The Narendra Modi government has ordered a ‘Rajindra Sachar Committee Report’ kind of study to assess the socio-economic conditions of other minorities besides the Muslims in India.
The move is to study and understand problems faced by the country’s other smaller minority communities like Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Parsis and Buddhists. This will be the first of its kind study involving other minorities besides the Muslims.
“This will be the first survey of its kind involving the five minority communities except Muslims,” minority affairs minister Najma Heptulla told reporters explaining the motive of the survey.
The minister consented that there had been surveys like the one by the Sachar panel focused primarily only on Muslims. “But it is our responsibility to look into the problems of the other five minority communities as well.”
Najma Heptulla, the only Muslim minister in the Narendra Modi’s cabinet, said the problems faced by the five communities were different from those of the Muslims. “The survey will help us know the problems of the five communities and formulate policy accordingly to address their problems.”
Earlier Heptulla had made controversial statements just after assuming office by saying that Muslims were not a minority in India and only the Parsis should be ideally termed as minorities with their dwindling population. Over the past few months, she claims that her ministry has received complaints from other minority groupings as the Jains demanding government support for other five minorities also.
“We got several such complaints mostly from the Jain community, and held meetings before deciding on the new survey,” a ministry official said. Jains accounted for 0.4 per cent of the country’s population, according to the 2001 census but were recognized as minorities by the UPA in the last leg of their government.
A representative body of Jains had moved the Supreme Court in December 2014 alleging discrimination by the Centre and states in allocating benefits to the community and preferential treatment of a fellow minority group for political reasons. The petition alleged that the government had adopted an “appeasement policy towards Muslims” and all the benefits were being given to them. Last month, a bench headed by Chief Justice H.L. Dattu asked the Centre to examine within four months the Jain community’s allegations.