Economic Times | New Delhi | 6 SEP, 2011, 04.42AM IST, ABANTIKA GHOSH,TNN
PM urged to review Sachar panel's recommendations
NEW DELHI: Having been "unceremoniously" removed from the assessment and monitoring authority of the Planning Commission, Abusaleh Shariff, member secretary of the Sachar Committee, has drawn Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's attention to review the Sachar recommendations. The path-breaking report on the state of Muslims in the country was submitted about five years ago.
A miffed Shariff said the authority met only thrice in four years, did not consider implementing the report and has been bereft of any independent technical person despite the recent revamp.
Shariff's note to the PM was sent about 10 days ago. He has since met Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia to discuss the note's content.
Of late, there have been many indictments of mode of implementation of the Sachar report. The parliamentary standing committee on social justice and employment too had found fault with it, and had said that the ministry of minority affairs was not addressing the root of the problems highlighted in the report. It had suggested that the government should bring a law to ensure time-bound implementation.
Sachar member Rakesh Basant had written an article faulting the implementation as had Harsh Mander of the centre for equity studies. Mander had said the government shied away form branding schemes for the Muslims fearing BJP's appeasement slur, but in the process was blunting its intent. The UPA-II had dismissed Mander's report as riddled with factual inaccuracies.
Shariff's note highlighted the government's reluctance in setting up the equal opportunity commission (EOC), estimate share of flows to minority beneficiaries in major flagship programmes with separate data for Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Zoroastrians and measure diversity in public institutes of excellence like IIM, IIT, AIIMS etc. Shariff has pointed out that banking and credit, community based polytechnics and enrolment and school continuation are the sectors that are in dire need of assessment and monitoring.
"Most alarming is that the overall shares of Muslims in matric and higher education have improved the least compared with all socio-religious categories between 2004-05 and 2009-10. This has happened along with the lowest base level for Muslims compared with other communities. Urban areas where relatively larger percentage of Muslims lives, the share in higher education has declined during this period," the note says.
Shariff says that in the last two years he wrote several times to the ministry of minority affairs highlighting these issues and the need for a review. "That did not yield any results, which is why I was forced to take the issue up with the Prime Minister and the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission," he says.
On the reconstitution of the Planning Commission body, he says: "I was summarily removed from the assessment and monitoring authority without my knowledge. The authority, which was supposed to monitor implementation of the Sachar recommendations, did not initiate any noteworthy action in the four years that it was in existence. Absence of an independent technical person will seriously impede its working."
Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed is the chairperson of the 29-member authority which, apart from secretaries in various ministries, includes Dr Yogendra Yadav, Soli Sorabjee, Shabnam Hashmi, Akhtarul Wassey etc.