How much interest and enthusiasm the Sachar Committee Report has created in the Muslim community and other weaker sections, can be gauged from the fact that in the national capital of India itself about two dozen meetings, seminars and symposia have already been organised by different groups. Other than the Musim groups, the Lok Janashakti Party (LJP) led by Ram Vilas Paswan held an international conference on Dalits and Muslims on December 27, 2006 and released status papers on Dalits and Muslims spread in 47 pages each. It is to point out that the status papers on Dalits and Muslims have been prepared by former member-secretary of Mandal Commission P S Krishnan, and Qurban Ali and Arshi Khan, respectively. The status paper on Muslims (Text available on fanawatch.com) contains several points and data not covered even by the Sachar Committee. It enhances the importance of the Sachar Report that on January 14, two programmes were organised in the Jamia Nagar area---one on “Management of Awqaf in the light of Sachar Committee Findings and Recommendations” (Report available on fanawatch.com) by the Institute of Objective Studies (IOS) at its headquarters and the other on “Sachar Committee Report: What Next?” by Universal Knowledge Trust (UKT) at Nehru Centre.
The symposium on “Sachar Committee Report: What Next?” stressed the need for the Muslim community to come up and take advantage of the situation created in the wake of the findings of the Sachar Committee. Abdul Rashid Agwan, Director, Universal Knowledge Trust, said much on what next in the context of Sachar Report depended on how much the community was itself serious. He was of the view that if the community became serious, the government with whose order the High Level Committee headed by Justice Rajinder Sachar came into being and prepared the Report, would be too serious. He said this was not the first time any government report on the status of Muslims has come. Earlier, the Gopal Singh High Power Panel report, Planning Commission report and several rounds of National Sample Survey (NSS) had already come to limelight but nothing happened because the sufferers and victims of the educational, economic and social backwardness did not take it up seriously, he opined.
In his view, the responsibility of the community concerned is as important as that of the State and media. “There would be no change unless we showed eagerness and readiness for a change,” he said.
A R Agwan averred that the Muslim rule existed in India for 660 years and after Independence all the communities became equal under the new Constitution. But despite the equality as enshrined in the Constitution, the Muslim community lagged behind other communities.
He said so far as the response to the Sachar Committee Report was concerned, it came in three kinds. The Sangh Pariwar, including BJP, not only responded negatively but opposed it tooth and nail. The second response was pessimistic. This section was of the view that nothing extraordinary should be expected from such reports. The third section saw in it fulfillment of the commitment made by the UPA in its common minimum programme and hoped high so far as its implementation was concerned.
According to Agwan, whatsoever might be the view of any section, one impression that the report gave was that the community was in the race despite so many hurdles and challenges. He said that the report had demolished many myths and established several facts.
Syed Zafar Mahmood, officer on special duty, the erstwhile High Level Committee headed by Justice Sachar, said that it was true that the remedy lied in the seriousness of the community concerned. “The community will have to take initiatives,” he asserted.
Zafar Mahmood said the pessimistic impact of the findings of the Report should be done away with. This could be achieved by highlighting the real progress shown by the community in various fields and even by pinpointing success stories recorded in the Report.
S M Pasha said the Muslim leadership, institutions, NGOs and activists should be made suitably aware of the welfare schemes of the government through the booklets, websites, facilitators etc.
Nafees Ahmes, former Principal, Bhagat Singh College, New Delhi, said literacy drive should be taken up in all such districts where Muslim literacy was below 40 %. Muslims keep on demanding for their reservation on the pattern of Kerala and Karnataka.
Dr Zafarul Islam Khan, Editor, Milli Gazette, was of the view that in a democratic set-up like ours it was required to constantly lobby the ruling class and state machinery to deliver good. Therefore, through the existing forums, community organisations and NGOs, the community should keep a sustained pressure on the state for assisting in constant and smooth development and progress.
The symposium ended with the general view that the real Islamic teachings regarding the purpose of education, use of mosque, economic well-being, inter-community cooperation, human rights and justice should have general promotion.