Just days ago, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh underlined the dismal state of education in the Muslim community as being key to the fact of its severe under-representation in employment, both public and private. Nowhere is this more starkly evident than in the top bureaucracy, the IAS, IPS and the IFS where the share is as low as 1.6% (in the IFS) to a high of just over 3% (IPS).
While the share of Muslims in all state government jobs — across all grades — in a dozen high-Muslim population states is just over 6%, way below their share in the population (15.4%), as first reported by The Indian Express last week, their average share in the nation’s top bureaucracy is not even half this figure.
A run-down through the Civil List 2006 (as on January 1, 2006) shows that Muslims constitute barely 2.2 per cent of the Indian Administrative Services (IAS). There are around 108 Muslim IAS officers in the government of a total of 4790 such officers in the country. The figure includes 1248 State Services Officers who have been promoted to the IAS.
Mohammed Riazuddin of the Kerala cadre is the seniormost Muslim IAS officer in the country. While Riazuddin, who is Director of Institute of Management in Government at Thiruvananthapuram, declined to comment, experts say the key reason, once again, could be access to education.
Of the population above 20, barely 3.6% of the Muslim community are college graduates — the minimum requirement for an opening in the civil service — according to 2004-5 data from the National Sample Survey Organisation.
Even within the IAS, Muslim presence at the higher levels is missing: of the 83 Secretaries at the Centre, not one is a Muslim. Animal Husbandry Secretary Mohammed Hakeem retired last July and another senior IAS officer S Y Qureshi joined the Election Commission.
Education can’t be the only reason, says Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, who retired from the IAS in 2005. Saying that he personally never experienced any bias, Habibullah, who has been director of the IAS academy in Mussoorie, says: “Low representation of Muslims in the government is a complex issue that goes beyond education levels in the minority community. I think it has got to do with the minority syndrome, where Muslims do not aspire for the all-India services presuming there will be bias against them.”
In the Indian Police Service (IPS), too, the story is similar: Muslim representation is around 3.39 per cent. The IPS Civil List 2006 (as on January 1) shows that there are 109 Muslim officers of a total of 3209 officers.
The seniormost Muslim police officer is CISF Director General SIS Ahmed. Ahmed takes strong exception on security officers being identified on religious lines. “I am a police officer, what is it got to do with my being a Muslim or not,” he said.
Significantly, there is no Muslim at the rank of Joint Secretary and above in the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), the country’s premier external intelligence agency. Officer Asif Ibrahim heads the Delhi desk of the Intelligence Bureau.
It’s the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) where the Muslims are the most under-represented at barely 1.6%. That is 10 of a total of 619 (IFS cadre strength according to Expenditure Reforms Committee 1999-2000 documents) officers.The seniormost Muslim IFS officer is Talmiz Ahmed, who is presently Director General of Indian Council of World Affairs. His immediate junior is Additional Secretary Arif Khan at the South Block.