Tuesday, 30 July 2013 04:16



Minorities in India

Constitutional Provisions for Minorities

National Commission for Minority Education Institutions Bill-2009

PM 15 Point Programme for the welfare of Minorities

National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities

Equal Opportunity Commission


Minority has no particular definition in the Constitution of India, but generally they are categorized in two different patterns and these are

On the basis of religion

On the basis of tongue i.e. the language that they speak

Five communities had been notified as minorities by the Central Government of India and these includes Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and Zoroastrians. Whereas, the linguistic minorities are segmented and identified state wise.


  • Part III: Fundamental Rights, Cultural and Educational Rights

a) Article 29: Protection of interests of minorities

(1) Any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same.

(2) No citizen shall be denied admission into any educational institution maintained by the State or receiving aid out of State funds on grounds only of religion, race, caste, language or any of them.

  • Part III: Fundamental Rights, Cultural and Educational Rights

b) Article 30: Right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions

(1) All minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.

20[(1A) In making any law providing for the compulsory acquisition of any property of any educational institution established and administered by a minority, referred to in clause (1), the State shall ensure that the amount fixed by or determined under such law for the acquisition of such property is such as would not restrict or abrogate the right guaranteed under that clause.]

(2) The State shall not, in granting aid to educational institutions, discriminate against any educational institution on the ground that it is under the management of a minority, whether based on religion or language.



Rights of Minority Educational Institutions

The National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions Act 2004 (2 of 2005) as amended by the NCMEI (Amendment Act 2006) lays down rights of Minority Educational Institutions as under:

Right to establish a Minority Educational Institution

  • Any person who desires to establish a Minority Institution may apply to the competent authority for the grant of no objection certificate for the said purpose.
  • The Competent authority shall

a) On perusal of documents, affidavits or other evidence, if any

b) After giving an opportunity of being heard to the applicant, decide every application filed under sub-section (1) as expeditiously as possible and grant or reject the application, as the case may be:

Provided that where an application is rejected, the competent authority shall communicate the same to the applicant.

  • Where within a period of ninety days from the receipt of the application under subsection (1) for the grant of no objection certificate

a) The Competent authority does not grant such certificate; or

b) where an application has been rejected and the same has not been communicated to the person who has applied for the grant of such certificate,

It shall be deemed that the competent authority has granted a no objection certificate to the applicant.

The National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (Amendment) Bill, 2009

A Bill further to amend the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions Act, 2004

Enacted by Parliament in the Sixtieth Year of the Republic of India as follows

1. This Act may be called the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (Amendment) Act, 2009.

2. In section 2 of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions Act, 2004 (hereinafter referred to as the principal Act), for clause (g), the following clause shall be substituted, namely — (g) Minority Educational Institution means a college or an educational institution established and administered by a minority or minorities

3. In section 3 of the principal Act, in sub-section (2), for the words two member, the words three members shall be substituted.

4. In section 10 of the principal Act, for sub-section (1), the following sub-section shall be substituted, namely — (1) Subject to the provisions contained in any other law for the time being in force, any person, who desires to establish a Minority Educational Institution, may apply to the competent authority for the grant of no objection certificate for the said purpose.

5. In section 12B of the principal Act, in sub-section (4), the words and in consultation with the State Government shall be omitted


(A) Enhancing opportunities for Education

(1) Equitable availability of ICDS Services

The Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme is aimed at holistic development of children and pregnant/lactating mothers from disadvantaged sections, by providing services through Anganwadi Centres such as supplementary nutrition, immunization, health check-up, referral services, pre-school and non-formal education. A certain percentage of the ICDS projects and Anganwadi Centres will be located in blocks/villages with a substantial population of minority communities to ensure that the benefits of this scheme are equitably available to such communities also.

(2) Improving access to School Education

Under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya Scheme, and other similar Government schemes, it will be ensured that a certain percentage of all such schools are located in villages/localities having a substantial population of minority communities.

(3) Greater resources for teaching Urdu

Central assistance will be provided for recruitment and posting of Urdu language teachers in primary and upper primary schools that serve a population in which at least one-fourth belong to that language group.

(4) Modernizing Madarsa Education

The Central Plan Scheme of Area Intensive and Madarsa Modernization Programme provides basic educational infrastructure in areas of concentration of educationally backward minorities and resources for the modernization of Madarsa education. Keeping in view the importance of addressing this need, this programme will be substantially strengthened and implemented effectively.

(5) Scholarships for meritorious students from minority communities

Schemes for pre-matric and post- matric scholarships for students from minority communities will be formulated and implemented.

(6) Improving educational infrastructure through the Maulana Azad Education Foundation

The Government shall provide all possible assistance to Maulana Azad Education Foundation (MAEF) to strengthen and enable it to expand its activities more effectively.

(B) Equitable Share in Economic Activities and Employment

(7) Self-Employment and Wage Employment for the poor

a) The Swarnjayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojana (SGSY), the primary self-employment programme for rural areas, has the objective of bringing assisted poor rural families above the poverty line by providing them income generating assets through a mix of bank credit and Governmental subsidy. A certain percentage of the physical and financial targets under the SGSY will be earmarked for beneficiaries belonging to the minority communities living below the poverty line in rural areas.

b) The Swarn Jayanti Shahari Rojgar Yojana (SJSRY) consists of two major components namely, the Urban Self-Employment Programme (USEP) and the Urban Wage Employment   Programme (UWEP). A certain percentage of the physical and financial targets under USEP and UWEP will be earmarked to benefit people below the poverty line from the minority communities.

c) The Sampurna Grameen Rozgar Yojana (SGRY) is aimed at providing additional wage employment in rural areas alongside the creation of durable community, social and economic infrastructure. Since the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (NREGP) has been launched in 200 districts, and SGRY has been merged with NREGP in these districts, in the remaining districts, a certain percentage of the allocation under SGRY will be earmarked for beneficiaries belonging to the minority communities living below the poverty line till these districts are taken up under NREGP. Simultaneously, a certain percentage of the allocation will be earmarked for the creation of infrastructure in such villages, which have a substantial population of minorities.

(8) Upgradation of skills through technical training

A very large proportion of the population of minority communities is engaged in low-level technical work or earns its living as handicraftsmen. Provision of technical training to such people would upgrade their skills and earning capability. Therefore, a certain proportion of all new ITIs will be located in areas predominantly inhabited by minority communities and a proportion of existing ITIs to be upgraded to Centres of Excellence will be selected on the same basis.

(9) Enhanced credit support for economic activities

a) The National Minorities Development & Finance Corporation (NMDFC) was set up in 1994   with the objective of promoting economic development activities among the minority communities. The Government is committed to strengthen the NMDFC by providing it greater equity support to enable it to fully achieve its objectives.

b) Bank credit is essential for creation and sustenance of self-employment initiatives. A target of 40% of net bank credit for priority sector lending has been fixed for domestic banks. The priority sector includes, inter alia, agricultural loans, loans to small-scale industries & small business, loans to retail trade, professional and self-employed persons, education loans, housing loans and micro-credit. It will be ensured that an appropriate percentage of the priority sector lending in all categories is targeted for the minority communities.

(10) Recruitment to State and Central Services

a) In the recruitment of police personnel, State Governments will be advised to give special consideration to minorities. For this purpose, the composition of selection committees should be representative.

b) The Central Government will take similar action in the recruitment of personnel to the Central police forces.

c) Large scale employment opportunities are provided by the Railways, nationalized banks and public sector enterprises. In these cases also, the concerned departments will ensure that special consideration is given to recruitment from minority communities.

d) An exclusive scheme will be launched for candidates belonging to minority communities to provide coaching in government institutions as well as private coaching institutes with credibility.

(C) Improving the conditions of living of minorities

(11) Equitable share in rural housing scheme

The Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY) provides financial assistance for shelter to the rural poor living below the poverty line. A certain percentage of the physical and financial targets under IAY will be earmarked for poor beneficiaries from minority communities living in rural

(12) Improvement in condition of slums inhabited by minority communities

Under the schemes of Integrated Housing & Slum Development Programme (IHSDP) and Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), the Central Government provides assistance to States/UTs for development of urban slums through provision of physical amenities and basic services. It would be ensured that the benefits of these programmes flow equitably to members of the minority communities and to cities/slums, predominantly inhabited by minority communities.

(D) Prevention & Control of Communal Riots

(13) Prevention of communal incidents

In the areas, which have been identified as communally sensitive and riot prone, district and police officials of the highest known efficiency, impartiality and secular record must be posted. In such areas and even elsewhere, the prevention of communal tension should be one of the primary duties of the district magistrate and superintendent of police. Their performances in this regard should be an important factor in determining their promotion prospects.

(14) Prosecution for communal offences

Severe action should be taken against all those who incite communal tension or take part in violence. Special court or courts specifically earmarked to try communal offences should be set up so that offenders are brought to book speedily.

(15) Rehabilitation of victims of communal riots

Victims of communal riots should be given immediate relief and provided prompt and adequate financial assistance for their rehabilitation.

Sacchar Committee on Minorities

The Government of India on 9 March 2005 issued a Notification for the Constitution of a High Level Committee that was responsible for preparation of a report on the social, economic and educational status of the Muslim community of India. The seven-member High Level Committee was chaired by Justice Rajinder Sachar and it submitted its report in November 2006 to the Government.

Barring some generic observations about the causes for the ‘development deficit’ among Muslims, there is no explicit or detailed discussion of the causes of such conditions.

Terms of Reference

The Committee’s mandate was to

a) Obtain relevant information and conduct a literature survey on the relative social, economic an educational status of Muslims in India at the state, regional and district levels;

b) Determine the level of their socio-economic development;

c) Determine the relative share in public and private sector employment;

d) Determine the proportion of OBCs from Muslim community in the total OBC population in various states,

e) Determine access to education and health services, municipal infrastructure and bank credit provided by Government/ public sector entities

Main Recommendations

The Committee made a number of recommendations to address the status of the Muslim community in India, including:

  • Education

a) Emphasis on providing a minimum level of school education by the State is necessary. Regular affordable school education that is available to any other child in India should be made available to Muslims in all localities. Primary education in mother tongue is equally important.

b) Access to government schools for Muslim children is limited. This is particularly so in regard to girls for whom the non-availability of schools within easy reach hampers access to education at the primary level.

c) More schools for girls should be set up in localities of Muslim concentration, particularly for the 9-  12 standards. This would facilitate higher participation of girls in school education. Induction of     more female teachers, provision of hostels for girls and transport facilities would be helpful.

d) Institution of more scholarships for professional and technical courses would encourage students to avail in greater measure of opportunities in higher education.

e) Skill development initiatives for those who have not completed school education may also be particularly relevant for some section of Muslims given their occupational structure. The pre-entry qualifications for admission to ITI courses should be reduced to Class VIII. The scope of ITI courses should be expanded to focus on emerging market needs. The eligibility of such programmes should also be extended to Madrasa educated children

  • Economy and Employment Opportunities

a) Specific programmes for self-employed or home-based workers to provide skill, credit, technology and market support in backward districts are needed. These programmes should effectively combine modern managerial, technical and design skills with artisanal skills to create effective intervention  strategies.

b) ITIs, polytechnics and other institutions that provide skill training to non-matriculates need to be located in backward and minority concentration districts.

c) Alternative mechanisms, including but not confined to micro financing bodies, should be identified  and charged with the task of providing institutional support like market linkages, skill up-gradation and funding of trades being run by Muslims artisans.

d) The Small Industrial Development Bank of India (SIDBI) should set aside a dedicated fund for training for minorities under its Entrepreneurial Development Programme.

e) Imparting skills both to those who have completed school education, and those who have dropped out of school but have completed middle education, needs to be reassessed. Most existing technical training programmes require higher secondary education. Given the school completion rates of   Muslims and the significant need for skill upgradation, provision of certain types of skill training after middle education may be useful.

f) Given the precarious conditions of self-employed persons in the informal sector, especially the home-based workers, it is desirable to have a mandated social security system for such workers. Since the government is already in the process of drafting a scheme to cover the unorganized workers, an early implementation would benefit a large section of the Muslim population along with helping the larger segment of the informal sector workforce.

  • Access to Bank Credit Cards:

a) Non-availability of banking facilities should be addressed on a priority basis by providing incentives to banks to open more branches in backward districts.

b) To empower Muslims economically, it is necessary to ensure smooth flow of credit/micro credit and Priority Sector Advances. Steps should be taken to specifically direct credit, create awareness of various credit schemes, organize entrepreneurial development programmes, and bring transparency in reporting of information about provision of banking services.

c) A policy to enhance the participation of minorities in the micro-credit schemes of NABARD should be laid down. This should spell out the intervention required by NABARD and could be a mix of target and incentive schemes to enhance the participation of Muslims in micro-credit.

d) The practice of identifying ‘negative geographical zones’ where bank credit and other facilities are not easily provided needs to be reviewed to enable people to benefit fully from banking facilities in the light of government’s socio-economic objectives of inclusion.

  • Access to Social and Physical Infrastructure and Government Programmes

a) Public investment in infrastructure in Muslim concentration areas is urgently required to promote socio-economic development and access to public services.

b) A focus on backward districts and clusters where special artisanal groups exist will ensure a sharp reduction in disparities of access and attainment.

c) Central Government should introduce a few schemes with large outlays for welfare of minorities with an equitable provision for Muslims.

d) A periodic monitoring and assessment of welfare and development programmes, and the extent to   which the benefits accrue to Muslims, is imperative. The monitoring mechanism should be multi-  level and should have a civil society component. This would enhance public confidence.

  • Public Employment and Recruitment Procedures

a) It would be desirable to have experts drawn from the Muslim community on relevant interview panels and Boards. This practice is already in vogue in the case of SCs/STs.

b) The earlier Government instructions about the inclusion of minority Community members in Selection Committees/Boards have either not been implemented or implemented inadequately. There is therefore an imperative need to reinforce these instructions and introduce a punitive clause for non-compliance.

c) Measures like undertaking a visible recruitment process in areas and districts with high percentage of Muslims, job advertisements in Urdu and vernacular newspapers and other media, or simple messages like 'women, minority, and backward class candidates are encouraged to apply', should be undertaken to promote participation in public employment.


National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities (NCRLM) was constituted by a Government of India Notification of October 2004 under the chairmanship of former Chief Justice of India Justice Ranganath Mishra. The Commission was constituted to:

a) To suggest criteria for identification of socially and economically backward sections among religious and linguistic minorities;

b) To recommend measures for welfare of socially and economically backward sections among religious and linguistic minorities, including reservation in education and government employment; and

c) To suggest the necessary constitutional, legal and administrative modalities required for the implementation of its recommendations.

The Commission was asked to present a report on its deliberations and recommendations, within a period of six months from the date of assumption of charge by the Chairman. Whereas, the report was submitted by the commission to the Government of India in 2007 and was tabled in the Parliament in 2009 after the report was leaked to Media.

Major Recommendations of the Committee

The committee recommended 15 percent seats for all the non-minority educational institutions of which 10 percent was to be earmarked for the Muslim

In context of employment based on different types of government schemes that a total of 15 percent should be earmarked for the minorities of which 10 percent should be for Muslims

In context of state and central government services in all cadres 15 percent should be earmarked for minorities of which 10 percent should be for Muslims

From the 27 percent OBC Quota, 8.4 percent seats should be reserved for minorities


The Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) was established by the Union Government of India on the lines of the recommendations made in the Sachar Committee Report on social, economic and educational status of Muslims for taking care of the discriminations against Muslims. The Chairperson of the Commission was Prof N.R. Madhava Menon.

Why an equal opportunity commission?

Equality is a foundational value of our Republic. This is secured by the Constitution through Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy and is widely shared in public lifeYet stark inequalities mark our social reality for the present generation and prospects for the future generations. Worse, these inequalities often coincide with boundaries of social groups and communities, making inter-group inequalities more visible than before. Hence there is a need to address inequalities and supplement the existing policies of reservations by fine tuning the definition of the beneficiaries, expanding the range of modalities and evolving a forward looking and integral approach to affirmative action. That is why we need an Equal Opportunity Commission. The proposed EOC will serve as a path-finding institution that serves as a mechanism to evolve and evaluate mechanisms for affirmative action, following an evidence based approach.

What is equality of opportunity?

Equality of Opportunity can be understood in two different ways: formal and substantive. Formal approach involves merely openness of opportunity without direct discrimination. The Constitution no doubt provides this minimal guarantee. But inherent in the Constitutional Right to Equality is a substantive understanding of equality of opportunity. This approach involves creation of level playing fields by neutralizing the effect of circumstances on achievement of key objectives. Supported by judicial reading of the Constitution and required by India’s international obligations, this approach puts a positive obligation on the state to control direct as well as indirect discrimination and take into account the burden of history. The report follows this approach in defining ‘equal opportunity’, in understanding what constitutes ‘discrimination’, and in using the idea of ‘deprivation’.

What are the lessons from EOCs across the world?

EOCs or similar bodies are becoming the norm in democracies that are waking up to the challenge of diversity across the world. Their experience varies, as does their jurisprudence, yet there are many lessons to be learnt: there is no alternative to recognizing social identities; EOCs need to be pro-active; EOCs should be autonomous of the government; developing, gathering and publishing of evidence is crucial; and, wide range of context-specific policy options are needed. South Africa and United Kingdom offer instructive models though we need not replicate their legislation or structures. EOCs need to respond to the specificities of the challenge of equal opportunity in each country.

What is to be the mandate of the EOC?

The jurisdiction of the proposed EOC should be wide ranging in terms of social groups and sectors but delimited in terms of domains and the nature of issues that it can take up. The EOC has to deal with particular groups and there are many communities that have a claim for inclusion. Yet the EOC would serve its purpose best if its mandate is not limited at this stage to any social group, if it is open to any citizen of India. The beneficiaries must be identified by evidence, not in an a priori manner. The scope of the EOC should extend both to the public and the private sector. The EOC should prioritise education and employment and should entertain only group equality related cases. Thus defined, the scope of the EOC may apparently overlap with other Commissions, yet the EOC will have its own niche and unique role, for it would provide a service that is not currently on offer. Parliament has the requisite power to legislate on this subject.

What should be the functions of the EOC?

The EOC should focus on advisory, advocacy and auditing functions rather than grievance redressal. Such an evidence-based advocacy role would involve many functions: research and data gathering function, so as to allow identification of beneficiaries; monitoring and auditing function, in order to assess the impact of laws and policies; advisory and consultative function, for various organs and levels of government; policy intervention function, by way of various equal opportunity practice codes; grievance re-dressal function, in a limited and supportive capacity; coordination function, in its role as an equal opportunity watchdog; promotion and advocacy function, aimed at shaping public opinion; and reporting and dissemination function, including the preparation and publication of performance reports and Status Reports on Equal Opportunity situation.

What powers would the EOC require?

The EOC needs the powers of a Civil Court, but not penal powers, for its inquiries and investigations. Yet the impact and the efficacy of the EOC would depend more on its ability to influence public opinion and provide credible evidence than its legal powers. Accordingly, the proposed EOC would have the power to announce Codes of Good Practice, the standard powers of a Civil Court relating to inquiries, powers to utilize any officer or agency for its investigation, power to provide legal assistance to complainants or engage legal counsel, power to give orders and directions to demand information and to inspect records, and power to require compliance of equal opportunity practice codes by taking violators to the court

How would the EOC carry out its mandate?

Since the EOC is expected to shift the thinking on equal opportunities from the anecdotal and reactive to a pro-active, evidence based understanding, it would need to adopt a fresh approach and come up with innovative procedures. Generating, collecting, processing and disseminating various kinds of data on equal opportunity issues – generic data, reporting data, indices and data from case studies - is going to be the key to the success of the EOC. Besides, the EOC would conduct General and Special Investigations, either in response to specific complaints or on its own. Such inquiries would have to follow a standard, transparent, fair and time-bound procedure. On the conclusion of the inquiry, the EOC may decide not to initiate any action, may facilitate reconciliation or take action against non-compliant organizations.

What should be the structure and organisation of the EOC?

The composition of the EOC needs to reflect its diverse constituencies and multiple functional requirements. These can be met if the proposed EOC has a chairperson and six members (at least two full time), with a tenure of five years. The members should be selected from among experts (at least one each from law and social science), professionals and activists, with due representation to women and other disadvantaged groups, by a bipartisan Committee, following the model of the selection of the members of the NHRC. The government would need to provide the EOC with an efficient secretariat and sufficient grants. The EOC woul0d need to work in a transparent manner and involve various stakeholders. Five Regional Commissions would be required to make the EOC accessible and relevant in different regions of the country.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 July 2013 04:47