//Equity, education are Sachar

Equity, education are Sachar


Jayanth Jacob, Indian Express

November 18, 2006

Muslim welfare: Report calls for quality education till age 14, equitable distribution of jobs

New Delhi, November 17 : The Prime Minister’s High-Level Committee headed by Justice Rajinder Sachar that looked into the social, economic and education status of the Muslim community is learnt to have recommended “equitable” distribution of available jobs in the “formal sector” for Muslims.

The committee submitted its report to the Prime Minister today and it will be tabled in Parliament.

The other important recommendations of the committee include making “disbursal of bank credit more transparent”, ensuring “quality education” to Muslim children up to the age of 14 while continuing with the “modernisation of madrasas” as an interim measure, greater role for civil society in ending ghettoisation of the community in certain parts of the country and special focus on traditional employment areas of the community.

The Sachar report says that in small towns (populations between 50,000 and 2 lakh) the monthly per capita expenditure of Muslims is less than that of SC/STs. Also, across the states of Bihar, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the expenditure per month by Muslims is less than that of SC/STs.

Perhaps, the most interesting aspect with regard to the education of the Muslims in the committee’s report is that a mere “4 per cent” of Muslim children go to “madrasas”.

The Sachar committee, however, did not recommend reservation and seemed to have toed the line of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that a “fair share” of employment should be given to the community in both private and public sectors. Though the committee admits that the “formal sector” (organised sector) is shrinking, it is essential to ensure an “equitable share” of “available jobs” in the formal sector to Muslims.

The report suggests that when recruiting panels are set up, a representative is kept on the board to ensure fair treatment to candidates.

The Indian Express had first accessed the Sachar panel data and reported that Muslims fare worse even if the employer is the Government. For example, the share of the community in government jobs in West Bengal is 4.2 per cent against a population of 25.2 per cent. In Kerala, their share is 10. 4 per cent against a population of 24.7 per cent and the corresponding figure for Assam is 11.02 per cent and 30.9 per cent.

In a series, the Missing Muslim, the newspaper also reported data on education which said Muslims fared worse than SC/STs in many states. The panel received many complaints against the “discriminatory” approach of the banks towards the community. The Sachar panel hence wanted to have more “transparency” in credit disbursal.

Explains social historian Prof Imtiaz Ahamed: “We should also understand that apart from discrimination, many community members also don’t have the asset requirement to get loans and some of them prefer to go to their kin for loans than the banks”.

Finding that just 4 per cent of the Muslim children go to madrasas, the committee said that measures should be taken to ensure “quality education” to children up to the age of 14. Considering the “educational backwardness of the community,” as an interim measure the modernisation of “madrasas” should continue, the committee said.

Another important recommendation is giving attention to Muslim artisans and fields where the Muslims are traditionally employed. The committee found that in certain traditional occupations such as lock industry in Aligarh and the kite-making sector in Gujarat, Muslims face extreme difficulty. In fact, the Gujarat government in its submission to the Sachar panel said considering “more than 90 per cent” of the Below Poverty Line Muslims come from “kite-making sector,” it had put in a place a Rs 500-crore project to help them.

Regarding ghettoisation, the committee calls for greater cooperation of the civil society in ensuring that housing societies and cooperatives follow “a more diverse” profile of the residents.