Time to include Dalit Muslims, Christians in SC/ST reservation category: Antulay

Indian Express ,  November 13, 2006

NEW DELHI, NOVEMBER 12: As the Sachar Committee, tasked by the Prime Minister to examine the social, economic and educational state of Muslims, prepares to submit its report on November 17, Union Minister for Minority Affairs A R Antulay has called for the inclusion of Dalit Muslims and Christians in the reserved category of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Antulay said he agreed with the PM that minorities should get a “fair” share in jobs and other avenues in the country. He said he was “for including Dalit Muslims and Christians in the reserved SC/ST category. By just changing their faith, their status, social and economic backwardness and the burden of being downtrodden for centuries doesn’t change overnight. If reservation is there for Dalit Hindus and Sikhs, it is only fair that the reality of Muslim and Christian Dalit is recognised and they are eligible for reservation in that category.”’

The BJP has argued against extending reservation to Dalit Christians and Muslims.

It is learnt that the Sachar Committee is exploring the possibility of declaring at least 17 Muslim communities as eligible for reservation as SC/STs, given their social realities. At present, Muslims and Christian Dalits are not recognised as Dalits by a Presidential Order of 1950.

“Giving minorities — Muslims, Christians, Parsis, Sikhs — and even linguistic minorities their due share is only practical and necessary if India is to remain fully integrated. If one part of the body is paralysed, isn’t the entire body affected? If the use of the word reservation (for Muslims as a whole) raises hackles, then other means will have to be found. Recruiting boards can be told to make sure suitable candidates who belong to the Minority community are given their due during the course of job applications,” he said.

According to Antulay, monitoring committees could be set up to examine to what extent justice has been done to “deserving candidates of all communities”.

“If a law to this effect is not seen to be feasible, then the awe that government inspires in other organisations can be used to convince even the private sector of the need to have a more representative feel.”

“We can blunt the opposition of extreme political groups against giving minorities their fair share by making it clear that it is not kisi ka hissa lekar unhe dena (taking away someone else’s share and giving it to minorities) but simply of correcting an injustice,” he said.

Moily too wants quota for Muslims

NEW DELHI: Senior Congress leader Veerappa Moily on Sunday said that reservation for Muslims should have been part of the Constitution. “Dr BR Ambedkar, one of the founding fathers of the Constitution, had favoured the benefit of minorities, especially Muslims, in Article 296 in the draft of the Constitution. After Partition, that was abandoned. It should have found a place in the Constitution,” said Moily, heading the Administrative Reforms Commission. In spite of the absence of the provision, Muslims could be put in the “mainstream” with OBCs to get quota benefit, he said.