Memorandum to National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities
All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat
National Commission for Religious
and Linguistic Minorities
Milli Gazette Online
The Indian Society is a
heterogeneous society, divided by religion, language, caste and domicile.
Every social group/community, constituting a majority or minority at any
level in the country, whatever the basis of its identity, is divided among
various sub-groups/sub-communities. Even a religious community is divided
into sub-communities based on sects, denominations and castes, even if it
speaks the same language. The conventional starting point for analyzing
the structure of the Indian society, which can be scientifically
undertaken only on a regional basis, is religion or caste or language.
Since all these strands are intermingled, every horizontal classification
then needs to be supplemented by at least one vertical classification to
arrive at a ‘homogeneous’ sub-group.
Professed by over 80% of
the people, by far the majority religion of the country is Hinduism though
it is difficult to define Hinduism in terms of doctrines and dogmas, even
to enumerate its denominations and sects. Denominational divides within
Hinduism have regional or local manifestations. Roughly 65%, out of 80%,
are considered to be socially and educationally backward and enjoy
reservation and/or special dispensation in a variable manner. They are
listed as SC or OBC’s. The balance 15% consists of upper castes -
Brahmins, Kshatrias and Vaishyas. What is important is to realise that while
they are well-positioned in the life of the country, in every sphere,
there are pockets of backwardness within each upper caste. Their
overall backwardness as compared to the SC/OBC may be lower and with a
small population, their reservation quota may be very small, yet
backwardness among the upper castes is a social reality and needs a
According to the Census
about 20% of the national population consist of Religious Minorities,
though their percentage, individually and collectively, may vary from
state to state. Muslim minorities form the biggest, with over 13% of the
population and thus 2/3 of all religious minorities. Next come Sikhs and
Christians followed by mini-communities like Buddhists, Jains and Parsis.
In conventional parlance the word ‘minority’ has, however, become
identified with Muslims, while the term should cover the Hindu community
wherever it is in a minority, from the Panchayats to the States.
Muslims are a
pan-national community but they are concentrated in 10 states: UP, West
Bengal, Bihar, AP, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, MP, Gujarat, Rajasthan.
Together these states account for over 85% of the Muslim population.
That Muslim minority –
with local variations – is educationally and economically backward and,
therefore, poorly represented in every sphere of life – politics,
government service, education, business, mass media (except films) and
thus socially backward is well-established.
There are individual exceptions who have reached the top but on the whole
the Muslims are proportionately less educated and more unemployed and have
limited access to productive assets. Many random socio-economic surveys,
including some at state level, have established the fact of their economic
and social backwardness. Nationwide surveys undertaken by NCAER (India
Development Report, Oxford, 1999) and the National Sample Survey
Organization (NSS 50th Round, June, 1998) highlight their
collective backwardness. Gopal Singh Panel data collected in the early
80’s are out of date but the latest data are available from various
State Surveys e.g. Karnataka, AP, Kerala and Bihar.
Perhaps the Hon’ble
Commission is not concerned with the religious minorities as a whole but
with sections among each religious minority which is backward.
Unfortunately there are simply no authentic data to indicate the
population of various religious sub-communities, far less to quantify the
relative backwardness of Muslim sub-communities among the Muslims or in
relation to the other 100% backward communities like the SC’s or ST’s.
Therefore, it is
impossible to identify the backward sections within the Muslim community
and to quantify their proportion. The Hon’ble Commission may like
to consider the Muslim community as a whole and treat it as an
identifiable section of the Religious Minorities.
However, both Hindus and
Muslims are divided into castes through the caste system does not create
the same or even similar disabilities among Muslims. For example, no
Muslim belonging to the so-called low castes, vocationally akin to Hindu
SC’s, faces any bar in social or religious interaction within the
community e.g. access to shrines and congregational prayers in the Masjids,
as they do not bear the stigma of untouchability. But the caste in the
Muslim community is perpetuated by customary endogamy as the proportion of
marriages between different baradaris (caste groups) is very low and also
between the so-called Ashraf (high caste) and Arzal (low caste) as a
whole, though the incidence of such marriages is rising with spread of
education and social mobility.
On account of economic
similarities and vocational identity, many Muslim ‘low caste’ groups
have been included in the OBC Lists of the Centre and the States,
alongwith Hindu counterparts. Even those Muslim Sub-communities
which have the same vocations as the SC’s are included in the OBC List.
All those in the OBC Lists face a handicap due to communal bias largely
due to historical reasons and, therefore, do not benefit duly from
While the so-called low
castes among the Muslims in any case enjoy the benefit of reservation as
OBC, though not in full measure, a real problem is faced by the
so-called high castes among Muslims – Syeds, Shaikhs, Pathans etc. –
who were dependent on government employment and on land holdings which
they have largely lost, since 1947. Comparatively they have also
suffered more displacement during the Partition.
This problem of the
backward sections among the Muslims, not covered by reservation, is the
same as these faced by the Hindu high castes cited above.
All these ‘high castes’, Hindu or Muslim, have their share of poverty,
unemployment and economic distress and deprivation, their pockets of
backwardness. However, poverty and backwardness are much more endemic and
widespread among the Muslim high castes then among the Hindu high castes,
because of relatively lower profile in politics and discrimination within
governance and administration.
The Hon’ble Commission
is requested to devise a method to identify the backward pockets among the
Muslims and quantify their population and measure their backwardness.
it is suggested that caste census be reintroduced for all
Secondly, the criteria
for determining and measuring backwardness should be universal, uniform,
objective, transparent and quantifiable, and applicable to all caste
sub-groups or sub-communities – for
example, functional literacy, incidence of matriculation or technical
diploma or basic university degree, per capita income, per capita land
holding, possession of shelter which can be easily ascertained.
Thirdly, the level of
backwardness may be determined in relation to the state as a whole or the
SC’s therein or the BPL population.
Fourthly, once the
proportion of a backward group or sub-group in national or state
population is determined and its relative backwardness is ascertained, it
can be assigned a quota as a multiple of Population and Backwardness.
the quota should apply not only in public employment or higher
education but also in the benefits of all development and welfare
programmes which are targetted at individuals or families within the area
of operation, and in flow of bank credit and in representation in
legislatures. All the welfare or development schemes targeting
individuals/families should be universal in application, irrespective of
religion or caste, e.g. all widows who have no means of support or all
orphans or all families living below the poverty line (BPL) or all
handicapped or aged persons. But if, due to paucity of resources,
there has to be a pick-and-choose, there should be a separate quota for
each backward sub-community in the operational area in proportion to its
population so that every group gets its due share.
Sixthly, the distribution
of benefits should be under social control and transparent, not left to
the whim of the bureaucrats or the fancies of the legislators
who have their own priorities. The distribution system must be
decentralised to village/mahalla in the interest of transparency and
Seventhly, all provisions
for the welfare of the Backward Classes, including educational incentives,
reservation in post-secondary and technical education and government
employment be extended without discrimination to all the backward
communities, groups or sections thereof.
Eighthly, on 50% ceiling
on reservation, the AIMMM is of the view that this is an artificial and
illogical ceiling because the proportion of Other Backward Classes (other
than SC and ST) varies from state to state and also their level of
backwardness. The total quantum of reservation in a state should be the
sum total of quotas assigned to the various Backward Classes, calculated
on the basis of their population and their relative backwardness as
compared to the SC’s (which get full
weightage for their population). Already in practice, several States like
Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have exceeded the 50% limit. There is absolutely
no logic in restricting the OBC’s to 27% reservation all over the
Finally, the benefit of
any quota should be available only to those families whose income and
educational level fall below the Poverty Line or the state average. In
other words, the ‘creamy layer’ should be defined realistically as the
families above the Poverty Line or state average in income and education.
In brief, the quotas should be calculated for all identifiable and
conscious groups according to their population but its benefits should go
only the backward families within each group.
It is submitted that the
Hon’ble Commission may like to recommend necessary constitutional and
legal modalities to implement the above suggestions, if they are accepted.
Since the national
territory was reorganized in 1956 broadly on linguistic basis, it is
possible to define linguistic minorities in terms of the linguistic
demography at the state, district, block and panchayat levels with the
help of the Census data. Generally speaking, the linguistic minorities in
any state are cut off from full participation in politics and
administration as well as educational and economic activities. So they
tend to be socially backward. In India government service has high social
value and the linguistic minorities do not enjoy equal access to education
and consequently to public and private employment or even in the market
for skilled labour.
Generally, the linguistic
minorities are expected by the state authorities to undergo linguistic
assimilation under pressure of circumstances though this may be contrary
to constitutional assurances. Over a period of time many states appear to
have almost forgotten about the safeguards for linguistic minorities
enunciated at the dawn of independence. Ironically, the demographic
situation is that while every state is a haven for its majority linguistic
group, outside its border, that group forms a minority in many other
States, where it faces the same difficulties as other linguistic
Only one or two
linguistic groups face an exceptional situation. The Urdu-speaking
population which forms about 6-7% of the total population has no
home-base. Apart from Sindhi, Urdu is the only MIL which is a linguistic
minority throughout the country. Urdu is a concentrated in UP,
Bihar, Maharashtra, AP and Karnataka and in pockets in MP, Gujarat,
Haryana, West Bengal. It is the biggest linguistic minority, it is a truly
pan-Indian language and is understood all over the country. But, over the
years, it has become increasingly identified with the Muslims. So that Urdu-speaking
Muslims, roughly 50% of the Muslims, as a whole, stand doubly jeopardised
It is fairly simple to
identify the administrative units, Panchayats, Blocks, Districts and
States where a minority language is spoken or has been declared as Mother
Tongue by, say, 5% or more of the people.
In the light of the
Annual Reports of the Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities, which
have been tabled but never discussed in the Parliament, the latest
being the 42nd Report for July 2003 - June, 2004, one concludes that the
constitutional safeguards have not been fully implemented in any state,
even in those States in which a minority language has been declared by law
as the second official language. Urdu has been so declared in
Bihar, UP, AP and Delhi but its situation is no better in them.
Minority languages cannot
compete with the Principal Language of the State for State patronage or
for use in education, administration and information. But in terms of the
Constitutional safeguards, administrative assurance and international
norms summarized in UN Declaration of Rights of Minorities, 1992, every
linguistic minority of any state deserves the following facilities.
a) Unconditional use of the language as medium of primary
instruction because every child has this natural right.
b) Teaching of
the language to all its children through the school as
First Language under the Three Language Formula in order to
acquire due proficiency.
c) Teaching of
Principal Language of the State as Compulsory Second Language.
of government schools in minority-concentration areas in accordance with
e) Recognition and
affiliation of schools and government aid to established and
administered by the linguistic minorities.
f) Recognition of
non-formal educational institutions of primary and secondary education
as equivalent to normal schools.
a) Use of minority language for specified official purposes
at all levels of administration where the proportion of the linguistic
minorities is 5% or more, which demands adequate translation facilities.
b) Use of minority
language as medium of examination for public employment.
c) Requirement to pass
an examination in Principal Language at elementary level only following
A member whose Mother Tongue is a M.I.L. Language should be permitted to
take oath in his Mother Tongue and to use his Mother Tongue for putting
questions and making statements.
Use of minority language by government electronic media and in
government advertisement in proportion to minority population within the
service area of each station/centre.
Electoral rolls of various polling stations should be published in the
minority languages which constitute at least 5% of their population, in
all Parliamentary or Assembly Constituencies.
The All India Muslim
Majlis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM), in addition, proposes the following
institutional arrangements for safeguarding the interests of religious and
(1) Creation of
a Ministry of Minority Welfare directly under the Prime
Minister/Chief Minister or under a MOS responsible to the Prime
of a Joint Committee on Minority Welfare in the Parliament and in the
State Legislatures to monitor progress of the religious and
linguistic minorities and the impact of the Central and State Schemes
for their welfare and development.
(3) Amendment of
Article 15(4) of the Constitution to define backwardness more
realistically as ‘educational and economic and, therefore,
legislation to strengthen the operation of the office of the
Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities, which is a Constitutional
post, to give it the powers of a civil court and the staff and
budgetary resources to investigate the grievances of linguistic
of the constitutional principle of non-discrimination on the ground of
domicile by the Centre or the State only to Group A or Class I jobs.
This will give the Centre and the States the freedom to reserve Group
B jobs within a State for those domiciled in the State, Group C jobs
for those domiciled in the district and Group D jobs for those
domiciled within the Panchayat or the town. Such selective application
will reduce the unmanageable movement towards all employment
opportunities anywhere in the country, cut down unnecessary
expenditure on T.A., transfer or holiday, and by localising the
administrative system make it more socially responsive. Such
preference will also be in line with the ideal of decentralization.
Today, with the spread of education, every state, district, panchayat/town
is in a position to throw up qualified candidates for Group B, C and D
posts respectively and the backward classes in any part of the country
should enjoy access and opportunity in their own areas.
to Para 3 of the Constitution (SC) Order, 1950: the AIMMM is
of the view that the religious criterion should be altogether
removed in keeping with the secular philosophy of the Indian State and
all groups, irrespective of religion, which have been professionally
and vocationally akin to the SC’s should be included in the SC List.
The State should not act as protector of Hinduism but as defender of
Freedom of Religion.
Indeed the Sikhs and
the neo-Buddhists have been already included. Only the Muslims and the
Christians remain out. There is no logical reason to leave them in the
The number of Dalit
Muslim is very small and too dispersed. It is doubtful that transfer
from the OBC to the SC Lists will benefit them but there is growing
pressure because the SC’s enjoy reservation in legislatures which
the OBC’s do not. In case the OBC’s are also granted reservation,
this pressure may fade out.
To conclude, the All
India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM) emphasizes the need for
determination of the population of every identifiable group or sub-group
and for ascertaining its relative level of backwardness on the basis of
universally uniform and objective parameters. This exercise should be
repeated after each Census. Hopefully with educational and economic
progress, the level of backwardness of each group will go down and
consequently the individual quotas, the reserved space will contract and
the free space shall expand as the society moves towards social equality.
The long-term national objective should be a level playing field for all,
an equal society without discrimination and reservation.
The AIMMM would also like
to place on record its considered view that the best solution, conducive
to the overall progress of the society, is universalization of
reservation for all identifiable and homogenous social groups or
sub-groups which form a sizeable population, so that on the basis of
common parameters they are entitled to a quota of at least 1%,
with mini-sub-groups, below 1% share of population, either joining
together to form one viable group or joining existing sub-groups of their
This drastic approach
shall see a new dawn of social justice and kickstart upward mobility and
generate all round social progress and eventually fulfill the expectations
of the deprived and eliminate the persistent monopoly of the privileged.
The social environment, purged of exploitation and discontent, shall
become more harmonious in both inter-community and inter-caste dimension.
To achieve empowerment of
the Backward Classes and the Minorities, the Constitution should be
amended to introduce a Proportional System of Representation in
Legislatures to replace the current FPP System. Such an electoral system
will not only make the democratic system more representative but ensure
due representation in the legislatures of all weaker sections,
particularly the Religious Minorities, which face bias under
the present system, and the Extremely Backward Classes,
which are too scattered to be politically effective. The AIMMM is
convinced that the goal of Social Justice in a segmented society
cannot be achieved without due representation of all segments of the
people in the power structure, without the political empowerment of all
identifiable socially defined and conscious segments, whatever their caste
or religion or vocation or domicile.
New Delhi, 28 January,
D-250, Abul Fazal Enclave, Jamia
Nagar, New Delhi - 110 025 Phone: 2632 6780 Fax: 2632 7346