Sachar, Misra and Kundu: Partial Reports, Partial Recommendations, Minimal Implementation
Before fixing objectives in accordance with our own vision, let us see in brief what Sachar Committee reported, and what were the follow-ups and their results.
Sachar Commiitte Report was published in 2006. The report attracted huge attention because for the first time since independence a committee formed by the government studied the conditions of Muslims in the country and its findings not only statistically confirmed what was largely known but also challenged the charges of appeasement of Muslims. Since then Muslim as well as other intellectuals, community leaders and analysts have become so obsessed with the report that they cannot think beyond it. We will see below that not only Sachar Committee Report had very limited value as far as the issues of Muslims are concerned. At a later stage, we will also show that little has been achieved of whatever the Committee Report proposed.
The terms of reference that were fixed for the Committee are reproduced below.
“(a) Obtain relevant information from departments/agencies of the Central and State Governments and also conduct an intensive literature survey to identify published data, articles and research on the relative social, economic and educational status of Muslims in India at the state, regional and district levels, to address, inter alia, the following questions:
- In which States, Regions,Districts and Blocks do the Muslims of India mostly live?
-What is the geographical pattern of their economic activity, i.e. what do they mostly do for a living in various States, Regions and Districts?
- What are their asset bases and income levels relative to other groups across Social, Economic and Educational Status of the Muslim Community of India in various States and Regions?
- What is the level of their socio-economic development in terms of relevant indicators such as literacy rate, dropout rate, maternal mortality rate (MMR), infant mortality rate (IMR) etc.? How does this compare with other communities in various States?
- What is their relative share in public & private sector employment? Does it vary across States and what is the pattern of the variation? Is the share in employment in proportion to their population in various States? If not, what are the hurdles?
- What is the proportion of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) from the Muslim community in the total OBC population in various States? Are the Muslim OBCs listed in the comprehensive list of OBCs prepared by the National and State Backward Classes Commissions and adopted by the Central and State Governments for reservation for various purposes? What is the share of Muslim OBCs in the total public sector employment for OBCs in the Centre and in various States in various years?
- Does the Muslim community have adequate access to education and health services, municipal infrastructure and, bank credit provided by Government/ public sector entities? How does this compare to access enjoyed by other communities in various States? What is the level of social infrastructure (schools, health centres, ICDS centres etc.) located in areas of Muslim concentration in comparison to the general level of such infrastructure in various States?
(b) Consolidate, collate and analyze the above information/literature to identify areas of intervention by Government to address relevant issues relating to the social, economic and educational status of the Muslim community.”
The major points covered in the reports are:
· In the field of literacy the Committee has found that the rate among Muslims is very much below than the national average. The gap between Muslims and the general average is greater in urban areas and women. 25 per cent of children of Muslim parents in the 6-14 year age group have either never attended school or have dropped out.
· Muslim parents are not averse to mainstream education or to send their children to affordable Government schools. The access to government schools for children of Muslim parents is limited.
· Bidi workers, tailors and mechanics need to be provided with social safety nets and social security. The participation of Muslims in the professional and managerial cadre is low.
· The average amount of bank loan disbursed to the Muslims is 2/3 of the amount disbursed to other minorities. In some cases it is half. The Reserve Bank of India’s efforts to extend banking and credit facilities under the Prime Minister’s 15-point programme of 1983 has mainly benefited other minorities marginalizing Muslims.
· There is a clear and significant inverse association between the proportion of the Muslim population and the availability of educational infrastructure in small villages. Muslim concentration villages are not well served with pucca approach roads and local bus stops.
· Substantially larger proportion of the Muslim households in urban areas are in the less than Rs.500 expenditure bracket.
· The presence of Muslims has been found to be only 3% in the IAS, 1.8% in the IFS and 4% in the IPS.
· Muslim community has a representation of only 4.5% in Indian Railways while 98.7% of them are positioned at lower levels. Representation of Muslims is very low in the Universities and in Banks. Their share in police constables is only 6%, in health 4.4%, in transport 6.5%.
· For the Maulana Azad Education Foundation to be effective the corpus fund needs to be increased to 1000 crores. Total allocation in the four years 2002 to 2006 for Madarsa Modernization Scheme is 106 crores. The information regarding the Scheme has not adequately percolated down. Even if the share of Muslims in elected bodies is low they and other underrepresented segments can be involved in the decision making process through innovative mechanisms.
· Most of the variables indicate that Muslim-OBCs are significantly deprived in comparison to Hindu-OBCs. The work participation rate (WPR) shows the presence of a sharp difference between Hindu-OBCs (67%) and the Muslims. The share of Muslim-OBCs in government/ PSU jobs is much lower than Hindu-OBCs.
· There are about 5 lakh registered Waqfs with 600,000 acres (2,400 km²) land and Rs 6,000 crore book value.
The Sachar committee report helped in a big way to remove common stereotypes. Some of these important findings were:
· Only four per cent of Muslims students actually go to madrassas primarily because primary state schools do not exist for miles. Therefore, the idea that Muslims prefer madrassa education was found to be not true.
· That there is “substantial demand from the community for fertility regulation and for modern contraceptives” and over 20 million couples are already using contraceptives. “Muslim population growth has slowed down as fertility has declined substantially”. This does away with the concern that Muslim population growth would be able to outnumber Hindus or change the religious demography in any meaningful way.
· That Muslims wherever spoken to complained of suffering the twin calumnies of being dubbed “anti-national” and of being “appeased”. However, the Indian Muslim community as a whole had never indulged in anti-national activities and the conditions borne out by the committee's findings clearly explained that no "appeasement" had taken place[
· In private industry like the BPO industry, Muslims have been able to do well and find employment in large numbers. However this is restricted to large companies mainly.
· Muslims in Gujarat, a state that was ravaged by 2002 Gujarat riots, were indicated to be better off in terms of Education and Economic well being than the national average. Even in terms of employment Gujarat had a better share of Muslims in government jobs (5.4%) than compared to states like West Bengal (2.1%) and New Delhi (3.2%).
Summary of Recommendations
The report put forward some recommendations to eliminate the situation raised for Indian Muslim. Justice Sachar explained that the upliftment minorities and implementation of these recommendations would strengthen the secular fabric of Indian society as well as increase patriotism due to their all inclusive progress. The recommendations include:
· Mechanisms to ensure equity and equality of opportunity and eliminate discrimination.
· Creation of a National Data Bank (NDB) where all relevant data for various Socio Religious Communities are maintained.
· Form an autonomous Assessment and Monitoring Authority to evaluate the extent of development benefits
· An Equal Opportunity Commission should be constituted to look into the grievances of the deprived groups.
· Elimination of the anomalies with respect to reserved constituencies under the delimitation scheme.
· The idea of providing certain incentives to a diversity index should be explored to ensure equal opportunities in education, governance, private employment and housing.
· A process of evaluating the content of the school textbooks needs to be initiated and institutionalized.
· The UGC should evolve a system where part of the allocation to colleges and universities is linked to the diversity in the student population.
· Providing hostel facilities at reasonable costs for students from minorities must be taken up on a priority basis.
· The Committee recommended promoting and enhancing access to Muslims in Priority Sector Bank Advances.
· The real need is of policy initiatives that improve the participation and share of the Minorities, particularly Muslims in the business of regular commercial banks.
· The community should be represented on interview panels and Boards. The underprivileged should be helped to utilize new opportunities in its high growth phase through skill development and education.
· Provide financial and other support to initiatives built around occupations where Muslims are concentrated and have growth potential.
Follow-up action taken
15-point minorities welfare programme
The Prime Minister has also unfolded a comprehensive 15-point programme for the welfare and empowerment of minorities. The programme has following components:
1. Equitable availability of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)
2. Improving access to School Education
3. Greater resources for teaching Urdu
4. Modernizing Madarsa Education
5. Scholarships for meritorious students from minority communities
6. Improving educational infrastructure through the Maulana Azad Education Foundation.
7. Self-Employment and Wage Employment for the poor
8. Upgradation of skill through technical training
9. Enhanced credit support for economic activities
10. Recruitment to State and Central Services
11.Equitable share in rural housing scheme
12.Improvement in condition of slums inhabited by minority communities.
13.Prevention of communal incidents
14.Prosecution for communal offences
15.Rehabilitation of victims of communal riots.
The new plan wants to help the minorities by Enhancing opportunities for education, Ensuring equitable share in economic activities and employment, improving the conditions of living of minorities, Prevention and control of communal disharmony and violence.
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan
The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) or “Education for All Programme”, a national flagship programme to provide quality elementary education to all children in the 6 – 14 years age group through a time bound approach. Based on the data obtained from Census as well as District Information System for Education (DISE), SRI-IMRB Survey etc., the Government has made a number of interventions in SSA to help the minority (Muslim) children in education. One of the thrust areas is to ensure availability of schools in all minority concentrated districts. During 2005-06, 4624 primary and Upper primary schools, and about 31,702 Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS) Centres were sanctioned in minority concentrated districts. During 2006-07, 6918 new primary and upper primary schools have been sanctioned in minority-dominated districts. 32,250 EGS centres with a total enrolment of 120.90 lakh children have been sanctioned for 2006-07. Sanction has also been accorded for enrolment of 11.25 lakh children in Alternative & Innovative Education (AIE) during 2006-07 in these districts.
Madrasas/Makhtabs have been covered under SSA. The Madarsas affiliated to the State Madarasa Boards and satisfying certain conditions are eligible for such assistance as is available to other regular schools under SSA. So far 8309 madarsas have been assisted.
Facilities for minority girls
Free textbooks are provided to all minority girls from classes I-VIII. As provided to majority community also, Urdu textbooks are provided for Urdu medium schools and for Urdu as a subject. Based on the 1981 Census, 93 districts (now 99) in 16 states have been identified for focused attention. The major focus is on the states of Bihar, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Assam. Out of the 1180 Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (KGBV), 210 schools have been sanctioned in minority blocks, 1430 minority girls have already been enrolled in KGBVs till 31.3.06.
Minority Concentration districts
In addition to above measures, there is also a special focus on 93 districts with over 20% of the population belonging to minorities according to the 1981 census, for SSA investments in 2005-06 and 2006-07. This included other religious communities like Christians, Hindus or Sikhs living as minorities in different parts of India
Sachar Committee’s recommendations in the sphere of education include a special focus on free and compulsory education; institutionalizing the process of evaluating school textbooks so that they better reflect community-specific sensitivities; setting up quality government schools, especially for girls in areas of Minority concentration; and providing priming education in Urdu or native language in areas where the language is widely in use.
The following table pertains to select socio-economic data regards the Muslim community in India. Even in states and districts where Muslims are a majority, they are discriminated against by government ministries, institutions, corporations and banks. Over 100% figure for bank accounts indicates undercount of Muslims in decadal censuses. Enrolment rate pertains to school admissions of children aged 6 through 14 years. ST stands for Scheduled Tribe. OBC stands for Other Backward Classes. MPCE stands for Monthly Per Capita Expenditure.