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Report of seminar on ‘Ten Years of Sachar Committee Report : A Review’
Resolution demands de-reservation of Muslim majority seats and creation of an Equal Opportunity Commission
On the completion of 10 years of the Justice Sachar Committee Report, Socialist Yuvjan Sabha (SYS), PUCL and Khudai Khidmatgar organized a national seminar in New Delhi on the 22nd of December 2016. The purpose of the seminar was to find out how much work had been done according to the committee’s recommendation. The president of the Socialist Party, Dr Prem Singh introduced the idea of the seminar saying that this would be the first in a series. In this first seminar on the subject scholars and representatives of Muslim organizations have been called as speakers. Representatives of various political parties would also be called later. So that they are able to tell what extent the recommendations have been implemented by their governments at the level of the states and centre.
Addressing the inaugural session, veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar referring to the report said that this report had done the job of unveiling the truth. Muslims should get their rights. Today the condition of Muslims has gone from bad to worse. They are not being treated well. Earlier politics was not linked to religion. But today religion dominates politics. As per the constitution, all citizens are equal. We all need to look into our hearts to see what kind of society we really want. The Sachar Committee report is as relevant today as it ever was.
Prof. T. K. Oommen, who had been a member of the Sachar Committee, said that this report is a well known historic document. In this report, through the instance of the Muslim community, one gets a glimpse of the entire Indian society. A person needs not just food to live on, but also equality, security, recognition and respect. Today, even those in minority communities who have enough resources, are not accorded the respect they are entitled to as per the provisions of the Constitution. when we talk of security we must remember that violence is not merely physical, but also structural and symbolic. Muslims often have to face such sort of violence. For instance, calling them ‘beef eaters’ is a living example of psychological and mental violence. A Muslim is regarded with suspicion. Though inequities are often seen in societies, but inequities resulting from being born in a specific community must be seen as a serious problem.
Mr. Syed Mahmood Zafar, who was appointed OSD by the government in Sachar Committee, in his power-point presentation told that Muslims in India are 14.2 percent, who are 73 percent of the total minorities. Article 46 has provisions for special care of weaker sections. According to Sachar Committee report, Muslim society is rather backward on social, economic and educational parameters, and their level has been falling since 2006. Only 10 percent of the Committee’s recommendation, have been implemented so far. A big factor in this is the bare minimum representation of Muslims in administrative positions.
Maulana Mahmood Madni, general secretary of Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind, said that there is an increasing trust deficit against Muslims in society. They are socially isolated. Being a Muslim today has become a sign of terror. We must pay attention to the education of Muslim children and youth, so must the media and government.
The chair of the second session, Prof. Manoranjan Mohanty said that all dispossessed communities including minorities must be systematically studied and worked with. If everyone continues to work separately, engaging piecemeal with issues at random, it will not lead to systematic, consolidated work. If one looks at newspapers, books and magazines, very little information is available on the social, economic and cultural conditions of Muslims. The rights of minority communities must be regarded carefully. Violence rises when the rights of minorities are threatened. When rights are assured, then through due representation, social change comes about.
Dr. Salim Engineer, general secretary of Jamat E Islami Hind said that many recommendations came before the Sachar Committee report, but this is a different and special report, it is realistic, and work has been done at ground level. what is the reason that despite such a widely debated report, no change is happening in the real conditions of minorities. The reason is the duplicitousness and lack of commitment on the part of governments and political parties. In Indian jails, majority of inmates are of minority communities, out of which 85 % are Muslims. ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’ is an emotional cliché, reality is quite the opposite. the country is moving from democracy towards fascism. The identity of this nation is due to its diversity and multipicity, not due to ‘Hindu nationalism’.
Senior journalist Qurban Ali said that this report has always been accused of Muslim appeasement. Madhu Limaye addressing a public meeting had asked, where is Muslim appeasement happening? Has it happened at social, economic, cultural and educational levels? If your mentality is discriminatory, you cannot do good work. This discrimination happens not only at the social but governmental level also. He reminded that the government circular of 1950, which said that Muslims should not be appointed to sensitive positions, has still not been changed.
Former minister Manishankar Iyer said that the accusation of appeasement stems from a wrong mindset. When the Hindu personal law exists, then there ought to be no objection to Muslim personal law. Diversity is the identity of India. the motive behind uniform civil code is not equality of all, but destruction of the Muslim identity. He accepted that even the Congress governments did not do enough work on the Sachar Committee recommendations. however, these recommendations ought to be implemented.
Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind’s secretary, Hakimuddin Qasmi said that Muslims should take initiative and join everyone in the struggle for rights. They should reject the mentality of fear and pessimism. There are other communities in India too that are discriminated against. The discussion on Sachar Committee’s recommendations should continue. He said that people should not work with the feeling of revenge or of defeating anyone else. All deprived groups must come together to fight for the progress of their communities and the nation.
Giving the concluding remarks at the end of the seminar, Dr. Prem Singh said the Sachar Commitee report doesn’t merely give statistics, but also guiding principles of what constitutes a civilized society, and how India should conduct itself vis-a-vis the rest of the contemporary world. Very little work and too many promises have happened in response to this committee’s recommendations. We should have progressed towards an egalitarian, democratic and secular society, but the results are the opposite. Why is it that those who sided with the British during the freedom struggle have found acceptance not only within politics but also in society? The communalism which came with the British; which was limited to some pockets of cities, has now spread to small towns and villages, even to tribal areas as well. How did it so happen that despite all the institutions being in the hands of secular minded people such a lot of space is taken up by communal forces? We need to be self-critical too. By way of the new economic policies adopted in 1991, neo-imperialism was imposed on the country. The current conditions are a result of that. The opponents of RSS keep repeating its old agenda. Whereas it has a brand new agenda of destroying ideology through technology. When we work together with a fresh perspective on practical and ideological level, only then will we evolve an egalitarian, civil society. He put forward a resolution on behalf of the seminar which was unanimously accepted. The resolution calls for De-reservation of Muslim majority Vidhan Sabha seats and the constitution of an Equal Opportunity Commission. (Resolution attached)
The speakers were welcomed by Dr. Ashwani Kumar in the beginning of the seminar and Faisal Khan delivered the vote of thanks at the end. The first session was conducted by SYS national general secretary Bandana Pandey and the second session was conducted by Dr. Hiranya Himkar.
Report by Niraj