The Rajinder Sachar Committee is a report on the contemporary status of Muslims in India which was commissioned in 2005 by the then Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh. The document, which contended that the status of Muslims in India is abysmal, met with disparate reactions from different sections of the Indian political landscape: while it has received support with leftist and liberal sections, it has been criticized by right-wing..
In 2004, the Congress Party returned to power in India after having languished in opposition for eight years, an unprecedented length of time for a party which had ruled the country for fifty-two out of fifty-seven years between 1947 and 2004. It returned to power as head of a coalition, winning no more than 141/543 seats in the Lok Sabha; the Bharatiya Janata Party, which lost that election, won 138/543 seats, only three seats less than the Congress Party. The victory of the Congress Party was widely attributed to the Muslim vote. One of its initiatives in this direction was the commissioning of a report on the latest social, economic, and educational conditions of the Muslim community of India
The committee was composed of seven members. The committee was headed by Rajinder Sachar, former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court. The other members of the committee were Sayyid Hamid, M.A. Basith, Akhtar Majeed, Abu Saleh Shariff, T.K. Oommen and Rakesh Basant. The Prime Minister also appointed Syed Zafar Mahmood to serve as Officer on Special Duty to the Committee. The committee did not include any female members, although it did meet with women's groups and activists.
The committee, which was appointed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, was headed by former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court Rajinder Sachar, as well as six other members. The committee prepared a 403-page report and presented it to the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Indian Parliament, on 30 November 2006, 20 months after obtaining the terms of reference from the Prime Minister's Office. This report highlighted issues facing the Muslim community and their representation in Indian public life, but it has faced criticism for some of its recommendations and methodology.
The Sachar Committee Report explored and commented upon a truly wide range of random issues and concerns, often with a view to forcefully place the Muslim viewpoint on those issues in the public sphere. This included making observations on the high birthrate in the Muslim community in comparison to Hindus: the committee estimated that the Muslim proportion will stabilize at between 17% and 21% of the Indian population by 2100. As per the 2011 census, the population of Muslims is nearly 15% and rose by over 2% over a period of only ten years.
The Sachar Committee highlighted and presented its suggestions on how to remove impediments those preventing Indian Muslims from fully participating in the economic, political, and social mainstream of Indian life. The report was the first of its kind to reveal the "backwardness" (a term used in Indian academic and legal discourse for historically dispossessed or economically vulnerable communities, not meant to be pejorative) of Indian Muslims. An issue highlighted was that while Muslims constitute 14% of the Indian population, they only comprise 2.5% of the Indian bureaucracy. The Sachar Committee concluded that the conditions facing Indian Muslims was below that of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
The Sachar Committee Report brought the issue of Muslim Indian inequality to national attention, sparking a discussion that is still ongoing. The Committee recommended setting up an Equal Opportunity Commission to provide a legal mechanism to address discrimination complaints, including in matters such as housing. In response to the Committee's findings, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram proposed an increase to the National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation's (NMDFC) budget, citing new duties and expanded outreach that the institution would take on to implement the Committee's recommendations.
The Sachar Committee used 2001 census data to understand the demographic profile, infrastructure availability, and educational achievements of the population. It also used data from the National Sample Surveys (NSSO 55th and 61st Rounds) to analyze issues relating to employment, education, consumption patterns, and levels of poverty. Banking data was received from different sources such as the Reserve Bank of India, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, Small Industries Development Bank of India, National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation, and the National Backward Classes Finance and Development Corporation. Corroborative data was also obtained from government commissions and organisations such as the National Commission for Backward Classes, the State Backward Classes Commission, and the National Council of Educational Research and Training. Finally, data from other sources, including ministries, departments, public sector undertakings, universities, and colleges were used in preparing this report.
In November 2013, the Gujarat government contended before the Supreme Court that the Rajinder Sachar Committee was "unconstitutional," and that it only sought to help Muslims. It has strongly criticized the manner in which the PMO set up the Sachar Committee in 2005 to survey the socio-economic conditions of Muslims, while "ignoring" other religious minorities. This affidavit was filed in response to the Centre's stand that the scheme was valid and that the Modi government was to blame for the deteriorating condition of Muslims in Gujarat.
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