Six years on, Muslims no better
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At a recent seminar organised to review the progress made by Muslims since the 2006 Justice Rajinder Sachar Committee report was tabled, speakers debated on whether or not there's been any positive change on the ground level.
Three members of the panel — Justice Sachar, economist Abusaleh Shariff and academician T K Oomen — discussed with experts and politicians what had changed for Muslims in the last six years.
Defending the government, Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh said that the implementation of the report was not the Centre's job alone. "Gujarat refused to distribute scholarships to Muslims. In Uttar Pradesh, funds for skill development programme were diverted to other schemes... The concept of minority concentration districts doesn't work. We need to go for 'cluster' approach, because post-1992 there has been ghettoisation of Muslim community in rural and urban areas. So there is a need for a comprehensive survey, and once this is done funds will directly go to clusters," he said.
Singh added, "There are sections among politicians, bureaucrats and judges who are communal. This has to be fought politically. There is a large presence of communal elements, especially young, on social media networks."
Minority Affairs Minister K Rahman Khan said that "six years after the Sachar panel report, there's a need to critically analyse policies". Stating that schemes are being formulated "by bureaucrats" without "careful discussion", Khan said that he had no faith in multi-sectoral development programmes.
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said that the courts were giving mixed signals. "The Supreme Court that allowed the stay on reservation of four per cent to Muslims in Andhra Pradesh to be vacated and reservation be given to them, has stayed the reservation of backward Muslims in another matter."
Shariff, who has analysed the status of Muslims in a report funded by the US-India Policy Institute and Centre for Research and Debates in Development Policy, admitted "little improvement" on the ground, and also lamented the lack of fundamental shift in politics and policy to help Muslims achieve "mainstreaming aspirations".