issue was taken up by several news channels and the company in question apologized, putting it down to an error made by a trainee.
But as it turns out, discrimination based on religion is a sad reality in India’s job landscape. It takes a simple search on any of the major job portals to find out companies actively looking for candidates that follow a particular religion.
Such adverts are disturbingly common. A rudimentary analysis of these ads revealed that these were usually carried out by small family owned firms. Such firms, which are often seen as extensions of the family, understandably prefer that their employee base remains homogeneous.
India is in some ways a deeply divided country, and it’s not surprising that this spills over to the workplace.