Aloke Tikku, Hindustan Times ,
New Delhi, November 2, 2006
PRIME MINISTER Manmohan Singh on Thursday stressed on minorities getting a “fair share” in government and private jobs. Singh’s emphasis on the “fair share” comes around the same time that Justice Rajendra Sachar panel is finalising its report on the socio-economic status of Muslims.
There has been a view that the report would end up making out a case for job reservations for minorities even if the panel makes no such specific recommendation. Data collated by the panel would, for instance, bring out the fact that socio-economic indicators for Muslims were below those for OBCs, who have had job reservations post-Mandal.
But in his speech at the conference of state minority commissions on Thursday, the Prime Minister gave no indication that he had job reservations for minorities in mind.
Singh identified lack of access to the common school system as the “main factor” responsible for socio-economic backwardness of the minority communities, particularly in case of Muslim girls. “We have to provide the minority youth skills which will enable them to get their legitimate share in employment, both in the public sector and in the private sector,” he said.
Also, the PM’s 15-point programme that was launched recently had only spoken of “special consideration” to minorities besides an exclusive scheme to coach students from minority communities in government and private institutes to prepare them to the job market.
National Commission for Minority chairman Hamid Ansari treated the 15-point programme as an expression of the UPA government’s desire to apply correctives but emphasised that the critical problem always had been one of “implementation”. The PM acknowledged this was a problem. Singh noted that there were a large number of development schemes to address specific problems for the poor and the underprivileged.
He hit out at the Hindutva idea, stressing that India would remain a pluralistic country. “This nation does not belong to any single race, least of all to any group of religious extremists,” he said urging the people to “work for a systematic reconstruction of our multi-racial policy and society”.