Christians and other religious minorities plead with the Indian government to insure equal rights between Christians, Muslims and Hindus. Although the Indian constitution is secular, rights given to the lowest caste of Indian society is only extended to Hindus and not to Christian or Muslims. This inequality is leaving many Christians and Muslims behind in India. Christians are also targeted by radical Hindu groups. After an attack, government assistance is hard to gain access to because of this inequality in the law.
3/6/2013 India (TwoCircles) – A largely attended representative conference of Muslims, Christians and Scheduled Castes, in a vibrant discussion, analyzed the deprivations and sufferings of their communities at BS Abdur Rahman Auditorium of India Islamic Cultural Centre, New Delhi.
The 15 point “Muslim Charter of Demands” put together by Zakat Foundation of India was discussed, deliberated upon in detail and overwhelmingly and unanimously supported. Full text of the charter is given at the end of this report.
Dr. Syed Zafar Mahmood, President, Zakat Foundation of India quoting the findings and recommendations of Sachar Committee and Ranganath Mishra Commission which clearly described the condition of Indian Muslims as worse than the scheduled castes, through a detailed PowerPoint presentation, asked why even in the 2013 union budget, the Muslim community (13.4% of gross national population) was not considered for special component plan while a huge amount of Rupees 40,000 crores was similarly allocated, like earlier years, for scheduled castes who constitute 20% of gross national population. This is despite the Sachar Committee and Mishra Commission having documented that Muslims are lagging behind even the scheduled castes.
The conference regretfully noted that even the current central government’s practically last budget has drawn almost a blank for the Muslims in particular and minorities in general. There is no provision for Equal Opportunities Commission and Schemes to give Incentives based on Diversity Index – both recommended by Sachar Committee and accepted by the union cabinet in 2007 followed by the Government appointed expert groups having recommended three years ago the detailed modalities thereof.
Likewise, the new minorities affairs minister K. Rahman Khan had announced much before the budget was presented that the government will soon establish a National Waqf Development Corporation as recommended both by Sachar Committee and JPC on Waqfs. But the budget is silent on this score too. This shows that the government has no intention of fulfilling even its bare minimum promises made to the Muslim community.
During the conference the speakers vehemently questioned the rationale and constitutionality of the president’s executive order of 1950 which surreptitiously excluded Muslims and Christians from the definition of Schedule Castes. “India has a secular constitution but the 1950 order has defaced its secular character” they said quoting Justice Ranganath Misra Commission which rightly called it a ‘black law’.
Among intense clapping the ZFI President announced that Udit Raj, President of All India Scheduled Castes Federation has written to ZFI that his organization fully supports the demand that the definition of Scheduled Caste should be religion-neutral and, for that, para 3 of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 must be deleted. Udit Raj could not personally attend the conference because of his prior engagements at Jodhpur.
During the conference, the representatives of Schedule Castes and Christian community – Vinod Kumar & Rev Fr Dr Packiam Samuel – declared their whole-hearted support for religion-neutral definition of ‘Scheduled Caste’ and the the ZFI’s charter of demands. They stressed the need for a unified trilateral action.