(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
October 17, 2010
NATIONWIDE debate has been going on
concerning the extent of aid that will be rendered to Muslims through
of 15 per cent reservation in employment and education.
In the matter of criteria for identifying backward classes,
be absolutely no discrimination whatsoever between the majority
the minorities; and, therefore, the criteria now applied for this
the majority community – whatever that criteria may be – must be
applied also to all the minorities.
All those classes, sections and groups among the minorities
treated as backward whose counterparts in the majority community are
as backward under the present scheme of things.
All those social and vocational groups among the minorities who
their religious identity would have been covered by the present net of
Scheduled Castes should be unquestionably treated as socially backward,
irrespective of whether the religion of those other communities
caste system or not.
4. The groups among the minorities whose counterparts in the majority community are at present covered by the net of Scheduled Tribes should also be included in that net; and also, more specifically, members of the minority communities living in any Tribal Area from pre-independence days should be also included irrespective of their ethnic characteristics.
As the meaning and scope of Article 30
of the Constitution has become quite uncertain, complicated and diluted
their varied and sometimes conflicting judicial interpretations, the
recommend that a comprehensive law should be enacted without delay to
all aspects of minorities' educational rights under that provision with
to reinforcing its original dictates in letter and spirit.
As by the force of judicial decisions,
the minority intake in minority educational institutions has, in the
of national integration, been restricted to about 50 per cent, thus
earmarking the remaining 50 per cent or so for the majority community –
commission strongly recommend that, by
the same analogy and for the same purpose, at least 15 per cent seats
non-minority educational institutions should be earmarked by law for
minorities. The break up within the recommended 15 per cent earmarked
institutions shall be 10 per cent for the Muslims.
As regards the backward sections among
all the minorities, the commission recommend that the concessions now
in terms of lower eligibility criteria for admission and lower rate of
available to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, should be
to such sections among the minorities.
In respect of the Muslims – who are the
largest minority at the national level with a country-wide presence and
educationally the most backward of the religious communities, the
recommend that select institutions in the country like the Aligarh
University and the Jamia Milia Islamia should be legally given a
responsibility to promote education at all levels to Muslim students by
all possible steps for this purpose. At least one such institution
selected for this purpose in each of those states and
In the funds to be distributed by the
Maulana Azad Educational Foundation, a suitable portion should be
the Muslims proportionate to their share in the total minority
of this portion, funds should be provided not only to the existing
institutions but also for setting up new institutions from nursery to
highest level and for technical and vocational education anywhere in
Anganwadis, Navodaya Vidyalayas and other similar institutions
opened under their respective schemes especially in each of the
Muslim-concentration areas and Muslim families be given suitable
send their children to such institutions.
As many minorities groups specialise
in certain household and small scale industries, the commission
recommended that an effective mechanism
should be adopted to work for the development and modernisation of all
and for a proper training of artisans and workmen among the minorities
especially among the Muslims among whom such industries, artisans and
are in urgent need of developmental assistance.
As the largest minority of the country, the Muslims, as also
minorities have a scant or weak presence in the agrarian sector, the
recommend that special schemes should be formulated for the promotion
development of agriculture, agri-economy and agricultural trade among
recommended that effective ways should be adopted to popularise
promote all the self-employment and income-generating schemes among the
minorities and to encourage them to benefit form such schemes.
The commission recommend that a 15 per
cent share be
earmarked for the minorities – with a break-up of 10 per cent for the
(commensurate with their 73 per cent share of the former in the total
population at the national level) – and 5 per cent for the other
all government schemes like Rural Employment Generation Programme,
Minister’s Rozgar Yojna, Grameen Rozgar Yojna, etc.
Since the minorities – especially the
Muslims – are very much under-represented, and sometimes wholly
in government employment, the commission
recommended that they should be regarded as backward in this
within the meaning of that term as used in Article 16 (4) of the
notably without qualifying the word ‘backward’ with the words “socially
– and that 15 per cent of posts in all cadres and grades under the
state governments should be earmarked. The break up within the
per cent shall be 10 per cent for the Muslims.
recommended that the reservations are to be
extended to the Scheduled Tribes, which is a
religion-neutral class, should be carefully examined to assess the
minority presence in it and remedial measures should be initiated to
the imbalance if any.
The commission recommended that as the
Constitution of India
guarantees freedom of conscience and religious freedom as a Fundamental
once a person has been included in a Scheduled Caste list, a wilful
religion on his part should not effect adversely his or her Scheduled
The commission felt that in order to
enact the recommendations, there is no need for amending the
enactment can be done through parliamentary and administrative orders.
significant recommendation of the
Ranganath Mishra commission states “We recommend that para 3 of the
Constitution (Schedule Castes) order - 1950, which originally
restricted it to
Sikhs and Buddhists, thus still excluding from its purview the Muslims,
Christians, Jains and Parsis etc, should be wholly deleted by
action so as to completely de-link Scheduled Caste status from religion
make the Scheduled Castes also religion-neutral on the lines of STs.
other major recommendations of the
commission are regarding creation of Parliamentary committee; a Task
the state level to look into the minority affairs; and a Minority
Committee in minority districts.
we deeply look into the recommendations
we will see that mainly three types of recommendations are there. Firstly,
directly reserve 15 per cent for the minorities in education and
out of this 10 per cent for the Muslims and the rest 5 per cent for the
minorities. Secondly, if that cannot be done then look into OBC
reservations of 22 per cent. Within the OBCs, the minorities are 8.4
cent. So, out of the 22
per cent OBC reservation, 8.4 per cent can be
reserved for the minorities. And out of this, 6 per cent will be for
Muslims and the rest 2.4 per cent for other minorities. Thirdly,
scheduled caste list be made secular.
Engaged in the same work reservations will be there for Hindu Scheduled
and it will not apply for Muslims is a strange phenomenon.
chief minister of
entire process has to go through three
stages. Firstly, those Muslim groups are
to be identified who can come under the OBC list. Secondly, the creamy
has to be excluded and thirdly, they have to be given certificates
constitute one-fourth of the total
population of the state. Almost 10 per cent
Muslims are within the OBC list. Out of the present 70 groups,
are Muslims. Those in the list are jola (ansari-momin), potidar, kasai,
seikh, paharia-muslim, kujra, sershabadi, hajam, beldar, khetta,
more can come in the list namely
‘guri’ people who catch small fishes. Their counterparts among the
in the Scheduled Caste list. In my own village, a locality was there
Guripara. In this, the Muslims lived by catching fish and selling it.
recently, I was travelling from Beliaghata to Sealdah in Kolkata and
came across Gurimahal para before getting on the Sealdah bridge. I went
and asked the people in and around there. I came to know that once
Bengali fishermen stayed there. After partition, they caught a train
Sealdah through Banpur upto Moimonsingha in Bangladesh. They never
only leaving their name which still happens to identify that area. I
roads in Baharampore, Murshidabad by the same name.
less in number but dhukris still
remain. The name itself is strange to hear. Our mothers and
fond of stiching “kathas”. The embroidery of the kathas is a very
artwork. A similar type of inflated thing called” dhokra” were also
unused clothings. The makers of this product are called dhukris and
still found in Murshidabad, Malda and in Amdanga (North
24 Parganas). They also can come in
the OBC list. Khalifas are makers of umbrellas. From the Dewansai area
Murshidabad they have spread to different parts of the state and the
Anyhow, I will not go on furnishing more examples. The groups that can
under OBC list may be like this: mandal, sikdar, majumdar, tatia, kolu,
guri, dhukri, pechi, ghoshi, mahaladar, aabdaal, bosni, kankhalifa,
dai, sanakar, turki, malo, sabjiwala, mahefras, dhuli etc.
work of inclusion has picked up pace.
People can appeal either through the form available on the commission’s
or on a plain white paper. The commission will have a hearing and
decide upon. The commission has the right to call any group and make
decisions. It can be said that a large
section of Muslim groups will be incorporated in the OBC list once it
are the reasons behind such an
announcement of the West Bengal Left Front government? The first
is the Article 15(4) and Article 16(4) of the Constitution that speak
reservations. Secondly, the backwardness of the Muslims is a hard fact
apparent without the commission’s report also. Hindus and Muslims live
and everybody is well aware about the day to day realities. The much
and debated Sachhar Committee report has stated that the socio economic
conditions of the Muslims are in a real bad shape and needs to be
an urgent basis. Thirdly, the summary of the Ranganath Mishra
has argued for reservations directly.
people ask whether reservations
exists for Muslims in other states of the country. The answer is no.
Constitution was amended in 1950, there were reservations in states
Travancore, Saurashtra and Mysore, keeping the social considerations in
Before the finalisation of the Constitution in the Constituent
personalities like Jawharlal Nehru, B R Ambedkar and K M Munshi spoke
of cancelling all existing reservations and formulate something afresh.
unanimity was not achieved. At that point of time, framing the
the most important consideration for the country and it was adopted. And it is precisely for this reason that
there are reservations on the basis of religion in some states like
it is continuing since before independence.
the states of Tamilnadu, Bihar and
Karnataka, within the OBC list another list called MBC (most backward
communities) list have been created. In Tamilnadu and Bihar, nearly 95
Muslims have been brought under reservations. It is well known to us
recently the Andhra Pradesh government spoke of 5 per cent reservation
Muslims, which was turned down by the state High Court. The Supreme
has taken somewhat positive stand in this regard. The complete verdict
to come and we are looking hopefully to the honourable Supreme Court.
government at the centre seems to be
not in a hurry even after the publication of the Ranganath Mishra
has so far not even placed the action taken report. The most important
now is that the central government needs to speak in a frank manner.
organisations and eminent personalities met recently in Delhi and they
adopted a resolution which states “The participants are convinced that
reservation has become a universally accepted device for equalising
opportunities in heterogeneous and multi-segmented societies. If
justice reach the weaker sections, they are equally convinced that
democratic framework all deprived and frustrated groups have a right to
their problems before the bar of the nation and receive their share in
with this the resolution mentions
“the participants pay their tribute to the Sachhar Committee which
the malice and to the Mishra Commission which has prescribed the
urge the government, the secular parties and the parliament to dispense
remedial measure urgently.” So, everybody is eagerly looking towards
central government though no positive steps have been taken by them in
regard so far.
need to conclude our discussion here.
The development of the minorities in West Bengal is not a stray
has been an integral part of the democratic movement. It is driven from
understanding that we have to take decisions standing on the firm
have to take separate initiatives for the backward Minorities and it
overall strengthen our process of development.
speak of minority appeasement. We, as
Leftists, believe that the minorities are persons not to be looked down
and they are a people craving for justice. With this belief, all our
to be planned. In West Bengal, the Left Front government does not look
religion of the common man while bringing about changes in their lives.
poor people have been the greatest consideration of the government.
Castes and Scheduled Tribes are comparatively more poor, so their
needs to be prioritised. And, if for that some people raise the slogan
appeasement, they will definitely be isolated from the people.
will be ensured through the
path of mass movement. The Left has always believed in the development
common man, independent of caste, creed, religion, language, race etc
continue to do so. In no way can we be deviated from our ideals.