And, they promised to live happily ever after!
Rashi Aditi Ghosh/ Zee Research Group/Delhi
India got freedom on the key tenet that all its citizens would be equal and that it would not discriminate one against the other with secularism as our most cherished definition. Accordingly, the Constitution adopted religions like Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism (Parsi and Irani), Baha’i and Jews as minorities in India.
A journey down the decades shows that significant initiatives by government of India had drawn the success story of minorities in India. To ensure the rights of minorities, Commission for Linguistic Minorities was set up in 1957. It was followed by Minorities Commission (1978), National Commission for Minorities act (1992) and Reconstitution of National Commission of Minorities (1996) under the aegis of Prof. (Dr) Tahir Mahmood.
Year 1983 proved to be a milestone for minorities when former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi (1980- 1984), took an important step by addressing a letter to the all Chief Ministers containing certain points to ensure the economic, social and educational development of the minorities. This letter covered 15 different aspects for action commonly known as the Prime Minister's 15-Point Programme for the welfare of minorities.
These 15 points were reiterated again by the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in his letter dated 28th, August, 1985 addressed to all the Chief Ministers.
In the year 2006 the present Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh took a major step by appointing Rajinder Sachar Committee (high level committee headed by Rajinder Sachar) for preparation of a report on the social, economic and educational status of the Muslim community of India.
Sachar committee revealed Muslim-OBCs are significantly deprived in comparison to Hindu-OBCs. The work participation rate (WPR) shows the presence of a sharp difference between Hindu-OBCs (67%) and the Muslims. The share of Muslim-OBCs in government/ PSU jobs is much lower than Hindu-OBCs.
Although the latest 2011 census report hasn’t published data on minorities, a social -demographic profile of minorities in India marks Jain as the religion with the highest literacy rate at 94 per cent followed by Christians (80.3 per cent) and Buddhists (72.7 per cent) in 2001.
As a matter of fact Animist and others (47.0 per cent) followed by Muslim (59.1 per cent) have registered bottom most literacy rate as recorded by Census 2001.
While census 2001 marked Animists and others (48.4 per cent) and Buddhists (40.6 per cent) as religious minorities with the highest recorded work participation Muslim (31.3 per cent), Jain (32.9 per cent) and Sikhs (37.7 per cent) registered the lowest work participation amongst the minorities.
As a matter of major concern Sikh community registered the lowest child sex ratio at 786/1000 in 2001.
On the other hand communities like Christians, Animists and others were amongst the top two scorers in overall, rural, urban and child sex ratio in 2001.
In the year 2011, Centre for Equity Studies conducted a study to investigate the Government’s response to Sachar Committee recommendations. The study revealed that the budgetary allocation for schemes meant for minorities was just above 5 % of total plan allocation in Financial Year (FY) 2010-11. Ministry of Minority Affair’s (MoMA) own outlay for FY 2010-11 is Rs. 2600 crores, a small sum, given its nodal ministry status. Per capita plan allocation for minorities in 2010-11 is a mere Rs. 797 (against Rs. 1521 for STs; Rs. 1228 for SCs).