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Published in the 16-30 Sep 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Reservation debate

Which Muslim group is under-represented?

Andhra Pradesh Government has issued G.O. for 5% reservation of Muslims in Andhra Pradesh. In the latest issue of Milli Gazette 16-31 August, two articles by prominent Muslim intellectuals and Milli Council members Syed Shahabuddin and Prof Iqbal A. Ansari are published. Both the intellectuals whole heartedly support the 5% reservation for all Muslims in Andhra Pradesh. In support of the "Muslim Reservation" they referred and quoted excerpts from National Commission for Review and Working of the Constitution, Mandal Commission and Constitution of India. Prof. Ansari's Minorities Council of India submitted extensive memorandum and he and Syed Shahabuddin after reading the NCRWC report came to the conclusion that the Commission has accepted their point of view about Muslim Minorities. They quoted the relevant paragraphs which I am also quoting for reference.

3-7-1 - There was a plea on behalf of some minority communities for an express provision for reservation in favour of minorities both in articles 15 (4) and 16 (4). The Commission upon due consideration of the representation felt that no special provision was necessary in as much as, under the existing provision of articles 14, 15and 16 it is open to the state to make reservation if it is of the opinion that such reservation is necessary and justified."

3-7-1 - The Commission noted that the ultimate aim of affirmative action of reservation should be to raise the level of capabilities of people of disadvantaged section and to bring them at par with the other section of the society.

Now let us see how a "state can come to the conclusion that such preservation is necessary and justified." The procedure laid down by nine Judges historic Supreme Court Judgement of its Constitution bench is defined under paragraphs 847and 861. The judgement has given direction which states as under: "The following directions are given to the Government of India, the State Government and the Administration of Union Territories."

861-A The Government of India each of the State Governments and the Administration of Union Territories shall within four months from to-day constitute a permanent body for entertaining, examining, and recommending upon requests for inclusion in the list of Other Backward Classes of citizens. The advice tendered by such bodies shall ordinarily be binding upon the government."

In para 3.7.2.itself the NCRWC has given specific reasons for affirmative action of reservation that is to "raise the levels of capabilities of people of the disadvantaged sections and to bring them at par with the other section of the society."

Now let us go through the recommendations of the NCRWC for the minorities. lt will make it clear as to whom the NCRWC consider the disadvantaged section.

The NCRWC under the chapter Minorities States:
- 10-11-1. In this context it is also to be noted that the bulk of religious minorities consists of castes/communities which are included in the list of socially and educationally backward classes. They are mostly counter parts of Hindu Back-ward Classes and to some extent of Hindu Scheduled Castes."
Now look at what the Commission recommendation are and how far it accommodates the views expressed in the memorandum of Minorities council. 
10-11-2. The Commission recommends that:

(a) Steps should be taken for improvement of educational standards amongst the minority communities. Special programmes should be drawn up after the widest consultation with the leaders of minority communities including leaders of BCs, SCs, and STs among Minorities from academic Professional, business and socio-political spheres and from low-occupation spheres."

(b) At present the political representation of minority communities in legislatures, especially Muslims has fallen well below their proportion of population. The proportion of BCs among them is next to nill. This can lead to a sense of alienation. It is recommended that in situation of this kind it is incumbent for political parties to build up leadership potential in the minority communities including BCs, SCs, and STs among them for participation in political life.

(c) Backward Classes belonging to religious minorities who have been identified and included in the list of backward classes and who in fact constitute the bulk of the population of religious minorities, should be taken up with special care along their Hindu counterparts in the developmental efforts for the backward class."

These are the specific recommendations of the NCRWC under the chapter Minorities. Nowhere the Commission has recommended for reservation of all minorities or Muslims. The Commission is openly sympathetic to 1he BCs, SCs and STs among Muslim minorities. The Commission is particularly distressed about under representation of Muslim backward classes in legislatures, and legislatures include Parliament. Syed Shahabuddin also talks of under representation of Muslims in Parliament and legislatures. No doubt Muslims are under represented in Parliament and State legislatures. But which category of Muslims are actually under represented? Now the Lok Sabha list of members from first to 13th Lok Sabha is available under one binding. One can examine and find the names of backward Muslims without much difficulty. No backward Muslim got elected for thirteenth Lok Sabha. From First to 14th Lok Sabha you will find that never more than five backward Muslims got elected. More or less same is the position of other elected bodies of State legislature. The present Rajya Sabha has no backward Muslim. Representation of backward Muslims was never more than one or two. Almost same is the case of other decision making bodies. In political parties representation of backward Muslims from State to Central level is negligible. That is why NCRWC has said "That the proportion of BCs among them is next to nill." Forward or Ashraf Muslims are well represented much above the proportion of their population, be it Parliament, State legislatures, or decision making bodies of Government or political parties.

Now coming to Syed Shahabuddin, 5% Muslims reservation for all Muslims in Andhra Pradesh issue, I do not know from where he came to know the population figure of Muslims in Andhra Pradesh. The Government of Andhra Pradesh Backward Classes Welfare (C2) Department G.O. No.33 dated 12-7-2004 in its para 3 states as under:

3 - According to 1991 census the population of Minorities in A.P. State is 72 lakhs (i. e. 11l%) of total population, out of which Muslim population is around 64 lakhs consisting 8.5% of total population."

This G.O. itself explodes the myth of 12% Muslim population of Andhra Pradesh. On the basis of 12% Muslim population of Andhra Pradesh Syed Shahabuddin finally demands 10%reservaton for Muslims in Andhra Pradesh.
About Mandal Commission he states in the same article*:

"The Mandal Commission calculated that roughly 8.4% out of 52% of the people who constituted the backward classes were Muslims."

But the figure given by Mandal Commission in its report is as under:

"V- Back Backward Non-Hindu communities -8.40%

E- 52% of religious groups under section B may be also treated as OBCs. 
F-The approximate derived population of other Backward classes including non Hindu communities." 52%

8.40 is the approximate derived population of all Non-Hindu backward classes which includes Sikhs, Christians and others and not Muslim BCs.

Now coming to Andhra Pradesh G.0.33 it may not be out of place to mention that it is based on a report by the "Commissioner for Commessionarate of Minorities welfare dated 5.7.2004" and this report was not placed before the Andhra Pradesh Backward Classes Commission, the only required statutory authority as per Supreme Court nine Judges Constitution bench Judgement of Nov. 1992, for inclusion of any community in the OBC category.

Ashfaq Husain Ansari, ex-MP
President, Centre for Backward Muslims of India, Gorakhpur, UP
a_h_ansari47@rediffmail.com
 

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