New Delhi: Doubtful about implementing the Minorities Commission recommendations, Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurhseed Monday said the government was considering quota for backward classes among Muslims within the existing 27 percent reservations for Other Backward Classes (OBC).
However, striking a cautious note, Khursheed said the report by the National Commission on Religious and Linguistic Minorities, which was tabled in Parliament last week, cannot be "rejected outrightly".
"I have doubts about the implementation of its recommendations, but it needs to be studied," the minister said.
The commission, headed by Justice Ranganath Mishra, former chief justice of India, has defined religious and linguistic minorities in India as backward classes and recommended 15 percent reservations for all minorities in jobs, education and welfare schemes.
The panel, constituted in October 2004, has recommended 10 percent, of the 15 percent quota, for Muslims - the largest minority in the country - in government jobs, educational institutions and social welfare schemes.
"Now the report is out in public, we need a debate over it. Full Cabinet has to consider it. We will examine it with sincerity," Khursheed said.
Asked if a religion-based quota was in accordance with the Constitution, Khursheed said the panel had the former Supreme Court judge as its head and "the report cannot be dismissed outrightly".
"We need to study it thoroughly and see what can be implemented. As of now I cannot say a clear yes or no," he said.
He said the government was also "considering other models available to it for providing reservation to minorities".
"Inclusion of backward classes of the minorities in the existing 27 percent structure of the OBC can be a possibility and the government is considering it," he said.
The Mishra report says Indian minorities - "especially the Muslims - are very much under-represented, and sometimes wholly unrepresented", in government jobs. Educational levels of Muslims and Buddhists are "low and next to SC/ST" (Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes), according to the document.
Of India`s 1.2 billion population, Muslims are the largest minority at 14 percent followed by Christians at 2.3 percent, Sikhs at 1.9 percent, Buddhists at 0.8 percent, Jains at 0.4 percent and others including Parsis at 0.6 percent.