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Islamic Society ( 7 Jun 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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India: Affirmative action, not reservation is the answer for Muslims, says Minister

By Manoj C G

Jun 08, 2009


New Delhi: In contrast to predecessor A R Antulay who maintained a studied silence on the issue of reservation, newly-appointed Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid has called quota for Muslims a “double-edged sword” which could create “envy, hostility and resistance”. He has instead advocated affirmative action as a tool to “inject an ability to compete” rather than make them “constant beneficiaries of additional help”.


In an interview to The Indian Express, Khurshid said it was time to explore “angles” other than reservation. He said it was his intention to roll out some “quick impact” schemes and fine-tune delivery of recommendations made by the Justice Rajinder Sachar committee.


“You don’t want to try and please somebody and not get them the comfort of actually getting any relief. I think it is much better to get substantive relief, substantive opportunity rather than stick your mind only on one particular way of doing it.”


“If you can get them what they want by another method... what they want is opportunity, why should we just follow a standard line of reservation. There may be a better way. If there isn’t then, we will come back to discussing reservation. Let us look at other angles,” Khurshid said when asked about implementation of the Ranganath Mishra committee report which he maintained he had not read.


“I don’t think we have clarity on reservation. There are expectations and demands for reservation of all kinds... I think what we need to do is look at affirmative action a little more seriously. Reservation is a double-edged sword for Muslims. Must not do anything that creates envy, hostility and resistance,” he said.


His comments come at a time when there is a clamour among Muslim organisations for implementation of the Ranganath Mishra Committee report which suggested, among other things, 15 per cent reservation for minorities (of this 10 per cent should be for Muslims) in education and employment. The report has been gathering dust at the Minority Ministry for the last two years.


The Mishra commission for religious-linguistic minorities had also demanded SC status for Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims.


Khurshid said it was time to “look at affirmative action a little more seriously” with a view to “inject an ability to compete rather than becoming constant beneficiaries of additional help”. In this context, he said the list of institutions, where scholarships would be awarded, should be expanded to include some outstanding private schools as well.


“The biggest scheme is scholarship. But the scholarship today is largely empowerment scholarship... I think we need to have greater emphasis on excellence. We don’t want to fall into the Macaulay trap of creating clerks. It is important to move from being peons to being clerks. But we want to make CEOs as well,” he said.


Besides fine-tuning implementation of the Sachar committee recommendations, he said his immediate priority would be to identify some “quick-impact” schemes like setting up big medical centres and universities in rural areas.


“If you come up with a housing project in Bhadohi it will have an impact, identified clearly as an outcome of our efforts to implement the Sachar committee report. I think a major big hospital in eastern Uttar Pradesh will have an impact... A hospital is not going to treat Muslims only, it will treat everybody. But there will be a sense, if it comes, that Muslims are not just asking, but they are giving,” he said.


“Whatever we do must convince people that it is effective and it has an impact. It should not be and must not appear to be window-dressing to fulfil some goody-goody behaviour expectations. It must have grassroots impact,” he added.

Courtresy: Indian Express, New Delhi