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Minority Definition Needs Revisiting, Says RSS Worker's Report Critiquing Sachar Committee

Representative image.

Representative image.

The report suggests that the present centralised approach of identification of minority should be decentralised to state and if possible, to a division level.

Eram Agha

New Delhi: An RSS worker, Durga Nand Jha, who was also a former member of the BJP’s National Minorities Coordination Committee during 2014, has prepared a report on Indian minorities titled: ‘An Enquiry Into India’s Minority Policy’ and ‘Analysis of Socio-Economic Status of Muslim Community in India.

The report suggests sweeping changes in the way minorities are defined and benefits are distributed among them.

Ready with his report, Jha is now waiting to have it released by a prominent BJP leader. The plan is to get BJP president Amit Shah to do the honours.

“With the Sachar Committee report a very wrong narrative was shaped in India about Muslims being backward. I am not denying that. Yes, Muslims are backward but only in some states, say, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh. And if you see the data available you will find that Muslims are backward in poor states, where even Hindus are backward. The report communalised economic development,” Jha tells News18.

He adds, “But if you see Muslims in Kerala, you will find that they are well off. With this report we want our findings and suggestions to come in public domain, where right now the Sachar Report is. It will bring to light the internal factors responsible for backwardness of Muslims. The government is already trying to make changes through the Triple Talaq Bill etc.”

The 403-page report of the Sachar Committee, on the social, economic and educational condition of Muslims in India, was tabled in Parliament on November 30, 2006. The Committee, headed by former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court Rajinder Sachar, was set up soon after the UPA came to power in 2004.

“India’s Minority Policy”, “3Cs of Majority-Minority Relationships (Complaint, Confrontation and Cooperation), “Dissent and Dilemma on Development”, “Assessing Development Differentials Among Religious and Social Groups”, “Government Program and Scheme for Minorities”, “The Socio Economic World of Indian Muslims” are some of the chapters in Jha’s report.

A New Minority Policy

According to Jha, the present definition, and identification, of minorities is fallacious. He says it is neither comprehensive nor inclusive. “Therefore, the concept of minority and its definition needs to be revisited,” says Jha.

The report suggests that the present centralised approach of identification of minority should be decentralised to state and if possible, to a division level.

“If it is assumed that a minority community has to face social, religious, administrative and economic constraints in their day-to-day lives for being minority, then same assumption must be applied in religiously neutral manner, which is not the case at present,” says Jha.

He adds, “Religious slant must be removed from it and if Hindus are in minority, they should also get the same benefits as minorities receive in various states.”

His report further says that “Minority benefits should not be extended to a community if it is in majority in that particular state. In many states, a community which is a minority at national level, is in majority at state level. In such a case, the benefits of being the minority should not be extended to that particular minority community. If it is given, it is akin to making mockery of justice and the very need of such provisions.”

To address the anomalies in the very definition of a minority, he suggests that the Ministry of Minority Affairs issue fresh guidelines to make it all-encompassing. He further says that the government should issue state-wise list of minorities, as is done in the case of OBCs.

Sachar versus Saffron

“We think, Sachar committee distorted the facts. Economic backwardness of Muslims is the outcome, but what are the reasons of economic backwardness. That we will not get to know because the community does not want to introspect,” Jha adds.

Jha says his report is based on years of interactions, observations, research and field surveys.

Since the Muslim community is the largest among all the minority groups in India, the report has a special focus to study all the factors “which are preventing the Muslim community from becoming socially and economically inclusive and psychologically, assimilative with the mainstream,” says Jha.

“This is a negative propaganda. One has to dispassionately read the Report that has over 375 charts and graphs culled from government sources. It is the most authentic report on Muslims in India after the Independence. But some people are constrained to look at the issue objectively since 1925,” says Dr Syed Zafar Mahmood, former member of Sachar Committee and President of Zakat Foundation.

The Sachar Committee used 2001 census data to understand the demographic profile, infrastructure availability, and educational achievements of the population. Data from other sources, including ministries, departments, public sector undertakings, universities, and colleges were used in preparing this report.

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