Book Release and Discussion
A discussion as well as a function to release the book, “Economic Empowerment of Muslims in India” were held at the Constitution Club, New Delhi on September 14,2004 at 3.30 p.m. This book is the part of the “IOS Series on Empowerment of Muslims in India”. The series is aimed at documenting and highlighting the various dimensions of the marginalisation and disempowerment of Muslims during the post independence period. Two books of this series—“Empowerment of Muslims in India: Perspective, Context and Pre-requisites” (Prof. A.R. Momin) and “Empowerment of Muslims through Education” (by Prof. Akhtar Siddiqui) were already released by the Institute on March 9, 2004.
The present book is co-authored by Dr Abusaleh Shariff (Chief Economist and Head, Human Development Division, National Council for Applied Economic Research, New Delhi) and Mr. Mehtabul Azam (Consultant, International Food Policy Research Institute, South East Asia Office, New Delhi). Over the last few years Dr. Shariff has emerged as major development economist of South Asia. He also figured as one of the 100 Great Indians of the 21st Century in a special report by India Today.
This programme was presided over by Hon’ble Justice Mr. A.M Ahmadi, former Chief Justice of India and presently Chancellor, AMU Aligarh. Mr. V.P. Singh, former Prime Minister of India released the said publication. Many prominent economists, intellectuals, diplomats and social activists attended this programme.
After the recitation of Holy Quran, Prof. Z.M. Khan Secretary-General of the Institute welcomed the audience. He introduced the activities of the Institute and highlighted the IOS Series on Empowerment of Muslims in India. Presenting the theme of the book he said, “The book is an attempt to present the facts about Muslim community vis-à-vis other communities in India in the field of demography, economic status and performance over the last decade using the reliable data. The book tries to analyze various threats and opportunities the community faces as a whole and the steps needed to promote the community’s welfare. The book has the ‘Foreword’ written by Dr Y.K. Alagh, an eminent economist of the country.
After Prof. Khan’s address Dr. Abusaleh Shariff made a power-point presentation on the “Indian Economic Scene”. He highlighted data on Religious Population share of Muslims in Indian Economy, Education and also in ‘Strategic Interventions for Muslim Empowerment in India’. His presentation was followed by the release of his book by Mr. V P Singh, the former Prime Minister.
On the issue of release of faulty religious-wise data in census report Mr. V.P. Singh said, “The Registrar General of Census should not have released the report if it did not have the corresponding figures of the last census for Assam and J & K or else it should have clarified that at the time of release. He said that it was because of inclusion of the religious census for these two states that the Muslim population has shown an increase. In the ensuing controversy every one forgot the fact that their overall population growth was declining.
He underlined the need for communal harmony and advocated interactive dialogue between Hindus and Muslims. He maintained that the solution lies in discussing the things openly and not segregating the two communities. If we come out with the problems, solutions will be thrown up automatically. Mr. Singh observed that the agencies, which are spreading communal disharmony in the country, must be checked and steps should be taken to spread communal harmony.
Mr. Singh emphasised the role of civil society. He said that civil society has to play a pro-active role in countering the attempt to vitiate the atmosphere in the country. While the state has the responsibility of providing security and infrastructure to the people, the civil society had to ensure a peaceful social environment. He clarified the fact that he was not only talking about Muslims. His concern was for all deprived sections of the society.
After his speech, a lively discussion on the topic of ‘Strategic Approach to Economic and Social Empowerment of Indian Muslims’ was held, in which many noted academicians participated. Prof. Amit Bhaduri, a visiting Professor at the Council for Social Development and Prof. Naushad Ali Azad, Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, JMI spoke on this occasion. Prof. P.M. Kulkarni of Centre for the Study of Regional Development, JNU, New Delhi, Mr. Hamid Ansari, former vice-chancellor of AMU, Aligarh and Mr. Dinesh Singh also participated in this debate. It was followed by a question-answer session in which Dr Shariff responded to the questions from the audience.
Dr M. Manzoor Alam, the Chairman of the Institute, also spoke on this occasion. He said that after the release of this book other publications of this series would come out soon. He further said that no initiative for the welfare of the poor could be taken unless fear psychosis is removed.
Presiding over the function, Hon’ble Justice Mr. A.M. Ahmadi, former Chief Justice of India lauded the role of the IOS and its research initiatives. He said that the lack of growth, development and participation had made the Muslims ask for reservation after 50 years of Independence. He further said that the Muslims would not ask for reservation provided they get a fair deal and are permitted to work in a fear-free atmosphere. They are demanding reservations because roadblocks have been erected which hinder their progress and development. Earlier Mr. V.P. Singh had clarified that reservation is not just about jobs; it is about empowering the disempowered.