‘Over 94 percent poor Muslims don’t get subsidised food grains’

September 5th, 2008 - 12:23 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 5 (IANS) Most of the poor among India’s 138 million Muslims do not get subsidised food grains in rural India, says Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH), one of the leading organisations working for the welfare of the community.”94.9 percent of Muslims living below the poverty line (BPL) in rural areas do not receive free food grains, and only 3.2 percent get subsidised loans,” JIH has said in a recent document called Vision-2016.

The document is a roadmap for educational, economic, and social emancipation of Muslims, India’s largest minority community.

It says that only “1.9 percent of the community benefits from the programmes meant for preventing starvation among the poorest of poor”, while “60 percent of Muslims do not have any land in rural areas”.

“The socio-economic and educational plight of Muslims continues to be abject. Although several schemes have been started to uplift them, they have still miles to go,” K.A. Siddiq Hassan, JIH’s vice-president, told IANS.

As per the JIH’s own assessment based on the government statistics and field surveys, only 2.1 percent of all Muslim farmers own tractors.

India gives highly subsidised food grains to over 10 million poorest families every year under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY), a scheme to provide food security to the poor.

The buyers pay Rs.2 for a kg of wheat and Rs.3 for a kg of rice. A BPL family is entitled to get 35 kg of food grains under the AAY scheme per month.

In India around 22 percent of people live below the poverty line (BPL). As defined by the government, this means their monthly income is less than Rs.296 in urban areas, Rs.276 in villages (44 rupees=1 dollar).

Abu Baker, former chairman of the Delhi Minorities Commission, told IANS: “The backwardness among Muslims is an accepted thing. It is deep and wide, and effective efforts are needed to improvise the community socially, economically and educationally.”

Former Supreme Court judge Rajinder Sachar, who submitted his report on the condition of minorities in November 2006, had brought out the widespread illiteracy and poverty among Muslims.

The committee said 25 percent of Muslim children in the age group of 6-14 years have either never attended school or have dropped out. In the premier colleges only one out of 25 undergraduate students and one out of 50 postgraduate students are Muslims.

“The need of the hour is to take the benefits of affirmative measures to the people on the margins. Despite the government’s best intentions, benefits of welfare schemes are not percolating to them,” said Baker, a retired professor of education in Delhi’s Jamia Milia Islamia.

Ash Narain Roy of the Delhi-based Institute of Social Sciences said: “The government initiatives need be supplemented by voluntary efforts to upgrade the overall status of Muslims.

“It is progressive of JIH not to exclude poor non-Muslims from the ambit of its plans. It is a positive development.”

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