New Delhi: Not with standing the fact that the number of Muslims in the new Lok Sabha has reduced substantially, the voice of community is heeded more vociferously than even before. Whether it is railways budget, finance bill, the general budget or any other issue the newly elected Muslim MPs as well as some old one are whole-heartedly participating in the discussion and debate and putting minority views credibly before the parliament and the government. The regular observers of the parliament proceeding see it as an interesting change in minority leadership.
The Muslim members of parliament particularly Mohammed E.T. Basheer of Indian Muslim League (Ponnani), Abdul Rahman of DMK (Vellore), Badruddin Ajmal of Assam United Democratic Front (Dhubri), Asaduddin Owaisi of Majlis Ittahadul Muslemin (Hyderabad), Asrarul Haque Qasmi (Kishanganj) and Azaharuddin of Congress (Mordabad) and others are leaving no chance to raise the community issues.
The Muslim MPs participation in the General Discussion and Demands for Excess Grants of General Budget was remarkable. Not only more Muslim members participated in it but also put the community view vociferously.
Participating in debate after the general budget Mohammed E.T Basheer said that there was a kind of a fear complex that if you did something for the minorities, your finger would be burnt. “We did a lot of things. This Government was bold-enough to take some effective measures in that. But it should be done in a time-bound manner” he pleaded.
Giving special emphasis on the 93rd Constitutional amendment he said: “What was the purpose of 93rd Constitutional amendment? 93rd Constitution amendment is just a three-sentence amendment to clause 15 of the Constitution. It says that the states can introduce reservation system in all the educational institutions, whether it is aided or unaided. What happened to that? Nothing has been done to that. I would like to say that legislations are made, not to keep them in cold storage. They are to be implemented. I request the Government to take this very seriously and implement the conditions stipulated in the Constitution amendment”.
Asaduddin Owaisi who has been re-elected to the Lok Sabha in hard-hitting speech made certain innovative suggestion for the uplifting of the community. He said that Rs. 250 crore has been given in the Budget for 3 scholarship schemes. “My request to the Government is that the target should be increased to 50 lakhs and if you increase the target to 50 lakhs, you require only an additional amount of Rs. 315 crore. This should be provided because this scheme is bringing a great revolutionary change on the ground”, he said adding that the scheme has brought big amount of excitement among the minorities youths.
On Haj operation Owaisi made some innovative suggestions: “Let there be a debate. You are not giving Haj subsidy to Muslims; you are giving Haj subsidy of Rs.620 crore to Air India. I am not saying this because I agree with the line of BJP. I can never agree with the line of BJP, come what may. What I am saying is that you are giving it to Air India in the garb of Haj subsidy. My suggestion to the Government is to call for open international tender. Why only Air India? If you do that, the charter fare will come to 75 per cent of IATA return”. He suggested that with this Rs.20 crore which government gives should be given to Haj Committee to gets buildings in Mecca and Madina on a long-term lease because the biggest problem wherein the Government gets a bad name when the Hajis go to Mecca and Madina. He also suggested scrapping of tradition of Haj delegation. “A sum of Rs.6 crore has been given for Haj delegation. It is a criminal waste, I say. Why do you want to give it? If you want to send your party people or any party people, let them go on their own fund. Transfer this amount of Rs.6 crore to girls’ scholarship scheme. The Government of India can be represented in Haj Committee, in Saudi Arabia, by the Ambassador, by the Consulate”, he suggested.
He said that he expected that at least Rs. 100 crore would be given for the development of waqf properties but only 10 crore has been given for the purpose. “The Government should identify 25 selected cities and give Rs. 4 crore each for the development of waqf properties. The reason why I am saying this is because according to Sachar Committee, the market value of waqf properties is Rs. 1.25 lakh crore and if that is invested, with 10 per cent interest return on this Rs. 1.25 lakh crore worth wakf properties, we can easily get Rs. 12,000 crore annually and this amount can be utilized for the uplifting of the Muslim community”
“I am amazed and I can give you a glaring example that in Mumbai, the richest man in India has constructed his residential building on a Yateem Khana (orphanage). It is sickening. I do not know how he sleeps in the night by constructing his palatial bungalow on a Yateem Khana, an orphanage. Why has it happened? It is because the Waqf Act, 1995 has no eviction powers”, he said.
On Islamic banking Owaisi said that in 2007, a Committee was formed under Mr. Anand Sinha -and the finance minister was also invited to the function – and that Committee stated that the Government should amend Sections 5, 8, 9, 16 and 19 of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949. Not only that, the present Economic Advisor to the Prime Minister, who headed the Committee on Financial Sector Reforms, recommended interest-free banking. “I would like to bring to the notice of the Government that globally the market share of Islamic banking is 500 billion US dollars and it is growing to the tune of 10 to 15 per cent every year. This is not Muslim-centric. It will be in the interest of our nation. You require Rs. 500 crore for 10 years for the investment. Where do you get that money from?” he asked. He assed that now funds are being diverted from countries like UK, France and Malaysia and after 9/11 funds are also being diverted from Europe and US to South Asian countries.
Joining issue with Owaisi, Abdul Rahman of DMK said that Islamic Banking concept was a very successful mode everywhere in the world. As this banking mode is a vital one to do all sorts of banking business against financial exploitations like undue and enormous amount of interest. He informed that recently, a committee formed by Government of India under the leadership of Raguram Rajan has revealed the necessity of setting up Islamic banks in India.
“I humbly appeal in this August House to take adequate initiatives to set up a committee to establish Islamic Banks. If Government of India made any special coordination from World Islamic Banking Forum, I am ready to coordinate with our Government to have delegation either to go to Islamic Banking Body or to invite them to visit us to have essential interactions” he suggested.
He also said that Rs.1, 740 crore has been allocated for Multi-Sectoral Development Programme for the minorities was not sufficient. “Rajendra Sachar Committee has exposed the ground reality and the matter of pragmatism in this country in all respects and in all fields. The Government of India should concentrate more on implementing the recommendations in various fields by giving adequate funds. So, this amount of Rs.1, 740 crore is really not sufficient, not enough” he said.
Badruddin Ajmal said that the Government of India should not limit the Ministry of Minority Affairs into five to six incentive schemes.
“The amount of Rs.1756 crore should be increased as NREGA and allocate Rs.39000 crore and for the Bima Scheme for the poor, a sum of more than Rs.2500 crore should be allotted. In addition to increasing the Budget” he said adding the Government should find out why nearly fifty per cent of the estimated Budget is reduced in the Revised Budget. He also said that the Government should ensure reservation of jobs for Muslims in Government, Police, private sector and para military forces.
“There should be higher education facilities for minorities. The setting up of two campuses of Aligarh Muslim University is appreciated but allocation of Rs.25 crore only is not sufficient. I would demand that this amount should be increased to at least Rs.100 crore” he said.
Apart from raising the issue of sports and the local issue of Moradabad from where he is elected Mohammed Azharuddin also touched issues like Sachar Committee report. “The Government’s decision to give effect to Sachar Committee recommendations and the increased budgetary allocation of Rs. 1,740 crore to the Ministry of Minority Affairs would go a long way in uplifting the minority community and bring them at par with other sections of the society, thus contributing to the overall development of the country”, he hoped.
Maulana Asrarul Haque Qasmi while participating in the debate said though Muslim community wanted to be educated but lack of facilities and infrastructure stop them from going ahead particularly in the rural areas.
“A special education development programme for girls should be initiated. Research and training projects should be provided financial assistance and a National Overseas Scholarship Programme should be started for minorities” he suggested.
The issue of Muslim Concentrated Districts (MCD) and fund released for them, opening up of AMU complexes at more places, job for the community are also raised by different members. Political observers feel that if this trend continue Muslims are certainly going to benefit in the coming days.