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Sachar follow-up: Government unveils steps for Muslims

Last updated on: August 31, 2007 14:55 IST

In a "historic" move to give a better deal to Muslims, the Centre on Friday said guidelines have been issued to improve their share in government jobs while a high-level committee has been set up to remove "anomalies" in their representation in Lok Sabha and state Assemblies.

In the follow-up action on the Sachar Committee report announced in Parliament on Friday, the Centre has agreed in principle to set up an Equal Opportunity Commission to look into grievances regarding discrimination against Muslims.

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

Tabling the statement in Lok Sabha, Minority Affairs Minister A R Antulay hailed the move saying "it is a historic occasion and it is a historic statement."

In a 15-point action plan on the report of the committee headed by Justice Rajinder Sachar that went into the social, economic and educational status of the Muslims, Antulay said that guidelines have already been issued to improve the representation of minorities in government, public sector enterprises, public sector banks etc.

Antulay said the high-level committee has been constituted to review the Delimitation Act and the concerns expressed by the Sachar panel regarding anomalies in the representation of Muslims.

The Sachar committee had suggested a nomination procedure for political involvement of Muslims at the grassroots and had called for a "more rational delimitation procedure."

Such a procedure should ensure that constituencies with high minority population are not reserved for scheduled castes.

Promising a multi-pronged strategy to address educational backwardness among Mulsims, the Centre proposed three scholarship schemes exclusively for minorities.

"A merit-cum-means scholarship scheme for 20,000 students from the minority communities for pursuing technical and
professional courses has been approved already. The two other -- a pre-matric and a post-matric scholarship -- scheme will be introduced shortly," Antulay said.

In a statement on the follow-up action on the recommendations of the Sachar Committee, he said a multi-pronged strategy would be adopted for addressing the problem of educational backwardness of the Muslim community.

A revised coaching and remedial tuition scheme has been approved to improve the employability and academic performance of students belonging to the minority communities, the government said.

Soon after Sachar panel report was presented in November 2006, HRD Minister Arjun Singh had set up a committee headed by Minister of State for Education M A A Fatmi to go into the educational aspects of the report.

The Fatmi panel had also come out with a set of recommendations on how to improve the educational status of Muslims.

An inter-ministerial group has been constituted to plan and monitor the implementation of a comprehensive programme for skill and enterpreneurship development among Muslims and for ensuring that they have easy and smooth access to credit.

The outreach of upper primary schools will be expanded, particularly for Muslim girls, and where necessary, with "girls only" schools.

The minister said more Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas will be opened in areas with substantial Muslim population.

Priority, Antulay added, will be given to the opening of secondary and senior secondary schools in areas of Muslim concentration and a special literacy drive will be taken up in similar districts.

He said the madrassa modernisation programme will be revised. The question of equivalence of qualifications from madrassas for subsequent access to higher education will be addressed, he added.

The government, Antulay said, has approved a revised coaching and remedial tuition scheme to improve the employability and academic performance of students belonging to minority communities.

Dissemination of information regarding health and family welfare schemes will be done in Urdu and regional languages and in districts, blocks and towns with substantial minority population.

Antulay said a comprehensive amendment of the Wakf Act is proposed to address existing deficiencies at the earliest.

A suitable agency will soon assist in the development of Wakf propertis so that the augmented income could be utilised for the purposes intended, he said.

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