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Kundu Committee report on Muslims

Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla while accepting the report. (Source: Google)
Professor Amitabh  Kundu (Source: Google)
Professor Amitabh Kundu (Source: Google)

The UPA government constituted a committee in August 2013, under chairmanship of former JNU professor Amitabh Kundu to ‘evaluate the process of implementation of the report of Sachar Committee and the Prime Minister’s New 15 Point Programme’. So, it is also known as Post Sachar Evaluation Committee.

It submitted its report to the Ministry of Minority Affairs on September 20, 2014, but there has been no movement thereafter. The committee has concluded that though a start has been made in addressing development deficits of the community, government interventions have not quite matched in scale the large numbers of the marginalised.

The Summary and Recommendations of the Kundu committee:

A start has been made in addressing the development deficit of the Muslim minorities during the past few decades, particularly after the acceptance of the Sachar Committee Report. And yet, serious bottlenecks are present due to:

  • The scale of government interventions have not been big enough to make a dent due to the large number of the marginalized, the depth of their economic, social and educational deprivations
  • The design and implementation structures of the programmes have often not targeted the minority settlements and people directly and effectively
  • The weak institutional structures to implement the initiatives
  • The demand side has been weak: civil society and NGOs failed to come up with a plan to work in partnership with government towards actively fostering confidence and leadership among minority citizens at the local level; and
  • Not much attention has been given for strengthening community institutions, particularly of women, youth, working for poor to enable them to reach out to government programmes and for promoting the vision of inclusive India with the ideals of diversity and equal opportunity for all.

The committee also observed that Muslims are still out of Government jobs and schools, years after the implementation most of the Sachar committee recommendations. Poverty levels among Muslims, remained higher than the national average between 2004-05 and 2011-12 and. In terms of consumption expenditure, Muslims are third from the bottom — after the Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes.

Towards a new equity paradigm:

The Sachar Committee had recommended implementation of Diversity Index based incentive system covering all citizens to promote equality and diversity in all spheres of social and economic development.

This Committee recommends that the ambit of the Diversity index should include spheres of education, employment, housing, healthcare, access to development schemes and various other sectors; and seek to provide remedies.

This Committee, in addition recommends formulation and enactment of a comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Legislation to prohibit discrimination based on disability, sex, caste, religion and other criteria. The legislation must provide a statutory definition of discrimination.

These recommendations represent a paradigm shift in India’s approach to equality. Moving beyond reservations, they use diversity promotion and anti-discrimination to achieve social justice. Reservations are only one of several tools to address widespread, systemic discrimination in a society. Diversity index and Anti-discrimination legislation together can help build a more equitable society and a deeper and more widespread notion of equality that go beyond group-specific quotas.

The Committee further recommends extensive application of diversity index in resource allocation, implementation of policies and programmes of the government and functioning of the institutions. This would help initiating a new process and trend in the country, enabling the idea of diversity taking root in the minds of the decision makers at all levels.

Diversity Index: It is formulated by the ‘Expert Group on Diversity Index’ in 2008. The group was headed by Professor Amitabh Kundu. The report proposed that diversity gap would be measured along the following three dimensions:

  • Religious dimension
  • Caste and Tribal dimension
  • Gender dimension

The basic idea is to work out the index for all institutions with the specific aim of increasing the representation of under-represented groups in them by drawing their attention to the lack of diversity that currently exists.

The concept of measurement of diversity has its roots in the literature on ecology and bio-diversity. In ecology, a Diversity Index is a statistic that measures the bio-diversity of the ecosystem by measuring the number of species in the ecosystem and their abundance (species richness and species evenness). Some examples of commonly used indices are Simpson’s Index or Shannon’s Diversity Index.

Employment and Wellbeing

The relative employment situation of Socio-religious Categories (SRCs which combine both religion and social groups) has not undergone much change since the adoption of the Sachar Committee Report.

This Committee recommends efforts, including active outreach, recruitment and scholarships, by both government and private universities to increase participation of Muslims in higher education, as well as increased access to high quality professional and technical education to help Muslim youth move to better quality employment.

The share of minorities in government employment remains low – less than half of the share of their total population in the country – despite all efforts. This must be corrected by government-led planned and targeted recruitment drives in a time bound manner.

Housing and Basic Amenities

Housing conditions particularly in urban areas for different socio-religious groups suggest that Muslims households live in poorer conditions than other groups. It is also commonly observed that settlements, both rural and urban, with high proportions of Muslim minority residents, lack most basic services, required for dignified survival. These deprivations are similar to the condition of SC and ST settlements as well. It is therefore recommended that

  • Government’s umbrella schemes of the PM’s New 15 Point Pregramme and the Multi-sectoral Development Plan for the welfare of Muslims (MsDP) should be used with a clear time-bound target.
  • All such settlements, rural and urban, should have a minimum basic services like ICDS services; clean drinking water, individual sanitation; sewerage and drainage; pucca roads; electrification etc.

Access to Health

The natural advantage that Muslims (largely due to internal cultural norms), have demonstrated in terms of initial health outcomes (better sex ratio, better life expectancy at birth, better child survival for both girls and boys) is reversed due to unequal access to health care and amenities.

Recommendations: Targeting and monitoring of health interventions under National Health Mission (NHM) and RSBY by socio-religious community. Special drives should be taken up for recruitments of ASHA, Anganwadi workers and ANMs in the Muslim dominated blocks.

Access to Education:

The level of literacy among Muslims was lower than Hindus and yet gender disparity was lower among the Muslims. At all levels of education, the outcome indicators for the Muslims were closer to the ST community with the lowest attainment. The enrolment of Muslim children in primary school was fairly high but came down significantly at higher levels of education. This implies that the Muslim community, irrespective of gender and rural-urban residence, are less likely to attain Secondary and Higher Secondary level of education. The Muslim community also had far lesser number of graduates and technically educated persons.

Recommendations: Committee gave extensive recommendations from primary school to technical education. It includes implementation of remodelled ITI programme, increase level of scholarships at all levels, rigorously implement and monitor the Mid-day Meal Scheme in schools in Muslim dominated areas and improve teacher quality.

Schemes and Programmes: Structure, Implementation& Monitoring:

Commission noted that, under the Prime Minister’s 15 Point Programme (15 PP), only some scheme are targeted at minorities and calls for urgent course correction in detailed assessment and budgetary allocations. This committee recommends expansion of the 15 PP to include other schemes such as MGNREGA, and the recent Pradhan Mantri Jan DhanYojana towards financial inclusion.

In addition, the committee, (as it mentioned in the covering letter to the ministry), evaluated all other flagship programmes run by the ministry and also examined trends in consumption expenditure, poverty estimates, access to food and PDS, MGNREGA and Aadhaar.

Commission also gave recommendations on ‘Empowerment of Muslim Women’, Institutional Restructuring Maulana Azad Educational Foundation (MAEF) and Waqf related issues.

4 months on, no movement on Kundu committee report

Four months after it received the Amitabh Kundu Committee report on the status of Muslims in the country, the Ministry of Minority Affairs is not sure what to do with it. The report has now been sent to the Prime Minister’s Office for further action.

About the status of the Kundu report, Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla said, “That report was only on the status of the 15-point programme. I have not read all of it; it is a very big report. We are studying it. The report has been sent to the Prime Minister’s Office. Any decision that has to be taken on the future course of action cannot be done by any ministry individually. It has to be done on the basis of consultations with all other ministers.”

It is clear that, Minority Affairs Minister remains under the impression that the report evaluates only the implementation of the PM’s 15-point programme. However, it is not the case as you can gauge from the above made recommendations.

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