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Mainstream, Vol XLVIII, No 12, March 13, 2010

Muslim Activists’ Call to Government and Parliament

Implement Ranganath Mishra Commission Report

Friday 19 March 2010

There was a National Meet of Muslim Activists for Reservation at New Delhi on February 10, 2010. The following is the Final Statement adopted at the Meet.

Muslim Activists for Reservation from all over the country, meeting in Delhi on February 10, 2010, have considered the Report of the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities headed by Justice Ranganath Mishra, former Chief Justice of India, in depth and generally welcome it and salute the Chairman and all the members of the Commission for their liberal and progressive approach which will go a long way to minimise social and economic discrimination within the country, encourage national integration and reduce bias, prejudice, jealousy and hostility among social groups. The activists feel that a New India, built on the foundation of Equality, Dignity and Social Justice for All, under the Rule of Law, shall over the years become a happier place to live in and achieve faster development through the collective endeavour of all satisfied people, free of all forms of discrimination and social disparities.

The participants are convinced that reservation has become a universally accepted device for equalising opportunities in hetero-geneous and multi-segmented societies, if equality and justice are to reach the weaker sections. They are equally convinced that within the democratic framework, all deprived and frustrated groups have a right to place their problems before the bar of the nation and receive their share in the national pie.

The participants deem it a matter of national shame that 60 years after the dawn of Freedom nearly 80 per cent of our people today live on a daily average expenditure of Rs 20. By and large they belong to SCs, STs, Minorities and Non-Muslim OBCs. The participants, therefore, urge the political parties as well as the government not only to articulate a vision of Dignity, Equality and Justice for All but take urgent and concrete steps to realise the vision which will infuse hope in the deprived and energise them to contribute to an inclusive economy, effective participation in governance and due share in the fruits of progress and development.

The participants note that the Constitution of India speaks of Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity and has thereby established a political, legal and judicial framework but the people are yet to reach the goal of Fraternity. The partici-pants strongly feel that Fraternisation shall be possible only when all sections of the people, irrespective of religion, race or caste, achieve the same social, economic and educational level and the core concept of the Constitution, that all citizens are equal, possess equal rights, and should therefore have equitable share in whatever the country has or produces, is fulfilled. Democracy should not remain a game of power among the haves and the elite. The participants realise that equalisation is idealistic and perhaps not fully achievable, but the State can expand it through equal education as well as purposeful occupation through reservation.

In this context, the participants welcome and thankfully endorse the basic recommendations of the Mishra Commission particularly on Inclusion of Muslim and Christian Dalits in SC Lists and Reservation for Religious Minorities, who form about 20 per cent of the people, in public employment, education and fruits of development. The participants consider that given political will, the common aspirations of all deprived groups for partnership in power is achievable through reservation.

The participants have also concluded that development-oriented Census for all identifiable social groups with uniform socio-economic parameters and substitution of a uniform ceiling of 50 per cent on reservation with state-specific ceilings for distribution of benefits of all welfare schemes and social developments among all backward groups in proportion to the popu-lation at the operational level is essential to replace adhocism by scientific determination of quotas and sub-quotas.

The participants have no desire to cut into the advantages and benefits enjoyed by the high castes or by middle and high income groups in demanding expeditious implementation of the recommendations of the Mishra Commission. And they firmly reject any special schemes for their own exclusive development and desire proportional distribution of social goods and services not only to the Muslims but to the members of all other religious communities and groups, who are eligible.

The participants consider that reservation is integrative, not divisive; that reservation is neither secessionism nor separatism, but inclusive in the national mainstream; that reservation equalises all as an antidote to religious and caste discrimi-nation.

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The participants know that democracy demands repeated knocks at the doors of power. Their caravan of Social Justice has been moving forward from the Mandal Commission, to the Gopal Singh Panel, to the Sachar Committee and to the Mishra Commission. But apathy and difference did not breed any agitation in the Muslim mind. On the other hand, the Muslims have been patiently waiting for the conscience of the nation to wake up and to take note of the fact that one-sixth of the national population suffers disabilities, deprivations and injustices at every step which have kept them from contributing their energy and resources to the nation, apart from keeping them at the bottom of the educational and economic ladder.

The participants pay their sincere tribute to the Sachar Committee which diagnosed the malaise and to the Mishra Commission which has prescribed the panacea and urge the govern-ment, the secular parties and Parliament to dispense the remedial measures urgently.

The participants realise that to defeat the vicious propaganda, they have to convince the people at large that reservation is not hostile to any community or caste and that it shall be universalised in due course and benefit all the deprived groups.

The participants have decided unanimously that the Reservation Movement shall never adopt undemocratic means or violent methods, howso-ever long it may take for it to achieve its goal, they shall press the Muslim case before the bar of the nation, logically and forthrightly, basing themselves on facts and data and utilise all democratic and non-violent methods of public protest, meetings, rallies, dharnas, political lobbying and mass petition which the Freedom Movement has sanctified.

The participants thank the political parties which have expressed support and sympathy for the Movement. Muslim reservation has today become the litmus test of Secularism and the Muslim community will not accept claims of secularism of those who oppose Muslim reservation.

The participants are convinced that unity is essential for success and, therefore, reiterate the call to unite all sub-communities and sub-groups within the Muslim community to join this historic Struggle for Reservation and to carry on, till justice is done and the goal is achieved.

To carry on the struggle the participants decide to enlarge the nationwide Movement and invite all deprived groups to join the caravan and to reach all States, districts and towns, wherever possible, with the objective of persuading the political parties, the government and Parliament to implement the Mishra Report.

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