ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Pretence of Follow-up Action

The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s statement on “follow-up action on the recommendations of the Sachar Committee”, placed in Parliament at the end of August, suggests not merely a lack of commitment in implementing measures to overcome the deep and widespread discrimination and deprivation faced by Muslims in India, but pretence in dealing with these matters. In many respects, as a community, Muslims in India are socially, economically and educationally much worse off compared to the national average, and yet the Sangh parivar continues to level charges of “minority appeasement” against successive non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led governments. In Parliament though, the UPA government was perhaps let off the hook when the BJP in effect prevented a discussion on the statement on “follow-up action” that was presented by A R Antulay, minister of minority affairs. The occasion would have been appropriate to expose the politics of deception and pretence practised by the government on issues concerning discrimination, deprivation, injustice and a deep sense of insecurity suffered by Muslims in India.

The Sachar Committee submitted its report in November last year, but the government’s statement of “follow-up action” nine months later is replete with mere proposals and measures to be taken. The statement is strewn with expressions such as “is proposed”, “will be taken”, “will be adopted” and “has been approved”, suggesting that little that is concrete and time bound is under way. Thus, the statement meanders: “Targeted intervention is proposed for improvement of basic amenities and employment opportunities in 90 identied minority concentration districts...Efforts will be made for stepping up priority sector lending to minorities... to 15 per cent over a period of three years...A multipronged strategy will be adopted for addressing the problem of educational backwardness of the Muslim community” (emphasis added), and so on. Where certain recommendations have in principle been accepted, implementation is not time bound as in, for instance, the decision to set up an equal opportunity commission, a national data bank and an autonomous monitoring authority, or constructing a “diversity index” to gauge the representation of Muslims in educational institutions, employment and residential areas and link this with a scheme of incentives.

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