Friday, April 29, 2011

Summarised Sachar Report on Status of Indian Muslims

Report of the Prime Minister’s High Level Committee
(headed by Justice Rajindar Sachar)
While issuing notification during March 2005 the Prime Minister’s Office had noted that there is lack of authentic information about the social, economic and educational status of the Muslim community of India. The PMO had observed that such lack of information comes in the way of planning, formulating and implementing specific interventions, policies and programmes to address the issues relating to the socio-economic backwardness of this community. Hence, the Prime Minister’s High Level Committee was mandated to obtain relevant information from departments / agencies of the Central and State Governments and also conduct an intensive literature survey to identify published data, articles and research on relevant status of Muslims in India. The Committee was to find out the asset base and income levels of Muslims relative to other groups across various states and regions. It had to find out the level of socio-economic development of Muslims in terms of relevant indicators such as religious rate, drop out rate, MMR, IMR etc. What is their relative share in public and private sector employment? Is this share in proportion to their population in various states? If not, what are the hurdles? The Committee was to find the proportion of OBCs from the Muslim community in the total OBC population. Are the Muslim OBCs listed in the comprehensive list of OBCs, prepared by the National and State Backward Classes Commissions. What is the share of Muslim OBCs in the total public sector employment for OBCs. The Committtee had also to find out whether the Muslim community has adequate access to the education and health services, municipal infrastructure, bank credit and other services provided by the Government and public sector entities. This was to be compared with the access enjoyed by the other communities. What is the level of social infrastructure (schools, health centres, ICDS centres etc.) located in areas of Muslim concentration in comparison to the general level of such infrastructure. The Committee was to identify areas of intervention by the Government to address the relevant issues relating to the social, economic and educational status of the Muslim community.

2. The Report which was presented to the Prime Minister on 17 November 2006 and was tabled in Parliament on 30 November 2006 has twelve chapters. Chapter I is introductory. Chapter II talks of Public Perceptions and Perspectives gathered by the Committee during its widespread interaction with the people and their representatives while it visited 13 most Muslim populous states and organized 5 Round Table Conferences in Delhi. Chapter III deals with the population size, distribution and health conditions of Muslims etc. In the subsequent chapters the Committee has analyzed the educational condition of Muslims, their economy and employment, their access to bank credits, their access to social and physical infrastructure, their poverty level and standard of living, their participation in government employment and programmes and empirical situation of Muslim OBCs. There is a separate chapter of Wakfs talking about economic potential of Wakf assets, constraints regarding the fulfillment of Wakf objectives and suggestions for overcoming such constraints. In the last chapter the Committee has given its recommendations.

3. The Committee noted that the public opinion in India was divided on reservation. Some argued that policies that promote equality must aim at a substantive equal outcome, not merely formal equal or identical treatment. Reservations or a separate quota for Muslims in employment and educational institutions was viewed as a means to achieve this. Others felt that reservations could become a thorny issue and have negative repercussions. Still others argued that good educational facilities combined with non-discriminatory practices are adequate for Muslims to compete. Those who argued for reservation policies often differed on who should be their beneficiary. Some argued that this facility should only be available to ‘dalit’ Muslims, while others suggested that the entire Community should benefit from it. For some an economic criterion was an ideal basis for reservations. They felt that this would fail to address the problem arising out of social discrimination. There were voices that questioned the non-availability of the Schedule Caste quota for Muslims while it was available to the followers of three religions.

4. A large cross section of the people was of the conviction that political participation and representation in governance structures are essential to achieve equity. Many alleged that participation is denied to Muslims through a variety of mechanisms. While it was pointed out that many names of Muslims were missing in the voter lists of a number of states, the Committee’s attention was also drawn to the issue of Muslim concentration constituencies of Assemblies and Parliament declared as reserved for Schedule Caste persons while constituencies with very low Muslim population but high SC concentration remain unreserved. Hence, it was argued that Muslims are being systematically denied political participation. The Committee collected data from all over the country in the light of which the second allegation regarding reservation of constituencies was found to be correct. For the first allegation the Committee did not collect any data.

5. In the field of literacy the Committee found that the rate among Muslims was far below the national average. The gap between Muslims and the general average is greater in urban areas and women. 25 per cent of Muslim children in the 6-14 year age group have either never attended school or have dropped out. Expansion of educational opportunities since Independence has not led to a convergence of attainment levels between Muslims and all others. Drop out rates among Muslims are higher at the level of primary, middle and higher secondary. The Committee observed that since artisanship is a dominant activity among Muslims technical training should be provided to even those who may not have completed schooling. The disparity in graduation attainment rates is widening since 1970s between Muslims and all other categories in both urban and rural areas. In premier colleges only one out of 25 under-graduate students and one out of 50 post-graduate students is a Muslim. Unemployment rate among Muslim graduates is the highest among all socio-religious communities. Only 3% of Muslim children among the school going age go to Madarsas. There is dearth of facilities for teaching Urdu. Lower enrolment in Urdu medium schools is due to limited availability of such schools at the elementary level.

6. The Committee found that Muslim parents are not averse to mainstream education or to send their children to affordable Government schools. But the access to government schools for Muslim children is limited. There is non-availability of schools within easy reach for girls at lower levels. Absence of girls hostels and female teachers are also impeding factors. The changes in the educational patterns across the various religious groups and communities suggests that the schedule castes and schedule tribes have definitely reaped the advantages of targeted government and private action supporting their educational progress. This reflects the importance of affirmative action. The sharper focus on school education combined with more opportunities in higher education for Muslims seems desirable. Moreover, skill development initiatives for those who have not completed school education may also be particularly relevant for some sections of Muslims given their occupational structure.

7. Bidi workers, tailors and mechanics need to be provided with social safety nets and social security. The participation of Muslims in the professional and managerial cadre is low. Muslim regular workers are the most vulnerable with no written contract and social security benefits. Muslim regular workers get lower daily earnings in both public and private jobs compared to other socio-religious communities. Since a large number of Muslim workers are engaged in self-employment, skill development and credit related initiatives need to be tailored for such groups.

8. The average amount of bank loan disbursed to the Muslims is 2/3 of the amount disbursed to other minorities. In some cases it is half. The Reserve Bank of India’s efforts to extend banking and credit facilities under the Prime Minister’s 15-point programme of 1983 has mainly benefited other minorities marginalizing Muslims. Muslim community is not averse to banking and more improvements can be brought about with specific measures. Inadequate targeting and geographical planning has resulted in a failure to address the economic problems of Muslims in rural areas. Some banks have identified a number of Muslim concentration areas as negative geographical zones where bank credit and other facilities are not easily provided. Steps should be introduced to specifically direct credit to Muslims, create awareness of various credit schemes and bring transparency in reporting of information.

9. There is a clear and significant inverse association between the proportion of the Muslim population and the availability of educational infrastructure in small villages. Muslim concentration villages are not well served with pucca approach roads and local bus stops. The concentration of Muslims in states lacking infrastructural facilities implies that a large proportion of the community is without access to basic services. In both urban and rural areas, the proportion of Muslim households living in pucca houses is lower than the total population. Compared to the Muslim majority areas, the areas inhabiting fewer Muslims had better roads, sewage and drainage and water supply facilities.

10. Substantially larger proportion of the Muslim households in urban areas are in the less than Rs.500 expenditure bracket.

11. The presence of Muslims has been found to be only 3% in the IAS, 1.8% in the IFS and 4% in the IPS. The share of Muslims in employment in various departments is abysmally low at all levels. Muslim community has a representation of only 4.5% in Indian Railways while 98.7% of them are positioned at lower levels. Representation of Muslims is very low in the Universities and in Banks. In no state does the representation of Muslims in the government departments match their population share. Their share in police constables is only 6%, in health 4.4%, in transport 6.5%. There is need to ensure a significant presence of Muslims especially in those departments that have mass contact on a day to day basis or are involved in sensitive tasks. Targeted programmes are required to be put in place. The coverage of Muslims in ICDS programme is poor in most states. For the Maulana Azad Education Foundation to be effective the corpus fund needs to be increased to 1000 crores. Total allocation in the four years 2002 to 2006 for Madarsa Modernization Scheme is 106 crores. The information regarding the Scheme has not adequately percolated down. Even if the share of Muslims in elected bodies is low they and other under represented segments can be involved in the decision making process through innovative mechanisms.

12. The Presidential Order of 1950 is inconsistent with Article 14, 15, 16 and 25 of the Constitution that guarantee equality of opportunity, freedom of conscience and protect the citizens from discrimination by the State on grounds of religion, caste or creed.

Most of the variables indicate that Muslim-OBCs are significantly deprived in comparison to Hindu-OBCs. The work participation rate (WPR) shows the presence of a sharp difference between Hindu-OBCs (67%) and the Muslims. The share of Muslim-OBCs in government/ PSU jobs is much lower than Hindu-OBCs. Out of every hundred workers about eleven are Hindu-OBCs, only three are Muslim-Gen and one is a Muslim-OBC. The monthly Per Capita Expenditure of Muslims is much lower than the national average. Benefits of entitlements meant for the backward classes are yet to reach Muslim OBCs. The condition of Muslims in general is also lower than the Hindu-OBCs who have the benefit of reservations.
13. There are about 5 lakh registered Wakfs with 6 lakh acre land and Rs 6,000 crore book value. But the gross income from all these properties is only 163 crores i.e. 2.7%. The management of Wakf Boards is unsatisfactorily due to inadequate empowerment of the State Wakf Boards and Centreal Wakf Council. Encroachment of Wakf properties by the State is a common practice. The attitude of the State Governments and their agencies has resulted in large scale abrogation of the cherished objectives of the Wakfs. Fresh institutional support is essential. A number of Wakf properties have been acquired although compensation was not paid. High legislative, administrative and judicial priority should be accorded to Wakf matters in order to improve the management of about five lakh properties across India. The Chairman and Members of the State Wakf Boards can be selected from a list of eminent persons in each state. The Government should create a new cadre of officers with knowledge of Islamic law to deal with the specific affairs of the Wakfs efficiently. A National Wakf Development Corporation and State Corporations should be established. The lease period of Wakf properties may be increased up to 30 years where the property is used for education, health care and other purposes consistent with the objects of the Wakf provided the lessee is a registered society or a registered trust doing charity work. Wakf properties should be exempted from Rent Control Act and Land Acquisition Act. Wakf Tribunal should be manned by full time presiding officers appointed exclusively for Wakf purposes. The Public Premises Eviction Act should be applied to remove encroachments from Wakf properties. Failure on the part of the state and statutory bodies entrusted with safeguarding Wakf properties has caused disquiet in the Muslim community.

14. The Muslim community exhibits deficits and deprivation in practically all dimensions of development. Mechanisms to ensure equity and equality of opportunity to bring about inclusion should be such that diversity is achieved and at the same time the perception of discrimination is eliminated. Creation of a National Data Bank (NDB) where all relevant data for various Socio Religious Communities are maintained has been recommended along with an autonomous Assessment and Monitoring Authority to evaluate the extent of development benefits which accrue to different Socio Religious Communities through various programmes. An Equal Opportunity Commission should be constituted to look into the grievances of the deprived groups. A carefully conceived nomination procedure should be worked out to increase inclusiveness in governance. The Committee has recommended elimination of the anomalies with respect to reserved constituencies under the delimitation scheme. The idea of providing certain incentives to a diversity index should be explored. Incentives can be related to this index so as to ensure equal opportunities to all socio religious communities in the fields of education, governance, private employment and housing. State functionaries should be sensitive to the need to have diversity and the problems associated with social exclusion. A process of evaluating the content of the school textbooks needs to be initiated and institutionalized. The UGC should evolve a system where part of the allocation to colleges and universities is linked to the diversity in the student population. To facilitate admissions to the most backward amongst all the socio religious communities in the regular universities and autonomous colleges, alternate admission criteria need to be evolved. Providing hostel facilities at reasonable costs for students from minorities must be taken up on a priority basis. Teacher training should be compulsory ensuring in its curriculum the components which introduce the importance of diversity and plurality. The teachers should be sensitized towards the needs and aspirations of Muslims and other marginalized communities. The states should run Urdu medium schools. Work out mechanisms whereby Madarsas can be linked with a higher secondary school board so that students wanting to shift to a regular mainstream education can do so after having passed from a Madarsa. Recognition of the Madarsa degrees for eligibility in competitive examinations is desirable. The Committee recommended promoting and enhancing access to Muslims in Priority Sector Bank Advances. The real need is of policy initiatives that improve the participation and share of the Minorities, particularly Muslims in the business of regular commercial banks. The community should be represented on interview panels and Boards. The underprivileged should be helped to utilize new opportunities in its high growth phase through skill development and education. Provide financial and other support to initiatives built around occupations where Muslims are concentrated and have growth potential. 
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