By Ufaque Paiker
The views expressed are authors own, it does not necessarily reflect The Kashmir Walla’s editorial policy.
With the declaration Jamia Milia Islamia (JMI) as a minority institute by quasi-judicial body, the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI), the article 30 (1) is now applicable to Jamia as well and accordingly it can reserve 50% of the seats for Muslims. Within the 50%, 10% of the seats are reserved for Muslim women and other 10% are reserved for OBC and ST Muslims which means that SC, ST and OBC non–Muslims will not be getting the reserved seats in the Central University. The reservation policy has not only dissatisfied the non-Muslim backward section but also within the Muslim Community and University, section of people so much so that even students too appear to be sceptical.
Muslim and non-Muslim backward sections have every right to be sceptical. Understandably the backward non-Muslim sections are at loss because they won’t be getting any reservation. However, the Muslim backward sections too are not hopeful about the reservation of seats and the fear of domination of the elite Muslims is looming large. The insufficient sub reservation of 10% reservation within 50% and the retention of 30% for General category Muslims adds plausibility to their fear. The disproportionate reservation of sets leaves leaders of Pasmanda Muslim Mahaj (Backward Muslim Front) Ali Anwar, dissatisfied and disgruntled with the elite Muslims, he says “The women seat would be given to all upper caste women. Internal 5% will be given to the same category. Total 85% Muslims are OBC , from where did they come to conclusion that in total 10% seats should be given to OBC and SC Muslims , according to the constitution total number of seats reserved for OBC is 27% , accordingly 14% sets should be reserved within 50%. OBC should be within women and PH candidates as well. The Fundamental problem lies in exemption of the reservation mandates for Minority Institution. Earlier they did not reserve seats but the fight use to go on but now after declaration of institution as Minority is totally doing away with the reservation. They used their political clout to achieve this. In the name of minority reservation the game the play is scary. Even Hindus don’t betray like these people at least Hindus do pay heed to our needs. Our own brothers are depriving Muslim OBC of the privileges. This is sheer cheating in the name of minority. If you give them the powers they will deprive people like us, we want 27% reservation.”
The backward Muslims lag behind the elite Muslims, in the primary and secondary education. The reservation at the University level is required when the student is able to pass the stages to reach up to the University level. “Then what is the point of reserving seats at the University level?” asks M S Bhatt professor of economics who is the part of the group who has been opposing this move. He says, “We constantly opposed it right from the beginning. I have given a vote of dissent which is part of the proceedings of the Academic Council which passed this resolution. Our position is clear; we will continue to oppose it. In spite of University adopting this policy. Poor Muslims will not be able to benefit from this reservation because they need good and accessible primary and higher secondary schools. This is the third stage of education, if you don’t take sufficient measures at the initial stage then how are they going to reach this stage”.
AMU case is also pending with the Supreme Court of India. The same questions were raised by the faculty who were opposed to reservation. “The people who are trying to get reservation in AMU and Jamia are the ones which belong to the elite class; they want reservation because they think the elites are going to be benefitted. They are not interested in the reservation for backward Muslims. This is very obvious in both of these Institutions. When the issue was pending in the HC the emotions were running high, but now what is interesting that how will they react when the minority reservation is going to affect the internal reservation . Most of the teachers and students here are being benefitted by the internal reservation which is slowly changing. At the moment 60% are supporting reservation,” says Dr Tariq Islam from the Department of Philosophy in the AMU.
The third dissatisfied party are the non-Muslim General candidates. As the numbers of seats go up proportionally the seats for General candidates are not increased. The tag of the Minority Institution is not only going to negatively affect the academic credentials of the students but wouldn’t go down well with the majority and they might perceive it as appeasement argues Irfan Engineer (Director of Institute of Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution, Mumbai) and he doesn’t even understand the logic of branding an Institution as a Minority Institution when more than 50% students are already Muslims. He says, “Nothing has changed that nothing will change in the far distant future. I am against this minority tag. Perception matters in two ways, perception about the institution where people will think that now the students are from Minority Institution. Second is that majority all the times resents if you have something to gain, if you are justified go ahead and get it. Here without the principle of justice, majority community will get the feeling that minority are getting appeased.”
“The OBC students of Jamia are themselves in a fix regarding the fluid and fluctuating opinions of the University. In any case with the banning of Union, we have no democratic space to voice our opinion” says a student from Jamia. One of the Jamia’s OBC Muslim category students says that they although much is not expected but it is better than having nothing at all. He said, “Earlier we did not have any provision categorically stating that OBC Muslims should be given reservation, we are far behind much needs to be done. This is not adequate”.
According to the Sachar Committee report more than 50% of the Muslims fall under the OBC category. The 10% reservation for OBC Muslims is not only inadequate but also irrelevant and unfruitful; claims the sections who do not confirm with the mandate, leaving out handful people who support it.
Ufaque Paiker is pursuing her Masters in Media and Cultural Studies from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.