Friday, August 31, 2007

Follow-up on Sachar: More govt. jobs for Muslims - The Hindu Daily...

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Follow-up on Sachar: More govt. jobs for Muslims

New Delhi, Aug. 31 (PTI): In a "historic" move to give a better deal to Muslims, Centre today said guidelines have been issued to improve their share in government jobs while a high-level Committee set up to remove "anomalies" in their representation in Lok Sabha and state assemblies.

In the follow-up action on the Sachar Committee report announced in Parliament today, the Centre has agreed in principle to set up an Equal Opportunity Commission to look into grievances regarding discrimination against Muslims.

It, however, remained silent on the Sachar Committee's recommendation favouring reservation for the most backward in the 150-million strong community.

Tabling the statement in Lok Sabha, Minority Affairs Minister A R Antulay hailed the move saying "it is a historic occasion and it is a historic statement".

In a 15-point action plan on the report of the Committee headed by Justice Rajinder Sachar that went into the social, economic and educational status of the Muslims, Antulay said that guidelines have already been issued to improve the representation of minorities in government, public sector enterprises, public sector banks etc.

Antulay said the high-level Committee has been constituted to review the Delimitation Act and the concerns expressed by the Sachar panel regarding anomalies in the representation of Muslims.

The Sachar committee had suggested a nomination procedure for political involvement of Muslims at the grassroots and had called for a "more rational delimitation procedure".

Such a procedure should ensure that constituencies with high minority population are not reserved for scheduled castes.

The Sachar committee, set up by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in March, 2005, had concluded that Muslims were a deprived lot and their share in government employment was mere 4.9 per cent, indicating that all was not well for the community.

The government announced targeted intervention for improvement of basic amenities and employment opportunities in 90 identified minority concentration districts, which are backward in terms of various developmental parameters.

It also said appropriate measures will be taken to improve the deficiency in civic amenities and economic opportunites in 338 identified towns and cities with a substantial population of minorities.

Efforts will be made for stepping up priority-sector lending to minorities from the present level to 15 per cent in three years, Antulay said, adding public-sector banks will open more branches in Muslim concentration areas.

He said financial institutions will promote micro-finance among the minorities, especially women, and public sector banks will monitor the disposal of loan applications for them while recording reasons for rejection.

Three scholarship schemes are proposed exclusively for the minorities. The corpus of the Maulana Azad Education Foundation will be increased and its operations expanded and streamlined, the minister said.

An inter-ministerial group has been constituted to plan and monitor the implementation of a comprehensive programme for skill and enterpreneurship development among Muslims and for ensuring that they have easy and smooth access to credit.

The outreach of upper primary schools will be expanded, particularly for Muslim girls, and where necessary, with "girls only" schools.

The minister said more Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas will be opened in areas with substantial Muslim population.

Priority, Antulay added, will be given to the opening of secondary and senior secondary schools in areas of Muslim concentration and a special literacy drive will be taken up in similar districts.

He said the madrasa modernization programme will be revised. The question of equivalence of qualifications from madrasas for subsequent access to higher education will be addressed, he added.

The government, Antulay said, has approved a revised coaching and remedial tuition scheme to improve the emplyability and academic performance of students belonging to minority communities.

Dissemination of information regarding health and family welfare schemes will be done in Urdu and regional languages and in districts, blocks and towns with substantial minority population.

Antulay said a comprehensive amendment of the Wakf Act is proposed to address existing deficiencies at the earliest.

A suitable agency will soon assist in the development of Wakf propertis so that the augmented income could be utilised for the purposes intended, he said.

Fd: Mohamed Yousuf