Vision-2025: Socio-economic Inequalities – Why does India’s Economic growth need an inclusive agenda, edited by Amir Ullah Khan and Abdul Azim Akhtar and published by Genuine Publications and Media Pvt. Ltd. on behalf of the Institute of Objective Studies, was released by Prof. Amitabh Kundu, former Dean, School of Social Sciences, JNU at a well-attended function jointly organised by the IOS and the publisher on July 7, 2018 at the conference` hall, FTK, CIT, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.

In his key-note address, Prof. Kundu, remarked that the study expressly indicated that Muslims stood deprived in every respect. In this connection, he referred to two other reports, viz., Asian Development Bank Report and the Brookings Projections carried out by Brookings Institution. There was another report commissioned by the World Bank. The ADB Report had projections till 2030. That way it was certainly more exhaustive and an improvement on the Vision-2025. Quoting from the document, he said that the percentage of Muslim urban migration had gone up to 38 from 34 percent. But the growth of Hindus slowed down. The question, therefore, was if the migration of vulnerable sections from the rural areas would grow. He said that the study revealed that the Muslim male work force was higher than the women of the community. But Muslim women too were coming to the job market. Referring to the rate of drop-outs among Muslim girls, he said that it had registered a rising trend. This was due mainly to gender disparity. Deprivation of education among Hindu girls, too, was not much different from that of the Muslims. Commenting on life expectancy, he said that Muslim women lived, longer than their Hindu counterparts. Similarly, infant mortality rate among Muslim women was less than among Hindus due to gender equality. So far as consumption expenditure was concerned, it was higher among Muslims than the Scheduled Castes population, but less than the Hindus. He said that data made available in the document must be relooked due to the nature of their variation, and be critically analysed and reused. Lauding the efforts of the IOS in collecting and using data for cross-purposes, he said that he, too, benefited from the statistics made available to him by the Institute while preparing the Post-Sachar Evaluation Committee Report, popularly known as Kundu Committee Report. The report was not made public and Narendra Modi used to call it Kundu Committee during electioneering in 2014. He said that whenever the question about the report was raised in Parliament, the government always replied that it was under consideration. He urged those interested in the study of the vision document to purchase the book, so that the IOS earned some money and prepared itself for the next report.

Presenting the introductory report, Prof. Amir Ullah Khan, member, Commission of Inquiry on Socio-Economic Conditions of Muslims, Government of Telangana; explained that this journey began some 16 years ago when Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Contemporary Studies commissioned a study focused on madrasas. Scio-economic plight of Muslims and the methodology of the study was initiated by the noted statistical expert, Dr Abusaleh Shariff and perfected by Prof. Kundu. He said that the data used in the study came from the government and was supplemented by Dr. Sharif. During the course of study, the foremost question was how to rebuild the data to project the condition of Muslims 10 years later. It was also a problem to deduce conclusions at a time when some experts were already working on the inclusiveness of Muslim community. Meanwhile, there was a chance meeting with Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam, who encouraged him to take up the study. He admitted that after the defeat of the Congress Party in the last parliamentary elections, the new government coined attractive slogans. It was a difficult time for the community as a hostile government came to power. Explaining the scope of the study, he said that a pilot project was launched in selected cities to collect relevant data. About six workshops organised in different places focused on the issues like health, education, security, employment and political representation. He predicted that employment was going to be the greatest issue of Muslims in the next 10 years. Similarly, Muslims nurtured a secular concern today and if made to speak, they would say that these were difficult times for them. Citing the case of Telangana, one of the areas where workshops took place, he said that housing was the main issue for Muslims there unlike other apprehensions in several states. The issue of political representation of Muslims in assemblies and panchayats also formed a part of the study. One of the findings was that Muslims had the lowest representation in legislatures after Independence. One of the questions put to the respondents was if the Muslims would elect a Muslim or a Hindu representative or if Hindus would also elect a Muslim as their representative. The answer to the question was not clear. In order to determine the opinion in real terms, a large number of non-Muslims were also included in the survey. He said that questions regarding demand for increase in Muslim representation and the ways to bring them back into the political process, were also put to them. Emphasising the need for doing something tangible for the community’s employment needs, he noted that the lack of jobs hampered their progress to a great extent. The study also revealed that the number of unregistered voters among Muslims was very high. This number was abnormally high in the states with large Muslim populations. According to him, the good thing in the entire exercise was that both Muslims and non-Muslims shared the same concerns. He pleaded that more and more Muslims should be provided employment and participation in the political process.

In his presidential address, the chairman, IOS, Dr. M Manzoor Alam, said that it was he who fist mooted the idea to commission a survey for projecting the period till 2025 based on the available indicators in different sect

ors of economy. While talking of 2018, one must not oblivious to the situation that obtained in 1947, he pointed out. He added that though the times had since changed, the politics continued to be the same as the communal clashes in places like Bhagalpur, Ahmedabad and elsewhere haunted Muslims even today. The situation was more awful today.

The function began with the recitation of a verse from the Quran by Shah Ajmal Farooq Nadwi. The proceedings were conducted by Prof. M Afzal Wani, Professor of law, GGSIP University and asstt. secretary general, IOS. A large number of scholars, economists, university teachers, research scholars, social activists and prominent citizens were present.