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Third report of Bihar Legislative Council’s Minorities Welfare Committee
By M. Sh. Asthanwi

India is a democratic country and from this point of view all communities – Hindus, Muslims, Sikh or Christians – enjoy equal rights. India became independent almost fifty-three years ago but even after this long period, the situation of religious and linguistic minorities is the same as it was earlier. Many schemes and plans are made by state and central governments for the welfare of religious and linguistic minorities but the minorities do not benefit from these schemes. Though the secular and non-secular parties make false and baseless claims and promises pertaining to the welfare of minorities, all their claims and promises appear to be hollow. Minorities commissions and such other institutions are also working at the centre and in the states for the welfare of minorities and for raising their social, political and economic standards but the activities of these institutions are quite unknown. However, it would not be irrelevant to maintain here that Prof Jabir Husain, in his capacity as the dynamic chairman of the Bihar Minority Commission, fulfilled his responsibilities very well. Prof Husain is well-aware of the biased treatment meted out to religious and linguistic minorities and the way they are ignored is trying to stop and mitigate these prejudices to the best of his capacity and power.

With these feelings in mind, when he took over as chairman of the Bihar Legislative Council in 1995, he took the historic step of setting up Minorities’ Welfare Committee in terms of section 65 of the Council’s rules and regulations. The objectives of this committee were: to review the laws made by the state government for the improvement of social and economic conditions of minorities of the state and other works and activities falling within the purview of these laws, to review the progress of religious and linguistic minorities, viz. Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Jains, Parsees and Bengalis, Oriyas and Sinhali-speaking people respectively, consideration of the problems of minority and educational institutions approved by the state government and works being done for their development, review of the share and participation of minorities in bank loans for setting up industries and providing employment to them, review of the present position of economic progress of social, religious and linguistic minorities on the basis of the 1991 census, review and examination of the present position of educational institutions approved under sections 29 and 30 of the Constitution, review and examination of the implementation of the notification issued by the state government for employment opportunities in proportion to the population of minorities and finally, review of programmes relating to minorities welfare under the 15-point programme.

Prof Jabir Husain, by virtue of his position as chairman of the committee, nominated Dr Sarfaraz Ahmad, member of the Legislative Council, as its member. Other members of the Committee were Mr Shivanand Prasad Singh, Nagendra Prasad Singh, Anwar Ahmad and Baleshwar Singh Bharati;

The Committee undertook study tours of various districts of Bihar and on its return submitted its third report to the House. It may be recalled that the Committee has already submitted two reports. The recommendations made by the Committee are as follows:

1. It was decided in the first meeting of the committee that information should be obtained from all district magistrates and DDCs of the districts about the money obtained form central and state governments and their utilization for the welfare of minorities. Preliminary informations from some districts, viz. Munger, Jamooi, Giridih, Madhubani, East Champaran (Motihari) and Vaishali were received but despite several memorandums, information could not be obtained from other districts. The committee also could obtain only a few pieces of information from other districts during the course of its study tour in both respects, i.e., money received and its utilization. The overall and factual position is that wherever the committee went, in the districts mentioned above, the general attitude of the district administration was of indifference and non-cooperation. The government should take some concrete and strong steps in this direction so that the committee may not face any difficulty in its work in future.

2. Some informations were also sought from Bihar State Minorities Financial Corporation which could not be obtained, with the result that the committee could not have the information as to how much money was received by this corporation from the central and state governments during the last three years and how it was spent.

3. Arrangements for hospitals and provision of water should be made as soon as possible in and around the Indian Service Labour Union set up in Potika of Jamshedpur district so that agricultural works could be undertaken in 103-104 acres of land given to poor tribals of this region so that these poor tribals could be provided with medical facilities, and work on agricultural lands, both of which are very essential for them.

4. In districts where the committee went during its tour, the work of enclosures around the graveyards is very slow. In some blocks of some districts the work of enclosure has not been done even in a single graveyard. These blocks are Novadih of Bokaro and some others. In the past few years the problem of graveyards has become very serious for this state. Therefore, it is very essential that necessary amounts should be provided to district administrations in time so as to enable them to undertake the enclosure work of as many graveyards as possible in a financial year.

5. The position of payment of salaries to teachers and employees of minority schools of the state is extremely bad. Their social status therefore is very poor. Half of their service period is spent in subsisting on their own money and half on borrowed money. It is, therefore, very essential that government should take concrete steps so that their salaries could be paid to them in time as a matter of principle so that they may lead respectable life.

6. Many posts for teachers of Bihar state linguistic minorities are lying vacant. Immediate steps should be taken to fill them up so that these languages may develop and prosper.

7. To whichever districts the committee went during its study tour, it was surprised to note that the work of processing and scrutinize of applications invited by the department of industry for the purpose of sanctioning loans under the prime minister’s employment scheme is done by the committee known as ‘Task Force’ comprising officers of the department of industry, managers of leading banks and branch managers, officers of employment exchange and officers of the district administration. After processing, the applications are sent to bank for the sanction of loans. According to information available from common man or persons concerned, a huge amount is demanded as bribe for sanction of loans by the banks. In case of non-payment of bribe, loan amount is not disbursed. On one side the name of the scheme is associated with the prime minister and on the other side bribe is linked to it. This demands an enquiry. The government should conduct an enquiry as to why loans are not given by the banks to applicants whose applications have been sanctioned so that the unemployed and poor sections of minorities could derive the benefits of this scheme.

8. In Kako block of Gaya district neither the work nor distribution under Indira Awas Scheme as per the policy of government is being done. This should be enquired into and action should be taken against the officers responsible for this negligence.

The Committee has mentioned at one place in its report:
‘When the Committee plans study tours, prior intimation is given to the concerned district magistrates, DDCs and other officers wherever possible. When the Committee reaches the district headquarters concerned on the dates already intimated, it comes to know that some of the officers have gone out on official duty or are on leave. The Committee does not want to disturb official tours or duties of officials or even their leave in cases of need. But the concerned officers should inform the committee either directly or through some other official of the department about his non-availability on that occasion. At the same time, it is also the responsibility of district officials, DDCs etc to be aware of the availability or otherwise of the concerned officers before the committee reaches there and in case of non-availability of any officer, arrange to provide the necessary information to the Committee through some other officer of that department.’

In any case, the government should take positive steps to implement the recommendations and suggestions of the Minorities Welfare Committee of the Legislative Council in its third report regarding the religious and linguistic minorities so that the confidence of religious and linguistic minorities may be strengthened towards the government.
(translated from Urdu)

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