Sachar Committee Report on Indian Muslims
Right Wing Lies Exposed
by Badri Raina; December 15, 2006
India’s majoritarian fascists, represented in parliament by the Bharti Janata Party (BJP), are in a blue funk. The findings of the “Prime Ministers’ High Level Committee” (set up on 9th March,2005) headed by former chief justice of the Delhi High Court, Justice Rajinder Sachar have in their Report submitted to parliament on 30th November,2006 nailed the long-touted right-wing disinformation about Indian muslims as a skein of lies.
Drawing on every conceivable data source, governmental and other, and interacting widely across 15 Indian states where muslims live in high concentrations, the Sachar Report records, on the basis of facts that few dare refute, a litany of exclusion, alienation and immiseration. This painstakingly comprehensive computation bids fare to inaugurate a paradigm shift in the way in which India’s largest minority, some 14% of its population, are viewed. Already, all sections of opinion, barring of course the BJP, are busy making honest revaluations of a widely- held, error prone, and pre-conceived spectrum of imagined constructions of the muslim community-- its attitudes, realities, and aspirations.
First, a recap of some of the stunning findings of the Sachar Report:
? less than 4% muslims graduate from school;
? contrary to right-wing calumny, only 4% go to madrasas, principally because in most areas of high of muslim concentration even primary state schools do not exist for miles; where they do exist, muslims invariably prefer to send their wards to them, even when the dropout rate of muslim children is much higher compared to other community wards due to “poverty” as these children are pressed into work by their indigent parents;
? the muslim share in government employment is 4.9% (against a population of 14%); in a state like West Bengal ruled by the Left Front, their representation in state Public Sector Undertakings is exactly zero percent!
? Among India’s Security Agencies (viz., CRPF, CISF, BSF, SSB &c.) muslim representation is 3.2%;
? Just 2.7% are in place among District Judges;
? In towns that range in population between 50,000 and 2 lacs, muslim per capita expenditure is less than that of India’s Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes! This is also the case in areas across West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh;
? Not more than 3.% muslims are able to get subsidized loans, and only 1.9% benefit from the Antyodaya Anna Yojana Scheme (programme to prevent starvation among the extremely poor);
? Only 2.1% muslim farmers own tractors, and just 1% own hand pumps for irrigation;
? Here is another significant eye-opener: there is “substantial demand from the community for fertility regulation and for modern contraceptives”; over 20 million couples already use contraceptives; “muslim population growth has slowed down as fertility has declined substantially”; all that puts paid to the nefarious fascist propaganda that there has been a muslim conspiracy afoot since 1947 to reproduce mightily, and a danger that the Indian Hindus will be reduced to a minority!
? If muslims do outnumber majority hindus in any statistics, it is predictably as a proportion of the prison population (much like the blacks in America);
? Wherever muslims are spoken to they complain of suffering the twin calumnies of being dubbed “anti-national” and of being “appeased”; both accusations are perceived to be deeply calculated from ever allowing them to feel equal citizens of India;
? The Report also puts on record the little-recognized reality of caste hierarchies that have always existed among subcontinental muslims. Thus, the Ashrafs, Ajlafs, Arzals respectively correspond to the Hindu Swarns, Other Backward Castes, and Schedule Castes respectively. Although, untouchability of the kind that afflicts the Hindu social order does not exist among muslims, and although there is no bar to collective prayer in mosques, the reluctance to inter-dine and inter-marry is often only a concealed reality (1).
It should not be hard to see that these findings—and many others—take the wind out of right-wing Hindu myth-making about the muslim community in India, a reason why the BJP from day one has sought to oppose the very notion of setting up a Committee to unravel the facts of muslim existence in India.
Let me mention just three of the many path-breaking recommendations that the Sachar Report makes to the Prime Minister who set up the Committee:
--it recommends that 15% of all government funds be allocated to muslim welfare and development under all Central government schemes;
--it recommends the constitution of an “Equal Opportunities Commission” to look into the grievances of deprived groups and for the elimination of anomalies with respect to reserved constituencies under the delimitation scheme; in an interview that Justice Sachar gave to the media channel, CNN-IBN, he elaborated that the “Equal Opportunities Commission will have the power to pass order for compliance with it and to punish, either by compensation, or by other things for those who violate it. It has powers of adjucation and powers like a court.” These are of course projected stipulations at this point.
--The Committee makes no recommendation of “reservations” for the muslim community per se, but suggests that those among them who approximate in terms of social and occupational status the scheduled and backward classes among Hindus be classified as Most Backward Castes and proferred the same benefits that relevant articles of the Constitution make available to counterparts among Hindus.