New Delhi, April 12 The reconstituted 147-member National Integration Council (NIC), chaired by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, included a number of Muslims. According to an official release issued on April 12, they were noted business tycoon Azim Premji, Union Ministers Dr Farooque Abdullah and Salman Khursheed and E Ahamed, Congress veteran leader C K Jafar Sharif, All India Majlis Ittehadul Muslemeen (AIMIM) leader Asaduddin Owaisi, Peoples Democratic Front leader, All India Muslim Majlis Mushawarat (AIMMM) leader Syed Shahabuddin, social and political activist Noor Bano, South Asian Council for Minorities (SACM) chief Navaid Hamid, Mumbai-based Urdu daily “Inquilab” Editor Shahid Lateef, Hyderabad-based Urdu daily “Siasat” Editor Zahid Ali Khan, scholars Asghar Ali Engineer and Prof Zoya Hasan, human rights activists Ms Shabana Azmi and Ms Shabnam Hashmi, poet Bekal Utsahi and Madari Moideen. However, a number of well known figures and leaders of Muslim organizations and head of Muslim institutions as well as experts of different fields are missing in the list.
The NIC also has included Union Ministers, Leaders of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, Chief Ministers of all States and Union Territories with Legislatures, besides leaders of national and regional political parties, chairpersons of national commissions, eminent journalists, public figures, and representatives of business and women's organizations.
Set up in the early 1960s by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, the NIC held its first meeting in 1962. The council reviews matters relating to national integration and makes recommendations over such issues. The NIC aimed at finding ways and means to combat the menace of communalism, casteism and regionalism. It has held 14 meetings so far, with the last one in October 2008 during the first innings of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.
The reconstituted NIC will have 14 Union Ministers — Pranab Mukherjee (Finance), Sharad Pawar (Agriculture), A.K. Antony (Defence), P. Chidambaram (Home), Mamata Banerjee (Railways), M. Veerappa Moily (Law & Justice), Kapil Sibal (Human Resource Development), Ambika Soni (Information & Broadcasting), Dayanidhi Maran (Textiles), Farooq Abdullah (New & Renewable Energy), Mukul Wasnik (Social Justice & Empowerment), Kantilal Bhuria (Tribal Affairs), Salman Khurshid (Corporate Affairs and Minority Affairs) and Krishna Tirath (Women & Child Development).
Leaders of national political parties, Sonia Gandhi (Congress), Nitin Gadkari (Bharatiya Janata Party), Prakash Karat (Communist Party of India-Marxist), A.B. Bardhan (CPI), Mayawati (Bahujan Samaj Party) and Sharad Pawar (Nationalist Congress Party) have been included in the Council. Sushma Swaraj, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, and Arun Jaitley, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, have also been named NIC members. Leaders of regional political parties M. Karunanidhi (DMK), Farooq Abdullah (NC), Ajit Singh (RLD), Sukbir Singh Badal (SAD), N. Chandrababu Naidu (TDP), E. Ahamed (IUML), Mulayam Singh (SP), Lalu Prasad (RJD), H.D. Deve Gowda (JD-S), Sharad Yadav (JD-U), Navin Patnaik (BJD), Chandra Mohan Patowary (AGP), Mehbooba Mufti (PDP), Shibu Soren (JMM) have been made members of the Council.
Eminent journalists include N. Ravi, Editor of The Hindu, Shashi Shekhar, Editor-in-Chief of Hindustan, Mammen Mathew, Editor of Malayala Manorama, Shobhana Bhartia, chairperson of Hindustan Times, V. Raja, Chief Editor of the Sun TV network, Barkha Dutt, Group Editor of NDTV, Zahid Ali Khan, Editor of The Siasat Daily, and P. Sainath, Rural Affairs Editor of The Hindu.
Women's representatives include Ela R. Bhatt, V. Mohini Giri, Noor Bano, Amrit Srinivasan, Annie Raja, Gomathi Nair and Neerja Chowdhury. From the business world, industrialists Venu Srinivasan, Azim Premji, Yogi Deveshwar and A.M. Naik have been included, along with Nandan Nilekani, chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India. Among the eminent public figures are Somnath Chatterjee, Sitaram Yechury, C.K. Jaffer Sharief, Shabana Azmi, Asaduddin Owaisi, Amar Singh and Rajnath Singh.