The government may begin putting out, for the first time, disaggregated data on each minority group's share in public-sector jobs, including Muslims -- a practice not followed for fear of adverse reactions, but one that can no longer be avioded.
On June 3, HT had reported a steady rise in minority employment, from 6.9 per cent in 2007-08 to 9.5 per cent in 2009-10, on the back of focused initiatives of the minority affairs ministry. However, policy-makers feel hamstrung in assessing individual groups due to lack of separate data.
A political consensus was reached on the need to de-classify data for Muslims, Christians, Parsis, Sikhs and Buddhists during a meeting of minority affairs minister Salman Khurshid with 16 Muslim MPs from all parties, including two from the BJP.
Separate job figures for each minority group are a double-edged sword: while helping better monitoring of the UPA's "inclusive growth" policy, they could have a polarizing effect, sharpen appeasement charges and also pit one group against another.
"This is the age of information, where there is a need for precise data," Khurshid told HT Friday. The Sachar Committee, which probed disadvantages faced by Muslims, in a one-off exercise, had culled employment data for Muslims and found that fewer than 5 per cent of them hold government jobs.
"A proposal could be made by the Planning Commission or the Cabinet," the minister said.
Health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who attended the meet, was of the view that though overall figures were encouraging, lack of disaggregated data was a hurdle in ascertaining each community's progress, particularly Muslims.
Currently, the government collects and puts out collective job data for all five minorities.
The high-profile meet was attended by the DMK's Abdul Rahman, Muslim League's E.T Basheer Mohammed, BJP's Shahnawaz Hussain and M.A. Naqvi, and Congress's Mohsina Kidwai among others.