A welcome change towards Muslims

A welcome change towards Muslims


The package of measures announced by the Narendra Modi government consisting of scholarships for students of minority communities, educational and employment aid for members of the Muslim community, especially for girls, and steps to train madrasa teachers in the teaching of modern subjects is a welcome initiative. Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has announced that five crore students would benefit from the scholarship programme in the next five years. There is a special focus on girls and women in all the programmes, with 50% of the scholarships going to the girls. A campaign is to be launched to create awareness among Muslims of the importance of education and employment, especially for women. Free coaching facilities will also be provided for weaker sections among the minority communities for government services and services like the Railways.

Muslims are educationally, socially and economically very backward and any programme to help them and improve their living conditions is welcome. The Sachar Committee, appointed by the UPA-I government, had pointed out that the condition of Muslims was worse than that of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The committee had made several recommendations to improve their conditions. Most elements of the Modi government’s package, like scholarships, assistance for education and employment and modernisation of madrasa education, were among the Sachar recommendations. Many of them had been implemented by the UPA government. There was also an emphasis on girls and women in these programmes. The BJP had in the past criticised the Sachar Committee, but the Modi government has now done well to announce measures that would help improve the condition of Muslim community and give them more opportunities in all fields of life. 

The government has said that the initiative is part of its plan for inclusive development, expressed by the motto “sabka saath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas.” It would be wrong to claim that there is no politics behind the plan, especially because it is aimed at girls, women, and young people. The government may want to make a political outreach, especially to these sections. It cannot claim that whatever other governments have done for the minorities was for appeasement and whatever it does is for inclusive growth and trust. Its sincerity and earnestness will be taken seriously only if it renounces the majoritarian attitudes and policies which have been identified with it and with the BJP and its leaders. Many of its leaders have made anti-Muslim statements and promoted hatred against the Muslims. The government will have to do much more than offer scholarships and other sops to the minorities to earn their trust and goodwill.


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