“The Sachar Report is now out. In the light of the past experiences with so many reports, the issue of its implementation becomes an important question being asked in different circles. Therefore, the need of the hour is to ponder over its implementation aspect instead of mere discussing the findings. For this, areas would have to be identified.”
Expressing his views at a meeting held on January 8 in the headquarters of the Institute of Objective Studies (IOS) prior to the day-long seminar on the implementation aspect of the High Level Committee Report, popularly known as the Sachar Report, to be organised by the IOS itself on January 20 at the India Islamic Cultural Centre (IICC), Dr Mohammed Manzoor Alam, chairman, IOS, said about a hundred thinking persons were expected to participate in the brainstorming seminar. According to him, the areas would be awqaf, education, economy and security.
Agreeing with his views, Dr Abusaleh Shariff, chief economist at the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), and also member-secretary of the erstwhile Sachar Committee, said it was very necessary to identify the points first and then make an action plan. Defending the committee’s report and expanding on its findings, he said they had studied the social, economic and educational status of the Muslim community. He opined opposition to the report was only due the fact that it dealt with the Muslim community only. According to him, the question haunting the mind was that as to why a community, comprising about 85 per cent of the total population of the minority communities in India, couldn’t deserve special attention due to its backwardness as a whole.
Dr Shariff said it was mentionable that not only one but hundreds of variables had been measured. Reservation came as an option but it was not included in the recommendations due to the fact that the approach to the entire issue needed a fundamental change. It was to see how much different rights enshrined in the Constitution to the girls, women and other groups in the Muslim community were delivered. He said so far as the banking sector was concerned, 12-13 per cent Muslims held passbooks but access to the credit was very low.
According to Dr Shariff, there were two tasks to be taken up. One was to create diversity in educational institutions. If a diversity index is made, it would automatically serve the purpose of reservation. Linked to it was the recommendation for an opportunity commission. The other task was to ensure that data on religious communities were made available. In his view, the process of democracy was making the community a victim.
Dr Tanvir Fazal of Nelson Mandela Centre for Peace & Conflict Resolution, Jamia Millia Islamia agreed with Dr Shariff that there was a dire need to see the diversity aspect in particular. The OBC politics had also to be taken up, he added. Intervened Dr Manzoor Alam: About one and half years ago, there had come up a discussion on the issue of reservation in three categories.
However, Dr Ausaf Ahmad, economist and editor, Mutalle’at, published by the IOS, opined: “We have to take into account the totality of the situation. As said by Dr Abusaleh Shariff, we have, no doubt, data now but it has not gone into the past and future, and concentrated upon the present situation only. We must not lose sight of the total picture.”
Stressing the need for an action plan and strategy following the Sachar Report, Dr Z M Khan, political scientist and secretary general, IOS, said Muslims should understand all the nuances of the society.
Dr Ishteyaque Ahmed, Department of Geography, Jamia Millia Islamia, said: “As stated by Dr Shariff, we would have to collect data on diversity at block level. We should utilise the opportunity in the given situation.”
Manzoor Ahmad, vice chairman IOS and former vice chancellor, Ambedkar University, Agra agreed with the suggestion of collecting data on diversity but said that assessment and monitoring were essential. So, the case should be handed over to the Planning Commission of India, he opined. However, differing with Mr Ahmad, Dr Abusaleh Shariff said the case could be handed over the Statistical Commission, not Planning Commission for the purpose. In his view, there were many failures on the part of the Planning Commission in the past. Besides, it was also not a constitutional authority.
Dr Manzoor Alam concluded: “We have, no doubt, got the documented evidences on several aspects, including the prejudices. It is a national issue, not an issue of a particular community alone. We have just to build a pressure. The situation in 14 states is favourable from implementation point of view. So far as the Centre is concerned, there already exists now the Ministry for Minorities’ Affairs. It has too assured its full implementation during the recently held international conference on Dalits and Muslims, organised by the Lok Janashakti Party (LJP). However, we will have to make queries time and again to the ministry concerned”.
Also See Details for January 20 IOS Seminar