Sachar member hits back at Salman Khursheed, says didn’t advocate ghettoization
New Delhi: The statement made by the Minorities Affairs Minister Salman Khursheed last Saturday, calling for critical examination of Sachar report, has evoked a huge response, most of which is critical to Mr. Khursheed. Delivering a lecture, ‘Minorities of India: Issues and Challenges,’ at the Justice Basheer Ahmed Sayeed College for Women, Chennai, Mr. Khursheed had said that, “Sachar Committee Report or aspects of Sachar Committee Report need to be critically examined to ensure that it doesn’t lead to ghettoization,” said Khursheed
He had also questioned Sachar Committee Report saying that the report was not the Quran which cannot be questioned. “The recommendations of Sachar Committee Report are not divine like (the) Quran; they can be wrong also and that’s why one must approach them critically,” he reportedly said.
Abusaleh Shariff, economist and the Secretary of the Sachar Committee, has reacted strongly to the Minister’s assertion linking Sachar with the ghettoization of Muslim community and also to Khursheed’s empirical questioning of the report by talking about the possibility of the report being “wrong.”
Talking exclusively to TwoCircles.net, Shariff said, “Through the Sachar report we tried to mainstream the Muslim community. We have brought to the government’s report, that please formulate policies in such a way as to bring Muslims as part of the mainstream. Create an environment where Muslims become part of public spaces like schools, universities.”
Categorically rejecting Khursheed’s view linking Sachar report with the alienation of the community, Shariff said, “Every page of Sachar Report talks about mainstreaming Muslims and now after almost five years, Salman Khursheed thinks that implementation of Sachar report will ghettoize Muslims.”
Explaining his point further Shariff said that every aspect of Sachar committee recommendation was geared towards the fact that the public action should facilitate the mainstreaming of the Muslim community.
“For instance we examined the function and role of Minority Financial Development Corporation (MFDC) and brought to the government’s notice that (MFDC) doesn’t really support the mainstreaming of the minorities. The need of the minority community can’t be met with the institution of (MFDC) because of the meager allocation. The welfare of the minorities lies in going to the nearby bank and get money from there,” added Shariff.
Shariff also criticized Khursheed’s questioning of the report because Sachar report is an empirical compendium of not only Muslims but of other comparable groups like Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes, Christians and others. The data generated by the report was from some of the best sources, most of them are government sources. Like that from banking was provided by the Reserve Bank of India.
“How can an empirical report be wrong? If some body finds an error or thinks that it is wrong, then you will have to go back, reanalyze it and show what it right. You can not use the term wrong for an empirical report,” added Shariff.
Shariff also was skeptical of the relevance of the Ministry for Minorities Affairs. He said that the welfare of Muslims is not in running behind the Minister for Minorities Affairs, Salman Khursheed. The interest of Muslims can’t be addressed by Minorities Affairs Ministry. They have to be addressed by what we call as lined departments.
“For instance the problems related to education will be solved by ministry of HRD. That’s where the money is and that is where the programmes are. Minorities Affairs Ministry doesn’t have any programme for expanding education of the community and removing the deficit through Sarv Siksha Abhiyan and other programmes,” Shariff added.
Shariff also defended Sachar’s recommendation for separate Wakf based cadre of officers because Salman Khursheed had pointed out in his clarification to TCN that the “separate Sachar’s recommendation for separate Wakf cadre is an instance of ghettoization.”
“I categorically reject Mr. Salman Khursheed’s view that the separate Wakf cadre will lead to Muslim ghettoization. We had just suggested that there can be an optional test for the officers related to the matters of Wakf qualifying which the interested officers can work for Wakf boards,” said Shariff.
What made Shariff respond strongly to Khursheed’s appeal to Muslims to be a part of mainstream, was the fact that even after five years of the Sachar report, the government has not taken any strong and concrete step to mainstream the community particularly when there is widespread discrimination against the community.
Shariff said, “The Minister has a lot to answer as to how he will eliminate large deficit in achievement levels which Muslims have encountered during the last 60 years or so. This has occurred mostly due to discriminatory practices followed by successive governments including the Congress governments both at the Centre and the many states. Sachar recommendations are sensitive to mainstreaming and…points to the areas in which discrimination has occurred and Muslims have suffered.”
Not mincing words in the criticism and apparent double standards of the government, Shariff said, “Pl(ease) note I am using the word discriminatory too frequently in this note but the Sachar report …consciously avoided using this word, just to save the face of the government in power and we used some diplomacy; otherwise this report very clearly highlight the discriminatory practices. My new research is strong in highlighting how mainstreaming is not pursued by governments themselves and how public spaces are denied to minorities. Let the Minister come out with a strategy to bring diversity in public spaces (Schools, Universities, Urban Living spaces, government employment …) which this ministry is silent about (for the) past five years.”
Smelling a political agenda behind questioning of Sachar by Salman Khursheed who is also a Congress politician from the state of Uttar Pradesh, Shariff said that if the statement was deliberate then it seemed that it was targeted at appeasing the majority community in the hope of getting their votes in the coming assembly elections in the state. Sachar member hits back at Salman Khursheed, says didn’t advocate ghettoization
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