UPA’s last window of opportunity

    Timeframe for implementation: July-Dec 2013

    Dr Syed Zafar Mahmood

    We, the Indian Muslims, are extremely unhappy with the philosophy and agenda of the Sangh Parivar and hence will surely not vote for the BJP in the upcoming elections. However, this does not lead to the presumption that we will vote, a third time, for the UPA.

    Justice Rajinder Sachar submitting report of the Committee set up to study social, economic and educational status of Muslims to the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, , in New Delhi on November 17, 2006. Six and a half year later, major recommendations of the Report is yet to be implemented.

    In 2004 the UPA came to power with massive Muslim support. It appointed Sachar Committee and Mishra Commission which submitted their reports which were accepted by the UPA Government. Muslims were happy and they again supported the UPA in 2009. Problems of the Muslims have been documented in the two reports and their solutions have been identified after detailed discussion in and out of the government. But, during the last four years the UPA has been ignoring the implementation of major recommendations given in Sachar and Mishra Reports despite systematic and frequent reminders given by the community and its well-wishers through media, conferences, presentations, memoranda and meetings with ministers. Now the UPA has its last window of opportunity, July to December 2013, to pick up the threads, issue orders, give these in the hands of Muslims and their well-wishers and get these implemented at the ground level through intense follow up. For UPA’s ready recapitulation following are the actions that it must take right now. Each of these works has been pending for several years. After every item, in brackets, the ministry which has to take the action is mentioned. Muslims will take into account the UPA’s commissions & omissions at the hustings.

    1. Create time-bound fast-track courts to try terror allegations. (Ministry of Law)

    3. Provide compensation of Rs 50 lakh to each person who is judicially acquitted of terror allegations. Such amount elsewhere in the civilized world is much higher. (Home Ministry)
    4. (a)Make ‘Scheduled Caste’ definition religion-neutral. Amend 1950 Order through a simple parliamentary resolution. (Ministry of Law)

    4.(b) De-reserve constituencies with substantial Muslim population. Immediately appoint the next Delimitation Commission with clear time-bound mandate to remove these anomalies. (Sachar Committee: Ministry of Law)

    5. Evolve procedure to nominate Muslims in public positions of power. Mind you, post-Sachar, Muslim representation in government has come further down. (Sachar Committee Report: Cabinet Secretariat & Ministry of Minority Affairs)

    6. Earmark 67% for Muslims out of the Reservation to be made for all minorities, as Muslims constitute 73% of all minorities.
    (Mishra Commission: Ministry of Law)

    7. Create Special Component Plan in the Budget for Muslims for skill development programs and other economic opportunities. (‘Promises to Keep’ by Harsh Mandar & others: Planning Commission & Ministry of Finance)

    8. For the PM’s 15 Point Program for Minorities, enhance the outlay to 19% of total plan allocation.
    (‘Promises to Keep’ by Harsh Mandar & others: Planning Commission & Ministry of Finance)

    9. Make the village (in rural area) and ward (in urban area) [and not the district or block] as units of planning for infrastructure schemes (including MSDP – Multi-sectoral Development Plan) and their implementation. (‘Promises to Keep’ by Harsh Mandar & others: Planning Commission & Ministry of Finance)

    10. For special recruitment of 1400 additional IPS officers, scrap the Limited Competitive Examination (LCE) as it pre-empts Muslim intake. (Ministries of Personnel & Home)

    11. Establish Indian Waqf Service on the pattern of several states where senior officers are directly recruited, by state law, to manage Hindu temples & endowments. (Sachar Committee Report: Ministries of Personnel & Minority Affairs)

    12. (a) In the Waqf Bill 2013, incorporate all the recommendations of Sachar Committee + Joint Parliamentary Committee on Waqfs. (Sachar Committee Report & JPC on Waqfs: Ministry of Minority Affairs)

    12.(b) Act on the then PM Indira Gandhi’s letter no. 71-PMO/76 dated March 26,1976 addressed to the chief ministers – reproduced in Sachar Committee Report on page 223. Vacate Waqf properties occupied by UPA Governments in the centre and states and restore these to the state waqf boards.
    (Sachar Committee Report & JPC on Waqfs: PMO, Ministry of Minority Affairs, UPA chief ministers)

    13. Publicize Madarsa Scheme (SPQEM) in Urdu & other languages. Rs 50 lakh granted every year for such publicity has not been utilized. (HRD Ministry)

    14. Establish equivalence between Madarsa and other education. (Sachar Committee Report: Ministry of HRD, National Institute of Open Schooling and University Grants Commission]

    15. Give option for interest-free finance in the banking sector. Implement the recommendations of the Planning Commission’s Raghuram Rajan Committee on financial sector reforms. (Planning Commission)

    16. Central Urdu Teachers Scheme: Follow up and get resolved its non-implementation in most of the states. (Ministry of HRD)

    17. Establish Equal Opportunity Commission. Modalities were finalized by the Expert Committee four years ago. (Sachar Committee Report: Ministry of Minority Affairs)

    18. Institute the Schemes for Incentives based on Diversity Index. Modalities were finalized by Expert Committee four years ago. (Sachar Committee Report: Ministry of Minority Affairs)

    19. Involve Muslim beneficiary groups in the planning & oversight of the schemes & projects aimed at their welfare. (Cabinet Secretariat & Ministry of Minority Affairs)

    20. Concentrate on benefiting the whole Muslim community, not only a few individuals.

    Detailed documentation on these issues, often obtained under Right to Information Act, is available with the Zakat Foundation of India.

    Lest the current UPA Government continues its ‘mere lip-service’ policy towards Muslims even during its last six months, we need not vote for it a third time and, instead, now begin putting our heads together for a non-UPA and non-BJP alternative.

    Dr. Zafar Mahmood is the president of Zakat Foundation of India.