The government will soon implement recommendations of the Justice Rajinder Sachar Committee report on the social, economic and educational status of Muslims across the country, Minister for Minority Affairs AR Antulay said on Monday.
Antulay told the Rajya Sabha during question hour that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's new 15-point programme for the welfare of the minorities was a major step.
Also, he said, the report of a working group for the 11th five-year plan set up by the Planning Commission contains a number of proposals for educational, social and economic development of minorities.
His response came after agitated members of the Samajwadi party said the Congress was responsible for the rampant poverty among Muslims over the past 60 years.
The Sachar Committee report has made out a strong case to put mechanisms in place to enable Muslims to engage in democratic processes and governance.
It says a carefully conceived nomination procedure can be worked out to increase the participation of minorities at grassroots.
Noting that over the last 60 years, minorities have scarcely occupied adequate public spaces, the report says the participation of Muslims in nearly all political spaces is low which can have an adverse impact on the Indian society and polity in the long run.
Antulay said 23.98 per cent minorities in rural areas and 30.41 per cent in urban areas were living below the poverty line in 1999-2000.
In rural areas, the highest percentage of 51.27 per cent of minorities lived below poverty line in Assam. Orissa had 49.95 per cent minority population below poverty line while Bihar had 46.24 per cent. West Bengal had 38.17 per cent and Maharashtra 29.21 per cent.
In urban areas, 58.15 per cent minorities in Orissa were living below the poverty line.
In Bihar, the percentage of minorities living below the poverty line was 42.22 per cent, in Madhya Pradesh 39.63 per cent, in Karnataka 34.58 per cent and in Andhra Pradesh 34.38 per cent.