Sharp reactions over the new list of 90 Minority Concentration Districts (MCDs), issued on June 22 by the Union Ministry for Minority Affairs, have come from Muslim umbrella bodies like the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM) and All India Milli Council (AIMC). In 1987, a list of 41 Minority Concentration Districts was prepared based on the data of the 1971 Census. Its single criterion of minority population in a district was applied for identification of such districts. When UPA government came to power at the Centre on May 22, 2004, it was decided to prepare and implement area or problem specific special development plans for these 90 districts. It was also decided to ensure that the benefit of programmes of poverty alleviation, education, health and provision of basic amenities reached these districts in a focused manner.
The AIMMM has called for detailed development programmes for 90 districts selected as minority-concentrated areas. In a statement on the new list of 90 minority concentration districts issued by the Ministry of Minority Affairs on 22 June, 2007, Syed Shahabuddin, President of the AIMMM, said on June 26 that apparently it included only 69 Muslim Concentration Districts.
According to him, the criteria of selection in terms of proportion of minority population or the socio-economic and social amenities indicators had not been mentioned. “Therefore, this needs clarification,” he emphasised. However, apparently all Muslim concentration districts with more than 20 % Muslim population in the district had been included, except those whose socio-economic and amenities indicators were higher than the national average, he pointed out.
Shahabuddin said minority concentration districts lying in the minority-majority states had also been omitted. “But such states districts with substantial Hindu concentration in J&K and Punjab which fulfill the criteria should be included,” he opined.
The AIMMM also felt that the same criteria should apply to the districts of Christian and Buddhist concentration in Christian-majority states in the North East. However, since the North-East states have Special Development Programmes, the inclusion of mini-districts from the region only diluted the approach, he added.
The overall picture was that out of 90 districts, only 69 appeared to be Muslim concentration districts, and states like Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Kerala, Tamilnadu, Madhya Pradesh, Gurajat have been wholly or almost wholly left out.
The total Muslim population of those included might not exceed 35% of the national Muslim population. This was too small a proportion to make a visible impact on the status of the Muslim community in the state or in the country. The AIMMM suggested that either all districts should be covered or the cut-off should be brought down to 15% for all recognized minorities.
On the other hand, the All India Milli Council (AIMC) too hoped that detailed development programmes for the minority concentration districts selected would be announced by the end of the current financial year.
Expressing his views, Dr Mohammed Manzoor Alam, General Secretary, AIMC, pointed out that the list contained only 69 Muslim concentration districts out of the 90 minority concentration districts selected by the Ministry of Minority Affairs on the basis of the 2001 census data on population, socio-economic indicators and basic amenities indicators.
He wondered several districts fulfilling the criteria were missing from the list issued by the ministry concerned. According to him, the said list included only one (Bhopal) out of 45 districts in Madhya Pradesh, one (Gajapati) out of 30 in Orissa, one (Wayanad) out of 14 in Kerala, one (Leh) out of 14 in Jammu and Kashmir, one (North East) out of 9 districts in Delhi, one (North) out of 4 in Sikkim, one (Nicobar) out of 2 in Andaman & Nicobar Islands, one (West Garo Hills) out of 7 in Meghalaya, 2 (Gurgaon and Sirsa) out of 19 in Haryana, 2 (Gulbarga and Bidar) out of 27 in Karnataka, 2 (Udham Singh Nagar and Hardwar) out of 13 in Uttranchal, 2 (Lawnatlai and Mamit) out of 8 in Mizoram, 4 out of 18 in Jharkhand, 4 out of 35 in Maharashtra, 6 out of 9 in Manipur, 7 out of 37 in Bihar, 7 out of 13 in Arunachal Pradesh, 12 out of 18 in West Bengal, 13 out of 23 in Assam, and 21 out of 70 in Uttar Pradesh.
He failed to understand why only North East district in Delhi had been taken, ignoring some other poor districts with minority concentration. According to him, Purbi (East) Champaran, Madhubani, Saharsa and Muzaffarpur in Bihar were important omissions. He said Purbi Champaran was the area wherefrom began the first Satyagraha of Gandhiji in 1917, supported by the local poor Muslims whose economic condition had not undergone any major change in even 90 years.
Dr Manzoor Alam also expressed surprise over the omission of some districts in Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. He asked what would happen to the poor minorities in the areas, not fulfilling the criteria?
Also See the List of 90 Minority Concentration Districts