New Delhi: The pathetic plight of
Indian Muslims and their woes were narrated, discussed and debated
before the Planning Commission members by more than two dozen
community leaders, grass root activists, academicians,
intellectuals and journalists drawn from all over the country to
impress upon them the need to analyze the present condition of the
community and suggested multi-level measures to improve it.
The National Consultation was held under ”Aspirations and
Expectations of the Muslim Community from the Twelfth Five Year
Plan (2012-2017)” at Yojana Bhavan, the headquarters of the
Planning Commission of India in New Delhi, on Friday last.
the Planning Commission member Dr. (Ms) Syeda Saiyidain Hameed
along with other members heard with rapt attention to the
delegates who pin-pointed the shortcomings and lacunae in the
government’s policies and schemes coupled with discrimination and
biases towards the Muslims resulting in the socio-economic
conditions of the community tumbling down and getting buried
fathom deep. The other members of the Planning Commission who
attended the consultation included: Mr. B. K. Chaturvedi, IAS (Rtd.);
Mr. Saumitra Chaudhuri and Prof. Abhijit Sen. Other officials
present on the occasion were Ms. Vandana Jena, Sr. Adviser (WC/VAC/HH)
and Mr. A. Joshi, Director Finance Planning in Ministry of
Minority Affairs. While giving specific suggestions the delegates
highlighted Muslims’ feeling of insecurity, lack of education,
inadequate health services & civic amenities, lack of women
empowerment, non-grant of bank loans & financial assistance, lack
of scientific temper, profiling, monitoring of government schemes
etc. Jamea-tul-Hidaya, Jaipur, and ANHAD, (Act Now for Harmony and
Democracy), did all the spade work to hold the said consultation
with the Planning Commission. Ms Shabnam Hashmi of ANHAD conducted
the proceedings with aplomb.
In the end responding to the day-long deliberations Ms Syeda
Hameed said her endeavour would be, along with other members of
the Planning Commission, to see that the schemes formulated to
uplift Muslim community from the morass of illiteracy and poverty
get the maximum thrust. She said that the Planning Commission
would try to ensure that the schemes are designed in a such manner
that they are not derailed by the government of any “colour” that
may come to power at the Centre later on.
Dr. (Ms) Syeda said that there was a wide spectrum of issues
touched during the day which shall be encapsulated into action
with schemes that are efficacious and serve the Muslim community.
She moaned that Muslims at present feel alienated, besieged and
marginalized. First the Approach Paper of the 12th Plan would be
prepared which would reflect whatever has been discussed
throughout the day, she added.
Dr. M. Hamidullah Bhat, Director, NCPUL, (National Council for
Promotion of Urdu Language), under the Ministry of Human Resource
Development, said that the Approach Paper to be prepared by the
Planning Commission should have: (i) Non-clubbing of Muslims data
with other Minorities. It should say openly Muslim aggregated
data; (ii) Not say Minority but Muslim Concentrated District and
(iii) the funding of schemes should be 100 per cent by the Central
Govt. – Not 2/3rd by the Centre and 1/3rd by the states.
Dr. Bhat wanted that every Muslim artisan should be transformed
into an entrepreneur so as to stand on his feet economically. He
expressed grave concern over the shrinking base of Urdu language
which is a colossal cultural loss. He wanted the state governments
to be told to remain committed to three-language formula in school
education. Maulana Mohammed Fazlurrahim Mujaddidi, Rector of
Jamea-tul-Hidaya, who was the main spirit behind the said
consultation along with Ms Shabnam Hashmi, initiated the
discussion with his Power Point presentation on the plight of
Muslims vis-à-vis SC/ST and the Central Government’s dispensation
towards it. He said the issues involved are: Backwardness of
Muslims is area based; No infrastructural development in Ghettos;
when Muslim Concentration increases, their performance decreases
and Educational Backwardness the 2nd top most issue.
Maulana Mujaddidi, who is also a member of the Consultative Group
for Empowerment of Minorities, Planning Commission of India, said
after the sense of insecurity the community is frustrated and does
not know when, how and whom to approach for redressal of their
long unending grievances. The Government knows nothing about the
community issues, requirements, priorities and temperament etc.
The welfare schemes are creating further confusion and frustration
in the community. The examples are Scholarship Scheme and MCDDP
(Minority Concentrated District Development Plan).
The Maulana lamented that the 11th Five Year Plan has been a mixed
reaction of expectations & set-backs. There were two flagship
Welfare Schemes that were introduced in the 11th Plan viz.
Scholarship and MCD (Minority Concentrated District Development
He said the requirement of Pre-Matric and Post-Matric Scholarships
were: MMA (Ministry of Minority Affairs) target (2010-11) Total =
17,50,200 of which Pre-Matric = 14,58,500 and Post-Matric =
2,91,700. While estimated (2010) Muslim children under 6-14 years
are 1.73 crores, which falls under the norms of MMA and 1.08
Crores falling under Poverty Line.
In the MCD (Minority Concentrated District) Development Plan the
funds were utilized for district development of the selected
districts (not to be focused on minorities). The major funds were
utilized for IAY (Indira Awas Yojna), he pointed out.
With the help of graphs Maulana Mujaddidi, who is associated with
a host of organizations in various capacity, exhibited the
disparity in community development between Scheduled
Castes/Scheduled Tribes and Muslims. The allocation of budget to
the communities’ development and subsequent increase in the years
2009 and 2010 are shown in the graphs as under :-
Seeing the graph it can be grasped easily that even the increase
in the budget allocations of SCs & STs is much more than that of
the actual budget of the Minorities, he asserted.
As regards the expectations from the 12th Plan, the Maulana made a
passionate plea to Increase the Welfare Budget at least 10 times.
In the 11th Plan it was Rs. 7,000 crores which should now be
enhanced to at least Rs. 70,000 crores. He pleaded to give top
most priority to education with 75 per cent of total allocated
budget. All Scholarship Scheme norms should be at par with SCs/STs
Scholarship norms, he demanded. The Minority Ministry should
concentrate on schemes related to minorities only, he urged.
He further demanded that in the next Plan the domain of New
15-point programme be increased with inclusion of urban welfare
schemes also. He urged to ensure Minority Community participation
in PPP projects; take-up MCT, (Minorities Concentrated Towns), in
the 12th Plan; Cut-off population percentage should be reduced to
15 per cent from the present 25 per cent; to build two residential
Schools in each MCT along with Hostel and involve the Muslim
community at every level.
Meanwhile, the Maulana at the conclusion of the consultation while
thanking the Planning Commission members for giving a patient
hearing to the Muslims’ problems and their solutions broke down
and in a choking voice said: ” I have not been able to sleep for
three nights pondering over the community’s state to which it has
been reduced in the last six decades after Independence”. The
emotional words of the Maulana made tears well up in the eyes of
many who were present on the occasion.
Continuing further the Maulana said: ” I humbly request you all to
formulate welfare schemes with guidelines in such a manner that
forces hostile to Muslims are not able to subvert these in any way
in times to come”.
Noted social activist Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer, who is chairman,
Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, Mumbai, moaned that
Equal Opportunity Commission which was envisaged in the Sachchar
Committee Report has not seen the light of the day yet as no
discussion on it has been held. He demanded constitution of the
Commission soon as it will benefit Muslims and other marginalized
communities too. He said that mostly Muslims are self-employed and
are artisans in different trades. These artisans should be helped
financially and provided trainings in newly opened ITIs and
polytechnics to hone their skills. He emphasized that three
reports viz. Gopal Singh, Justice Sachchar Committee and that of
Justice Ranganath Mishra should been seen together in totality to
frame policies and schemes for the betterment of the Muslim
Another noted social activist Prof. Ram Puniyani, an outspoken
intellectual against communalism, said that delivery system is not
very sensitive due to some deep-rooted misconception about Muslims
with the result that the community is isolated and insulated from
the mainstream. He wanted that the official machinery should be
sensitized so that the underline current of biases which continue
against Muslims do not come up at crunch time.
Mr. Gagan Sethi, a Human Rights activist, said the mind set of
Muslims should be changed from the Minority community to the
second largest Majority community. At the ethos level the Planning
Commission should work for this. With reference to 2002 carnage,
he pointed out that Gujarat is happening in every state, though it
may not be violent at that scale but arm-twisting is going on away
from the glare of media, government and others. If the Planning
Commission does not intervene and save the situation then Muslims
would be doomed, Mr. Sethi bemoaned.
Mr. Zaheeruddin Ali Khan, a social activist and Managing Editor of
“Siasat” newspaper which is published simultaneously from
Hyderabad and Bangalore, made a Power Point presentation
highlighting the power of media in bring about a social change in
Muslims in Hyderabad and its surroundings. He said “Siasat” was
launched on 15th August 1949 – the third Independence Day with the
primary objective of promoting nationalist spirit among the people
and lessening the social, communal and political tensions, so as
to rebuild a healthy atmosphere enabling the people of Hyderabad
to join the national mainstream and strive for national
Quoting a proverb “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”, he said: “
We did more than 30 different projects for the community
development in a span of 13 years because we believe it’s our duty
to give back something to the community, society & the nation. He
said the simple process involved were :Identifying the needs;
Creating awareness through our newspaper; Pooling of resources;
Personal involvement; Making all arrangements; Voluntary
participation and Feedback.
Mr. Zaheer said: “The difference we experienced for better life
style was communal harmony, high earnings, more exposure, higher
qualification, women empowerment, self-sufficiency, financially
sound, positive mindset, better employment and last but not the
least increase in confidence level. He questioned what does it all
mean? This means Media is the biggest social change agent while
yet a lot of change is needed; making Media mightier than money!
Mr. Azam Khan, another social activist from Hyderabad, made a
fervent appeal that there should be no cap on the number of
scholarships granted to minorities, especially Muslims by the
Central Government. He said the Minority Scholarship Scheme will
only be effective and result oriented, when its norms are at par
with the scholarships for students belonging to Scheduled Castes
and Scheduled Tribes, which are Centrally-sponsored and available
throughout the year.
Meanwhile, at the outset Ms Shabnam Hashmi, while welcoming the
delegates, she stressed the need to think much deeper and engage
deeper with Muslims so that they do not feel besieged and second
class citizens. The need of the hour is to reach out to the Muslim
community so that they do not feel alienated and thereby they
change their mind set to contribute their mite in the development
of the country.
Ms Hashmi also emphasized that the government and other agencies
dealing with Muslim affairs should not interact only with the
conservative elements in the Muslim community, as has been the
practice so far, but try to know the point of view of other
sections of the community too as the community is not monolithic.
Ms Farah Naqvi, a social activist and National Advisory Council, (NAC),
member, strongly pleaded for an anti-discriminatory legislation to
help out not only Muslims but Dalits, OBCs and other marginalized
people who are victims of discrimination and bias of the
bureaucracy sitting in the government of the day apart from
untouchability by certain political outfits. She was of the view
that just constituting the Equal Opportunity Commission is not
going to solve the problems of all the deprived people who stand
on the same side.
Ms Naqvi said there is a yawning gap between the government and
the Muslims due to hostile and biased system in the last 60 years
of utter neglect. In the last four years, when Sachchar Committee
Report came in 2006 and the same year the Union Ministry of
Minority Affairs was formed, an effort is being made to undo the
neglect and harm perpetrated on Muslims. This cannot be achieved
in the traditional manner but there is an immediate need to move
in “Fast Forward” mode and bridge the gap by officially having
Muslims in the monitoring bodies for government welfare schemes.
Mr. S. M. Hilal, a social activist, questioned as to why Census
2001 report, the best available authentic data, was ignored and
why then Baseline survey, which is just a sample survey, was
conducted to implement the recommendations of the Sachchar
Committee report. He suggested establishment of monitoring cell in
every ministry. He opined that Information System is directly
proportional to Monitoring System. If the data is correct and
monitoring is proper then any deviation coming into play at the
time of implementation of schemes is immediately checked and the
interests of the intended beneficiaries are not hurt, he remarked.
Mr. Hilal pleaded for creating National Data Bank to collect data
on various aspects through surveys on education, health, access to
government, access to justice, situation of girls and women etc.
He charged that the minority concentrated area are deliberately
neglected by the implementing agencies. He said right from
planning to implementation bureaucrats are involved. He alleged
the community’s view-points and suggestions of Sachchar Committee
were not taken into consideration before chalking out the MCD
guidelines. Due to absence of minority community in the mechanism
from planning to implementation, the community is helpless. In
fact a strong political will at the top level is required for
effective development of the schemes for Muslims. Therefore, the
district development parameters of MCDs will never improve unless
Muslim Minority concentrated areas under MCD are targeted for
development, he maintained.
Mr. Gauhar Raza, a Delhi-based noted scientist, leading Urdu poet,
social activist and documentary film maker, emphatically talked
about developing scientific temperament in Muslim students who
have the aptitude to excel provided they are given a chance with
financial support. He lamented that Muslims being repeatedly
abused by the media and the government leads to a situation where
scientific temperament cannot germinate in them.
He said that there is an intense desire among Muslim students for
science education in order to come into the mainstream but
scientific temper is pushed away at the national level. He moaned
that at the cost of Muslims other communities like Jains, Sikhs,
Buddhists and Christians are thriving. He cautioned that if not
checked then unemployed Muslim youths would be the highest by 2020
which would lead to all types of problems and violence cannot be
He suggested that there is an urgent need to stem the rot by just
not providing financial help but special efforts made to inculcate
scientific temperament in Muslim students and inspire them so that
they are able to realize their dreams. In this government’s big
institutions pursuing scientific studies can play a stellar role
which would go a long way in nation building, he quipped.Ms.
Tazaiyun Oomer, Member, Karnataka State Waqf Women’s Foundation,
and Mrs. Ayesha Masood, Trustee of Isra Trust running Oasis
International School, from Bangalore jointly made a Power Point
presentation highlighting the woes of the Muslim community with
many suggestions. They said low levels of education is impeding
community development. However, there is a surge of interest in
education within the community, especially in girls, by the women
of the community.
The community needs more schools/ colleges to progress. There is
lot of interest to build schools/ colleges also within the
community for which two types of assistance is required: (i) Land
is not available near minority concentration areas, and/ or is
hugely expensive. So, the Government must support to provide land
in minority concentrated areas at subsidized rates or grants to
credible educational institutions trust to build schools and (ii)
Moreover, a scheme supporting minority institutions providing
policy level support, easy processes and specific concessions to
cater to educational development needs of the community.
Another problem of the community, they pointed out, is the
boarding & lodging of children from extremely poor families.
Currently, many children from minority communities live in
hostels, Madrasas & orphanages. The financial support from
government is meagre and the process is very difficult. The
Planning Commission, they said, can initiate a scheme whereby a
fixed amount, say Rs. 650 per month can be paid as partial subsidy
towards the boarding and lodging of children living in these
institutions. The payment can be made directly to body managing
lodging facility based on number of beneficiaries.
On Women Empowerment front Ms. Tazaiyun Oomer and Mrs. Ayesha
Masood suggested that Microfinance helps reaching credit for
household and micro industry. “To help the poor escape from money
lenders, through our NGO, we are providing interest free
micro-credit loans to help more than 250 self-employed women
following “Grameen” model. The corpus has been raised through
donations while no support from the government.
that the Government can partner with credible NGOs to provide
grants for capacity building of NGOs & Beneficiaries, provide
interest free long-term loans to on-lend through micro-credit and
the Government can start Women’s Minorities Federation of SHGs to
help women mobilize, give training & be a channel of funds. They
emphatically stressed to stop giving sewing machines to women and
urged instead to distribute computers to them to make them
Ms Mantasha Bin Rashid from J & K, who is associated with ANHAD,
explained through a Power Point presentation the current scenario
in her state which is heart rending due to the ongoing conflict in
the state. In the last two decades more than one lakh youth in the
age group of 22-35 have been killed while the government accepts
only 30-40,000 violent deaths have occurred. The conflict-related
issues include rehabilitation of widows, half widows (whose
husbands are missing) and orphans which are: a. Under NFBS
(National Family Benefit Scheme) only a one-time grant of Rs.
10,000; b. Widow pension; c. There are no existing livelihood
programmes for conflict victims, no programs for education of
orphans and d. No monitoring programme.
Ms Mantasha said that due to an unending violence in the state
there are high prevalence of mental ailments with just one
un-upgraded government psychiatric hospital in the valley. There
are no counseling centers in the state and there is high tendency
of suicides (especially in females) and thousands of PSTD
(Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) cases.
She said that there is no local Self-Government and as such : a.
No Panchayati Raj elections for more than a decade now; b. The
73rd and 74th amendment are not incorporated in the state PRI Act;
c. The superseding of Panchayat Bill (2005); d. There are no
elected representatives in the District Planning and Development
Boards and e. There is acute shortage of funds for development
works at district and village level.
They stressed that there is immediate need of funds along with
evaluation and accountability as there are huge losses in
corporations like a. Small Scale Industries; b. Industrial
Development Corporation; c. Road transport; d. Handicraft; e.
Agro-based industries and f. JK Minerals Corporation.
There is very high prevalence of unemployment in the state as
there are: (i) No industries/Service sector; No Tourism promotion;
(ii). No entrepreneurship plans and small unit set-ups and (iii)
There is total lack of awareness about the government’s existing
schemes and their high manipulation.
The duo said that in order to uplift Kashmiri Muslims, who are
plagued by despondency due to ongoing conflict in the region,
there is a tremendous need for: a. Awareness; b. Capacity
building; c. Strengthening SWC and SHRC; d. Expedite
implementation of RTI; e. Surveys, data collection for
conflict-hit victims f. Mobile schools for nomadic ST’S; g. Camps
for legal literacy, right entitlement and h. Accountability in the
grants spend under special package and PM’s plan.
Dr. Manzoor Ahmad from Lucknow, while emphasizing to tag education
with employment, suggested to build separate hostels for boys and
girls on the lines of Ambedkar Hostels in every city of the
country. He said that it is an open secret that Muslims are not
given rooms and houses on rent in cities in the prevailing
vitiated atmosphere or due to exorbitant rents poor Muslim
students are unable to afford it. The hostels, which may be named
as Maulana Azad Hostels, will help poor Muslim students,
especially those coming from the rural areas to cities to study.
The hostels may be managed by local NGOs, he added.
Mr. Ali Shareef & Mr. Mohammed Yousuf Kanni from Karnataka also
presented a Power Point presentation putting their views and
suggestions based on facts and figures. They pleaded for
interest-free loans to the economically disadvantaged Muslims.
They pointed out that the Planning Commission Report of the High
Level Committee on Financial Sector Reforms headed by Mr. Raghuram
Rajan which submitted in 2009 had recommended (page 72): –
“measures be taken to permit the delivery of interest-free finance
on a larger scale, including through the banking system”.
The duo said that the Sachchar Committee report had stated that
self-employed categories constituted about 61 per cent of the
total Muslim workforce (73 per cent among women only). However,
access to funds for the self-employed is a huge challenge. The
plethora of loan-grant schemes available to enable financial
access to minorities, however, actual implementation is far from
satisfactory. They suggested that to overcome this the National
and State Minority Development Corporations need to be financially
They also suggested to hold an annual competition at state/
central level wherein NGOs can be asked to submit proposals for
minority development. After evaluation, the best initiatives can
be chosen and partly funded by the government as a grant. The
Maulana Azad Foundation can be made responsible for this, they
Dr. Mohammad Iqbal Siddiqui from Rajasthan suggested to develop
system of accountability for the police force and administration,
reforms in the working of police force, transparency in
recruitment and immediate compensation to victims for loss in
Mr. Navaid Hamid, General Secretary, Movement for Empowerment for
Muslim Indians, (MOEMIN), and Member, National Integration Council
based at Delhi, said if in three months time any state government
fails to implement Central Government’s welfare schemes for
minorities then NGOs should be given opportunity to fulfill the
task. He said the development plans for areas of minorities
concentration should be blocks and not districts. He wanted that
2000 primary schools be opened adjacent to Madarsas in Muslim
dominated blocks and not districts.
While Mr. Anis Karim from
Gujarat too suggested that if any state government does not
implement Central Government’s welfare schemes for minorities then
it should be penalized. As a punishment the state’s share from the
revenues earned by the Central Government be cut from the Central
taxes wherever applicable. This Bhopal-based journalist/writer who
was also part of the discussions and sole representative from
Madhya Pradesh said that there should be strict monitoring of the
Government schemes with an element of reward and punishment for
those responsible of implementing these.
As such those who
implement the schemes in letter and spirit should be rewarded
while others indulging in dereliction of duty must be taken to
task and punished accordingly. It should be borne in mind that
uplifting the Muslims will not only benefit the community but
would be good for the country as it would gain to create a cadre
of good citizens, he quipped.
The funds should be granted to Minorities-run institutions only
wherein 50 per cent students of minorities are enrolled. This will
ensure Muslim-managed minorities educational institutions to come
at par with others educationally. The grants should, however,
include funds for purchasing land lands also as Muslims being poor
usually lag behind on this front and, thus, are unable to derive
benefits from various Central Government schemes. The agencies of
these Central Government schemes as a pre-requisite demand
ownership of land from the Muslims who apply for financial grants,
then only the grants are sanctioned for building construction
purposes and other infra structure development. This provision of
having land ownership should be waived, he demanded.
In the Central Government Scholarship schemes for Pre-Matric,
Post-Matric and Merit-cum-Means for the Minorities the Application
Forms should be simplified and reduced to 1-2 pages only; Domicile
Certificate submission for students from Std. I to X be waived;
submission of Minority Certificate also be waived etc.
The authorities in the Central Government’s National Rural Health
Mission, (NRHM), should see to it that there is no bias against
the Unani doctors, who are mostly Muslims, appointed under AYUSH
scheme. It should be ensured that the Unani doctors are appointed
at par with the Ayurvedic and Homeopathy doctors, he urged. Others
who put forth their views during the consultation included: Ms
Nasreen Chaudhry (West Bengal), Ms Naghma Khaleeque (New Delhi),
Prof. Biju Mathews (USA), Mr. Zakir Hussain (Mewat), Mr. Irshad
Mirza Baig (Gujarat), Ms Naish Hasan (Bharat Muslim Mahila Andolan)
and Ms Mubeshirah Qayoom Mir (J & K).