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Indian Muslims still languish far behind   

Kuwait Times - 04 November, 2013

Rajindar Sachar, former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court and the chairman of the Sachar Committee, said the condition of the Muslim community has not improved much even seven years after his committee’s report on the socio-economic and educational status of Muslims in India.

Though the committee presented its report in 2006, the government has not taken any effective measures to implement the report yet.

The committee has done an in-depth analysis of Indian Muslims with statistical reports based on information from government agencies, banks, Indian Minority Commission, different state governments and its agencies.

“The government purports to implement the report, at least part of it. We have to hold the government responsible for not implementing it.

Now, it is for the people, the media and NGOs to put pressure on the government. People’s vigilance, their active participation in discussions and criticisms are necessary for the implementation of the report,” said Justice Sachar during a press conference organized by the Indo-Kuwait Friendship Society (IFKS) on Saturday.

IKFS honored Justice Sachar with the ‘IKFS 2013 Excellence Award for Social Justice’ at another function in recognition of his valuable contributions towards social justice.

Justice Sachar arrived in Kuwait accompanied by IKFS Patron Sami Bubere, chief editor of Indo-Gulf Times, Ummeeth magazines, President of Mumbai-based Sahyogh Cultural Society and Dhaval Bhatia, a well-known international trainer and patron, IKFS.

“Our job was to give the report. We were not the implementing agency nor we had been given the mandate to talk about the report,” he said. The Sachar Committee report had found out that the literacy rate among Muslims is way below the national average.

The gap between Muslims and the general average is greater in urban areas, especially among women. About 25 percent of children of Muslim parents in the 6-14 year age group have either never attended school or have dropped out.

“The report has given the facts based on material collected from various sources. Nobody has so far said it is a biased report. And none of the members of the commission were beholden to the government as well,” he pointed out. “When we presented the report to the prime minister, we asked his office to put it on the website so that there is no way it can be kept back.

We presented it on Nov 17 and the next day it was available for the public. And all the material we collected have been kept in the Nehru Memorial Museum today,” he said.

According to Justice Sachar, women’s education was given top priority in the report. The commission relied on the latest National Sample Survey (NSS) 2004 in preparing the report. The NSS periodically gives figures on different levels of consumption, poverty, expenses and education.

Sachar, who is also a member of the United Nations’ Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, said the percentage of Muslims in parliament is not in proportion with their population. “Same is the case with the presence of Muslims in the country’s civil service. It is primarily because of the educational backwardness that exists in the community.

The Left was annoyed when we released the statistics that in Gujarat, eight percent of the government servants are Muslims, while the percentage is only four in West Bengal,” he said. “Prima facie, it may appear that Chief Minister Modi has done a wonderful job in Gujarat. But the fact is that in Gujarat, education level is high.

Whereas the West Bengal government is not attaching adequate importance to education,” he pointed out. The India government earmarks 15 percent of its annual budget for the welfare of the minorities that comprise Muslims, Buddhists, Jains and Christians.

“As it happens, the condition of the Muslims is the worst, both educationally and economically. They are the real minorities. Of the 15 percent of the minority population, 13.8 percent are Muslim.

Interestingly, Jains and Sikhs are far ahead of even the Hindu majority in education. In fact, only 1.8 percent of the total funds spent for the welfare of the minorities are utilized for Muslims. That is why we recommend that the minority funds must be utilized from the village level,” he pointed out.

The justice said Muslims are part of India and it is their country as it is the country of Hindus or anybody else. “Muslims just happened to be minority in number.

The country belongs to them as they are not strangers,” he added. According to Justice Sachar, the ruling United People’s Alliance (UPA) coalition and the opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA), now led by Narendra Modi are equally bad. “Now a political message is being spread. And it is a ‘Play on Both Your Houses’.

There is nothing to choose between the two,” he said. Sachar said he doesn’t believe that Modi will come to power in the for thcoming parliament elections.

“There must be alternative forces who could fight these evil forces. And that is what democracy is about,” he concluded. IKFS executives President Dr Ghalib Al-Mashoor, Secretary Siddeeqi Ikram and Shahjahan Jeffri, convener of Mushaera programs, were also present during the press conference.
 
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