Retired IAS officer Dr Mahmood-Ur-Rahman’s findings on the socio-economic condition of Muslims in Maharashtra was the basis for the state government to announce 5% reservation for Muslims in jobs and educational institutions. Rahman, who worked on the report for over 5 years, says the HC stay on quota in jobs will affect development of the community. Excerpts from an interview to The Indian Express:
How do you react to the Bombay High Court interim order on reservation for the community?
It is a setback for the community. Muslims were enthusiastic after the reservations were announced. If the decision was upheld by the court it would have given more hope to the community and helped it tide over the deprivation it faces. Despair is for cowards, but in my opinion this decision has thrown a spanner in the wheel of development for the community.
The court has allowed reservations in government educational institutions. According to you what was more important for the community, reservation in education or reservation in jobs?
I would place reservation in jobs on a higher pedestal than in educational institutions. Education and jobs are equally important but for a deprived section like Muslims it would have been far more beneficial if reservation in jobs was upheld. A job has the power to alleviate an individual’s frustration and suffering. You can try again in the next academic year for admission to an educational institute, you cannot do the same with jobs. When a community constitutes over 10 per cent of the population and its representation in government service is only 4.4 per cent, some measures need to be taken to address this disparity.
Where do you think the government went wrong in presenting the issue to the court?
It is difficult to say but some had called the reservation an election stunt. It is a possibility that the entire decision was not fortified the way it should have been and a watertight argument was not presented before court. The data in our report about the situation of Muslims was overwhelming in nature. I hope that the state does approach a higher court to challenge this judgment.
Could you elaborate on why reservations are needed by the Muslim community?
Nearly 60 per cent Muslims in Maharashtra are below poverty line. They make up 10.6 per cent of the state’s population while their share in government jobs is only 4.4 per cent. There are no Muslim IAS officers in the state. The total number of graduates in the community stands at only 2.2 per cent. Our report pointed out to this stark reality. The reservation is necessary for a large section of the community.