The State Minority Development Department has commissioned the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) to conduct a study on the social, economic and educational development of the Muslim community in 56 cities in Maharashtra that have a substantial Muslim population.
In a government resolution, the deparment earmarked Rs 33 lakh funds for the project.
“The study will analyse the social, educational and economic status of the Muslim community. It will also study the impact of the state’s education, health, employment, housing, credit access and infrastructure policies on the community,” according to the government resolution.
It will be the first pan-state study on the Muslim community after the Mehmood-Ur-Rehman committe that was set up in 2008 by the erstwhile Congress-NCP government under retired IAS officer Mehmood-ur-Rehman, which was tasked with studying the socio-economic conditions of Muslims in Maharashtra.
The committee, which took five years to arrive at a conclusion, had painted a dismal picture of the socioeconomic condition of Muslims in Maharashtra. The report submitted in 2013 had said nearly 60 per cent of Muslims in Maharashtra are below the poverty line. Their share in government jobs was only 4.4 per cent and the total number of graduates in the community stood at only 2.2 per cent. It had recommended eight per cent reservation in state, education and housing — both public and private — and said that the recommendation for reservations is a necessary palliative to alleviate the affliction of a large section of the community.
Based on the Rehman committee report, the then Congress-NCP government in 2014 had announced five per cent reservation for Muslims in government-run schools, colleges and jobs. The decision was challenged in the Bombay High Court and the state then saw a change in government with the BJP coming to power.
The Bombay High Court in its judgment on November 14 struck off the five per cent reservation clause in jobs but said Muslims should get five per cent reservation in education. The BJP government, which came to power in 2014, did not take legal steps to implement reservation stating that it does not support reservation based on religion.
The government expects that the new study will provide recommendations to bring Muslim community into the mainstream by studying its social, economical and education conditions. The study will be conducted in 56 cities in six revenue divisions of the state that have sizeable Muslim population. TISS will conduct interviews and group discussions to complete the report. The report is expected to be completed in four months.
While the report has been commissioned, there is an unease in the state government over the political backlash that such a report will generate. Officials in the know said while the GR has been issued, a final decision on implementing the project will be taken by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, who is in New Delhi on a visit. Shinde helms the Minority Development Department.