New Delhi, March 22 “West Bengal presents worst form of discrimination at all levels against the Muslim community in the country as the Muslim deprivation level in economic, social and human development has reached to alarming proportion in the state and there is not a single positive aspect to mention about it”, observed Dr Abusaleh Shariff, a noted economist and former member-secretary of the Sachar Committee.
Delivering a special lecture on “Relative Development of West Bengal and Socio- Religious Differentials” under the aegis of Institute of Objective Studies (IOS) here at the India Islamic Cultural Centre (IICC), he said 10 per cent OBC quota for the Muslim community announced by the Left Front government in the state government jobs was nothing but a chimera as this would be given out of the existing seven per cent quota of the OBC.
Highlighting every bit of the social indices with the help of power-point presentation, he said West Bengal was the second state after Gujarat not distributing even a single pre-matric scholarship to the minority students. Its record on implementing the three flagship schemes of the Minority Welfare Ministry was abject dismal. “Twelve districts of the state have been marked as Minority Concentrated Districts (MCD) and a sum of Rs 55, 257 millions was earmarked the Multi-Sectoral Development Programme (MSDP) for these districts but the Left government spent mere six per cent of the allotted fund.
Exposing the real face of the Left Front, which has been power for more than 34 years, he said the community was pushed into deep morass of poverty as empirical evidence proved that relative to other states and relative to other communities, the Muslims in West Bengal were facing high levels of deprivation and discrimination. Muslims accounted more than 25 per cent of the state population but their share in the government job was mere 2.1 per cent. Even in Gujarat, Muslims were a better lot than their counterparts in West Bengal as their share in government jobs was 5.4 per cent who accounted just 9.1 per cent of the total Gujarat population.
There was substantial discrimination in the field of education as data suggested that only 50 per cent Muslim children enrolled for the primary education in the state compared with the high castes 80 per cent. This gap further went to widen at middle and matriculation level as only 26 and 12 per cent Muslim students reached to that level respectively whereas it was 58 and 38 per cent for Hindus, respectively.
Denying access even to basic education would be a human development disaster, Dr Shariff said. Unlike other parts of the country, West Bengal Muslims had rural bias as 85 per cent of them reside in rural areas. He pointed out that overall villages with large Muslim population had poor physical and social infrastructure. A whopping 1,000 Muslim- concentrated villages had no any educational institutions and most of them are without medical facilities.
Dr Shariff, also chief economist with the National Council for Applied Economic Research, touched upon every sphere of the life concerning the community and said all Muslims in West Bengal were OBC and therefore, there must be at least 20 per cent separate quota for the community, not as a percentage to the OBC allocation. In reply to a question, he said it was factually not correct that backwardness of the community due to the migration of cream of Muslims to Pakistan.
“It is a lie as some 50,000 and 5,000 Muslims from Delhi and Lucknow and some other places migrated”, he added.
He also exposed the much-hyped FDI coming to Gujarat. Quoting the official figures, he said only Maharashtra, Karnataka and corridor in the National Capital Region was attracting the FDI whereas, Gujarat FDI story was a big lie.
In his presidential remarks, Dr Manzoor Alam said Muslims in Bihar taught a lesson to RJD which did not do anything for the Muslims despite ruling the state for 15 years and same could be happened in West Bengal as Muslims voted the Left Front to power 34 years in the back-drop continuous communal violence in the state.