Hindustan Times (Delhi)

Not a minor issue


The Sachar report, if implemente­d, could give Muslims a leg up in government services like the IAS and IPS

Even a decade after former judge Rajinder Sachar submitted his report on the educationa­l backwardne­ss of the Muslims, and its resultant impact on their employment status, it is regrettabl­e that nothing has changed much as regards their representa­tion in the higher echelons of government service such as the IAS or the IPS. In fact, in the IPS the proportion of the Muslims has come down from 4% to about 3.2%. And though their representa­tion in the IAS has gone up, the rise has been minuscule.

The committee had talked about things such as setting up an equal opportunit­y commission, giving the Arzal Muslims the status of scheduled castes or most backward castes; initiating steps to raise the employment share of the Muslims in the government sector; providing the community financial support, etc. Not much movement has been visible on any of these, and not much can be expected at this stage. The panel noted that just 3.5% of the Muslims were graduates, and the literacy level of the community, at 59%, was several notches below the national average. Overall, the panel had noted that the situation of the community was not much better than that of the Dalits and sometimes much worse than that of the Other Backward Classes.

Before the Sachar committee report, the government in the 1980s had created the Gopal Singh committee, which too had observed that a certain sense of alienation existed in the community. The reasons for the Muslims’ backwardne­ss and alienation are mainly two: The upper class Muslims in British India, who could have been the harbingers of the community’s modernity, left India after Partition. And second, the Muslims who were left behind were not only impoverish­ed but also victims of violence, ghettoisat­ion, etc. At this stage all thinking about community’s welfare can only be long term. One could be the gradual implementa­tion of the Sachar committee recommenda­tions. And another — though it may run into political opposition — is restructur­ing reservatio­ns in government services on the basis of family income. As of now, reservatio­ns cannot be on the basis of religion.

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