But the anguish of Muslim citizens was not restricted to targeting in the name of terror. People underlined also the many unmet aspirations of men and women of the community to participate as equal partners in India’s development. Many spoke of the importance to them of modern and high quality schooling and higher education, for both boys and girls, and sought much higher levels of public investment in their education, in modern mainstream schools and institutions of higher education.
There was careful and thoughtful analysis of the design flaws in the schemes of the central UPA government to address the low social and economic indicators documented by the Sachar Committee. It was pointed out that the per capita levels of investment for the community are still abysmally low. The new scheme for investment in districts with high minority population, at best cover 30 per cent of the total population. These programmes, which represent the UPA government’s major initiative to address the socio-economic backwardness of the community, are for development of districts with higher minority populations rather than programmes focussed actually on the minorities; therefore they prove blunt instruments, as much of the expenditure is on general infrastructure and little to directly benefit deprived people of the community. The scholarship programme for girls and boys from minorities was welcomed, but this scheme also suffers from infirmities of procedure and targets which limit its impact. Financial institutions including nationalised banks are still reluctant to extend credit to Muslims.
There were many testimonies about open prejudice and bias of public institutions towards Muslims. There were also reports of profiling against Muslims by the criminal justice system even beyond terror crimes, reflected in disproportionately high Muslim populations in jails. Many sensitive and senior positions in both central and state government departments, including in the home, education, social welfare and information departments, continue to be held by officials with sympathies with communal ideologies and organisations, and the UPA government has done little to identify and replace them.
The Hindu : Columns / Harsh Mander : Barefoot: To be a Muslim in India today