‘Much needed for minority development’: Post-Sachar Committee Report

October 18, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Sachar CommitteeMumbai, October 13, 2014: Diversity Index, social audit, clear policy guidelines, better social and physical infrastructure in Muslim concentrated areas, monitoring and evaluation of programmes at regular intervals, similar policy provisions for the persons engaged in similar occupational activities across the religious groups, and fixed accountabilities on officers implementing the programmes are some of the major recommendations of the Post-Sachar Evaluation Committee (PSEC) or Kundu Committee.

This Committee, which was formed by the UPA Government and continued by the Modi government, to assess the implementation of Sachar Committee recommendations and Prime Minister’s 15 Point Programme, submitted its final report on 9th October.

Diversity Index and Reservation

Although Kundu Committee did not recommend politically controversial reservations, it proposed a Diversity Index (DI) based on caste, religion, gender. A person close to the committee working said, “Diversity Index is more than a reservation”. It can be applied not only to the Shrinking Public Sector but also to the private sector. Indirect government incentives like tax rebates and other encouragements must be provided to the companies ranking high on the DI.

The index can be applied to Educational Institutions, Hospitals and to all government department and schemes. The government incentives should be in proportion to the yearly Diversity Index scores that they achieve. Allocation of budget based on DI should be a new mantra of development for all sections of the society. “Unity in diversity is the strength of India and the socio-cultural diversity is the biggest asset of the nation.

The ‘homogeneity’ and ‘de-customised’ approach to development runs its own risk of leaving people out of ambit of developmental programmes and it should be avoided in a diverse society like India.

“Indian diversity and people are like sand in hand. In a tightened fist there is all possibility that many of them will spill out”, said Professor Abdul Shaban, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, who was also a member of the Kundu Committee.

The committee has recommended the SC status to Muslims who are practicing the same professions as of their Hindu counterparts. The committee believes that the Constitution has a scope for reservations for Muslims and all the socially and economically deprived communities. The Presidential Order of 1950 allowed SC status only to Hindus, but in 1956 lower castes among Sikhs and latter, in 1990, by VP Singh government, Neo-Buddhists were included in this SC list. Arguing in favour of his decision, VP Singh then had said that this change of religion, from Hinduism to Buddhism, had not altered their social, economic or educational conditions.

Social Audit of Welfare Schemes

Casual approach in framing policy and programme guidelines for development of minorities, inefficiency in administration, lack of convergence and coordination among different departments and ministries, and paucity of funds for the schemes are the major problems noted by the Kundu Committee.

Prof. Shaban said, “Ad hoc approach in framing the policies created confusions among the administrative staff that led to failure in effective implementation of Welfare Schemes. For example, PMs 15 points Programme states that ‘certain portion’ of budget under the scheme to be allocated for minorities and ‘preference’ would be given to minorities in the appointment of police and other services. However, neither does it specify the percentages, nor clarifies what is meant by the ‘priorities’ in the recruitment of minorities without any legal provisions for the same.”

Among others, the Kundu Committee has recommended proper financial provisions for hiring consulting agencies for need assessment and preparation of Detailed Project Reports for MsDP, careful selection of members of District and State Level Committees for effective and timely delivery of the programmes, sources said.

One of the major achievements in Post-Sachar years has been that minorities have emerged as developmental subjects of the state rather than just ‘ethnic and religious groups’. Institutional building for development of minorities has been major hallmark of this period through establishment of Ministry of Minority Affairs, Minorities Commissions, National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions Act, establishment of Wakf Development Corporation and launch of specific welfare schemes for minorities, etc.

Professor Shaban says, “In this period, the country has moved towards deepening the multicultural model of development as envisaged in the Constitution which in a sense heralds a new beginning”.

– tcn

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