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Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Forgotten People :

The Forgotten People

Dear Dr. Shariff, Thanks for sharing the article (below) on Indian Muslims. Your production of the Sachar Report ( http://www.theghouseteam.com/mg/ProfileAbuSalehShariff.asp) is a great achievement indeed. It is the first time in India History that a comprehensive study about the status of Muslims has been done. Thanks to the Prime Minister for placing all the resources at your disposal. I am glad we are on the same lines of defining a pluralistic and a just society.

Peace and prosperity of our nation hinges on justice and plurality, absence or deficiency of it will cause the BUS (http://mikeghouse.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/05/each-community-each-nation-is-a-bus.htm) to slow down. It is in the interests of our nation's business and government leadership to bring up the people in ditches on to a level playing field (http://mikeghouse.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/05/merit-based-education-employment.htm ) , and let them compete from that point forward. Imagine each community to be a tire of the bus, if all the tires have adequate air pressure, the smoothness of the journey is certain, assured and safe. It is in our interest to have the communities on level playing field. If we don't care about the OBC, it will drag the whole economy and our progress will be marred by it. We need to think long term and do what is good for all, to repeat your last word in the article: A just state.

I am happy to see your recommendations about distributing the opportunities to all OBC's regardless of religion, caste or other uniqueness. Instead of empowering the WAKF boards the ability to receive and dispense funds, there needs to be an NGO initiative accountable to the public and run like a business. I have undertaken two projects - World Muslim Congress ( http://www.theghouseteam.com/mg/WMC_Files/World%20Muslim%20Congress.ppt) to be small contributor in turning around the Muslim community into a positive, self assured community working for the betterment of the world.

Insha Allah the book Muslim Vision 2020 will be out soon and hope by the year 2020, Muslims can see themselves as people who are producers and contributors for a better world. And the Foundation for Pluralism will work on opening up people's hearts and minds to accept and appreciate the God given uniqueness of each one of the 7 billion of us. Then I believe conflicts fade and solutions will emerge. Insha Allah, after achieving this, I am considering serving my motherland.

By the way the 2nd Annual Holocaust Remembrance ( http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/Holocaustday.asp) is postponed till next year. Insha Allah, the Jewish and Muslimcommunities will do it jointly and will invite other religious groups to join us. The concept of Holocaust will be expanded to include all human suffering (a full list by Dr. Jamil is in the item Extremism at www.worldMuslimCongress.com ) and hope over a period of time, people will make a commitment that they will speak up when there is injustice, the least they can do is talk to the people they know.

I hope this will build bridges of goodwill between the people, and a small step towards helping the people who are suffering. Justice has got to be for the whole world, it cannot be for Muslims and not others, then it will not sustain. Mike Ghouse www.MikeGhouse.netwww.FoundationforPluralism.comwww.WorldMuslimCongress.com LEADER

ARTICLE: A Forgotten People

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/OPINION/Editorial/LEADER_ARTICLE_A_Forgotten_People/articleshow/msid-967452,curpg-1.cms The report on 'Social, Economic and Educational Status of the Muslim Community of India' confronts us with a surprising fact — that Muslims are at the bottom of the development ladder, alongside SCs/STs and much lower than the Hindu-OBCs, upper caste Hindus and other minorities.

It is a cruel irony that the development process bypassed in particular Muslims who stayed back in India after the Partition — those from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal.
The root cause of this neglect is lack of political empowerment. While the Constitution and democratic framework allowed Muslims to maintain their identity and profess their faith, their representation in the political system has suffered. This impacted their participation in governance.

Even as SCs and STs were identified as a target group for making policy, according similar attention to the largest religious minority was considered unnecessary, if not inimical, to secular democracy.

That Muslims could become easy targets of systemic religious discrimination was overlooked. While demographic variables were liberally investigated on the basis of religious identities, what never came to light was the differential impact of poverty alleviation and human development strategies.

The effects of reservation on Dalits were under scrutiny, with the focus extending to OBCs after the Mandal commission, but what about Muslims?
It was only after Census 2001 that literacy and work participation rates according to socio-religious categories came to light.

About 41 per cent of Muslims and 43 per cent of Hindus have reported themselves as OBCs. Only 0.8 per cent Muslims reported themselves as SCs; the share of Muslims reporting themselves as STs was even lower.

The Mandal commission anticipates self-reporting by OBCs to stabilise at 52 per cent of the population; subsequent surveys seem to bear out its assessment.
OBCs can be presumed to constitute 50 per cent of all Hindus and 50 per cent of all Muslims. Hence, it follows that the benefits of OBC job quotas should accrue to Hindus and Muslims according to their respective shares in the total population.

However, only 3 per cent of OBC job quotas have gone to Muslims, whereas their share should have been about 14 per cent.

However, problems of Muslim deprivation cannot be addressed adequately through extension and implementation of reservations alone. OBC reservations apply only to public employment, and now at higher levels of education.

With the report detailing the nature of discrimination against Muslims, the challenge before government, political class, private sector and civil society is to create institutional mechanisms to ensure the delivery of essential public goods.

To begin with, Muslims should be represented in political bodies, policy-making agencies, administration and law-enforcement agencies in relation to their share in the population.
The report dispels the myth that institutional networks such as madrassas can serve as effective implementation agencies for development programmes.

Instead, mosques, by virtue of being public trusts through the network of wakfs, can work as channels of empowerment.

The absence of NGOs and other civil society institutions among Muslims has impacted the delivery of public programmes.

Community ghettoisation is inimical to the formation of such institutions. At present, poorer Muslims are sucked into the social networks of mosques which automatically become part of the wakf board under law.

These Muslim social institutions, however, lack the resources to take up welfare and development work of government agencies.

Their focus is only on sustaining physi-cal assets and discharging religious activities, such as facilitating namaz and burial of the dead.

Wakf-related institutions should be given legal sanction under the Indian Trust Act as centres of welfare activity, so that they can receive, manage and use public funds to address the problems of the poor within their domain.

Even as such empowered institutions are linked to mosques and wakfs, their welfare activities should cover all those living within the geographic confines of the institutions, irrespective of religious, caste and place of origin.

This model is already working successfully in Tamil Nadu. The report draws data from various government departments and institutions at the Centre and state levels for information on employment, development programmes and participation in governance.
Banks, financial institutions, educational institutions and public sector undertakings also shared their data. Besides data from the Census and NSSO, information from special surveys of the National Council of Applied Economic Research and National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration have been used.

It is important to recognise the intrinsic value of this information and not attribute political and ideological motives to the committee's efforts to find appropriate data to analyse the conditions of Muslims.

All developed countries and most developing ones give appropriate emphasis to looking after the interests of minorities.

In any country, the faith and confidence of the minorities in the impartiality of the state is an acid test of its being a just state.

The writer was member-secretary in the PMO committee to look into status of Muslims.

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