Minority Commission is 17, but majority of minorities not heard of the panel

By TCN Team,

New Delhi: The National Commission for Minorities is 17-years-old now but the overwhelming majority of the communities for whose interests it was set up, it seems, does not know about its existence at all, leave alone its purpose and achievements. TwoCircles.net team in Delhi, Lucknow and Patna talk to common people to measure the popularity of the statutory body among minority communities particularly Muslims, Sikhs and Christians but at the end of the day there was huge disappointment except some hope from Lucknow.

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Set up at the national level in 1978, the Minorities Commission remained a non-statutory body until 1992, when Parliament enacted the National Commission for Minorities Act, and set up the first statutory commission in 1993, called the National Commission for Minorities (NCM).

The main objective of NCM, as mentioned in the law, is to safeguard the interests of minorities: evaluation of the progress of the development of minorities in the country, monitoring of the working of the safeguards provided in the Constitution and in laws enacted by Parliament and the State Legislatures, and making recommendations for the effective implementation of safeguards for the protection of the interests of the minorities by the Central Government or the State Governments.

Besides, it is the responsibility of the commission to look into specific complaints regarding deprivation of rights and safeguards of the minorities and take up such matters with the appropriate authorities, and to suggest appropriate measures for the development of minorities.

All these high aims and objectives notwithstanding, the commission is struggling to find people in streets who know about it.

The TCN team put five questions before the common people: (a) Have you heard of minority commission? (b) What is the function of the commission? (c) Who is the chairman of the National Commission for Minorities or name a member of this commission? (d) What is the achievement of the NCM? (e) Have you heard of its toll free helpline?

Sadly, often our conversation with people ended at the very first question. The heavy majority in Delhi and Patna had no idea about the commission. They had never heard of it. Some knew nothing beyond the name. The answer came not only from Muslims but Sikhs and Christians as well. One Muslim, Alim and graduate from a regular university in Delhi said he heard the name of the commission but is not sure whether it is a government body or a private agency.

New Delhi

Afroz Alam, (28) 12th pass, is a medical store owner. He have not heard of minority commission. He does not know of any other government body for Muslims either.

Mohd Imran (25), Alim and graduate, sells cell phone recharge coupons and repairs cell phones. He says he has heard about it. But have no idea whether it is a private agency or government body. He, however, knows that it is for development of Muslims. He does not know the name of its chairman.

Ashraf Ali (35), an Urdu journalist, however was most informed. “Yes, it is the government body created for development and progress of minorities in the country,” said Ali who also knows that its present chairman is Shafi Qureshi. About the achievements of the commission so far, he said: “Not any significant achievement. It works like an advisory body on minority issues to the government.”

Members of Sikh and Christian communities were not much different from Muslims.

Bawa Singh, a businessman in mid-4Os has no clue of such commission at all. Harcharan Singh, govt official in Ludhiana, also in mid-40s, however, has only heard of the commission. Harsimran Kaur, a student, has read about the commission in newspapers. She knows it is working for minorities but doesn’t know anything else.

Rebecca George, student, 21, has no clue at all while Arya Thomas, also student, 23, has heard about it. It is working for minorities but not up to the standard. Thomas does not know the name of the chairman. Thomas Vergese, a govt official, has only heard of the commission.


The TCN team in Patna met five people. Three of them said they do not know about it while two said they had no time to talk on this topic.


It is Lucknow that has emerged salvaging the commission today when it held a national conference of all state minority commissions in New Delhi.

Sayyeda Khadija (30) Insurance Advisor knows about the commission. She also knows its purpose is to safeguard Muslims and other minorities rights and interests. It issues notices to be in headlines. Shafi Qureshi is its chairman. But she does know about its achievements so far. She has not heard of the helpline the commission has set up a few months ago.

Hafiz Shakeel Ahmed, (32) Alim from Nadwatul Uloom, Lucknow also knows about the commission. “Musalamano ki hifazat, zulm key khilaf karyawahi karna” is its work, says he. Asked to name its chairman he said Hamid Ansari but when reminded that Ansari is now Vice President of India he said then he is not aware of the present chairman. He also does not know about its achievements nor its helpline no.

Azeez Ahmed, (28) Primary School Teacher, Dewa Sharief, Barabanki knows about the commission “Very well”. Sarakari zulm key khilaf musalmano ki hifazat karna. Nazar Rakhna halaat par” is the function of the commission. He does not know about the chairman, nor commission’s achievements nor its helpline.

For information

The current members of National Commission for Minorities are:

Mohamed Shafi Qureshi, Chairperson

Dr. H T Sangliana, Vice Chairperson

Dr. Mehroo Dhunjisha Bengalee, Member

Harvendra Singh Hanspal, Member

Mrs. Spalzes Angmo, Member

Syeda Bilgrami Imam, Member

National Commission for Minorities toll free number for grievance redressal:

1 800 11 0088


(Inputs by Mumtaz Alam Falahi and Mahtab Alam in Delhi, Faisal Fareed in Lucknow and Manzar Bilal and Mudassir Rizwan in Patna)