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Minorities rights day observed in Manipur

By Dr. Syed Ahmed, for TwoCircles.net,

Imphal: Manipur State Minorities Commission (MSMC) observed Minorities Rights Day on December 18, 2012 at Kangla Hall, Imphal. The observance function was attended by Minister (Agriculture & Fisheries) Md. Abdul Nasir, Parliamentary Secretary (Minorities & Other Backward Classes & SCs and Sc. & Tech.) Md. Amin Shah, MLA Fajur Rahim, Chairperson of MSMC A. Halim Chowdhury, IAS Retd., Members of MSMC Ven Panthaw Paa (Prof. M.S. Ningomba) and Rev. N. Devendra as Chief Guest, President and Guests of Honour respectively.

The day-long function was attended by people belonging to various minority communities, civil society organizations and government officials of the State. The function started with a Qawali, presented by a local group of Muslim singers. Fascinatingly, the Qawali was based on the PM’s 15-Point Programme.

Md. Abdul Nasir, Minister (Agriculture & Fisheries) delivering speech

Giving the key-note address, Deputy Secretary (MOBC & SCs and Education) M.A. Salam, MCS, traced the history of assertion of the protection of rights of the minorities at the international level. Further highlighting the significance of the day, he said it was on this day in 1992 that United Nations made the declaration on rights of minorities, which states: “States shall protect the existence of the National or Ethnic, Religions and Linguistic identity of minorities within their respective territories and encourage conditions for their promotion of that identity.” He also stated those rights of the minorities outlined in the Indian Constitution.

Secretary of MSMC, Dr. Raheijuddin Sheikh highlighted the various Central and State Government schemes for the welfare of the minorities introduced in the State. He mentioned the schemes taken up the Department of MOBC & SCs, which included: Economic Development Programme (schemes for Poultry, Fishery and Farming, providing Irrigation Pump Set, Rickshaw, Embroidery, etc); Health Scheme under which financial assistance by way of re-imbursement of the expenditure in the treatment is provided; Skill Development Programme which gives training in Bamboo Craft, Embroidery, Tailoring, Carpentry, etc.; Centrally Sponsored Schemes like Post-Matric, Pre-Matric Scholarship to OBC and Minority students, providing hostels for OBC students; Housing Scheme under which 4 bundles of GSI sheets are provided to beneficiaries; Multi-sectoral Development Programme like Indira Awas Yojna, infrastructure development, health related schemes, education related schemes, etc.; Coaching Programmes like Remedial, Pre-Professional, IAS/MCS coaching, etc.

The dignitaries at the dais

Sheikh further added that Department of MOBC & SCs also looks into the affairs of its allied bodies, namely Wakf Board Manipur, Manipur State Haj Committee, Manipur State Minorities Commission, Manipur State Commission for OBC and Minorities & Other Backward Classes Economic Development Society (MOBEDS).

Addressing the gathering, Md. Abdul Nasir said, “India is the largest democracy in the world. Minority communities constitute around 20% of the country’s population. In a democratic country if a large section of its population is socially and educationally backward then the country will not develop. However, we should not have the minority complex. In India we have seen many Muslims in key positions. We have seen 3 Muslim Presidents of this country. We have seen many Muslim Vice-Presidents. The present Vice-President is also a Muslim….In Manipur also we have seen due representation of Muslims in the State politics. Md. Alimuddin became the first Chief Minister after Manipur got her Statehood in 1972. In Assam too the first Chief Minister was a Muslim. All these show that India is a secular country…”

Muslim artist group performing Qawali

“The minority communities of this State should grab the opportunities that the Government of India is offering for the backward sections of the society. People belonging to the minority communities should develop the work culture. Government officials in various departments should also work sincerely and with responsibility. We the representatives of the people will also give all our efforts to help the minority communities of this State develop and prosper,” he further added.

In his speech, Md. Amin Shah said various departments, including the Department of MOBC & SCs have been implementing numerous schemes for the welfare of the minorities of this State. However, the minorities still fail to take these opportunities. As a result large amount of fund remain unutilized. The Department of MOBC & SCs is working hard to make the minorities aware of the schemes…The base-line survey of MsDP in Manipur has shown that the living condition of the Muslims in Minority Concentrated Districts is still in a deplorable state. We are going to implement schemes to improve the living condition of the Muslims.”

“We are not the weaker section of the society. It is just that we fail to realize our potentials. We need to work hard to develop the potentials,” Shah added.

Representatives of various minority communities also addressed the issues of their respective communities and suggested measures to improve the condition of the minorities in the State.


Functions of MSMC:

MSMC was constituted by an executive order of the State Government on 20 February 2004 as a non-statutory body. However, the Commission became a statutory body in 2010 with the enactment of the Manipur State Minorities Commission Bill 2010. The State Commission has been given the following functions:

 To evaluate the working of the various safeguards provided in the Indian Constitution and in the laws passed by the State Legislature;
 To make recommendations with a view to ensuring effective implementation and enforcement of all the safeguards;
 To undertake a review of the implementation of policies and schemes of the State Government with respect to minorities;
 To conduct studies, research and analysis on the question of avoidance of discrimination against minorities;
 To suggest to the State Government appropriate legal and welfare measures in respect of minorities;
 To study any other matter which the Commission considers is important from the point of view of the welfare and development of minorities, and thereby forward appropriate recommendations;
 To undertake a review of the implementation of the PM’s 15 Point Programme;
 To consider the grievances of the minorities and suggest appropriate solution from time to time; and
 To make periodical reports to the State Government at prescribed intervals etc.

In Manipur, minority communities constitute 43% of the total population. Christians are the largest minority community (34%), followed by Muslims (8.8%), Sikhs (0.1%) and Buddhists (0.1%).