National Agenda for Muslims Development: A letter to PM(MJ Khan)


Dr. Manmohan Singh

Dated: 12 June, 2009

Hon’ble Prime Minister of India
South Block
New Delhi – 110001

Sub: National Agenda for Muslims Development

Widening the jobs and educational opportunities to the millions of its citizens in a cost effective manner should be the national priority for India in the new millennium. Muslims constitute a large segment of those Indians who continue to suffer due to lack of proper education. There has
been a time lag in the educational development of the community which has cast its shadow both on its economic and social development. There are both historical and cultural reasons for this. The literacy levels amongst the Muslim are the lowest, as has been authenticated by Sachar Panel. Thus they have a long way to go before they can catch up with the rest of the country.
The much talked of liberalization and market friendly policies of today have only ensured that those who are unable to access quality education remain at a great disadvantage.

Due to the educational backwardness Muslims are not able to participate in the economic development. In jobs many times they face discrimination, which has led to their negligible presence in Government services, even at the lowest levels, where education does not matter. The recruitments in Police force and class IV services at the Centre and in UP in 2006 - 07, establish the fact of a clear bias against Muslims exist. With this social handicap and given their low level of participation in the mainstream education of higher learning, they can look for any respectable level of participation only with an effective instrument of support by the Government. Removal of religion based discriminatory Clause under Artcle 341 of the Constituiton for SC/ST reservation, creating a Separate Subgroup within the backwards
reservation and launch of a Special Component Plan for Muslims of a reasonable Rs. 25,000 crores annually, seems logical and absolutely necessary step, if any meaningful support is to be extended to Muslims to bring them in the mainstream.

In the changing dynamics of world order and the emergence of knowledge societies, where the emergence of private sector in playing an important role in education, jobs and new enterprises, the importance of quality education is further enhanced. Thus providing quality education to 50
million Muslims to bring them into national mainstream is a major challenge for the Governments and the educationists in India. In this regard the major barriers to access and equity need to be identified and the dynamics of inequality, welfare and justice need to be understood.

Since independence Muslims participation in educational, economic, social and political spheres is declining. During this period, about a dozen committees and commissions were formed to look into Muslim issues and recommend to the Government the needful policy interventions.

Every time there was announcement for constitution of a body, it created much hopes among Muslims, but soon to get despair, almost with certainity. There remained stark gap in expectations, promises and deliveries. Why these Commissions and Committees were created, what were their major recommendations, what was implemented and what went wrong? The latest being the Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission, which gave very decisive recommendations. But for reasons, not difficult to know, the Government did not even table the report in Parliament till date for debating, far from reflecting the intentions to accept it.

In view of the increasing marginalisation of muslims in social and economic spheres over a period of time and the happenings of the last few months, the feeling is growing that muslim youths may loose faith in the system and about their future. Thus, there is urgent need for attention by the Government, intellegentia and the political system to devise suitable measures to address their issues and grievances, and more importantly take effective steps to ensure their participation in the mainstream education and social and economic system

The question of social opportunity and public policy needs to be answered keeping in view the poor economic development of the community. The words of encouragement, support, free books, coaching etc. and that famous 15 Point Program can not ensure their effective participation in education and economic developments. The time has come to shed our hesitation about reservation to Muslims in education, jobs and funds allocation, as this is the only mean by which Government can deliver anything substantial. The example of Karnataka, where Muslims have found some place in the society bears testimony to the effectiveness of this instrument. If proportionate representation in jobs, education and resources allocation is ensured, it will have strong cascading effects on the development of the community. But the Nation in general and the Government in particular does not seem to be prepared for talk of reservation and yet another spate of reservation related implications, public outcry by vested groups etc.

Keeping in view the above dynamics and based on the wide spread consultations among the community leaders from social, political, educational and economic fields and the discussions held on 9th June, 09 at the India Islamic Centre, new Delhi on the occiaison of Felicitation of Muslim Minsters and newely elect MPs to 15th Lok Sabha, the following recommendations have emerged, which we are putting before the Union Government for its consideration and acceptance:

No Reservation but Correction of the religion based discriminatory Clause (3) under Article 341 of the Constitution, which was imposed by a Presidential Order 1950. The existence of this Clause contradicts the secular character of our constitution, which is mentioned in the Preamble of the Constitutuion and guarnteed under Artcle 14, 15 and 16 of the Constitution “that no discrimination will be made to its citizens based on gender, caste, religion etc.”. And yet Muslims and Christens face religion based discrimination under this Presidential Order.

No Reservation but Justice under the OBC quota, wherein based on the Mandal Commmission recommendations, Muslims OBC castes constitute one third (8.4%) of the 27%. Muslims like many Most Bankward Castes (MBCs) among Hindus have not got their share in OBC, as few powerful castes take away the chunk of the OBC quota, say Yadavs in Northern India. Therefore based on the South pattern of Kerala, Tamilnadu, Karnataka and AP, Advanced OBCs, MBCs and
Muslim OBCs may be given Quota within Quota, as per their share. This will be in total conformity with the spirit of reservation, where all get Justice, a Just and a Fair Share.

No Reservation but Affirmative Actions for their effective participation in the national mainstream by accessing education and economic opportunities through a set of Affirmative Actions. Through Special Component Plan of Rs. 25,000 crores, an annual budget of Rs. 15,000 crores may be created for Modernisation of the Madarsa Educational Network and for opening new educational institutions for Muslims under 85:15 ratio, wherein 85% grant is by GOI and 15% by the host. Another Budget of Rs. 10,000 crores to be created for their large scale skills development programs, creation of small enterprises and other economic opportunities.

No Reservation but Equitable Share under the spendings by all economic ministries of the Central Government. The apppoitnment of a Monitoring Officer in each ministry or mandating the Ministry of Minority Affairs to ask for status report on quarterly basis of the adherence to the 15% spendings for minorities (10% exclusively for Muslims) will serve the purpose.

Safety, Security and Sensitiveity towards minorities. Suitable law may be passed by the Parliament for the protection of minorities, sensitivity and accountability of enforcement agencies and covering them under the Criminal Act, on par with the SC/ST Criminal Act. This will ensure that harassment, torchure and profiling of minorities is not done. And in cases of riots, blasts and terrorist activities, even before the preliminary investigations are done, many times and almost with certainity some Muslim names are flashed in media, which not only affects the investigations, but create very negative perception about Muslims in the society.

We believe that if these measures are taken by the UPA Government, then Muslims will be able to effectively participate in the national mainstream and constribute to the economic progress and double digit growth of the nation.

We shall be keen to meet and discuss the Muslim Development Agenda and its perationalisation. We shall appreciate an early confirmation of 30 minutes time for the same.

Thanking you and with regards

(M J Khan)


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