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INTERVIEW: Bashiruddin Babu Khan
ĎA.P. Muslims are marching aheadí

Bashiruddin Babu Khan
Bashiruddin Babu Khan is among a handful of Muslim politicians who believe in ethics and seem to be ready to sacrifice for their well-established ideas, and are ready to sacrifice in the process even a ministerial berth. Known as a straightforward and clean politician he is respected even by his opponents and the leaders of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) whose government he left when it struck an electoral alliance with the BJP in the state and the centre. When the TDP threw its lot with the NDA he was a minister in Chandrababu Naiduís government in Andhra Pradesh and was looking after the important portfolio of heavy industry. A two-time-minister, he immediately resigned his post despite pressure from Naidu himself. He refused to remain in a government that had any truck with the BJP. As a punishment he was denied the party ticket in the next assembly elections. But he is still all praise for Naidu and says that he is a practical man and has taken a number of steps to uplift Muslimsí economic and social condition in the state. Syed Ubaidur Rahman of the MG talked to him recently on a number of issues. Excerpts:
How would you describe Muslims condition in Andhara Pradesh?
Muslims are now in a much better condition in the state than earlier. They are economically more stable, politically more conscious and are able to play much better role than they played earlier. They are participating equally in the development of the modern Andhara. The development is phenomenal and encompasses all the areas. In the field of education their development is astronomical. You cannot compare the Muslims of today to the Muslims of Andhara a decade or so ago. They have developed a number of educational institutions on their own. A number of professional institutions have also been opened by them over the last decade. Be it management, computer sciences or engineering these institutes provide excellent academic facilities to the Muslim students that could not have been imagined earlier.

How this turn-around was possible?
Though Muslims in other states particularly in other South Indian states have set up a large number of professional institutes, no single state was able to do as brilliantly as we did in Andhara. Here people have contributed generously to the cause. They have come forward and extended their whole-hearted assistance for this purpose. Well-off Muslims came forward to launch such projects and others assisted them. Muslim organizations have also contributed greatly in this cause. Every Muslim organization has contributed in the establishment of professional institutions in Andhara Pradesh.
But it was not the people's effort alone. It would probably have not been possible had the state government not extended its assistance for the Muslims of the state. Chandrababu government has done great job in the phenomenal development of the Muslims of the state. He has emphasized greatly on the development of Muslims. In fact his is the only government in the country that has charted out a complete policy on the development of the Muslims in the state. AP is the only state in the country to have developed an exclusive Minorities Development Department. It has also given great attention towards the economic and educational development of the minorities in the state. Substantial attention has also been given to Urdu and a number of Urdu primary, middle and junior colleges have been opened by the government. It has also opened three ITI colleges and polytechnic institutes exclusively for Muslims.

Though it is true that Muslims have established a number of professional institutes in Andhara, but isn't it equally true that Muslim students aren't able to get admission in these institutes due to the hefty donations they are charging?
It may be true in some cases, but all is not as you mentioned. There should be at least fifty percent Muslim students in these professional colleges. Others cannot fill these seats. I was myself education minister in Chandrababu government and we tried to ensure that it does not happen. In fact, I tried and was to some extent successful in delaying the admission of common students in minority colleges run by Muslims.

What are you doing after you left the government?
I am trying to do something for the community in the state and the country. We are running several academic institutes besides a number of social organizations in and around Hyderabad. Besides we are running a Zakat Foundation. It works to create awareness among Muslims regarding payments of zakat. A large number of Muslims do not know anything regarding how much and what to pay in zakat. We do not collect zakat nor we intend to do. This organization helps widows and other needy people. Besides, it runs several schools.
I am also trying to strengthen United Economic Forum in whole country. We recently held a conference of the Federation in Bhopal. We have several state chapters and I am struggling to establish it in states where it has not been established so far and strengthen where it has already been established. We have our plan for the development of the community in the country. We were trying to meet the Prime Minister AB Vajpayee and had got an appointment with him as the Lok Sabha speaker GM Balayogi had ensured, but did not go as he was very busy on recent Tehelka controversy. We would have presented a memorandum to him and would have asked to prepare a clear policy for the economic and educational development of the Muslims in the country. The Forum will cater to the economic and educational development of Muslims in the country.

Are you aiming to emerge as a Muslim leader on the national scene?
I am not at all interested to emerge on the national scene. But I want to work for the community in my own capacity. I am involved in these works for last several decades and will always be working for community's advances insha Allah.
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