On the occasion of the UN’s Minorities Day on December 18, a seminar on Prime Minister’s 15 point programme for the welfare of Minorities was organised by Delhi Minorities Commission at Hindi Bhavan, New Delhi.
Chief Guest Ms. Parveen Talha, the first Muslim woman IAS officer, in her address said that the Muslims in India are generally poor and economically backward but the responsibility of pulling them out of poverty and illiteracy also lied with the well-off and the educated in the community. She said that while the setting up of the Minorities Commission was a benevolent step on the part of the government but these were ‘soft interventions’.
Taking a dig at the media, Talha said the media should stop portraying the Muslims as pre-historic people living on the non-existent fatwas.
“The responsibility of implementing the PM’s 15-point programme also rests with the Minority Commissions. Will it not help India if Muslims come into the mainstream and start living like anyone else?” she said.
In the presidential remarks, Professor K.S. Chalam, economist and writer, said there is no meaning of development if some groups are not included in the fruits of development. “For the growth of this country Muslims’ growth is equally necessary,” he said. He admitted the discrimination against Muslims and Dalits in various fields.
“The large IT firms and other business establishments are held by the upper caste majority community people and they discriminate against the minority community people and Dalits,” Chalam said.
Shahi Imam Majid Matehpuri Mufti Mukarram Ahmed was a bit sceptical about the implementation of the PM’s 15-point programme
“The new scheme for the welfare of minorities appears good on paper but will it be implemented properly?” he wondered while saying that the government had no machinery to watch the proper distribution of the funds allocated for the minorities welfare. The Shahi Imam, speaking on the issue of reservation, said that Muslims did not seek reservation on the basis of religion; they only wanted proper interpretation of Article 341. Ahmed also appealed to the Muslims to take full advantage of various welfare programmes run by the Delhi Minority Commission.
Supreme Court Lawyer and Member of Delhi Wakf Board Rana Parveen Siddiqi put forth a few discrepancies in the matters concerning the minorities. She said that Haj subsidy provided by the government to the pilgrims could not be needed if the government could urge the airlines to rationalise their fares. She also demanded that the Haj affairs should be handed over to the Ministry of Minority Affairs. Siddiqi also proposed that the Wakf Board could act as a nodal agency for the dispersal of funds meant for the modernisation of madarsas.
During the interaction with the public, Editor Urdu monthly Afkar-e-Milli Qasim Rasul Ilyas put forth the grievances of Muslims in Delhi and sought the DMC’s intervention in them. “In the name of beautification the slums are being demolished and certain Muslim pockets are also being targeted. Muslim colonies are not being regularised by the Government and hence the danger of demolition is imminent,” said Ilyas.
He also raised questions on the meagre budget of the Commission and the lack of statutory powers with it.
The DMC also released a newsletter on the occasion.¨