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Reservation in India: Not a minor problem

Restructuring reservations in government services on the basis of family income can be a way

editorials Updated: Aug 21, 2016 22:13 IST
Before the Sachar committee report, the government in the 1980s had created the Gopal Singh committee, which too had observed that a certain sense of alienation existed in the community
Before the Sachar committee report, the government in the 1980s had created the Gopal Singh committee, which too had observed that a certain sense of alienation existed in the community(AP)

Even a decade after former judge Rajinder Sachar submitted his report on the educational backwardness of the Muslims, and its resultant impact on their employment status, it is regrettable that nothing has changed much as regards their representation in the higher echelons of government service such as the IAS or the IPS. In fact, in the IPS the proportion of the Muslims has come down from 4% to about 3.2%. And though their representation in the IAS has gone up, the rise has been minuscule.

The committee had talked about things such as setting up an equal opportunity commission, giving the Arzal Muslims the status of scheduled castes or most backward castes; initiating steps to raise the employment share of the Muslims in the government sector; providing the community financial support, etc. Not much movement has been visible on any of these, and not much can be expected at this stage. The panel noted that just 3.5% of the Muslims were graduates, and the literacy level of the community, at 59%, was several notches below the national average. Overall, the panel had noted that the situation of the community was not much better than that of the Dalits and sometimes much worse than that of the Other Backward Classes.

Before the Sachar committee report, the government in the 1980s had created the Gopal Singh committee, which too had observed that a certain sense of alienation existed in the community. The reasons for the Muslims’ backwardness and alienation are mainly two: the upper class Muslims in British India, who could have been the harbingers of the community’s modernity, left India after Partition. And second, the Muslims who were left behind were not only impoverished but also victims of violence, ghettoisation, etc. At this stage all thinking about community’s welfare can only be long term. One could be the gradual implementation of the Sachar committee recommendations. And another – though it may run into political opposition – is restructuring reservations in government services on the basis of family income. As of now, reservations cannot be on the basis of religion.