On 9 March 2005, the PMO had issued the Notification for constitution of the High Level Committee for preparation of Report on the Social, Economic and Educational Status of the Muslim Community of India. The Committee is an independent body of well-known experts drawn from the fields of Economics, Sociology, Education, Demography, Public Administration, Development Planning and Programme Implementation. It is mandated to collect, collate and analyse data to prepare a Report and submit it to Prime Minister.
In response to the request of the Committee, information was received from the various Departments of the Central and the State Governments. On a similar format information was sought from many other organisations including the Armed Forces. The innocuous purpose was to know if Muslims were under-represented in some departments or any other sphere and reasons thereof so that the Government could take corrective steps. Such an approach is not divisive but is positive, an essential requirement for impartial and caring administration in its commitment for instilling confidence in the fairness of the government’s functioning. Without considering such information, the Government may not be in a position to take any corrective action, even with the best of intentions.
The Committee received data from the Navy and Air Force. However, the Ministry of Defence informed the Committee that it was not possible for it to supply the data for the Army. It also requested the Committee not to use the data which had already been sent to the Committee by the Air Force and Navy. Thus, in the Report, the Committee has not used the data received from the Armed forces.
During the Committee’s interaction with women’s groups, some of them seriously articulated a grievance that it did not have any woman member. The Committee tried to make up for this by convening a half-a-day meeting with women’s groups during its visits to the States. In addition to that, women social activists in large numbers attended all the meetings of all the groups and expressed their points of view and apprehensions in an open and frank manner. Their input was intensive and to the point about the various matters like education, medical facilities, Anganwadi requirements etc. The Committee also held one full day meeting in Delhi in July 2006 exclusively for women from all over India.
Another issue emphasized before the Committee was that a number of Parliamentary and Assembly constituencies with substantial Muslim voter population are reserved for SCs while the SC population was not high there. Contrarily, constituencies with comparatively lesser Muslim voter population remain unreserved even though they have sizeable SC population. It was suggested to the Committee that it would be more equitable to reserve those constituencies where voter population of SCs is high rather than those where it is low and, instead, Muslim presence is high. (See Chapter-2)
This matter is in the purview of Delimitation Commission. The Committee hopes that it would receive the attention of the Government immediately because the Delimitation Commission is at present engaged in this exercise and evidently any suggestion or any exercise to be done by it has to be undertaken during the current term of the present Delimitation Commission.
I give my immense thanks to my colleagues on the Committee for their fullest participation and support in preparing the Report, notwithstanding their heavy and busy commitments in their respective fields of work.