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Published in the 1-15 Nov 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

SPECIAL REPORT

Minority development through reservation

New Delhi: Is minority Development through reservation possible? How it should be approached? This was discussed in an seminar on "Minority Development through Reservation" organised by Millat Bedari Muhim Committee (MBMC) on 3 October in Delhi’s Constitution Club.

Kuldip Nayar, senior journalist, offered a secular perspective. He said that "apart from I and we, we are all Indians, irrespective of our colour, culture, language, region, caste and religion.’ He added that whatever be the problems, we must solve them with a secular outlook. We must raise our voices democratically and peacefully. The issue of reservation should not be presented with communal colours because communal mindset is very dangerous for the national unity and integrity.

In his welcome speech,. Jasim Mohammad, convenor, MBMC, said that Muslims are not better than any other socially, educationally and economically oppressed backward class of citizens. They have been victims of gross neglect of successive governments over the last 56 years. Several official and non-official survey reports supported this notion. Reservation is one of the important ways to uplift the Indian Muslims. It will encourage them to join the mainstream of nation-building, he said adding that our demand is not religion-based. Rather, our social and educational backwardness legitimised our demand for reservation under the articles 14, 15 (4) and 16(4) of the Constitution of India.

Several political leaders, social activists and AMU teachers participated in the seminar. Dr. Wasf Elahi said that the role of Muslims in the freedom movement has been praiseworthy but it has been forgotten now. Muslim have been exploited by several political parties and have been treated as a mere votebank. He added that the educational and social conditions of Muslims have worsened. Without giving adequate reservation to the deserving Muslim community the welfare and progress of the nation will be impossible.

Malik Azim Khan, convenor, Movement for Muslim Reservation, said "we are not begging reservation for Muslims from any political party. He added that reservation for minorities is an international trend so that they may preserve their cultural identity.

Kuldip Nayar, senior journalist, offered a secular perspective. He said that "apart from I and we, we are all Indians, irrespective of our colour, culture, language, region, caste and religion.’ He added that whatever be the problems, we must solve them with a secular outlook. We must raise our voices democratically and peacefully. The issue of reservation should not be presented with communal colours because communal mindset is very dangerous for the national unity and integrity.

Dr. K. Rahman Khan, deputy chairman, Rajya Sabha said that reservation and development are two completely different things. There are several proofs that a community can develop with reservation and without reservation also. We believe that religion-based demand for reservation is wrong but any community, which is scientifically declared as a socially, economically and educationally backward, has a constitutional right to demand reservation under Article 14, 15(4), 16(4). We must scientifically analyse social, economic and educational conditions and on the basis of facts, Muslims should make their demand. They should take it as a constitutional battle not as a communal battle.

Udit Raj, national president of the Indian Justice Party, supported the demand for Muslim reservation and said that our government is borrowing American pattern of government working. Why do they not consider the reservation system to support the minorities? He asserted that when the majority enjoys religious reservation, social reservation, economic reservation, why they oppose extending reservation to Muslims? He demanded Indian capitalist class to share the problems of historically exploited and socially backward communities.

Dr. Shahid, secretary of the AMU Teachers Association, said that this kind of seminars and symposiums should be organised all over the country and a strong movement should be developed for Muslim's reservation.

Social activist Ms. Nafisa Ali said that we must fight the constitutional battle of reservation for all really backward segments and it should not be limited to Muslims only and it should not be at the cost of communal unity. We should treat all the countrymen as sons of God.

Jasim Mohammad may be contacted at jasimmd@rediffmail.com

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