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Muslims need inclusive growth: Sachar
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 30
Emphasising that the Muslim community exhibits deficits and deprivation in practically all dimensions of development, the Justice Rajinder Sachar Committee has underlined the need for establishing an equal opportunity commission (EOC) and an assessment and monitoring authority (AMA) to evaluate the extent of development benefits and look into the grievances of deprived groups of different socio-religious categories (SRCs).

“The perception among Muslims that they are discriminated against and excluded is widespread,” says the voluminous report of the committee that was tabled in Parliament today.

The committee is categorical in saying that the policies to deal with the relative deprivation of Muslims in the country should focus on inclusive development and mainstreaming of the community while respecting diversity. “There is an urgent need to recognise diversity in residential, work and educational spaces apart from enhancing inclusion of the really deprived SRCs in spaces created by public programmes and policy interventions,” the report says.

Calling for mechanisms to ensure equity and equality of opportunity to eliminate the perception of discrimination, the committee has recommended the creation of a national data bank as regards various SRCs. The autonomous AMA should function as a watchdog and closely monitor the participation of various SRCs in state and Central-level programme implementation.

There is also a need to strengthen legal provisions. The law must provide an effective mechanism for examining complaints and giving relief. If the minorities have certain perceptions of being aggrieved, efforts should be made to find a mechanism to ensure that complaints are attended to expeditiously.

“It is wrong to assume that there is an inevitable conflict between the interests of the majority and minority communities in the country. Deprivation, poverty and discrimination may exist among all SRCs although in different proportions. But the fact of belonging to a minority community has, it cannot be denied, an in-built sensitivity to discrimination. Recognising this reality does not mean pandering to the minorities nor sniping at the majority. It is in this context that the committee recommends that an EOC be constituted by the government to look into the grievances of the deprived groups,” the report adds.

The participation of Muslims in almost all political spaces is low. This can have an adverse impact on society and polity in the long run. The marginalised either have inadequate numbers that come in the way of making their presence felt in the normal course of governance or they are not politically empowered. Minorities in India lack effective opportunity to either change or even influence events. Therefore, there is a strong case to put mechanisms in place that enable them to engage in democratic processes at various levels of the polity and governance.

The committee has also called for elimination of anomalies with respect to reserved constituencies under the delimitation schemes. This will especially help Muslims to contest and get elected to Parliament and state assemblies. There is a need to evolve other methods to enhance political participation of the community.

The idea of providing certain incentives to a “diversity index” should also be explored. The committee has suggested about linking a wide variety of incentives to this index to ensure equal opportunity to all SRCs in education, governance and private employment and housing.

Muslims also experience educational deprivation, the report says. The solution to the problem lies in school education and a sharper focus on this aspect is desirable. The University Grants Commission (UGC) should be encouraged to evolve a system where part of the allocation to colleges and universities is linked to the diversity in the student population.

To facilitate admissions of the most backward among all SRCs to regular universities and autonomous colleges, an alternative admission criterion needs to be evolved. Providing hostel facilities at reasonable rates to students from minorities must be taken up on priority basis. Given the commitment to provide primary education in children’s mother tongue, the state is required to run Urdu-medium schools.

The report says mechanisms are required whereby madarsas can be linked with higher secondary schools, degrees from madarsas should be recognised as regards eligibility to various competitive examinations.



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