A note on Empowerment of Muslims in India Abusaleh Shariff

 A note on Empowerment of Muslims in India

 The Indian constitution and the policy making bodies at the national and state levels have provided a number of opportunities through regular policies and programs; as well as though Minority / Muslim specific policies and programs which promotes inclusive development in India. As is expected such policies and programs are made available to the people at large and the target groups through a number of institutional provisions encompassing, bureaucratic, administrative and legal procedures. While such provisioning are far too many and large in numbers and evolved over a period of the independent history of India, they are not comprehensible by the common citizens of India.  Besides, one needs to prioritize such opportunities depending upon the extent and quantum of benefits they offer in a cost effective manner.

Indian Constitution empowers and enhances capabilities to participates in:

ü      Governance and political structures

ü      Institutional development through formation of civil society organizations and NGOs

ü      Promotes market mechanism and Public - Private business partnerships

People can benefit by:

ü      Establish individual/family based business and enterprising activities across rural and urban spaces

ü      Establish occupation/group based business and enterprising activities cross India

ü      Enables charting out localized Poverty Alleviation Strategies

 Selected Best Practices favouring Muslims:

  •     Article 30 to establish Minority education Institutions
  •     Maintain and develop AWAQAF properties
  •     National and State Minority Commissions
  •     National and State Minority Development Corporations
  •     Maulana Azad Educational Foundation
  •     Aligad Muslim University
  •     Use of public spaces such as roads and parks to perform Namaz, especially Namaz-e-Jumaa
  •     Permitted practice to say azan publicly
  •     Application of Muslim personal law for resolving family, marriage and inheritance
  •     Public holidays for Muslim religious events
  •     Public support for performance of Haj
  •     Modernization of madrasahs

Institutional Mechanisms that promote democratic participation

  •      National Parliament and State Legislatures
  •     Opportunities for Self-governance through 73rd (PRI) and 74th (ULB) Constitutional Amendments
  •     Civil Society and NGO Activities through the enabling provisions of Central and State Co-operative Acts
  •     Establish Self-Help Groups (SHGs) to address local and proximate income generating issues
  •     Employment Guarantee Scheme-2006 meant to sustain consumption levels and ward off seasonal adverse impacts

Institutional Mechanisms addressing grievances and improving transparency

  •     Right to Information -2005
  •     National Legal Aid Authority
  •     Consumer Courts

 Discussion and Recommendation:

In spite of the prevalence of a number of best practices and institutional opportunities enunciated above, the Muslim community appears to face constraints and hurdles often emerging from bureaucratic red tape, corruption and political inertia. One of the prime constraints is lack of proper and usable information and the government both at the national and state level must re-vitalize the mass-media and information providing mechanisms that benefits all communities including the Muslims.

 In this connection we request that Government initiatives are needed to :

  1. Increase the participation of Muslims in elected bodies such as the parliament and state legislatures. Should the election of a Muslim candidate become difficult mechanism must be found out to increase representation by nomination if necessary?
  2.  Appropriate state level laws can be made to ensure Muslim representation in local bodies.
  3.  One of the constraints for the Muslims is to get recognition and registration of associations and civil society organization when the listed individuals are all Muslims. There is a need to look into the legal provisions such that association and NGOs with proper by-laws and objectives even when all the members belong to the Muslim communities should be legally recognized. This applies even to the formation of the Self-help groups.
  4.  Another constraint faced by the Muslim community is due to the requirement of securing 'guarantors" often government servants as guarantors to secure loans, subsides and development fiancé from institutions such as the  Public Sector Banks, NABARD, Minority / Backward Classed Development Corporations and so on. In this regard it is requested that the locality / Molalla / Masjid committees and associations such as the youth clubs, Mahila mandals should be given authority to recommend the applicants in liu of the ‘government guarantor’.  The very concept of securing a guarantee from a government functionary is erroneous and is promoting rampant corruption in the system.
  5.  One of major crisis faced by the Muslim community is " 'identity crisis'. An inward looking attitude and apriori belief that Muslims are unwanted in public space has made Muslims withdrawn from most of formal and informal public spaces. To address this issue concerted efforts must be made in such a way that their visibility is increased in common / public / business spaces. One way to achieve this aim is to help install display and sale counters of the products and handicrafts exclusively manufactured by the Muslims in various parts of India. For example, such an effort can be easily made through the ITPO business / trade fares organized every year in Delhi and across India
  6. While the Muslim community has younger age profile, but limited achievement in terms of appropriate education compared with other communities, there appears to be a large number of boys and girls who are unemployed. Although Muslims are known to be artisans and self-employed the young are unable to keep up with the demands of modernization in the production and manufacturing sectors. It is therefore very important that special schemes and programs are conceived and implemented so as to increase the skill formation and promote entrepreneurship. Such efforts can be concentrated in districts where the Muslim population is higher that 25 percent across India. Special emphasis must be made to train Muslim youth who are non-matriculates there by ineligible to get trained under the current formal technical education streams.g


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