“The Previous Government Did Nothing For The Upliftment Of Muslims”
Indira Satyanarayan interviewed Minister for Minorities Najma Heptullah when the latter was in Mumbai recently at the Trident Hotel in Nariman point. The following are excerpts from the interview.
Against the backdrop of the Sachar Committee report on the state of the Muslim community in India and the demand for reservation for Muslims, how, according to you in the absence of reservation, can upliftment of the Muslim community be done?
Reservation has been constitutionally approved. Against the backdrop of the Sachar Committee and the Kundu Committee reports, I am working with the present condition of the Prime Minister’s ‘Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikas’ policy. We are working on affirmative action for all deprived people. Those who are lowest financially, we give them scholarships, linking them with the Prime Minister’s welfare schemes for the underprivileged in our country.
A study on the ‘’status of women in Indian society’’ mentions that Muslim women are far more backward than their Hindu or Christian counterparts. What particular measures do you suggest to empower Muslim women?
I have always been working for women’s empowerment. Women are less developed anywhere in the world. Muslim women are backward. My job is to give empowerment through education to women. We give scholarships to women, who are matric and post-matric. We have the skill development programme for women. At least 33 per cent of women must benefit from the 86 lakh scholarships, which we are distributing all over the country. Recently, I visited Kurla to distribute scholarships to underprivileged Muslim students. Out of the 16,000 candidates who came to avail of scholarships 14,000 were girls.
Vice-President Hamid Ansari has said that the main problems confronting Muslims are related to identity, security, education and empowerment. He has also said that Muslims must have a fair share in decision making. What is your take on this?
Vice-President Hamid Ansari has been a diplomat. He has seen the plight of Muslims since Independence. Muslims have gone down in education and in jobs. There is this religious ghettoization of Muslims. Ansari Sahib has spoken of the overall condition of Muslims and he is right.The previous government did nothing affirmative for the upliftment of Muslims. The inclusive policy of Sab Ka Saath Sab Ka Vikas of our Prime Minister will help in the upliftment and progress of Muslims.
The new census data shows that India’s Muslim population is growing slower than it had in the previous decades and its growth rate has slowed more sharply than that of the Hindu population.
If there is a decline in Muslim population, it shows that Muslims are practising family planning due to literacy and awareness, which is good. Eventually, everything is linked to education. This survey is helpful for Muslims.