The Ministry of Minority affairs has questioned the very basis of the Post Sachar Evaluation Committee headed by Amitabh Kundu, that had been set up by the UPA government and which submitted a report five months ago.
The ministry says the committee analysed the condition of merely Muslims rather than minorities. Even in that, says the ministry, the Kundu committee did an “incomplete” analysis, using “outdated” data to evaluate effectiveness of the ministry’s programmes.
In an internal document, the Ministry of Minority Affairs has said that most of the data used by the committee was from the formative stages of the ministry and some even predated it, and hence the evaluation could hardly be reflective of its functioning. It has also raised questions about the sample size, the lack of state inputs and the methodology adopted for the compilation of the report.
The Kundu committee was set up in August 2013 by then UPA government to look at the socio-economic and educational status of Muslims after the Sachar report of 2006 revealed their dire conditions, and the Ministry of Minority Affairs was set up to deal with it. Its mandate included examining the flagship programmes of the ministry. The committee had been given an extension by the NDA government and submitted its report in September last year.
The Kundu committee concluded that Muslims had been left out of both government jobs and the urbanisation wave, and the basic advantages of a better sex ratio and higher birth weight in the community were frittered away by lack of health facilities in areas dominated by them.
In its comments, the ministry has said, “The report is based on secondary data of pre-2011-12 which was the formative stage for the ministry. Many programmes of ministry have been launched in 2012 and thereafter. Even some data has been used from pre 2007-08 period when ministry was not in existence, neither implementation of the Sachar Committee recommendations started. The report is confined to the analysis of various socio economic indicators for Muslims only and not to the minorities as a whole.”
A senior official of the ministry added that since the committee’s mandate was to look into the ministry’s programmes, which are not confined only to Muslims, there was no justification for it to look at only Muslims since they were not the sole target beneficiary group of the ministry.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Professor Kundu said that while it was true that the thrust of the report was on the condition of Muslims, it did analyse outcome indicators for other minority communities too.
“It was the Post Sachar Evaluation Committee. Since our mandate was to see whether Sachar recommendations had been implemented or not, and since that report had dealt with Muslims as the most deprived socio economically vulnerable population, our thrust was on Muslims. But we did analyse outcome indicators for other minority groups. As for the data, we used secondary data from NSSO, which is an independent government source, and also Census data from 2001-11, which is the latest available,” he said. The committee also used updated 2013 data for the evaluation of programmes and field surveys, he added.
In a pointwise response to individual recommendations of the Kundu report, the ministry has said that several like the idea of a diversity index, equity framework etc are a matter of policy that would require a call to be taken by the government. On other issues such as lack of education, health, credit facilities etc, it has enumerated the schemes currently being run both by the Ministry of Minority Affairs and other ministries such as HRD and Health and Family Welfare.
The Kundu committee recommendations such as incentivising and promoting integrated housing and promoting health-seeking behaviour among Muslims have been dismissed as general recommendations that do not need any specific intervention from the ministry.
Ministry officials said they had circulated the committee’s report to other ministries seeking their comments.