|Dr.Muhammad Manzoor Alam|
By Pervez Bari
The three-day 14th International conference organised by the well-known think tank Institute of Objective Studies, (IOS), on “Minority Rights and Identities: Challenges and Prospects in an Unfolding Global Scenario” here at the Constitutional Club of India concluded on Sunday last (April 15, 2012) with the consensus that in the Indian Constitution and the laws framed in the light of this grant rights to the minorities in all respects.
However, the ground reality is that in day to day life of the minorities, specially Muslim community, these rights granted by the Constitution remain a far cry and are not available to the Muslims, who feel cheated and are left high and dry. This not only leads to frustration in minorities but violation of the Constitution and the laws enacted therein also takes place.
Hence, it was felt it is utmost necessary that a law be framed that can be used against those responsible officials who in case do not comply and implement in letter and spirit the government’s decisions and policies for minorities formulated in the light of Indian Constitution and the existing laws and rules. Then only the minorities and other marginalised persons will be able to enjoy the fruits of development as other citizens of India.
Meanwhile, delivering the valedictory address at the end of the three-day conference Mr. K. Rahman Khan, Rajya Sabha member, requested IOS to dedicate the next 25 years after the silver jubilee celebrations as to what the Muslim community has to achieve priority wise through collective wisdom. The roadmap has also to be defined as to what will be the community’s role and contribution in India’s development. To attain this through collective wisdom first the community will have to sort out its differences by working within.
Mr. Rahman Khan lamented that the Muslim community has not done its job of what it should it get, what are its priorities and what is the roadmap of future. This job the government of the day cannot do for the community but it should be the collective wisdom of the community to do it.
“We are ourselves divided in views be it political, religious or social leadership. We are divided due to ego problem as no one is ready to sacrifice it”, he moaned.
Presiding over the valedictory function Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam, chairman of IOS who is devoted, dedicated and dignified personality, in his concluding remarks appealed Mr. Rahman Khan and Zafaryab Jilani, Additional Advocate General of Uttar Pradesh, to convey to the powers that be the hurt and painful feelings of the Muslim community about the illegal arrests of their innocent youths over trumped up terrorism charges and atrocities of police on them. He urged them to use their good offices to provide succour to the affected families in getting their wards released and end their woes.
Dr. Alam announced the formation of “Foundation for Education” by IOS for the poor, who have been deprived of education, on the occasion with an appeal to all and sundry to make contributions of minimum Rs.5 per month so as to create funds for the noble cause.
A 10-point resolution was adopted by voice vote during the valedictory function.
The resolutions are: 1. A special committee may be constituted to draw future plan of actions based on carrying out the resolutions adopted in Silver Jubilee celebrations’ conferences and achieving basic objectives of creating synergy for security and welfare of marginalised sections in general and Muslims in particular;
2. There should be a special drive to involve regional chapters of the IOS to study regional aspirations and adopt correct methodology for redressal of grievances at regional and national level;
3. The IOS in consultation with all concerned should evolve a comprehensive blue-print for minority welfare in India in coming ten years with special reference to globalisation process;
4. A committee of experts may be constituted to suggest measures for publicizing the understanding of Indian political and economic systems so that the Muslims are aware of all such processes including the electoral strategies;
5. The IOS should take necessary steps to evaluate various commissions/committees’ report and suggest measures for their implementation;
6. The IOS should constitute a specialised expert committee to suggest means to draw the attention of corporate sectors to minority potential, heritage and role in development;
7. It is pertinent to reiterate and reinvigorate the need to have links of IOS with other institutions and organizations to push the agenda forward. The issues of research and survey should form the priority sectors of the policies and prgrammes;
8. It is urgently needed to go for establishing legal aid cells to promote legal aid through spreading awareness among all sections of society and providing necessary relief to victims, if possible. The innocent Muslim youth, who are charge-sheeted must be tried on day to day basis;
9. The IOS should coordinate with agencies concerning Muslim’s affairs in areas of awqaf properties in India. This sector needs urgent attention &
10. It is felt that along with other measures, the recommendations of Sachar Committee and the Rangnath Mishra Committee’s reports should be evaluated and monitored from the point of view of their implementation and impact.
Earlier, Salman Khurshid, Union Minister for Law & Minorities Affairs, speaking after the special lecture of Dr. Abusaleh Shariff, president, Centre for Research and Debates in Development Policy, New Delhi, on “Post-Sachar Report: An Appraisal” said not only the proposal of Equal Opportunities Commission but there are many other issues on which there is no consensus in the whole country or Muslim community. So, it is necessary that first there should be consensus on any issue. As far as Equal Opportunities Commission is concerned its formation is possible but the Muslim community should first collectively agree over the proposal.
Mr. Khurshid said that he is in total agreement with the view of a section of the society that in a country like India there is no need at all for the Ministry of Minorities Affairs. This ministry in fact is Ministry of Coordination. The problems of minorities or Muslims cannot be solved alone by the Ministry of Minorities Affairs but for this departments of various ministries have to be involved, he explained.
He said that reservation of 4.5 percent given to minorities under OBC quota does not mean that they would not get under other provisions. He pointed out that in nine and ten states of the country minorities have been given reservation under sub-category as such they have been given this 4.5 percent reservation under this sub-category. This is half of 8.44 percent, he added.
Dr. Abusaleh Shariff, who is also chief economist, National Council of Applied Economic Research, New Delhi, while making a Power Point presentation on “Five Years After Sachar Report 2004-05 to 2009-10” said the report has 14 chapters of which many chapters have not been debated and analysed.
Dr. Shariff said there exists a very wrong general perception about Sachar Committee Report that it has been prepared keeping in mind only the state of affairs of Muslims and their problems. However, the truth is that the report has been prepared while comparing position of Muslims with other religious communities and groups. So, it is better not to call the report of any particular community but term it as a “Relative Report”.
He candidly said that India can become an eminent nation only when every citizen of the country is given equal opportunity.
Meanwhile, Dr. Arshi Khan, Associate Professor of Political Science & the Director of the Centre for the Promotion of Educational and Cultural Advancement of Muslims of India, AMU, Aligarh, spoke on redefining Minority Rights in India as the constitutional provisions like Article 29 and 30 are only meant for cultural and educational rights whereas these rights have proved to be inapplicable due to the enabling factors like political safeguards.
Dr. Arshi said that India is a plural society where democracy is not limited to merely elections and majority rule but the test of democracy rests with the ability of the government and the State to protect the interests of minorities. Muslims minority is a cultural and religious community and its culture is not the basis of political culture of India or the basis of the State. Merely existence of minority in numbers do not qualify a country to claim democracy but how far this largest minority feels to be the part of the State is the most important aspect.
He said that there are scores of violence, incidents, discriminations, violations of human rights and character assassination of the members of the Muslim community in the country which have not been even partially addressed by the successive governments in the last 60 years. There is a need for the recognition of the fact that Muslims have equal political rights but the enforcement agencies and political elite including many civil societies have not treated them as equal citizens. Therefore, there is a need to view such matters seriously and to take corrective measures to make India a vibrant country in the world, he emphasized.