The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Aye to painless Muslim pills

New Delhi, Nov. 30: The Indian Muslim feels insecure, discriminated against and deprived, a panel set up by the Prime Minister has concluded.

The Justice Rajinder Sachar committee report, tabled today in Parliament, paints a dismal picture of the community on almost every facet of life, ranging from education, jobs politics and choice of residence.

The committee has come up with a slew of recommendations for “inclusive development” and “mainstreaming” the community, but has steered clear of sensitive issues such as religious reservation.

The 404-page report does have one recommendation that could fuel controversy — de-reserving scheduled caste parliamentary and Assembly constituencies with a high Muslim population.

The committee has suggested that students with certificates/degrees from madarsas should be eligible to compete in joint entrance exams for professional courses and public service examinations. But the panel has added that the current framework of these exams — possibly a reference to quotas — should not be disturbed.

Government sources said several recommendations of the committee could be implemented but not all.

The “actionable” suggestions — mostly non-controversial — picked by the sources follow:

• A national data bank for socio-religious groups to assess whether welfare programmes are working

• A legal mechanism to look into complaints of bias

• An equal opportunity commission with statutory powers

• Higher UGC aid to institutions to promote diversity

• Use urban renewal funds for public spaces for Muslim children

• School texts to reflect diversity and promote tolerance

• Good government schools in Muslim-majority areas and exclusive schools for girls

• Reorient skill development initiatives in ITIs

• Ensure affordable hostels

• Financial support to initiatives built around occupations practised by Muslims

• The “unrealisable” proposals are:

“Nomination” procedure to increase Muslim participation at the grassroots, ensure minority representation in local bodies and not reserve constituencies with a high Muslim concentration for the scheduled castes.

• Interventions to support Urdu

• “Mainstreaming” madarsa education

• A social security system for self-employed Muslims

• A more transparent recruitment system in the public and private sectors

• Increase the share of Muslims in areas that require public interaction, such as health workers, bank employees and teachers

• Post one inspector/sub-inspector in Muslim majority areas.

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