Mumbai, October 13, 2014: Diversity Index, social audit, clear policy guidelines, better social and physical infrastructure in Muslim concentrated areas, monitoring and evaluation of programmes at regular intervals, similar policy provisions for the persons engaged in similar occupational activities across the religious groups, and fixed accountabilities on officers implementing the programmes are some of the major recommendations of the Post-Sachar Evaluation Committee (PSEC) or Kundu Committee.
This Committee, which was formed by the UPA Government and continued by the Modi government, to assess the implementation of Sachar Committee recommendations and Prime Minister’s 15 Point Programme, submitted its final report on 9th October.
Diversity Index and Reservation
Although Kundu Committee did not recommend politically controversial reservations, it proposed a Diversity Index (DI) based on caste, religion, gender. A person close to the committee working said, “Diversity Index is more than a reservation”. It can be applied not only to the Shrinking Public Sector but also to the private sector. Indirect government incentives like tax rebates and other encouragements must be provided to the companies ranking high on the DI.
The index can be applied to Educational Institutions, Hospitals and to all government department and schemes. The government incentives should be in proportion to the yearly Diversity Index scores that they achieve. Allocation of budget based on DI should be a new mantra of development for all sections of the society. “Unity in diversity is the strength of India and the socio-cultural diversity is the biggest asset of the nation.
The ‘homogeneity’ and ‘de-customised’ approach to development runs its own risk of leaving people out of ambit of developmental programmes and it should be avoided in a diverse society like India.
“Indian diversity and people are like sand in hand. In a tightened fist there is all possibility that many of them will spill out”, said Professor Abdul Shaban, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, who was also a member of the Kundu Committee.
The committee has recommended the SC status to Muslims who are practicing the same professions as of their Hindu counterparts. The committee believes that the Constitution has a scope for reservations for Muslims and all the socially and economically deprived communities. The Presidential Order of 1950 allowed SC status only to Hindus, but in 1956 lower castes among Sikhs and latter, in 1990, by VP Singh government, Neo-Buddhists were included in this SC list. Arguing in favour of his decision, VP Singh then had said that this change of religion, from Hinduism to Buddhism, had not altered their social, economic or educational conditions.
Social Audit of Welfare Schemes
Casual approach in framing policy and programme guidelines for development of minorities, inefficiency in administration, lack of convergence and coordination among different departments and ministries, and paucity of funds for the schemes are the major problems noted by the Kundu Committee.
Prof. Shaban said, “Ad hoc approach in framing the policies created confusions among the administrative staff that led to failure in effective implementation of Welfare Schemes. For example, PMs 15 points Programme states that ‘certain portion’ of budget under the scheme to be allocated for minorities and ‘preference’ would be given to minorities in the appointment of police and other services. However, neither does it specify the percentages, nor clarifies what is meant by the ‘priorities’ in the recruitment of minorities without any legal provisions for the same.”
Among others, the Kundu Committee has recommended proper financial provisions for hiring consulting agencies for need assessment and preparation of Detailed Project Reports for MsDP, careful selection of members of District and State Level Committees for effective and timely delivery of the programmes, sources said.
One of the major achievements in Post-Sachar years has been that minorities have emerged as developmental subjects of the state rather than just ‘ethnic and religious groups’. Institutional building for development of minorities has been major hallmark of this period through establishment of Ministry of Minority Affairs, Minorities Commissions, National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions Act, establishment of Wakf Development Corporation and launch of specific welfare schemes for minorities, etc.
Professor Shaban says, “In this period, the country has moved towards deepening the multicultural model of development as envisaged in the Constitution which in a sense heralds a new beginning”.
Lucknow, September 22, 2014: Claiming that on an average 1,000 families are re-converted, mostly in western UP region in a month, the cost incurred on such programmes comes to around Rs 50 lakh per month. The average cost incurred on each family comes to around Rs 5,000, Dharm Jagran’s western UP in charge Rajeshwar Singh told TOI.
The fuel cost incurred is meant for the outfit’s about 100 full-time volunteers, whose job is to identify people, who converted to other religions from Hinduism, make them aware about what good they are missing by not being a Hindu and convince them to re-convert. ‘Ghar wapsi’ is what Rajeshwar Singh called this re-conversion as.
Interestingly, this is not the only expenditure incurred by the Dharm Jagran. Since most of these volunteers are full-timers, they have a task in hand to carry on such awareness campaigns in the region throughout the year. On most of the occasions, once a family gets convinced to re-convert, volunteers have to pay for the affidavit on behalf of the family head, Ajay Sinha, a full-timer (as they are called within the organization) from Shahjahanpur told TOI. Interestingly, the requirement of affidavits is mandatory only in case of certified Christian converts, Rajeshwar told TOI, added that while for the ghar wapsi of those whom he refers to as “crypto-Christians”, there is no need for certificate as such people are not converted on papers but have adopted the tradition and culture associated with Christianity.
Since the number of certified Christians is far less as compared to the ‘crypto’ category, the expenditure on affidavits hardly comes to Rs 2,000 per month, he said. According to a rough estimate, ghar wapsi of around 1,000 families is done on an average every month in the western UP area, Rajeshwar claimed.
Though not every time, the organization also spents money for holding ‘shuddhi yagya’ (purification ritual), a must for those who are reconverting. Since most of the times such yagyas are held with the contribution from either the family re-converting or through voluntary contribution by like-minded people, the average expenditure on such yagyas comes to Rs 20,000 per month per district, Rajeshwar said.
But holding shuddhi yagyas or submitting affidavits is not end the job for the Hindu outfit. The fact that the re-conversion holds no meaning if the members of the caste they belong to don’t accept them back into their fold, he said and added that it is to ensure that the re-converted families aren’t discouraged. The cost on an average the outfit has to bear on community feasting comes to around Rs 40,000 to 50,000 per month.
A full-time volunteer from Meerut praant requesting anonymity said on an average RSS provides Rs 12 to 15 lakh as annual budget to each of Dharm Jagran’s praants and rest is through contributions from the respective districts. This funding by the RSS is reviewed annually, he said.
Such expenditure is nothing in view of the impact of such efforts, said Ajay from Shahjahanpur. Rajeshwar claims members from other communities claim to spend at least Rs 3 crore on one family that converts to their religion from Hinduism. Rajeshwar claimed he was busy with his aim of ‘ghar wapsi’ of around 20,000 families or 1.25 lakh individuals in December.
- times of india
Joseph Pawar, who is in his 20s, and Ayushi Wani, 19, reportedly eloped and married at an Arya Samaj temple in Bhopal on September 28. They were traced by the police to Pavagadh in Gujarat after the girl’s parents filed a complaint and the Hindu Jagran Manch and other right-wing organisations threatened to launch an agitation. The two hail from Jobat town in tribal-dominated Alirajpur district.
The town observed a bandh on Wednesday as the superintendent of police met the two families separately in his office. Meanwhile, hundreds of right-wing activists gathered outside the premises.
Ayushi reportedly told Alirajpur SP Akhilesh Jha that she was in love with Joseph, a nursing college student, and that she went with him of her own accord. She also refused to return to her parents, following which she was sent to Nari Niketan in Ujjain.
The activists said they wanted Joseph booked for allegedly luring Ayushi into marrying him, but the police said no case could be made against him since she was not a minor. Joseph was escorted to Indore under police protection to ensure his safety.
Police, however, declared the marriage invalid, saying that Joseph is not a Hindu and that in order to marry Ayushi, he would have to convert to Hinduism by following a procedure laid down under the Freedom of Religion Act.
According to the Act, a person who wants to convert as well as those who would preside over the ceremony are supposed to notify the district magistrate a month in advance.
Jha told The Indian Express that he took the decision to declare the marriage invalid because it seemed like the best option at the time, given that 300-400 activists had surrounded his office and the threat of arson and damage to government property loomed large. “There are both plus and minus points when an administrator takes a decision in such matters,” he said.
Joseph, meanwhile, said that the marriage in the Arya Samaj temple was carried out according to Hindu rituals.
Ayushi’s family had filed a complaint on September 26 when she did not return home from college. Right-wing activists threatened to take to the streets when it was revealed that she had eloped with a Christian man, and gave the police till September 30 to bring the couple back to Jobat.
The police discovered that after the marriage on September 28, the couple went to Pavagadh, from where the two were brought to Jobat on October 1.
The SP said the situation had returned to normal on Thursday, but added that it was not safe for Joseph to return. “It’s possible that he could apply to convert his faith,” he said.
- indian express
India, October 13, 2014:Indian Jesuits of the Jesa (Jesuits in Social Action) network has appealed to the central government and the governments of several Indian states to adopt urgent measures to put an end to the orchestrated campaign against religious minorities.
Motivated by hatred and violence, the anti-minorities campaign has a “negative impact on the social harmony in many towns and villages in the country,” said Jesa.
The statement recalled that the media reported more than 600 cases of violence against minorities between May and September, the period the new government led by BJP has been in power.
“The overt support from political leaders to radical groups and extremist Hindus has triggered violence in many places,” said Jesa, and also pointed out that the perpetrators go unpunished.
“Impunity further encourages the extremists who are acting outside the law,” said the Indian Jesuits.
The civil society has long called to the highest political authorities to stop “those who create disharmony and polarize society”. More than 30 organizations that defend human rights have reiterated their request to protect the rights of minorities, especially the right to live with dignity as citizens of India, with equal dignity and equality.
The situation has become so critical that even a well-known jurist – Fali Nariman – had openly expressed his concern a few weeks ago.
“The first 100 days of the new government have seen a crescendo of hate speeches against Muslims and Christians. Their identity is mocked, their citizenship questioned, their faith ridiculed. Coercion, divisions and suspicions multiply. Attacks against religious minorities have assumed alarming proportions in various parts of the country,” said the Jesuits.
Jesu stated that the hatred, violence campaign and threats “have left not only religious minorities speechless, but also civil society, lawyers and academics, while the government remains silent.”
“The Christian community has been the target of mob violence in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.” According to the Jesuits there is a change in the strategy of the extremist organisations: “A few deaths, but daily low-intensity violence that is becoming routine,” has taken the place of earlier concerted pogroms.
The Jesuits asked for immediate action against those who created tension in society and invited the Home Minister to “issue a directive so that the police are not conditioned by extremist groups”.
- agenzia fides
Lucknow, October 13, 2014: In a fresh and dramatic twist to the ‘Love Jihad’ case involving a girl in Meerut, the victim Monday alleged that she was forced by her family to make false accusations that she was first gang raped by Muslim men and then forcibly converted to Islam.
The girl from Khakhrauda made the statement before a magistrate, making it a legally binding document.
Officials said she had approached the Senior Superintendent of Police of Meerut Saturday claiming that her parents were beating her after money stopped coming from certain Hindu leaders. This, she told the district police chief, had been happening over the past one month until she fled the house for fear of being killed. She has also lodged a complaint with the police alleging a threat to her life from her family.
A teacher by profession, she had earlier alleged that she was gang raped by Muslim youth and then forced to convert to Islam. In a U-turn now she has denied this and has in the written statement claimed that certain Hindu groups and leaders had coerced her family into making these allegations.
Reacting to the developments, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which had raked up the Love Jihad issue during the state assembly by-polls, said the whole issue was now turning murkier and demanded a CBI probe.
“A CBI probe will clear the matter,” Laxmikant Bajpayi, state BJP president, told IANS.
Other political parties, including the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP), however slammed the BJP for raking up a non-issue and alleged the party’s complicity in the whole matter. “The BJP owes an explanation to the people on why it raked up the matter which was unsubstantiated,” said Rajendra Chowdhary, state cabinet minister and party spokesman.
Senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member Pramod Tiwari has sought a detailed probe into the whole episode and said the role of everyone should be scrutinised.
Ranchi, October 13, 2014: A senior Maoist leader arrested last month in Dumka district has told the police that his party killed Catholic nun Valsa John because her presence was an obstacle to the growth of the CPI-Maoist in the Santhal Pargana.
Sukhlal Murmu (39), known as Prabir, was the Zonal Commander of Santhal Pargana for the CPI-Maoist when sister Valsa (53), who hailed from Kerala, was murdered in November 2011.
He was elevated to being a member of the Purvi Bihar Purvothar Jharkhand Special Area Committee created earlier this year on his request.
The BBC had quoted a Maoist spokesperson after sister Valsa’s murder claiming responsibility for the killing.
The spokesperson alleged that the nun was working on behalf of mining interests. Prabir has repeated the charge, telling his interrogators that sister Valsa used to do “dalali” work for the PANEM Coal Mines Ltd., which was trying to operate in Pakur district.
However, Prabir has also said that Valsa’s death was premeditated, with the CPI-Maoist deciding about a year-and-a-half ahead to kill her.
“There was a meeting of the Jharkhand Regional Committee held at Pirtand [of Giridih district] about a year and a half before the murder. Senior leaders Kishan [Politburo member] and Prayaag were at that meeting. Kishan was apparently not for murdering a woman who was religious, too,” said Dumka SP Anoop Mathew. However in the end, the JRC resolved to kill sister Valsa.
Prabir has told police officers that Valsa was averse to an alliance with his party even though their interests aligned when it came to mining. Known for her paranoia, the nun even had her people follow Prabir once when he tried to get in touch with people in the PANEM area, trying to influence them. The Maoists, who were trying to use the popular anger against PANEM as a foothold to enter the region, were being pegged back by Valsa’s influence.
However, Prabir has said the Maoists saw a way in when Valsa dropped her blanket objection to the PANEM project, allowing the company to construct a road in the area. She later agreed to allow the project to go forward if adequate compensation was paid. The Maoists told people that Valsa was becoming a broker for the company.
The Maoists are understood to have used Valsa’s support to a rape survivor and the distribution of PANEM-related contracts as the reasons the murder on the night of November 15, 2011, though Prabir has said the date was merely the culmination of about a year and a half of planning.
Prabir has told his interrogators that his party sent two cadres to be part of the lynch mob: Dawood, who has since been arrested and Karamchand, who passed away since. Prabir has claimed Karamchand was tasked with organizing the attack team and masking it.
- indian express
Bharatiya Dalit Church (BDC) is committed to preach good news to the Dalits who are socially outcastes and economically poor.
Our Vision: Our vision is to preach to Gospel to the Dalits who are the so-called untouchables who are Constantly rejected, persecuted, shamed and driven to the fringes of the society and to restore their identity as the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27).
We try to present to the Dalits the historical Jesus as one who shared this brokenness or the Dalitness. Jesus is a true Dalit because he suffered rejection, mockery, contempt, torture and death. He not only shared the brokenness of Dalits 2000 years ago but he does so here and now in the day to day lives of the Dalits. His promise of being with us until the end of time is an assurance of his continued sharing in our Dalitness.
Jesus in his ministry totally identified himself with the Dalits of his time by serving the Samaritan Dalits whole heartedly. The dominant religious leaders of his day accused him of eating and drinking with dalits, publicans, tax collectors and sinners (MK. 2:15-16). Jesus’s attitude towards the people, the society was considered as outcastes activities (The Samaritans and women of his society could fit into this category), his mixing with them freely, his table fellowship with them demonstrated powerfully that he loved and cared for them – the Dalits. Thus he totally identifies with the Dalits of his time and continues to identify in our times.
Our Hope: The Resurrection is the tremendous sign of hope for the Dalits that they could in fact realize their dream of equality and justice. The risen Jesus is still with them encouraging them and strengthening them to continue their fight against injustice and oppression. By rising from the dead, Jesus proved that death is not the last word; evil and injustice cannot and will not have the final victory. This gives hope to the Dalits that their struggle against injustice and oppression is not a lost battle. They will see the light of day. They will be able to rise with Jesus to a more human existence.
Our Dream: Our dream is to create a casteless society envisaged by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar where all are equal which is the kingdom of God preached by Jesus. Here women and men of good will irrespective of their caste and colour as one human family will work together to realise this dream.
Means-Restoration: Our mean is by restoring and regaining the lost identity, rich history and culture of the Dalits in an exclusive Indian Dalit way based on core Christian ethics and values.
- s. arockiyadoss
Mumbai, October 10, 2014: The Samajwadi Party (SP) on Thursday promised to provide 10% reservation for Muslims in Maharashtra, honour for Urdu language and formation of Wakf Law Protection and Development Corporation as part of its manifesto released for forthcoming October 15 assembly polls.
The SP has fielded 24 candidates from across Maharashtra.
Other important promises in the manifesto include reservations for Muslim women and children, steps for improvement of power loom sector (which sees large scale employment of Muslims), conservation and protection of Wakf properties, judicial inquiry into fake encounters, adequate compensation to police personnel, protection of civil and human rights, religious freedom, additional compensation to families of victims of communal violence and terror attacks, strict implementation of Prevention of Atrocities Against SC/ST Act and revival of Ismail Yusuf College, a release from SP Maharashtra spokesperson Abdul Kadir Chaudhary said.
SP Maharashtra president Abu Asim Azmi has always raised the issue of lower strata and underprivileged people during his assembly tenure, Chaudhary said, adding, “We tried our best to bring all secular parties together before the polls, but could not.”
The manifesto, which also promised drinking water, addressing power shortage issue, health insurance for poor and higher education at affordable fees, was released in Urdu, Marathi, Hindi and English languages. SP’s Maharashtra vice president and head of the Scheduled Caste cell Ashok Gaikwad and Mumbai region vice president Pradeep Dixit too were present on the occasion.
New Delhi, October 10, 2014: The Post Sachar Evaluation Committee headed by Prof. Amitabh Kundu presented its final report to Dr. Najma A Heptulla, the Union Minister for Minorities Affairs on Thursday.
Earlier, among the important recommendations / observations of this Committee’s interim report – submitted in March 2014 – were inclusion of Muslim artisanal groups (referred to as ajlaf) as ‘Most Backward’ sub-category along with other similarly placed caste groups from other religions; inclusion of Muslims in SC category and carrying out surveys that cover the burden of acute and chronic diseases by “religion and other background characteristics.”
The Ministry of Minority Affairs had constituted this Committee under the chairmanship of Prof. Kundu of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, and seven other eminent social scientists in September 2013. The mandate of the committee was to evaluate the process of implementation of Sachar Committee Report and the Prime Minister’s 15 points programme (for minorities). The committee was also asked to assess the outcome of the programmes implemented by Ministry of Minority Affairs and other Ministries and to recommend the corrective measures.
The members of this Committee visited some of the states with substantial Muslim population. The members interacted with NGOs, individuals and government departments associated with the task of implementing welfare schemes launched by the Centre to evaluate its functioning.
As per the interim report’s observation, the ST Hindus are at the bottom of the economic ladder in rural areas, followed by SC and then by Muslims, their ranking remaining unchanged over the past two decades and as also the period post adoption of SCR (socio-religious categories). The interim report (therefore) recommended that many of the Muslim artisanal groups (referred to as ajlaf by Sachar Committee) can be included in the ‘Most Backward’ sub-category along with other similarly placed caste groups from other religions.
It also recommended including Muslims in the SC category, making it legal in a manner similar to the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocity Act.
Observing that “the lower percentage of Muslim households participating in public employment programme, compared to Hindu or Christian households, suggests that any overt employment programmes are unlikely to address the problem of the Muslims – the most deprived minority in the labour market”, the Committee suggested increased participation in higher education and technical fields will help the Muslims to eventually move to better quality jobs.
“As regards the high unemployment among the youth especially among the rural females, it would be necessary to develop an environment that helps the unemployed Muslim youth relocate themselves from homes and take up the jobs in manufacturing and modern service sectors,” it said.
In the ‘health’ section, it had suggested that government surveys such as National Family Health Survey (NFHS) collecting data on health issues should collect and publish data by religion and other background characteristics. It further said, “Health surveys should cover the burden of acute and chronic diseases by religion and other background characteristics as against the current scenario where only maternal and child health indicators are considered” and added that all Muslim-concentration districts (MCDs) be made part of Annual Health Surveys (AHS) so that the impact of health and other schemes targeted at them can be tracked.
A very important observation was that the Muslims lag behind even the SCs in terms of access to amenities, and this problem needs to be addressed, irrespective of their better child health outcomes, due to community characteristics.
The overall literacy rate, school attendance rate and higher educational attainment rates are all very low among the Muslims, with never attended or currently not attending and dropout rate from education system being high, the report said and observed: “Muslim children generally drop out at a very young age, compared to the children from other SRC. At all the levels of education, OBC Muslims, however, are the most deprived group. Percentage of persons with vocational and technical training was also very low among them.
It also blamed non-availability of disaggregated data at the SRC and area levels for several schemes that makes assessment of the effectiveness of the schemes for different communities extremely difficult. “(As a consequence), it has not been possible to assess the benefits that have gone to different religious communities, and especially Muslims, barring the scholarships and Madarsa modernization schemes,” it said.
“Furthermore, due to lack of block level data, the investment meant for the minorities in MCDs has gone to non-minority concentrated blocks,” the report pointed out and welcomed the government effort at targeting minority concentrated blocks in recent years that will make the area based schemes more effective and meaningful to minorities.
A whole chapter in the interim report was devoted to Waqf properties’ management. The interim report had suggested that “waqf properties must be exempted from certain enactments to serve the greater philanthropic purposes of waqf properties through minor amendments.”
One of the important recommendations in this chapter dealt with the innumerable waqf properties, despite being a place of worship and of religious reverence, could not be touched by Waqf boards as these are declared as protected monuments under the control of the Archeological Survey of India (ASI). “These lists – of protected properties – must be annually reviewed and their conditions assessed in a joint meeting of senior officers of the ASI and the Central Waqf Council,” it had said.
The interim report also said the National Waqf Development Corporation Ltd (NAWADCO) can be given a boost by making its functioning Shariah compliant as a section of Muslims stay away from interest based projects and usurious transactions. “The corporation could work towards creating a level playing field with other Muslim welfare/affairs organisations such as the Tabung Haji of Malaysia. This would also attract investments from Muslims in large numbers strengthening the Corporation and extending larger welfare to greater number of people.”
As per mandate of the committee, it evaluated and assessed the implementation of the of the recommendations of the Sachar Committee and made suggestions for obtaining better outcome in its Final Report submitted to the Minister of Minority Affairs.
After submitting its interim report in March 2014, the Committee asked for an extension. The previous UPA government had given the extension and asked it to submit the report by September, 2014. The final report was submitted on Thursday.
“We are very happy with the very positive response from the Minister. She promised us proper implementation (of recommendations) as soon as possible,” Dr Kundu told TCN News.
Bhopal, October 9, 2014: After refusing permission for an annual Christian gathering in Jobat, Alirajpur, the Madhya Pradesh Police have served a notice on the organizer asking whether his organization was involved in terror, criminal or anti-social activities among other things.
Jhabua-based Moksha Foundation had organized a gathering in Jobat from October 6-9, but the Alirajpur administration refused permission because a marriage between a Christian man and a Hindu woman had caused communal tension.
On Tuesday, foundation president Kapil Sharma was asked by the police to fill up personal information like name, address, passport number and political association among 20 points listed in a one-page document.
The second document sought information about the organization: like the source of funding; whether involved in terror or criminal activities; details of members, including foreigners; and a clear note on the actual inclination of the organization (religious, political, social or communal).
A similar exercise had caused a furore in 2011 when the police in some districts sought to collect details of Christian organizations in a similar format.
In the wake of protests by the minority community, which dubbed the exercise as community profiling, the state police headquarters had claimed that the circular was issued by a mistake. Jhabua SP Krishnaveni Desavatu told The Indian Express that it was a routine exercise.
“Maybe the local police did not have information about the organization. They normally collect such information from active and inactive organization. There is nothing to worry,” she said.
Sharma said never in the past had he been asked to provide information about himself and the organization. He said he would reply in a couple of days but took offence to the type of questions.
Spokesperson of Catholic Bishops Conference, Madhya Pradesh, Fr Johny P J said the Catholic community would challenge the exercise if it was ordered by the administration.
“Normally the police resort to such steps under pressure from right-wing organizations,” he said.
- indian express