Hope floats for India’s 150 million-odd Muslims — the country’s largest religious minority that often feels estranged and alienated, especially when it comes to government jobs. See popup
The share of minorities in new jobs with the central government has seen a rise following a new programme that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh brought to improve the socio-economic conditions of minorities, according to official data tabled in Parliament. The overall share of minorities in central sector jobs rose to 8.7 per cent in 2007-08 from 6.9 per cent in the previous year. <b1>
“A very positive development, even though this doesn’t in any way suggest inclusive growth,” said Rajindar Sachar, whose landmark report triggered the new programme.
Leading this change were the railways and public-sector banks and financial institutions; armed and paramilitary forces — considered to be sensitive sectors — followed.
Surprisingly, departments traditionally associated with the notion of welfare — such as agriculture and urban development — lagged.
Paramilitary forces added 4,905 new members from the minorities, accounting for about 10 per cent of total recruitment in 2007-08, minority affairs minister A.R. Antulay said in a written reply to a question in Parliament.
In terms of percentage shares, the railways accounted for the biggest rise. About 6.3 per cent of people hired by the country’s biggest employer in 2007-08 came from the minority communities — twice the share in 2006-07. The upshot: even though the railways cut down on hiring, the absolute number of minority recruits was higher.
PSU banks also led by example. About 10.2 per cent of their recruits in 2007-08 were from the minority communities, compared to last year’s 7.6 per cent.
But some departments need to catch up: agriculture, urban development, power and post. In 2006-07, almost every second person hired by the agriculture ministry was from the minorities. This year, it’s down to one in seven.
The numbers show that government intervention does work. Still, many Muslims feel left out because they don’t “follow up on the demands they make to see how far they’ve come”, Sachar said.
Kamal Faruqui, chairman of the Delhi Minorities Commission, said states should take a cue from the Centre to have more diverse workplaces at the state-level. According to the Sachar panel’s report, Muslims hold less than 5 per cent of government jobs and make up only 4 per cent of undergraduate students.