|Works before K. Rahman Khan - II
Dr Syed Zafar Mahmood
The Sachar Committee has painfully reported that the parliament and assembly constituencies where Muslims have substantial presence and where the number of scheduled castes is insignificant have been reserved for the scheduled castes. On the contrary, each of such states has an alternative set of constituencies where the proportion of the scheduled castes is huge and where Muslim presence is quite low, but these are not reserved for the scheduled castes. Since Independence, Muslims have been suffering this double jeopardy and consequently, for the last six decades, they have been ousted from the election process in both these categories of constituencies. The Sachar Committee has regretted that this biased attitude is the basic reason why the proportion of Muslim representation in the parliament and the state legislative assemblies is ridiculously low. Therefore, the Committee recommended that the Central Government should take up this matter on priority and instruct the Delimitation Commission to remove this age-old injustice. But so far, during the last six years, the Government has not taken any initiative in this matter. We hope that Mr K. Rahman Khan (KRK) would address this issue with drive and dynamism and would keep the community informed of his milestones in this sacred journey of restoration.
Five years ago in 2007 the central government had appointed two separate expert groups to suggest modalities for implementing Sachar Committee's recommendations to establish Equal Opportunities Commission and Incentive Schemes based on Diversity Index. Three years ago both these groups submitted their well considered suggestions to the Ministry of Minority Affairs. Since then these vital Sachar recommendations have been languishing in the government's zone of silence and inaction. There seems to be no palatable reason for that except that the government is less interested in equal opportunity and diversity and is more inclined to warm up the Muslim vote bank on election eve. One prays that the negative attitude is confined to this psephological calculation and that both of these recommendations of Justice Sachar do get implemented now. KRK would surely dig out these issues and take these to logical conclusion.
The central Ministry of Human Resources Development is annually granted Rupees five million in order to advertise and publicize the Scheme to Provide Quality Education in Madrasas (SPQEM). Under this scheme madarsa teachers' salary is borne by the Government for Science, Computers, Sociology, Maths and English. But the Ministry told ZFI, under the Right to Information Act, that despite obtaining fifteen million rupees over three consecutive years, no funds were spent to get the scheme translated in Urdu language and other vernacular languages, their printing and distribution. What was expected is that this scheme including the application form - all running in twenty pages, is translated in Urdu and other regional languages and about two hundred thousand copies should have been distributed among the administrators of madarsas. Advertisements should have been made through newspapers, television and radio. This default was narrated by me in February 2011 to the then Minister of State for HRD as well as to the Secretary to the Ministry. Later in March 2012, I re-narrated it in a public meeting in Delhi to the then HRD Minister but SPQEM has not yet been publicized in any effective manner.
The Sachar Committee had also recommended that a suitable mechanism of equivalence be prescribed for recognition of the madarsa certificates & degrees by the national institute of open schooling (NIOS) and the entire university system so that the madarsa graduates interested in being a part of the country's wider educational network can do so without hassles. This task had been entrusted to the Central Board of Secondary Education and the University Grants Commission where, however, this matter got stuck after initial take off. We hope that KRK would undertake immediate measures to mobilize and activate the HRD Ministry, CBSE and UGC.
In her letter of 1976 addressed to the chief ministers, prime minister Indira Gandhi had said that the Waqf properties on which government offices and residences are unauthorizedly functioning should be got formally leased by the state waqf board to the government at current market rate and the lease arrears must also be paid. However, if that is not forthcoming, then these properties must be vacated and handed back to the waqf authorities. The Sachar Committee has reproduced that letter of Indira Gandhi in its report lamenting that this prime minsterial instruction was never implemented. Now the Rajya Sabha Select Committee has recommended in 2011 that the time limit for implementing the import of Indira Gandhi's letter should be specified in the Waqf Bill. One hopes that KRK would incorporate this recommendation of the Select Committee in the amended draft of Waqf Bill 2010. List of Waqf properties, so encroached by the central & state governments, is annexed at the end of the Sachar Committee Report.
We are well aware that Muslim presence in the government bureaucracy is not more than one-fifth of the community's proportion in the national propulation. KRK's Ministry runs Free Coaching and Allied Scheme to help minority candidates prepare well for competitive examinations. But a necessary condition of this scheme is that the beneficiary organization must itself impart the coaching. For being successful, a civil service candidate has to outdo 900 co-competitors. Hence each of the highly professional coaches has to have an eagle’s eye coupled with long term experience, awareness of the frequently asked questions in earlier years and the changing trends in the style of marking, etc. This art can be mastered only by well established dedicated special-purpose institutions and not by every NGO. That is the reason why this scheme has been a failure in respect of Civil Services. The Scheme needs to be amended. The NGOs should surely apply but they should be allowed to sponsor coaching of their candidates in the most successful professionally run private coaching institutes for civil services (incidentally, all such institutions are located in Delhi). The Ministry can keep a close watch on the expenses and get these audited. That one strategic amendment in the scheme would change the scenario of Muslim inclusion in the nation's governance - for the better. For this, KRK will have to controvert and overcome the usual negative forces at work. The community is of firm conviction that KRK fears only the Creator. It appreciates his inner determination in the words of Dr Sir Mohammad Iqbal:
Main zulmat-e shab mein ley ke nikloonga apney darmaanda kaarvaan ko;
Sharar-fishaan hogi aah meri, nafas mera shola-baar hoga.
Leading my hapless caravan, I will boldly venture out - even in the dark appalling night;
On the way, my conscience would blaze forth and my painful streaks will spark out.
The author is President, Zakat Foundation of India and was Officer on Special Duty, Prime Minister's High Level Committee on Muslims (popularly known as Sachar Committee). He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org