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Welfare of minorities gets boost during 2007

December 20, 2007 11:50 IST

Welfare of minorities got a boost during 2007 with the Centre drawing up guidelines to improve the share of Muslims in government jobs and setting up a high-level panel to remove anomalies in their representation in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies.

The guidelines were framed on the basis of the recommendations on the status of minorities by the Sachar Committee which had been set up by the Centre.

Announcing the measures, the government presented an action taken report in Parliament on the steps it proposed to take to implement the Sachar Committee's suggestions.

The panel to look into the issue of representation in legislatures will be headed by academician Amitabh Kundu.

The government, however, remained silent on the Sachar Committee's recommendation favouring reservation for the most backward in the 150-million strong community.

In a move to redress the grievances of Muslims and other minorities, the government also agreed to form an Equal Opportunity Commission.

A five-member nodal group led by eminent jurist N R Madhav Menon has been set up to draw up the EOC's charter, including its scope and functions, and suggest an appropriate

legislative framework for it. The other members of this group are Javeed Alam, Satish Deshpande, Yogendra Yadav and Gopal Guru.

Meanwhile, the Kundu panel will also develop and devise an acceptable index to measure diversity in the areas of education, government and private employment and housing for Muslims.

In yet another report, the National Commission for Linguistic and Religious Minorities, headed by Justice Ranganatha Mishra, recommended 15 per cent reservation for minorities, specially Muslims, in government jobs.

The Commission, which submitted its recommendations to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, suggested that the break up within the 15 per cent should be 10 per cent for Muslims and the rest five per cent for other minority communities.

The Sachar Committee report, which was tabled in Parliament last year, had favoured a group of Muslims with traditional occupations as that of scheduled castes be designated as most backward classes and provided 'multifarious measures', including reservation.

The government also identified 90 minority concentration districts on the basis of the 2001 census data on population or socio-economic indicators or both. It was of the view that there was urgent need for focused attention on these districts.

It was also decided to prepare and implement special development plans for these identified areas for poverty alleviation, education, health and provision of basic amenities.

Almost a year after it was formed, Minority Affairs Minister A R Antulay got an office in the capital's CGO complex in February this year.

The Ministry had until then been functioning from a temporary office on Kasturba Gandhi Marg.

In another development, the National Commission for Minorities announced it would carry out a survey of the economic and educational status of Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis on the pattern of the Sachar Committee on Muslims.

Aiming to increase the flow of funds to the poor among minorities, a committee proposed revamping the National Minorities Development Finance Corporation and model it on a public-private partnership basis in which private players will have a 51 per cent stake.

The new model envisages less dependence on state channelising funds and looks at more private sector participation where the Government has only 49 per cent share.

Instead of doing away with the existing structure of the NMDFC altogether, a new entity called the National Minorities Development Corporation will become the holding company, the expert committee headed by Nasser Munje, Chairman of the Development Credit Bank, proposed.

Sreeparna Chakrabarty in New Delhi
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