An action plan to ‘emancipate’ Indian Muslims

August 6th, 2008 - 3:41 pm ICT by IANS  

By Rajeev Ranjan Roy
New Delhi, Aug 6 (IANS) The Jammat-e-Islam Hind (JIH), one of India’s oldest Muslim groups, has put in place a path-breaking Rs.55 billion (Rs.5,500 crore) action plan to create educational, health and housing facilities to improve the lot of millions of poor Muslims in the country. Alarmed by the findings of the Justice Rajinder Sachar committee, which painted a dismal picture of the socio-economic conditions of Muslims in India, the Jammat intends to build an international technical university costing Rs.5 billion (Rs.500 crore). The estimated cost of establishing a student hostel in each state as well as 10 centres of higher learning has been pegged at Rs.9 billion (Rs.900 crore).

All this is part of the Jammat’s ‘Vision-2016′ aimed at providing free quality education and health services to the poorest among India’s 140-million-strong Muslims. The Indian Muslim population is the world’s third largest - after Indonesia and Pakistan.

“We are committed to achieve the objectives of Vision-2016 within the stipulated period of time. Funds will be generated through donations,” said K.A. Siddiq Hassan, a retired university professor and vice-president of JIH, which is headquartered in New Delhi.

Although the government has plans to improve the conditions of minorities, it is increasingly felt that the community’s lot will change for the better only when Muslims activists and groups contribute their bit.

The Jammat’s health agenda includes setting up a super speciality hospital at an estimated cost of Rs.2 billion (Rs.200 crore) and 10 speciality hospitals with an investment of Rs.8 billion (Rs.800 crore).

“The process and planning for all the projects are going on smoothly. Hopefully, the targets will be achieved. The total estimated cost for health projects is around Rs.233 billion (23,300 crore),” Hassan told IANS in an interview.

The Jammat has decided to construct 10,000 dwelling units in urban India for Rs.6 billion (Rs.600 crore) while 100 model Islamic villages will also be developed by 2016.

“Each model village will have 100 houses, a primary and higher secondary school, a clinic-cum-diagnostic centre, a community hall, a shopping complex and a mosque,” said Hassan.

The Jammat’s ‘Vision-2016′ talks of total emancipation of poor Muslims.

“The Vision-2016 aims at imparting quality primary and secondary education to the poorest among Muslims. We also intend to provide them health facilities and financial assistance for economic empowerment,” said Hassan.

The Rajinder Sachar report, submitted in November 2006, brought out the prevalence of widespread illiteracy and poverty among minorities. It said that 25 percent of Muslim children in the 6-14 age group have either never attended school or have dropped out. In premier colleges, only one out of 25 under-graduate students and one out of 50 post-graduate students is a Muslim.

The Jammat’s initiatives are winning kudos.

“No community should depend on government aid for social, economic and educational enhancement. If a community body comes out with a plan for affirmative action, one should welcome such steps,” said Firoz Bakht Ahmed, chairman of the Delhi-based Friends for Education group.

“There is not enough awareness that education can do wonders. Those well-placed in the community must come forward to the rescue of those on the margins,” Ahmed added.

Agreed writer Andlib Akhtar: “If a community wakes up to its rights and needs, nothing can stop it from progressing in all walks of life. Such an awakening can be possible only when community and other voluntary organisations work at the grassroots level.”

(Rajeev Ranjan Roy can be contacted at Rajeev.r@ians.in)

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