Friday, June 4, 2010

Poor miss out on Indian development gains

A government report highlighting the progress of religious minorities is encouraging but doubts remain over whether their poor have really benefited, says an Indian Church official.
A federal report on June 2 said there has been a steady increase in the number of people from minority groups gaining government jobs.
In 2007, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had asked federal ministries to focus on providing more jobs for Muslims, Christians and people from other religious minority groups.
“I … doubt if the really poor [in these groups] have gained from the government scheme” because there are different classes even among these minorities, said Father Cosmon Arokiaraj, secretary of the Indian bishops’ commission that looks after the interests of low-caste and tribal people.
Muslims, who form more than 85 percent of India’s minorities and who benefited from the government jobs quota may be from the cities while the poor in villages continue to suffer from poverty and illiteracy, said the priest.
“So, it is wrong to say minorities have gained from the scheme,” he said.
The 2007 government directive came after the Rajinder Sachar Committee studied the situation of Muslims in the country and wrote a report on their social, economic and educational status.
Muslims held fewer than 5 percent of government posts although they form 13 percent of India’s more than 1.1 billion people, said the report, tabled in parliament in 2006.
The latest government report said minorities holding such jobs increased by 6.9 percent in 2007, 8.3 percent in 2008 and 9.24 percent in 2009.

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