Report by the High-Level Committee to study the social, economic and educational condition of Muslims in India (Sachar Committee report)

In March 2005, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had constituted a seven-member High Level Committee headed by former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court Rajinder Sachar to study the social, economic and educational condition of Muslims in India. The committee submitted its report in 2006 and the report was available in public domain in November 30, 2006. The 403-page report had suggestions and solutions for the inclusive development of the Muslims in India.

The report found a range of disabilities hampering the Muslim community in the country. It placed Indian Muslims below Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes with respect to backwardness. It especially highlighted the poor representation of the community in decision making positions like the IAS, IPS and in the police.

The main recommendations made by the Sachar committee before 10 years to address the status of the Muslim community are:

  • Constituting an Equal Opportunity Commission to look into grievances of deprived groups such as minorities in public bodies.
  • Establishing a nomination procedure to increase participation of minorities in public bodies.
  • Creating a delimitation procedure which does not reserve constituencies with high minority population for SCs.
  • Establish mechanisms to link madarsas with higher secondary school board.
  • Improve the employment share of Muslims.
  • Recognise degrees offered by madarsas in defence, civil and banking examinations.
  • To create a National Data Bank where all relevant data for various Socio-religious communities are maintained.
  • UGC should evolve a system where part of the allocation to colleges and universities is linked to the diversity in the student population.

Numerous articles have appeared in newspapers on the 10th year of this report. Our current discussion is on a reality check if there has been any major changes in conditions of Indian Muslims. On ground, there have not been any major changes and in some parameters the things have worsened. Here is a brief overview:

  • Representation in IAS and IPS
    • Sachar Committee had highlighted the need to increase the share of Muslims in IAS and IPS.
    • The committee had recorded the share of Muslims in the IAS and IPS to be 3% and 4% respectively.
    • However, Ten years on, as per the data of the Home Ministry, the corresponding figures increased only marginally to 3.32% and 3.19% respectively as of January 2016.
    • An analysis of the government data shows that fall in Muslim representation in the IPS was because of a reduction in the  share of Muslim promote officers in the IPS.
  • Representation in Police force
    • In 2005, the share of Indian Muslims in India’s police forces is 7.63% and it fell to 6.27% in 2013.
    • Following the deterioration, the government has stopped releasing data on police personnel broken down by religion.
  • Work participation
    • The work participation rate among Muslims has increased only marginally over the years.
    • For men, the rate increased from 47.5% in 2001 to 49.5% in 2011.
    • For Women, the rate increased from 14.1% in 2001 to 14.8% in 2011.
  • Economic
    • Access to credit and entrepreneurship also remains low among muslims. RBI has mooted islamic banking to improve financial inclusion of muslims.
  • Education:
    • Literacy rate of muslims remains about 5% below national average of 74% both then and now(from 2011 census).
    • But there is an increase in percentage terms of enrolment in schools and number of graduates compared to national averages.
  • Per capita Expenditure
    • Analysis of the data shows that both preceding and following Sachar report, Indian Muslims have the lowest average monthly per capita expenditure (MPCE) among all communities.
  • Population
    • Muslims population in India increased from 13.43% in 2001 to 14.2% in 2011.
    • The increase of 24.69% in the population of Muslims is the smallest ever recorded between the two censuses.
    • Similarly, the population of Muslims in urban centres too remained higher than the national average as enumerated in both Censuses.
  • Social conditions
    • Domestic violence remains the highest among muslim women according to NFHS, both now and then.
    • Practices like polygamy, triple talaq might be the reason for this, At the same time not performing sex selections for religious reasons might be responsible for high sex ratio,
  • Sex ratio
    • Sex ratio among Indian Muslims remained better in both the 2001 and 2011 Censuses.
  • Educational initiatives like opening more schools under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan needs to be implemented in earnest in minority concentrated districts. Additional steps should be taken to ensure access to schools by eliminating socio-economic constraints
  • Further reduction in representation of Muslims in police force is a concern as this leads to a communal bias in the force as has been indicated many a times to arrest of innocent Muslims in various cases.
  • More skill development programmes like USTTAD and HIMAYAT should be started with focus on minorities
  • Social organizations of Muslims should be strengthened and further encouraged to take reform measures as reforms from within are more durable and sustainable
  • Systemic bias against Muslims should be removed by an intensive sensitization campaign among public servants as well as general public

Any country aspiring to emerge as a global power cannot attain the desired status if one of its limbs is underdeveloped. Underdevelopment leads to resentment and alienation in the community and can be a fertile ground for anti-social activities. Robustly designed and earnestly implemented multi-pronged strategy should be followed to ensure their overall development.