People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
June 10, 2007
Delhi Convention For Implementation
Of Sachar Committee Recommendations
A cross section of participants in the convention
A DAY-long convention was held by the Delhi state committee of the CPI(M) on May 27 for the implementation of Sachar committee recommendations. Nearly 250 participants attended the convention and 38 participants spoke during discussions.
Inaugurating the convention CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat expressed dissatisfaction at the UPA government’s lackadaisical attitude towards the implementation of the recommendations of the seven months old report of the Sachar committee. In spite of assurances to the Left, the report had not even been discussed in the parliament. Though the BJP and the NDA were primarily to blame for repeatedly stalling the parliament and preventing any meaningful discussion on the issue, the entire sequence of events also exposed a lack of political will on part of the UPA government.
Prakash Karat opined that the recent decision by the union cabinet to appoint four additional committees on the Sachar committee recommendations was disappointing. The Sachar committee had already formulated a concrete set of recommendations based on the study of the concrete conditions of the Muslims in India, therefore, the need of the hour was to implement those recommendations instead of constituting more committees. He also criticised the reluctance of the union government in allocating more funds for the advancement of Muslims and called for a more forthcoming approach by the UPA in meeting the CPI(M)’s demand for preparing a sub-plan for the Muslims. He argued that without allocating additional funds, the recent announcement regarding special attention to 90 districts with substantial Muslim population would fail to yield any significant results. He strongly argued that the UPA must overcome the ‘minority appeasement’ campaign launched by the BJP, and without wasting any more time, start implementing the Sachar committee recommendations concretely.
While welcoming all participants to the convention, P M S Grewal, Delhi state secretary of the CPI(M) said that the purpose of the convention was to discuss ways to uplift the dismal conditions of the Muslim community. Along with popularising the CPI(M)’s charter for the advancement of Muslims, he also emphasised that additional demands aimed at redressing the specific problems faced by the Muslims of Delhi would also be raised by the Party with the Delhi government. He invited all participants, particularly those who were outside the fold of the Party to enrich the understanding of the Party through their inputs and suggestions.
Sehba Farooqui, convener of the Delhi state minority sub-committee of the CPI(M), placed the Party’s charter in detail for discussion in the convention. She shared the feedback received from different group meetings held in various parts of Delhi in the run up to the convention. She reported that in many Muslim concentrated areas of Delhi, primary health centers, government schools, mother dairy booths etc., were either non-existent or negligible in proportion to the size of the population. Banks followed an unwritten policy of not sanctioning loans to Muslims living in such ‘blacklisted’ areas. Prominent schools of Delhi also tended to deny admissions to students from such areas because they did not subsequently want to be saddled with the responsibility of providing bus services to the interior areas of such locations. A large number of unauthorised colonies existed in areas like Abu Fazal, Jamia Nagar and Shahri Dilli. However, in many such areas all civic infrastructures like roads, drains, streetlights etc were paid for completely by residents. Even water was purchased every morning from street vendors. Educational backwardness and dropout rates were high; therefore opening of ITI’s and polytechnics was demanded by many residents of such areas. Police highhandedness was also reported widely. She invited speakers from various parts of Delhi to share their specific problems so that a concrete charter could be prepared for Delhi by the CPI(M).
In the course of the discussions, speakers discussed various issues and problems faced by the Muslims in Delhi. The presence of a large number of participants from outside the Party fold was encouraging and resulted in generating a healthy debate on various issues. Professionals, academics, businessmen, self employed men and women, students, journalists, working class people from resettlement colonies and others participated in these discussions. While many participants highlighted the problems faced by Muslims in Muslim majority areas, a significant section spoke on the problems faced by Muslims living in other areas of Delhi. Many highlighted the specific problems faced by the Muslim community, while many speakers who were Muslims, ended up highlighting problems which are shared commonly by all people at large. National problems along with local issues were highlighted. Some speakers urged upon the Muslim community to actively join the struggle to redress its grievances, while many others appealed for greater participation of non-Muslims in the struggle for the advancement of Muslim community. Some speakers opined that the Muslim community was too demure in asking for its rights, while others advised for adopting a more cautious approach especially keeping the communal forces in mind. Almost all women who spoke in the convention, ranging from highly educated professionals to those from working class backgrounds, argued that reforms within the community and a better approach to education were a must for the advancement of the Muslim community.
The most common issues raised during the discussions included education related issues like accessibility, quality and affordable modern education at primary, secondary and higher levels, provision of infrastructure and civic amenities like water, roads, health centers, sanitation, buses, etc., and a halt to communal stereotyping, discrimination, accusation of being terrorists or anti-nationals and police highhandedness.
Along with these issues, questions of livelihood, modernisation of madarsas, representation in armed forces, discrimination in renting houses, recruitment of Urdu language teachers, disbursement of Maualana Azad Fellowship for higher education, need for reform in the community, need for having community centers or some shared space in Muslim concentrated areas, etc., were also discussed. Of the total 38 speakers who spoke, 8 were women.
Towards the end, members of the four member presidium, namely, Jabir Qureshi, Albeena Shakil, Murtaza Ali Athar and Sehba Farooqui, highlighted the deplorable condition of the Muslims of Delhi as revealed by the findings of the Sachar committee in the fields of education, banking and loan access, poor disbursal of funds by the SIDBI (Small Industries Development Bank of India) to Muslims in Delhi, the low percentage of Muslims in state employment in Delhi, and the poor utilisation of Wakf properties for the advancement of the Muslim community due to litigations with the Delhi government. The negligent approach of both the central and state governments in implementing schemes like scholarships or fulfilling recruitment opportunities for Muslims were highlighted. Sehba Farooqui summed up the entire discussion with an appeal to participate in all future struggles of the Party. P M S Grewal also urged upon all participants to mobilise in larger numbers in the struggle for ensuring that the government is compelled to take effective steps for the upliftment of the Muslim minorities in the country as well as in Delhi.
In spite of different opinions on how to proceed, all participants were unanimous in their enthusiasm regarding this initiative taken by the Party for the upliftment of Muslims.