Lack of political will to blame for plight of Muslims

Govt needs to do more than just window dressing to improve the lot of Muslims, says report

trithesh

Trithesh Nandan | January 17, 2013



It takes political will to take the nation forward. The UPA government in its first avatar took a major decision by establishing a high-level committee under the leadership of the prime minister (in short Sachar committee) to study about the plight of country’s largest minority population, the Muslim community. After gathering data and studying the conditions of Muslims, the committee presented in report in November 2006 what Abusaleh Shariff, the member-secretary of the Sachar committee called it as ‘diagnostic tool’.

Six years since the Sachar committee report, the cosmetic measures have been erected by the government. Shariff who is now chief scholar with US-India Policy Institute, a think-tank based in Washington DC, brought another report recently (on January 13) that reflected a completely depressing situation of the Muslim community. “Nothing much has changed for the community,” Shariff told Governance Now. The ministry of minority affairs (MMA) came into picture (2006) that was not recommended by the Sachar committee. But it was formed to look after the affairs of Muslims. The multi-sectoral development programme (MsDP), a welfare programme targeting 90 districts with more concentration of minority community and the 15-point programme for welfare of minorities were launched by the UPA I government. Different experts and commentators termed it as ‘political will’ shown by the grand old party of India.

Six years is not a long time but significant long enough to bring significant fruits of development. The hope built by the MMA did not translate into reality. The Oxford educated Muslim figure of the Congress party who headed the ministry till he was elevated to the external affairs three months back calls the reality as conceptual confusion at the government level. “There is issue of politics. The conceptual confusion hurt us more,” said external affairs minister Salman Khurshid.

But one needs to ask if there is conceptual confusion, the government needs to overcome the problem. But why is the government not able to sharpen its thought on all the policies which is hurting the government? A prime minister with a background of economics is so obsessed with growth centric issues that he forgets that in his model of growth all the groups are not benefitting its result to all groups. Shariff’s new report only confirms those fears. The report says that the literacy rate among the general category Muslims have declined in the last five years. It also said that in the micro-credit and Anganwadi schemes, Muslims are excluded. According to the report, “Muslims’ participation in MGNREGS is negligible. They are left out right from the stage of issuance of job cards,” said the study. In a nutshell, the Muslim community has fallen behind the dalits on different economic indicators.

Sixty years ago, when the racial problems started gripping the United States, it came out with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Such was the concern to improve racial relations by the American government; you can see EEOC office in all departments of the governments, universities and the private sectors. The British too followed it up with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

The Sachar committee too recommended setting up of Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) on these lines. The lines are blurred within the government. A lack of political will again has again enveloped and we still don’t have such commission. The proposal is perhaps dusted in the files of the group of ministers (GoM). “We need an equality commission. If we don’t have rough equality, how can we evolve a change in society,” said professor TK Oomen, one of the members of the Sachar committee.

“There is a deep sense of disappointment by the government. The Muslim community has gone on backfoot. We are still having the same discussion after six years,” said Farah Naqvi who is a member of the national advisory council led by the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

Beyond the statistical data and figures brought out by different reports including Shariff’s new report tells government’s lackadaisical approach to India’s largest minority group. You just need to go to Mewat, hardly 80 km from the national capital, you find the reality. New Delhi-based advocacy organisation, Centre for Equity Studies (CES) report last year studied the pitiable conditions of the Muslim of three district including Mewat. Haryana which is good on economic indicators, the sufferer district is Mewat, which is Muslim dominated.

“Because Mewat is below the radar, it hardly catches anyone’s attention. There are lots of stereotypes like Muslim women don’t want to step outside (their homes). But is it a fact? No, it is not. All these stereotypes justify the government’s inaction,” Sajjad Hassan, a former bureaucrat told Governance Now. He is also the author of the CES report. Hassan said that government’s efforts are just window dressing.

In fact, government’s lacks will. Perhaps, it needs more than a window dressing.

 

Comments

 

Other News

Look who’s talking ethics in Karnataka?

 Just after the UP assembly election in 1996, I was among the scores of reporters waiting at Kalyan Singh’s residence, waiting to get the first inkling of the future course of the BJP. The party had secured the maximum seats – 174 out of 425 seats – but was short of the majority mark

Company secretaries are gatekeepers of corporate governance: SEBI Chairman

“Company Secretaries, once known as secretaries to the board and management, have transformed themselves into key managerial and governance professionals. Today they are recognised for their importance on corporate landscape and have become gatekeepers of corporate governance,” said Ajay Tyagi,

Will there be light at the end of the tunnel?

Any good news which promises to bring about qualitative improvement in the lives of people, especially in rural India, is always welcome. It was heartening indeed to learn that every single village in the country now has access to electricity, as announced by the prime minister on April 29. This is most ce

A dry run in Bundelkhand

The paved road, the few concrete houses and men on motorcycles – these are deceptive signs of development in Madralalpur village. Only a couple of weeks ago, Babu, a 47-year-old distressed farmer, had hanged himself from a babool tree. Villagers were gathered at his house as his wife, mother, sister-

Our jobs, their jobs

Statistics has come a long way from the time when British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli observed: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Statistics is now an accredited branch of applied mathematics; statistical methods are routinely used to prove or disprove the

Why hasty ordinance on rape of minors needs gender balance

Of all offences, it’s the crime of rape that fires public sentiment the most, eliciting an outrage that exceeds the seemingly worst felony of all – murder too. It has probably more to do with the offence and associated gory details staying, even being replayed ruthlessly, in memory with continu

Current Issue

Current Issue

Video

CM Nitish’s convoy attacked in Buxar

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter