Muslim Leaders Silent Over Report Card by MOHAMMED ATAUR RAHMAN (JUNE 11, 2007)

The Sachar Committee Report is many things to many people. However, in its essence it is just an attempt to gauge the extent of Muslim economic and social backwardness for possible governmental action to mitigate the backwardness of the community.

Like any other thing dealing with Muslims, it caused great worry to the Bhartiya Janata Party. That was only understandable. On the other hand, despite its good intent, it unnecessarily raised expectations that now seem to be belied. The Union government looks convinced about the backwardness of Muslims as evident from the report and has brought out a 172-page "Report Card" containing remedial measures.

The Muslim backwardness has been evident from the beginning and could have been addressed even without preparing the well researched, meticulously prepared Sachar Committee Report, or the 172-page Report Card.

All that the report and the card have done is the proper articulation and recording of the extent, nature and substance of Muslim socio-economic backwardness. The card takes it a little further and proposes definite corrective measures.

The card identifies 338 districts where Muslims live in substantial numbers and in extremely poor conditions. These districts will get new schools, banks and other civic amenities.

The government would recommend to the Planning Commission to make special budgetary allocations for these purposes. The Planning Commission will have a national databank that will have specific information on different social and religious groups.

Keeping in view the Sachar Committee Report the Union government has decided to form four committees and establish an Equal Opportunity Commission. The education of Muslim girls is a priority under this scheme of things. Representatives from labour and employment sector, small- scale industries, agriculture, trade, heavy industries, textiles, health and family welfare, finance and banking will form a committee to monitor their progress.

Under the leadership of a Planning Commission member a group of ministries will be formed to encourage skill-development and capacity building among Muslims. However, Muslim leaders don’t seem to be greatly impressed with this "package". The Sachar Committee Report did not come to be discussed in Parliament probably because it does not have any statutory backing, which makes it a weak instrument.

The report has pointed out 109 districts as Muslim majority-areas, out of which 35 had been selected for intensive remedial action. Despite that nothing specific is visible on the ground.

Instead of opening vocational colleges and IITs, only a panel has been constituted to look into this. No wonder the Muslim leadership is silent over it.

Mohammed Ataur Rahman

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