Nasser Munji, Chairman, Development Credit Bank
After Justice Rajinder Sachar and Justice Rangnath Mishra, it is now the turn of Nasser Munjee, chairman of the Development Credit Bank to speak out on minorities’ disempowerment. A High-Level Expert Committee (HLEC) headed by Munjee has made observations on the socio-economic status of minorities in India. Actually what HLEC concluded, is the confirmation of the findings by panels headed by Justice Sachar and Justice Mishra. Of a total minority population of 18.94 crore as per the 2001 census, Muslims constitute a majority accounting for 13.4 per cent of it.
The Munjee Report noted that both private and public sector Banks have not been able to extend credit support required by poor minority communities owing to the latter’s poor credit worthiness. For instance, only 20.3 per cent of those belonging to the minorities have accounts in public sector banks while "others" account for the remaining 79.7 per cent. It is a similar scenario in private sector banks with minorities having merely 21.8 per cent of the accounts and "others" grabbing the major share of 78.2 per cent.
It is to point out that the Sachar Committee which looked into the socio-economic status of the Muslim community in India has, in a chapter on access to bank credit, said that "the access of Muslims to bank credit, including PSA (priority sector advances) is low and inadequate".
Based on its findings, the Munjee Committee has suggested that steps need to be taken in order to direct credit to Muslims, among other things.
According to the Munjee Report, not only is the incidence of poverty among minorities in the country substantially higher than the national average, but the minorities also lag behind in some important socio-economic indicators, like literacy, dropout rate, unemployment rate, mean per capita expenditure (MPCE) etc, with the national average being much higher.
Other than recommending restructuring of the National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation (NMDFC), the Munjee Committee has also given some indication of the socio-economic status of minorities in India. It attributes the low socio-economic status of minorities to the "very low level of education and enterprise in larger sections of minority communities as compared to the majority". It also calls for "focusing attention on improvement of the minorities" and the need to integrate them into the mainstream.
This is actually the report by an expert committee of professional bankers and financial experts headed by Nasser Munjee, Chairman, Development Credit Bank. It submitted its Report to A R Antulay, Union Minister for Minority Affairs on April 13, 2007. The committee was set up on the advice of Deepak Parekh, Chairman, HDFC Bank to consider and suggest an Action Plan for improving the strategy and operational performance of the National Minorities Development and Finance Cooperation (NMDFC).
NMDFC has the main objective of promoting economic development of poorer sections of minority communities and provided term loans, educational loans and micro-finance through State Channelising Agencies (SCA). It also provides micro finance through NGOs. Since its inception in September, 1994, it has disbursed a total loan amount of Rs.900 crore covering about 3 lakh beneficiaries. NMDFC needs to further expand its scale of operation considering the size of the envisaged target groups and to make a perceptible impact on the quality of life of the disadvantaged sections amongst the minorities. One of the main constraints that the NMDFC faces in the operation of its scheme is the weak infrastructure of the most of SCAs. The Committee was set up to look into the problems of its operational constraint and device a suitable Action Plan and strategy.
It would not be out of place to mention here that the National Minorities Commission too had taken notice of this important point. It said that access to bank credit was one of the matters that needed to be given the highest priority by the Government while implementing the recommendations of the High level Committee headed by Justice Rajinder Sachar.
Nasser Munjee, the man who headed the High-Level Expert Committee, is an expert on urban infrastructure. He did his graduation and post-graduation from London School of Economics. Presently, he is Chairman of Development Credit Bank Limited. Earlier, he has served as Managing Director and CEO of Infrastructure Development Finance Company and Executive Director of Housing Development Finance Corporation. He has also handled consultancy assignments of World Bank, Asian Development Bank, UN Habitat Centre and UNCDF. He serves on the Board of many leading Indian and multinational companies, including Cummins India, Gujarat Ambuja Cements Limited, HDFC Limited, Voltas Limited, Maharashtra Airport Development Company Limited, etc. He has served on the Board of Unichem since 2003. He is a member of the Audit Committee of Unichem.