Vociferous objections over the drafting of Central Madrasa Board (CMB) Act, 2009, has forced the government to rework its proposal and involve more members of the Muslim community in drafting the Act.
In a meeting between human resource development (HRD) ministry and Muslim members of parliament (MP), the MPs agreed on the CMB but not the way government wanted. They strongly objected to the composition of the proposed body saying that it did not represent the community in a fair manner.
HRD minister Kapil Sibal has asked the Muslim MPs to come up with a fresh draft of the bill within one month, clearly stating how the Muslim community wants the board to be.
In a meeting attended by only 18 MPs out of the 30 who had confirmed, three objected to the proposal of the CMB very strongly. They were Majilis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen MP from Hyderabad Asaddudin Owaisi, Trinamool's Sultan Ahmad, who is also a minister in the UPA government and Ahmad Syed Malihabadi (Independent).
After the other MPs, including BJP's Shanawaz Hussain, broadly agreed to go with the government over the issue of setting up a CMB and with the teaching of modern subjects in the seminaries. But they wanted that without government interference.
"It was a very fruitful meeting. However, there were concerns from many MPs about the constitution of the CMB Act. They believed that the government's intention is fair but the bill needs major modifications. I have agreed to it and asked them to draft the bill and bring it to me which I will take before the ulemas (clerics). I don't want to give any impression that the government is in a hurry to interfere in their religious teachings," HRD minister Kapil Sibal said.
The ministry clarified that the government will not set up any board without the consensus of the community and if they don't agree then there will be no Madrasa board. "I have no urgency. If they (Muslim community) doesn't want to teach modern subjects in their Madrasas I am not going to force them," Sibal said.
The MPs had objected to the interference of government in the running of the
"The moment you say that in case of a dispute, the decision of the central government will be final, you give a feel that Madrasas have an element of grey. You are viewing us with suspicion. Why doesn't the government regulate Sanskrit vidyapeeth's. The bill doesn't have the preamble clarifying why such a board is required," Owaisi said.
The Central Madrasa Board Bill, 2009, gives power to the board to take steps for the standardisation of the non-theological aspects of Madrasa system education and its comprehensive, systematic and integrated development.
For this purpose the board can promote education in non-theological subjects without interfering in any manner in the theological content and evaluation of Madrasa education. It will also devise ways to promote education of Muslim girls to eradicate gender-based educational disparity.
However, the government reserves the power to appoint the panel that would run the board, remove any member, and monitor the way funds are used.
The board can also grant or refuse affiliation to a Madrasa and withdraw affiliation based on the recommendations of the Affiliation Committee. It can recommend measures for standardisation of Madrasa system of education, introduce modern text books on any subject, other than religious texts, as extra reading to complement students' knowledge, recommend curriculum, syllabus, courses of studies to be followed and books to be studied in affiliated Madrasas for examinations instituted by the board. All madrasas will be affiliated with CBSE for a certificate.
The Madrasas affiliated with the board will be provided computers and other information communication technology (ICT), multimedia and audio-visual aids for teaching. Their teachers will have to use modern methodology for teaching and the board will support Madrasas in providing salaries.