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.
In fact, Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla remains under the impression that the report evaluates only the implementation of the PM’s 15-point programme. However, the committee’s mandate went beyond that to look at other flagship schemes of the ministry, such as the multi-sectoral development programme, pre-matric and post-matric scholarships, as well as schemes such as MGNREGA and Aadhaar.
According to the Kundu Committee report, Muslims continue to be left out of both government jobs and the urbanisation wave. Moreover, the basic advantages of a better sex ratio and higher birth weight have been wasted due to a lack of health facilities in areas dominated by Muslims and a high school drop-out rate.
The Post Sachar Evaluation Committee, headed by Professor Kundu, was set up in August 2013 to look at the socio-economic and educational status of Muslims after the Sachar report revealed their dire conditions and the Ministry of Minority Affairs was set up to deal with it. The report evaluates conditions of Muslims on parameters such as demography, employment, livelihood, consumption, living standards, poverty, management of Wakf property and general policy issues apart from education and health.
When asked about the status of the Kundu report, 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.”
The report was submitted to the ministry on September 20, 2014, 10 days ahead of the expiry of the revised term of the committee.The prime minister’s 15-point programme deals with improving availability of Integrated Child Development Services, schools education, modernisation of madrasa education, resources for teaching Urdu, scholarship for meritorious students, improvement of education infrastructure, employment, upgradation of skill training, support for economic activities, recruitment in government jobs, equitable share in housing schemes, improvement of living conditions in slums, prevention of communal incidents, prosecution for riots and rehabilitation of victims.
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.
The report found that schemes included under the 15-point programme are plagued by funds shortage and Muslim areas continue to miss out on health infrastructure, as had been pointed out in the Sachar report. School enrolments had risen since 2005 when that report came, but high drop-out rates wipe out any real developmental premium, it said.