Minority quota under review
New Delhi, January 16
Home minister Shivraj Patil today indicated that the government was not averse to the idea of giving land to landless members of minorities, just as it had been given to SC/ST and recently to forest dwellers.
Patil after inaugurating the annual conference of the State Minorities Commission also reassured minorities that their constitutional right to propagate their religion would be protected.
Referring particularly to the demand for reservation, he said whatever can be done for this purpose should be done. “We have to apply our mind how best to do this, and the government is looking into this aspect.”
However, he also suggested that in today’s era of liberalisation, minorities should explore avenues of self-employment like setting up their own industrial units or practicing some profession for which funds should be given to them on easy and long-term basis.
Patil also laid emphasis on opening of more educational institutions, whether by the government or by private players so that everybody could have access to education.
“It was the duty of the government to provide full opportunities of development to minorities and protect their life, property and culture. In some countries, citizens have the right only to profess but not to propagate their religion. However, in our country, they have the right to propagate their religion, and this right will be protected,” he said.
Pointing out towards increasing communal polarisation, he said the government would deal severely with perpetrators of such crimes. He also assured that the government was taking steps to implement the provisions of the Sachar Committee Report and also the Prime Minister’s 15-point programme for the minorities.
MCM chairperson Mohammad Shafi Qureshi demanded more staff and powers and constitutional status for the commission. He said he was disappointed to find the absence of a minority sub-plan, as recommended by the NCM, in the 11th Plan document.
Planning commission member Bhalachandra Mungekar, who was also present on the occasion, held Muslims partly responsible for being left behind other communities in the process of development. Accepting that the Muslims had suffered discrimination, Mungekar said the community too never brought development in the forefront of its agenda.
He also exhorted them to make full use of the rights they enjoyed under the Constitution to catch up with others who had moved ahead.
Disagreeing with the need of a minority sub-plan, he said if the Prime Minister’s 15 point programme for minorities was implemented, there would be no need of such a sub-plan as the PM’s plan covered all those points which were sought to be included in that sub-plan.