By Qazi Mudasir.MM,
Indian economy witnessed boom when it encountered the world liberalised economy in 1992. The decade’s long policy of protectionism and licence permit raj was buried for ever. What prompted Indian leaders to surrender its policy of protectionism was the balance of payment crisis that brought the country on the brink of economic collapse and that could have proved detrimental to its integrity and stability. Once India was opened for the external markets its economic growth started to climb and reached to its zenith till 2009. No doubt Indian state experienced high growth rate but it was mostly exclusive in nature, depriving large sections of Indian population from development benefits including the minorities in general and Muslims in particular. National Democratic Alliance despite its costly campaign of Indian shinning lost the 2004 Lok Sabha elections very badly and United Progressive Alliance came to power with a slogan of Inclusive growth. The UPA after assuming power at the centre documented a National Common Minimum Programme which guided the minority coalition government throughout its tenure. The policy document took into consideration the concerns of the wider section of the Indian society.
As mentioned above the major section of Indian populations were deprived from the country’s economic boom this also includes the minorities particularly Muslims. In order to ascertain the socio- economic conditions of the minorities a committee was constituted under the chairmanship of the Justice Rajinder Sachar. The committee after a rigours study brought the report before the government which was hailed by the civil society of the country. The committee highlighted the pathetic conditions of the Muslims and even ascertained how Muslims were beyond SCs and STs and OBCs in certain respects. The conditions are still same, Professor Amitabh Kundu in his report on Status of Muslims writes, “Poverty levels among Muslims remained higher than the national average between 2004-05 and 2011-12. In terms of consumption expenditure, Muslims are third from the bottom after the Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes.”
Moreover, the Sachar Committee report brought in limelight the development deficit among the Muslim dominated areas. This report assumes greater importance because it can act as the basis for the future studies and for the first time in the history of India a paradigm shift took place in the public discourse. Now more emphasis is given to socio-economic development of minorities’ leaving behind Identitypolitics. The UPA government responded with some good ameliorative measure like Multi Sectoral Development Programmes (MSDP), Prime Minsters 15 point programme was revamped, Minority scholarships was initiated etc. However, the policies framed by the UPA government have certain limitations that need to be addressed.
The MSDP (The MSDP is an area development programme) intended at upgrading the infrastructure in 90 minority concentrated districts with poor infrastructure. It is here important to mention that the programme was launched because Sachar Committee had in its report mentioned that the Muslim minority concentrated areas lack sufficient infrastructure and hence, targeted interventions was recommended. However, the MSDP which was launched in 90 minority concentrated districts across 20 states in 2008 covered less than half of the Muslim population. It covers only 30 percent of the Muslim population ignoring entirely the Muslims in non-minority concentrated districts as far as 11th five year plan is concerned.Furthermore, there was the poor utilisation of funds meant for the MSDP. In the 11th Five Year Plan, theMSDP was allocated 39 percent of the total budget Ministry of Minority Affairs, the paradox is that the most of the money had remained at the state level and district level only meagre amount of 34 percent of the above allocated had reached to the targeted population.
The other initiative took by UPA government in the context of the Sachar Committee report was that it revamped the Prime Minsters 15 Point Programme for the minorities. The Prime Minsters New 15 Point Programme covers; enhancing opportunities for education, equitable share in economic activities and employment, improving the conditions of living of minorities and prevention, and control of communal riots. However, to make sure that the benefits of various government scheme flows equitably to minorities, the Prim Minsters New 15 Point Programme envisages location of a certain proportion of development project in the minority concentration areas and also provides that, wherever possible, 15 percent of targets and outlays under various schemes should be earmarked for the minorities. Professor Amitabh Kundu writes,“The schemes under the Prime Minister’s 15-point programme are plagued by lack of funds. Ministry of Minority Affairs asked for Rs 58,000 crore under the 12th Five-Year-Plan but the actual outlay was fixed at only Rs 17,323 crore. The committee recommends the expansion of the 15-point programme to Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and the PradhanMantri Jan DhanYojana.” At present only in 15 schemes 15 percent have been earmarked. What should have been more feasible is that, to expand the said earmarking for all schemes so that theMinorities in general and Muslims in particular could avail from these schemes. Moreover,minority sub plan is the best way to redress thegrievances related to scheme benefits.
Furthermore, The Ministry of Minority Affairs was made the nodal ministry to monitor the implementation of the Sachar Committee recommendations. But the Ministry was vehemently criticised by its former minsters and some leading Muslim bureaucratic figures. Salman Khurshed calls it, “…power less and redundant”. He further said that, “…ministry acted as a post office-forwarding requests and recommendations to (other) Ministries that actually took decisions.” Wajhat Habibula said that, “…It (MMA) has failed to effectively address the poverty and exclusion of Muslims, a shortcoming arising principally from weak coordination with other central and state departments, which are not answerable to MMA for inadequacy in implementation. Therefore it is desirable to strengthen the Ministry and allow it take decisions related to minority welfare.
The Sachar Committee preferred the mainstreaming and hence suggested the equitable allocation of available jobs in the public sector amongst the Muslims. Sachar Committee recommended the establishment of two important institutions i.e. Equal opportunity commission and Diversity Index so that to make both the public sector and private sectors more inclusive. Moreover, the Committee suggested to providing incentives to the private sectors in order to encourage the diversity in the work force. It was in this context that the UPA government under thePrime Minsters New15 Point Programme declared that the special considerations would be given to the minorities in the recruitment process at Central and State level along with the Public Sector Undertaking.
The absence of an institutional set up to look for the diversity and to address grievance of the marginalised group’s cast very much as far as the Muslim representations in the government and non-government sectors is concerned. It can be gauged from the following government data on the recruitment. The share of minorities’ in the total recruitment in Central Ministries/Departments, and Central Public Undertakings since 2006 showed steady increase in figure and percentage but in relation to the their total population it is not too much. It was mere 6.93 percent in 2006-07, it reached to a figure of 9.09 percent in 2008-09, in 2009-2010 it showed negative trend and slipped to 7.28 percent, and reached 10.18 percent in 2010-11. As per the 2011-2012 government data the total percentage of minorities’ recruitment was 6.24 percent and as per2012-2013 it was 13.57 in all ministry/Departments. Professor Kundu in his report also highlighted the same fact. He writes,“The share of minorities in government employment remains low – less than half of the share of their total population in the country.’’In order to address this issue he recommended government intervention through targeted recruitment drives.
Therefore keeping in view the development deficit among the minorities it is very important to evolve Minority sub plans in the pattern of SCs and STs and to restructure the minority schemes by removing the flaws at the policy framing level and implementation level. As far as the Muslim representation in public and private sector is concerned the diversity index recommended by Kundu Committee is the best option. It will not only work for the minorities ‘rather it will be exclusive. The diversity Index will measure the Diversity in the all institutions of the government and private sector and will highlighted the under representation of all the marginalized sections of the Indian population. Furthermore Equal Opportunity Commission and Anti- discrimination Law will work as the rectifying Institutions.
The author is pursuing Research in Aligarh Muslim University and can be mailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org