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Will reservations help minorities?

Will reservations  help minorities?
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In fact, the YSR government in Andhra Pradesh had proposed a quota of 4% for Muslims, but it did not pass judicial scrutiny and the High Court struck i...

In fact, the YSR government in Andhra Pradesh had proposed a quota of 4% for Muslims, but it did not pass judicial scrutiny and the High Court struck it down on the ground that any quota on the basis of religion could not be allowed Time has come full circle over the issue of reservations in services for Muslims: this issue was first raised at the time of Constitution-making more than six decades back, and was considered, debated and, finally, rejected by Muslims members of the sub-committee themselves. It was raised time and again in later years but came to be articulated in a rather modulated manner in the post-Mandal years. However, it figured as a hot electoral issue in UP last year. The Congress and the Samajwadi Party vied with each other using the reservation issue in a bid to woo the Muslim voters: the Congress promised them quota within the existing quota of reservations while the Samajwadi Party did even one better promising them as much as 18% reservations in jobs. Interestingly, none of the two were really original in their approach. In fact, the YSR government in Andhra Pradesh had proposed a quota of 4% for Muslims, but it did not pass judicial scrutiny and the High Court struck it down on the ground that any quota on the basis of religion could not be allowed. The Samajwadi Party made a spectacular sweep in UP and went about announcing sops for Muslims, but the job reservation question remained as it was. A sharp reminder from the Jamiat-ul-Ulema, led by Maulana Mehmood Madani, last week addressed to the Samajwadi leadership has indeed again put the question to the fore. With 2014 looming large, there is unlikely to be a let-up in this regards. The Imam of Delhi's Jama Masjid too has not lagged behind, and voiced concern over the UP government's failure to fulfill its election-time promise.
Both the Jamiat leadership and the Imam are known supporters of the Samajwadi Party. It is yet to be seen how supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav reacts to the demand.Much water has apparently flowed down over the years and what was unacceptable in the 1950s no longer holds good in the changed circumstances. The Ranganath Mishra Commissions and later the Sachar Committee both commended job reservations for Muslims. Both of them underlined the need for it in view of the pitiable conditions of the members of the community and their negligible representation in the services; even worse than of other most backward communities, according to the Sachar Committee. Both these high-level bodies based their findings in the light of the prevailing socio-economic realities and certainly they have presented an objective picture. This is, of course, quite different from what is being picked up by the political parties as part of vote-bank expediency. Job reservation is no longer an anathema with different communities that were originally opposed to the idea, and It is not so with the Muslims alone. Christians and Parsis too had joined the anti-reservation lobby in those formative days of our democratic polity. With the exception of Parsis, several minority groupings now want to be part of the quota schema, and the bulk of the have-nots in their fold have begun to see merit in it, including the neo-Buddhists. As it has turned out to be, caste system has made inroads into the social layers of the communities that were specifically prohibitive of caste divisions in both social and exegetical terms. The Muslims had no room for castes but that was no longer so after the passage of time in our own context.Even the Sachar Committee has viewed the communities through the spectrum of Ashraf (noble caste), Arzal, the lesser ones, and Ajlaf, the downtrodden. Perhaps, it was guided by the ground reality on the social and economic plane but it was as much a hangover of the feudal era. The terminology was first used by Sir Syed in the 19th century when the professions were looked down upon by the landed gentry. The old classifications have since undergone a sea-change with the emergence of the class of new rich as indeed of the new poor too, but of course economic disparities remain even if in inverse proportions. It has been more than six years since the Sachar Committee report was presented before Parliament though without any follow-up action by the Government; maybe kept on hold till the very eve of the 2014 election, and in a big way.
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