Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Congress to renew its appeal to Muslims - By Prashant K. Nanda - Livemint.com, MINT Daily, Mumbai. India. - Comments by Ghulam Muhammed

My comments posted on MINT article: Congress to renew its appeal to Muslims

Your article, especially to Muslims, will appear to be a paid Congress electioneering propaganda. Congress 'work in progress' never progresses. All the schemes on education have normal gestation periods of years and with Congress's lack of any will to address utterly backward and dire economical problems, all such scheme will hardly come to fruition, if at all. Muslims are tired of Congress promises. The first order of business should be government to provide employment opportunities and banking credit facilities for small traders and businessmen. The exercise should be on war footing with extra care that those in bureaucracy that hide behind rules and regulation to frustrate government's genuine efforts to alleviate Muslim poverty and dire economic situations, both in urban and rural areas, should be taken to task and punished for their communal discrimination. Government has to be genuinely interested to help laggard Muslim population to come to level of average citizens and not lag behind due to communal and hate politics nurtured by the bureaucracy. Congress is past master in fooling Muslims on the even of the elections through grand meetings and media propaganda. However, the situation is fast changing on the ground and regional political upstarts led by Muslim politicians are now more confident than ever to dent the Muslim vote bank of the bigger political parties. They are now become expert in raising funding from their own constituencies and are not dependent on outside sources. If Congress is genuinely believes that neglected and discriminated Muslims deserve state help, not merely for electoral give and take, but as full citizen of their country, it should show strong leadership and not depend on patsy Congress Muslims leaders, to be effective in convincing and fooling Muslims with false, hollow and unattainable promises.

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai



Congress to renew its appeal to Muslims

HRD, minority affairs ministries to jointly launch Rehman-100, modelled after Super-30 coaching centre of Bihar
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First Published: Mon, Jun 24 2013. 11 43 PM IST
While Muslims constitute less than 10% of the population pursuing higher education as per official statistics, the Sachar committee highlighted that the presence of Muslims in top government jobs was minuscule. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/ Mint

While Muslims constitute less than 10% of the population pursuing higher education as per official statistics, the Sachar committee highlighted that the presence of Muslims in top government jobs was minuscule. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/ Mint

To strengthen its appeal to Muslims, a key vote bank for the ruling Congress, the government is proposing a series of measures to ensure the community’s speedy social upliftment.

The measures include widening the scope of so-called minority concentrated districts to bring more members of the community under the purview of government-targeted programmes, setting up dedicated coaching institutes for underprivileged Muslim students to prepare them for entrance exams to engineering institutes, and a leadership development programme for women.

The initiatives come as political parties have begun to prepare not just for the general election due in May next year, but also for elections in Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. Ahead of these challenges, the Congress party is seeking to consolidate it s vote bank.

The inspiration for the proposals came from the benchmark Rajinder Sachar committee report on the state of the Muslim community, which was submitted in 2006. Accordingly, the human resource development (HRD) and the minority affairs ministries have decided to jointly launch Rehman-100, a dedicated chain of residential coaching centres modelled after the Super-30 coaching centre of Bihar, two government officials said. Both of them requested anonymity.

“There is an urgency in both the ministries about putting in place new mechanisms to improve the condition of the community. Education remains a key focus area,” said one of them.

The latest meeting between the ministers and senior officials of the two ministries was on 10 June, the official said. “You may call it poll preparation but on a broader note, effort is for social inclusion,” the official said.

In a few months, the minority affairs ministry will open nine residential coaching institutes, one each in nine Muslim-populated states, that will select poor but talented students from the community. “Depending on the success of this, the HRD ministry will join hands to open such coaching centres in 35 states and Union territories,” said the second official mentioned above.

Each institute will select 100 students every year, offering them free education, stay and food. They will be trained to write the entrance examinations to top institutes such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) as well as the civil service exams that are considered prestigious but difficult to get through.

The initiatives will be focused on West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Assam.

According to the Sachar committee report, other than Jammu and Kashmir, six states have Muslim populations above the national average of 13.4%. These are Assam (30.9%), West Bengal (25.2%), Kerala (24.6%), Uttar Pradesh (18.55%), Bihar (16.5%) and Jharkhand (13.8%). In absolute numbers, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, and Maharashtra have the most Muslims.

While Muslims constitute less than 10% of the population pursuing higher education as per official statistics, the Sachar committee highlighted that the presence of Muslims in top government jobs was minuscule—3% in the Indian Administrative Service, 1.8% in the Indian Foreign Service, and 4% in the Indian Police Service.

“Moreover, Muslims who have secured high-level appointments could do it mostly as ‘promoted candidates’; their share as direct recruits through competitive examinations is low at 2.4%, 1.9% and 2.3%, respectively,” the report has said.

Similarly, fewer than 2% of the students at the IIMs are Muslims.

Among other educational measures, a portion of the seats in the planned model schools and vocational institutes will be reserved for Muslims, the first official cited above said. Also, the three satellite centres of Aligarh Muslim University in West Bengal, Kerala and Bihar may get full-fledged university status soon. The move seems an alternative to the minority affairs ministry’s plan to open Muslim universities, which is not allowed under the constitution.

The government also plans to expand the number of Muslim-concentrated districts in the country. If a district has 15% Muslim population, it may be labelled as such. Currently, a district needs to have at least 25% Muslim population for this.

Shakeel Ansari, an expert on the Muslim community and a member of the National Commission for Backward Classes, said the government has finalized the move and it will be notified soon.

“We believe, after the new notification, the number of such districts will cross 175 from the current 110,” Ansari said. “If the government can implement the plans, then you will see the improvement. But we know there is always some implementational bottleneck at the state and district level.”

According to the government, the situation in terms of education and employment for Muslims may have improved but more needs to be done.

“Though the situation has improved since the Sachar committee report of 2006, the fresh efforts will improve it further,” the second official said. “Unless you improve the education and employment scenario in the country, bringing them to the mainstream will be difficult.”

Citing an April 2013 report of the HRD ministry, the official said that at the primary education stage Muslim enrolment had increased from 9.35% in 2005-6 to 13.31% in 2011-12, but this was well below the national average of over 90%.

The official said the minority affairs ministry is launching a scheme called Nai Roshni to develop leadership skills among Muslim women and improve their livelihood options. According to a circular, the ministry has invited proposals from private players for the purpose.

Prakash Javadekar, national spokesperson of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, said, “We will wait for an official government decision on it. However, affirmative action is needed for all communities, irrespective of their caste or religion.”

Congress party spokesperson Meem Afzal said, “This has been a work in progress and it has nothing to do with elections. In effect, this is just implementing the recommendation of the Sachar committee.”

Anuja contributed to this story.

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