While a slew of efforts has been undertaken over the years for the educational upliftment of Muslims, a new initiative being planned aims at the economic upliftment of the community. Behind the initiative is a group of young Muslim professionals, who under the aegis of the Association of Muslim Professionals met in Mumbai on Saturday to work out a time-bound plan for the economic empowerment of the Muslim community.
“Over the last 20-odd years, a lot of work has been done for the educational upliftment of the Muslim community. We feel it’s time to take the next step to ensure their economic upliftment as well. Our idea is, enchain the educated Muslims to this project whereby we can create a facilitating body to create social entrepreneurs within the community,” said Aamir Edresy, convenor of the Association of Muslim Professionals and the brain behind the project.
Over the past two decades, there has been a concerted effort on the part of the Muslim community to get itself educated. Between 2001 and 2011, the total number of graduates in India increased by 64 per cent from 3.76 crore to 6.2 crore. At the same time, the total number of Muslim graduates increased by 98.8 per cent, from 23.9 lakh to 47.52 lakh.
In spite of this, Muslims remain one of the most poor and deprived sections of society. The average monthly per capita expenditure (MPCE) for Indians stands at Rs 1,128. It is, however, the lowest for Muslims at Rs 980. There is, however, a wide social disparity within the community, which also has a substantial number of successful and wealthy entrepreneurs.
The group, which included senior Muslim professionals from the corporate world, brainstormed to set an economic agenda for the community. “The community has no voice when it comes to help formulate economic policies. Our idea is to create a system whereby the community’s entrepreneurs can play some role in making themselves useful in facilitating the drafting of economic policies. We are also seeking to create an environment whereby fledgling Muslim entrepreneurs are provided both mentorship as well as economic support if required,” Edresy said.
The group plans to hold meetings in this regard across the country and in the coming years wants to come up with a concrete roadmap. “We are planning to come out with a roadmap, which we plan to submit to the government by next year on steps that can be taken to help in the economic empowerment of the community. We will also create a plan of action for the community itself, which can be used to facilitate its own economic growth,” Edresy said. Businessmen Suhail Khandwani said the initiative was to help create a sustainable network within the community to help entrepreneurs.
“We are looking at creating a system which will facilitate not only business-to-business ties but also business-to-consumer ties. The whole aim is to create an environment for social entrepreneurs who uplift the community and help in creating a better and prosperous society,” said Khandwani, CEO of Khandwani Group and who is a part of the initiative.