Hyderabad: A group of educated Muslims is planning to float a pressure group which will subsequently lead to a pan-India political party to take care of the community's interests in a country where it constitutes 14 percent of the 1.2 billion population.
A retired Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer has sought opinion from members of the community, including NRIs, on the proposed group.
Mohammad Shafiquzzaman, who retired as special chief secretary in the undivided Andhra Pradesh in 2013, has mooted the idea of the group to take care of the interests of Muslims in particular and to have a complete agenda of welfare governance in general.
In a letter seeking opinion from the community, he said the problems of Muslims cannot be solved without political empowerment.
"As proved by recent Bihar elections, the battle cannot be won alone and requires the support of all liberal and sensible sections of society to make India a livable place for all," he wrote.
The proposed group will work on the basis of "right, not charity". Its policy will be "non-confrontational but it will not shy away from fighting against any injustice or discrimination, through all legal means available to the citizens of this country".
The need for a separate group was felt as existing parties are limited to small geographic areas catering to localised emotional/administrative needs. "These parties either do not have or have not been able to spell out their vision to resolve larger Muslim issues, not even policies to address issues of general governance."
He believes security and identity and educational and economic backwardness are the primary problems of the community.
Stating that Muslim youth were being targeted on false charges of terrorism, he added that the fact that things were no better under Congress or the so-called secular governments indicates that the problem of security is primarily because of bureaucracy and not politicians.
The group will influence, agitate and take legal recourse to ensure that the bureaucracy is de-communalised, both through training and punishment.
It will initiate a debate on the definition and causes of terrorism so that the disease is addressed and not the symptoms.
The group proposes to supplement governmental efforts by community efforts to remove educational backwardness.
He feels the need to make efforts at the level of primary, secondary and intermediate education rather in the field of opening commercial higher educational institutions.
He believed that an educated work force will be able to make its own place in the job market. The group will strive to supplement it by securing job reservations for Muslims in different states and at the Centre.
The civil bureaucracy also needs to be trained as to the true meaning and spirit of secularism and made to understand that secularism means the state maintaining either equal distance from all religions or equal proximity to all religions.
The group is of the view that the best government is the one that governs least. It feels that threshold level bar on "offences" must be upped particularly in those fields where violations are rampant so that the harassing potential of lower level bureaucracy is reduced.
It also feels the need for large-scale reforms in curtailing the discretionary powers of bureaucracy.
A 1977-batch IAS officer, Shafiquzzaman had a clean image as a bureaucrat. He fought many legal battles against the government over service issues.
In one such case filed by him, the Hyderabad High Court last week issued a contempt notice to a former chief secretary for his alleged role in according unlawful promotions to certain IAS officers.
(Mohammad Shafeeq can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)