Sunday, December 25, 2011

Sub-Quota for Minorities: Is It A New Political Gimmick?

The federal Cabinet has approved a 4.5 per cent sub-quota for minorities, which will be carved out of the 27 per cent quota for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in Central government jobs and Central educational institutions. This means that minorities can claim 4.5 out of every 100 government jobs and university seats (where quotas apply).The decision comes just ahead of the assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most politically significant state, where 18per cent of the population is Muslim and is expected to help Congress general secretary's goal of ensuring a good show for the Congress in the forthcoming assembly elections as well as reviving the party in its former bastion in the long run.
Muslims, the most significant minority in Uttar Pradesh, have a significant to decisive vote share in 120 of the state's 403 seats and 21 of the state's 80 Lok Sabha constituencies.
Nationally Declared Minorities
Backward castes and communities belonging to the five listed religious minorities of India — Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists,Christians and Parsis — will be entitled to 4.5 per cent sub-quota within the existing 27 pc reservation currently available to OBCs for appointment and admission to federal government institutions. Even Sikh OBCs will benefit. Since the sub-quota has been carved out for five nationally declared minorities, backward OBCs from these minorities will get the benefit even if they are a majority in a given state.
the 4.5 pc sub-quota could be revised upward after the government receives the final figures of Census 2011 and the Caste Census currently in progress. The current sub- quota is an interim measure based on the OBC population estimates the Mandal Commission had extrapolated based on the 1931 Census data.
The sub quota will specially benefit Muslim OBCs from states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar where the population of Muslim OBCs has been on the rise. In case of UP, the growth in Muslim OBC population (as per National Sample Survey Organization rounds which Sachar Committee used) was 17.6 pc in five years.
Uttar Pradesh Assembly Polls
The decision will benefit Muslims more than other minorities as there are many Muslim communities designated as OBCs.
In the 2009 elections, the Congress won 21 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh, thanks to a shift in the Muslim vote from the Samajwadi Party. But with the gradual return of that vote to the SP, the Congress needed to do something to bring that vote back ahead of next year's Assembly elections.
A decision to this effect was taken at the meeting of the federal cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The decision will pave the way for reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for minorities as defined in Section 2 (C) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992. It will come in the form of an executive order, which was to be notified later Thursday night and would be applicable from January 1, 2011.Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis) are notified as minority communities under Section 2 (c) of the act.The decision is based on the recommendation of the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities (NCRLM). “The caste and communities of the said minorities which are included in the Central list of OBCs notified from time to time by the ministry of social justice and empowerment shall be covered by the said sub-quota,” sources in the government informed.
The NCRLM had pegged the OBC population at 52per cent of the country’s population, of which minorities constitute 8.4per cent. Based on the 2001 census, the Centre proposed a proportionate 4.5 per cent sub-quota for minorities.
According to the cabinet note: “The home ministry mentioned that some OBCs may protest against the ‘perceived’ reduction in the space for non-minority OBCs but that is the inevitable result of providing a quota within the reservation.”
Reservation for India’s 150-million Muslims is likely to have a sharply polarizing effect, even though the November 2006 Sachar Committee Report had found the minority community starkly under-represented in all spheres of professional and public life. The ruling Congress had then promised “reservations” to them in its poll manifesto.
Sachar Committee Report

The Sachar Committee Report entitled, ‘Social, Economic and Educational Status of the Muslim Community in India’, has initiated a new debate on the social, economic and educational status of Muslims in India. Although the debate has been going on for several decades, quite a few Governments have initiated studies on the community and evolved administrative measures on their basis. The findings are indeed shocking and revealing. What should be our response to this pathetic state of India’s largest minority? On account of a variety of factors, the work of the Sachar Committee and its report has greater significance and relevance than earlier initiatives. The seven-member high-level committee headed by Justice Rajinder Sachar, constituted by the UPA government, has done a great service to the Muslim community and entire country by identifying issues of equity as central to Muslim backwardness. The report states that the minority community in a society may remain deprived of the benefits of opportunities that become available through economic development. The sense of inequity, states the Report, is perpetual or a result of discrimination that the minority may face due to difference in identity.

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