Sachar Committee: Wikis

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The Rajinder Sachar Committee, appointed by the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India was a high level committee for preparation of a report on the social, economic and educational status of the Muslim community of India.

It prepared a 403-page report that was tabled in Parliament on 30 November 2006 – 20 months after obtaining the terms of reference from the PMO.[1] It has come-up with this report with suggestions and solutions to include and mainstream Indian Muslims. The report is available from the Indian Government site.[2] and also at [1]

It is the first of its kind report and it suggests adoption of suitable mechanisms to ensure equity and equality of opportunity to Muslims in residential, work and educational spaces.[3] According to Sachar Committee report the status of Indian Muslims are below the conditions of Scheduled Castes and Tribes.

There is a lot of discussions and debates goes on the Sachar Committee Report.[4]. There are follow-up actions taken based on Committee findings like the Finance Minister P. Chidambaram action funding for National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation (NMDFC).

Last year, I made a modest contribution of Rs.16.47 crore to the equity of the NMDFC. Following the Sachar Committee report (on the status of minorities), NMDFC would be required to expand its reach and intensify its efforts. Hence, I propose to provide a further sum of Rs.63 crore to the share capital of NMDFC

[5]

Contents

Composition

The committee comprised seven members including four Muslims. Headed by Justice Rajinder Sachar, the other members were: Sayyid Hamid, Dr. T.K. Ooman, M.A. Basith, Dr. Akhtar Majeed, Dr. Abu Saleh Shariff and Dr. Rakesh Basant. Dr. Syed Zafar Mahmood was the civil servant appointed by the PM as Officer on Special Duty to the Committee.

During the committee's interaction with women's groups, some of them seriously articulated a grievance that it did not have any woman member. The Committee tried to make up for this by convening a half-a-day meeting with women's groups during its visits to the States. In addition to that, women social activists in large numbers attended all the meetings of all the groups and expressed their points of view and apprehensions in an open and frank manner. Their input was intensive and to the point about the various matters like education, medical facilities, Anganwadi requirements etc. The Committee also held one full day meeting in Delhi in July 2006 exclusively for women from all over India.

Full Report

The entire Sachar Report is available for download online. A summary of the Sachar Report, produced by the 'Officer on Special Duty' - Dr. Mahmood - is also available online.

Main findings of the report

The entire Sachar Report is available for download at various websites.[6]

Some findings are as follows: A..Sachar committee has put a lot of analysis about the Indian Muslim with "statistical reports" based on information from government agencies, banks, Indian Minority Commission, different state governments and its agencies. The major points covered in the reports are:

  • In the field of literacy the Committee has found that the rate among Muslims is very much below than the national average. The gap between Muslims and the general average is greater in urban areas and women. 25 per cent of children of Muslim parents in the 6-14 year age group have either never attended school or have dropped out.
  • Muslim parents are not averse to mainstream education or to send their children to affordable Government schools. The access to government schools for children of Muslim parents is limited.
  • Bidi workers, tailors and mechanics need to be provided with social safety nets and social security. The participation of Muslims in the professional and managerial cadre is low.
  • The average amount of bank loan disbursed to the Muslims is 2/3 of the amount disbursed to other minorities. In some cases it is half. The Reserve Bank of India’s efforts to extend banking and credit facilities under the Prime Minister’s 15-point programme of 1983 has mainly benefited other minorities marginalizing Muslims.
  • There is a clear and significant inverse association between the proportion of the Muslim population and the availability of educational infrastructure in small villages. Muslim concentration villages are not well served with pucca approach roads and local bus stops.
  • Substantially larger proportion of the Muslim households in urban areas are in the less than Rs.500 expenditure bracket.
  • The presence of Muslims has been found to be only 3% in the IAS, 1.8% in the IFS and 4% in the IPS.
  • Muslim community has a representation of only 4.5% in Indian Railways while 98.7% of them are positioned at lower levels. Representation of Muslims is very low in the Universities and in Banks. Their share in police constables is only 6%, in health 4.4%, in transport 6.5%.
  • For the Maulana Azad Education Foundation to be effective the corpus fund needs to be increased to 1000 crores. Total allocation in the four years 2002 to 2006 for Madarsa Modernization Scheme is 106 crores. The information regarding the Scheme has not adequately percolated down. Even if the share of Muslims in elected bodies is low they and other under represented segments can be involved in the decision making process through innovative mechanisms.
  • Most of the variables indicate that Muslim-OBCs are significantly deprived in comparison to Hindu-OBCs. The work participation rate (WPR) shows the presence of a sharp difference between Hindu-OBCs (67%) and the Muslims. The share of Muslim-OBCs in government/ PSU jobs is much lower than Hindu-OBCs.
  • There are about 5 lakh registered Wakfs with 600,000 acres (2,400 km²) land and Rs 6,000 crore book value.[7]

Removal of common stereotypes

The Sachar committee helped in a big way to expose stereotypes that had been used by right wing communal groups as part of their propaganda[8]. Some of these important findings were[8]:

  • Only four per cent of Muslims students actually go to madrasas primarily because primary state schools do not exist for miles. Therefore, the idea that Muslims prefer madrasa education was found to be not true.
  • That there is “substantial demand from the community for fertility regulation and for modern contraceptives” and over 20 million couples are already using contraceptives. “Muslim population growth has slowed down as fertility has declined substantially”. This clarifies and puts an end to any propaganda that there has been a Muslim conspiracy afoot since 1947 to reproduce mightily, and that a danger that the Indian Hindus will be reduced to a minority due to high birth rate of Muslims.
  • That Muslims wherever spoken to complained of suffering the twin calumnies of being dubbed “anti-national” and of being “appeased”. However, the Indian Muslim community as a whole had never indulged in anti-national activities and the conditions borne out by the committee's findings clearly explained that no "appeasement" had taken place.

Summary of recommendations

The report put forward some recommendations to eliminate the situation raised for Indian Muslim. Justice Sachar explained that the upliftment minorities and implementation of these recommendations would strengthen the secular fabric of Indian society as well as increase patriotism due to their all inclusive progress. The recommendation include:

  • Mechanisms to ensure equity and equality of opportunity and eliminate discrimination.
  • Creation of a National Data Bank (NDB) where all relevant data for various Socio Religious Communities are maintained.
  • Form an autonomous Assessment and Monitoring Authority to evaluate the extent of development benefits
  • An Equal Opportunity Commission should be constituted to look into the grievances of the deprived groups.
  • Elimination of the anomalies with respect to reserved constituencies under the delimitation scheme.
  • The idea of providing certain incentives to a diversity index should be explored to ensure equal opportunities in education, governance, private employment and housing.
  • A process of evaluating the content of the school textbooks needs to be initiated and institutionalized.
  • The UGC should evolve a system where part of the allocation to colleges and universities is linked to the diversity in the student population.
  • Providing hostel facilities at reasonable costs for students from minorities must be taken up on a priority basis.
  • The Committee recommended promoting and enhancing access to Muslims in Priority Sector Bank Advances.
  • The real need is of policy initiatives that improve the participation and share of the Minorities, particularly Muslims in the business of regular commercial banks.
  • The community should be represented on interview panels and Boards. The underprivileged should be helped to utilize new opportunities in its high growth phase through skill development and education.
  • Provide financial and other support to initiatives built around occupations where Muslims are concentrated and have growth potential.[7][9]
  • The Committee made no recommendation of “reservations” per se, but suggests that those among the minority communities who approximate in terms of social and occupational status the scheduled and backward classes among Hindus be classified as Most Backward Castes and proferred the same benefits that relevant Articles of the Constitution make available to counterparts among Hindus.[8]

Responses to the committee findings

There are different responses to the sachar committee findings from different part of India.[10][11]

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Follow-up action taken

15-point minorities welfare programme

The Prime Minister has also unfolded a comprehensive 15-point programme for the welfare and empowerment of minorities.The new plan wants to help the minorities by Enhancing opportunities for education.Ensuring equitable share in economic activities and employment,Improving the conditions of living of minorities,Prevention and control of communal disharmony and violence.

Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan

The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) or “Education for All Programme”, a national flagship programme to provide quality elementary education to all children in the 6 – 14 years age group through a time bound approach. Based on the data obtained from Census as well as District Information System for Education (DISE), SRI-IMRB Survey etc., the Government has made a number of interventions in SSA to help the minority (Muslim) children in education. One of the thrust areas is to ensure availability of schools in all minority concentrated districts. During 2005-06, 4624 primary and Upper primary schools, and about 31,702 Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS) Centres were sanctioned in minority concentrated districts. During 2006-07, 6918 new primary and upper primary schools have been sanctioned in minority-dominated districts. 32,250 EGS centres with a total enrolment of 120.90 lakh children have been sanctioned for 2006-07. Sanction has also been accorded for enrolment of 11.25 lakh children in Alternative & Innovative Education (AIE) during 2006-07 in these districts.

Madrasas/Makhtabs have been covered under SSA. The Madarsas affiliated to the State Madarasa Boards and satisfying certain conditions are eligible for such assistance as is available to other regular schools under SSA. So far 8309 madarsas have been assisted.

Facilities for minority girls

Free textbooks are provided to all minority girls from classes I-VIII. Urdu textbooks are provided for Urdu medium schools and for Urdu as a subject. Based on the 1981 Census, 93 districts (now 99) in 16 states have been identified for focused attention. The major focus is on the states of Bihar, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Assam. Out of the 1180 Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (KGBV), 210 schools have been sanctioned in minority blocks, 1430 minority girls have already been enrolled in KGBVs till 31.3.06.

Muslim concentration districts

In addition to above measures, there is also a special focus on 93 districts, which was found to be having more than 20% Muslim population in the 1981 census, for SSA investments in 2005-06 and 2006-07.

Sachar Committee’s recommendations in the sphere of education include a special focus on free and compulsory education; institutionalizing the process of evaluating school textbooks so that they better reflect community-specific sensitivities; setting up quality government schools, especially for girls in areas of Muslim concentration; and providing priming education in Urdu in areas where the language is widely in use. The Government measures outlined above, show that the country is already moving in the direction pointed out by the Sachar Committee.

Criticism

Indian media expert[12] Dasu Krishnamoorti has criticized the way the media has handled the report. He criticizes them saying that "Positive journalism means projecting the Muslims as us and not them".[13]. Sunil Jain in an article in rediff says "The problem with all such data, however, is that you need to "normalise" it for any meaningful conclusions to be made. Sachar does this only partially"[14], and that rather than basing its results on the entire population of Muslims, the Report should only have considered those Muslims with a college degree.

In addition, the demands made by the Sachar Committee to provide preferential treatment to Muslims in the Indian Army to bring about a fairer representation have been severely criticized by members of the Indian Armed Forces as well as the right wing BJP political party. Retired Colonel Anil Athale of the Indian Army comments that it is vital that the Indian Armed forces remain secular and not give preference to anybody irrespective of religion, and that the Sachar Committee seeks to undermine that legacy.[2] However, there was However, Dr. Sachar replied to this criticism saying that it was an uncalled for attempt to communalise a non-issue. He said replying to the argument.

But I think that is a very stupid argument. Are not the all India services like the Railways and banks and others supposed to be secular? We were able to find out the Muslim representation in services like the Indian Administrative Service or the Indian Police Service without controversy. So, were they suggesting that secretaries and joint secretaries are less secular than those in the armed forces?

He further explained that too much was being read into the exercise.

We are just carrying out a factual survey of the representation of Muslims in all services. This is not limited to the armed forces. This includes the Police, the Judiciary, the IAS (Indian Administrative Service), and State Services and Muslim representation in all walks of life.

The Sachar commission findings were later alleged by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to be manipulated for electoral purposes.[15]

Responses from organisations and political parties

  • Syed Shahabuddin,the former MP from Janata Dal says Sachar Committee has collected the facts and figures more than suffice. But it should have put forward some concrete resolution like Minority Reservation if needed.[16].
Sachar committee was created for vote-bank reasons. It was designed to serve a political purpose especially ahead of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.[15]

and elsewhere BJP leaders have given statements and have said that the report is "distorted, politically motivated and dangerous"[17][18]. BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi said that the tone and texture of the Sachar Committee "has a striking similarity to the Muslim League of pre-independence era. Unfortunately, the government is irrationally following a policy of blind populism which threatens to divide the nation."[17]. BJP is currently the only political party that has publicly opposed the findings. The BJP has since seem to have accepted the findings and charged that if such is the state of the Muslim community it is only the Congress which is to blame[8]. Their 2009 election manifesto included on minority communities and improving their situation similar to the Sachar committee recommendations in many ways [19].

  • The JD(U)party president, which is a senior member of the NDA coalition along with BJP, Sharad Yadav has strongly voiced his support and demanded quick implementation of the committee findings. He also emphasised the importance of including Dalit Muslims and Christians in the SC category as they are the only communities that are being discriminated against for the past 60 years[20].
  • The Akali Dal - another prominent NDA ally - has stated that it sees nothing wrong if deprived minorities are attended to in a special way. Given that low-caste Sikhs have been beneficiaries of affirmative action since 1956[8].
  • The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has also urged the government to table the bill for implementing the committee findings even if an emergency session has to be called.[21]
  • There has been no popular "outcry" among the mainstream population about the committee findings and, in fact, in a poll conduct by a major media agency - 40% of the respondents preferred full implementation of the recommendations[8].

References

Complete Sachar Report is available at http://zakatindia.org/Files/Sachar%20Report%20(Full).pdf

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External links


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