Works waiting for K. Rahman Khan - iii

By Syed Zafar Mahmood

In order to ameliorate the long-drawn severe Muslim under-representation in India’s governance (less than one-fourth of the Muslim share in population), the Sachar Committee made a highly reasonable recommendation that the Government should nominate Muslims to important executive posts and in the Parliament and Assemblies. This should ensure that, at the national level, Muslim proportion does not remain less than their population ratio of 13.4% (as per Census). Likewise, in the states, Muslims should have representation in proportion to their respective provincial level shares in population. The Sachar Committee further mentioned in its report that this work should be processed in the manner as the Government of Andhra Pradesh had been nicely doing. However, when the bureaucracy in the Ministry of Minority Affairs prepared it’s notes on various recommendations of Sachar Committee, it commented in front of this recommendation: This recommendation relates to Andhra Pradesh, and it should be referred to the A.P. Government (!). This abominable act really tantamounts to mockery of this vital recommendation of Sachar Committee. Under Right to Information Act, a copy of the impugned document of the Ministry of Minority Affairs has been obtained. Consequently, during the last six years, no central or state government has ever acted upon this important Sachar recommendation. The Minority Affairs Minister, Mr K. Rahman Khan (KRK) should immediately write letters to all the central ministers and the chief ministers saying that this recommendation of the Sachar Committee should be acted upon and quarterly progress reports of such implementation should be sent to the Ministry of Minority Affairs. This circular letter of the Minister needs to be displayed on the website of the Ministry. Similarly, the quarterly compliance reports should also be made available on the ministry’s website.

In order to address the inequity in the classrooms across the nation, an Alternate Admission Criterion has been vehemently recommended on page 246 of the Sachar Committee report for implementation in all universities and colleges through UGC. Accordingly, the criterion for admission into various courses of study should be spread over two components, viz. 60% for personal merit and 40% for the relative social backwardness suffered by the candidate. The parameters for evaluating backwardness should include: (a) candidate’s annual domestic income, (b) poverty level of the candidate’s district and (c) nature of the candidate’s family income. Since no headway has been made to implement this recommendation, KRK would be well-advised to write soon to the Minister for Human Resources Development seeking the issue of immediate directions to the UGC in this regard. In the UGC too, it would have to be constantly followed up with unwavering perseverance so that the new admission procedure is implemented with effect from the academic session 2013-14.

The Sachar Committee also said that the bureaucrats and other staff of the Government should be sensitized vis-á-vis the findings of Sachar Committee and the utter need to restore multi-faceted justice to Muslims in the form of affirmative actions. For this purpose, special lectures should be organized highlighting the significance of this issue through Power Point presentations. A model presentation should be professionally prepared involving experts from the Muslim community and that should be displayed on the website of the Ministry of Minority Affairs. First such lecture should be arranged for the officers and staff of the Ministry of Minority Affairs.

During December 2012, Human Chain (NGO) had organized a conference in the auditorium of India Islamic Cultural Centre in Delhi to deliberate upon the fate of Sachar Committee’s recommendations. As chief guest, KRK announced that (a) the recommendations of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Waqfs and the Sachar Committee shall be sincerely implemented by his Ministry in letter and spirit, and (b) Harsh Mander’s Report (Promises to Keep, 2011) shall be minutely studied by his Ministry and lessons taken therefrom shall be transduced into actions by the Government without any further loss of time. KRK also categorically announced that his Government, within its remaining tenure, would establish National Waqf Academy and, with the help of this Academy, would put together a well-trained Waqf cadre. He added that this would serve as a forerunner for establishing in the foreseeable future the Indian Waqf Service as recommended by the Sachar Committee.

Harsh Mander wrote in his report that the political valour and vision that informed the appointment of Sachar Committee are not matched by that required to build an appropriate and adequate response to the multiple development deficits suffered by the teeming majority of Indian Muslims. The political managers of the ruling combine possibly caution against providing grist to the opposition’s charges of “minority appeasement”. They “fear” the political consequences of the Government being seen as openly taking sides with a community which is currently stigmatized, though unjustly. Conversely, the Government shall have to, rather, muster adequate will to politically admit the cumulative neglect and discrimination which has held back India’s largest socio-religious minority. Harsh Mandar added that though the policy was designed to remove the deprivation of Muslims in the light of the Sachar Committee report, but when the time for it’s implementation arrived, the policy was extended to other minorities as well and thus got diluted for Muslims. He wrote that the reluctance of the Government in unambiguously implementing even this watered down version of its policy for Muslims is quite visible. Such diffidence at the policy level to clearly focus on Muslims and their deprivations translates into active reluctance by the implementing agencies on the ground, to target Muslims and the drivers of their deprivations, even in districts with high Muslim concentration. The institutional structures designed to implement these initiatives – right from the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs down to the implementing officials in districts and below -  lack conviction, clout and even a clear mandate to directly battle the socio-economic structural discrimination and denial encountered by the community.

Hence, as a prudent wayout, Harsh Mandar made the vital recommendation that for planning the infrastructure schemes, the villages and wards should be made as the units (instead of districts), otherwise the schemes have generally been found to have been implemented in those areas of the districts where Muslim presence is negligible.

KRK informed the audience that there is corresponding remedial movement on this issue in the Planning Commission. The month of January is very important. Work was going on to draft the national budget. KRK’s Ministry was expected to make efforts on a daily basis during this crucial period.

Harsh Mander also wanted that the Government should form a separate Sub-Plan for Muslim-oriented investment in the development programmes just like the governments have for long been doing for the Scheduled Castes (mind you, Muslims had been excluded from the definition of  ‘Scheduled Castes’ since 1950). He emphasized that the central government should introduce a special component plan of Rs 25,000 crore for Muslims. Rupees 15,000 crores should be allocated for establishing new educational institutions and Rs 10,000 for establishing small businesses and providing other economic opportunities. Besides, all the minorities of India put together make 19% of the national population. Nevertheless, only 15% of the total plan allocation has been earmarked for the Prime Minister’s 15 points programme for minorities. It is necessary to raise this to at least 19%. Facilitation centers need be established for providing information and guidance with the help of the Muslim youth - at the block and district levels. While the Ummah and its well-wishers surely need to do their bit,  they are looking towards KRK humming this couplet of Allama Iqbal:

Chaahey to badal daaley hai-at chamanistaan ki
Yeh  hasti-e  beena  hai,  daana  hai,  tawaana  hai

(If it so wishes, it can change the landscape of the garden / The human life is blessed with correct perception, thorough understanding and never-ending energy.)

The author is chairman of Zakat Foundation of India and was OSD of the Sachar Committee.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-28 February 2013 on page no. 11

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