No country for Muslims

Thursday, 20 March 2014 - 6:00am IST Updated: Thursday, 20 March 2014 - 12:57am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
Post-Sachar panel points at sad plight of community, wants SC status, anti-atrocity bill

Justice Rajinder Sachar in his report in 2006 said the Muslims in the country face enormous economic deprivation, social exclusion and political under-representation. Following this, the Union government created a ministry of minority affairs, revamped the prime minister’s 15-point programme and launched multi-sectoral development programmes targeted at Muslims.

The seven-year exercise, however, did not bring about any significant change in the socio-economic condition of the community, says an interim report, which was submitted to the ministry of minority affairs on March 13. The 10-member committee headed by JNU professor Amitabh Kundu was appointed by the UPA government in August 2013 to evaluate developments in political, social and economic spheres focusing on the period since the acceptance of the Sachar committee report in 2006 and also to propose measures for the upliftment of Muslims.

The Kundu committee has now recommended the inclusion of some of the most backward Muslims castes (Ajlaf) under the Other Backward Class (OBC) quota, shifting of Muslim Dalits (Arzal) from OBC to the Scheduled Caste (SC) quota and the passing of an “Anti-Muslims Discrimination Act” on the lines of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. The report also criticises the UPA government for not passing the Communal Violence Bill.

“Many politicians wear skull caps and boast about being the champions of the Muslim community. However, a lot needs to be done for inclusive India,” professor Kundu told dna.

The government has given a six-month deadline to the committee in the hope of gaining some brownie points before the 2014 elections. The contents of the interim report are bound to create embarrassment for the government and may affect the poll outcome. Hence, the interim report has been kept under wraps. The final report is expected in June.

The report says the schemes targeted at Muslim-concentrated districts did not yield desired results due to lack of comprehensive approach of the agencies. The participation of Muslims in workforce in the formal sector continues to be low.

Over 18 per cent of the educated urban Muslim youth are unemployed. However, their participation in informal sectors like construction, trade and manufacturing was higher than other religious groups. “This is because they leave education early,” said Abdul Shaban, professor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences and one of the members of the committee.

Muslim OBCs reported 50 per cent higher poverty than other OBCs. The gap has gone up in these years and their economic condition is worsening, the report states. “It is seen that ST Hindus are at the bottom of the poverty ladder in rural areas, followed by SCs and then Muslims. This ranking remains unchanged over the past two decades as also the period post-Sachar report. This is due to the fact that they remain outside agriculture.”

The community still has the lowest access to health facilities, institutional deliveries and child vaccination though it reported less infant mortality rate compared to other groups.

Only 3 per cent Muslims are in higher education compared to 17 per cent in the general population. The increase in attendance in schools was also lowest among Muslims in this period as was female literacy. While 75 per cent of the population above seven years was literate in 2011-12, the figure was only 72 per cent for Muslims.

Referring to the National Sampling Survey (2011-12), the report mentions the Muslim population as 13.8 per cent of the national population as against 12.6 per cent in 2009-10. The sudden rise of 1.2 base points in two years is unexplained. The share was almost steady in previous years.


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