Muslims Seek Access To Education, Healthcare And Livelihood Opportunities For Vision Document Of Rajasthan

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B Our Correspondent

JAIPUR—Giving suggestions for a vision document to be prepared as part of the ambitious ‘Rajasthan Mission-2030’ to bring the desert state to the front row of developed states in the next seven years, Muslim activists have pitched for access to education, healthcare and livelihood opportunities. Muslims and other minority communities expect a better deal in the present Congress regime in Rajasthan.

The Congress government in Rajasthan has sought suggestions from people belonging to all walks of life, including the minority communities, for preparing the vision document which will guide the state authorities and officials in their actions till 2030. This is stated be a major action for the state’s progress, as it has come a long way and aspires now to join the league of developed states.

The Rajasthan Government’s Minorities Affairs Department held a half-day consultative meeting with the representatives of Muslim and other minority communities at the State Madrasa Board’s auditorium in Jaipur recently to get their suggestions. The demand raised by Muslims for institutional remedies for their problems assumed significance ahead of the State Assembly election due in December 2023.

Muslims comprise over 9% of the population in Rajasthan and play a crucial role in the elections in 40 of the 200 Assembly constituencies in the state. Thirty-three of these seats are at present occupied by the ruling Congress. Seven of the 15 Muslim candidates fielded by Congress in the 2018 Assembly election had won their seats. The only Muslim candidate fielded by the BJP – Yunus Khan – had lost the election.

Jaipur District Minority Welfare Officer Shakeel Ahmed said at the meeting that the brainstorming was aimed at setting new standards for the department and formulating a time-bound action plan for achieving them. Intellectuals, subject experts, stakeholders, youths, social activists and educationists gave their suggestions for the betterment of minority communities.

Administrative Officer Ghaffar Ali gave detailed information about the welfare schemes run by the Minorities Affairs Department. Naim Rabbani, president of the Rifah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI), said unless a baseline survey of Muslims was carried out, no concrete solution for their upliftment could be planned. “Muslims’ poor show in gross enrolment ratio, low life expectancy, and poor per capita income indicate that like the SCs, STs, and MBCs, they need institutional remedies,” Rabbani said.

Raising the issue of discrimination against minorities, Adil Khan, a Congress leader, called for an amendment in the law governing the State Minorities Commission in order to give it powers to announce the payment of compensation to the victims of violence.

“The Minorities Commission has quasi-judicial powers, which are insufficient to protect the rights of minorities. In addition to revisions in the Act, the Commission should be allocated a budget of Rs. 100 crores for its smooth functioning,” Khan said.

In his written suggestions, Rajasthan Bible Institute’s president Vijay Paul sought the measures for protection of Christian institutions, such as missionary schools and hospitals, which often face the ire of the Sangh Parivar and its front organizations. “These institutes have laid a strong foundation for every state, including Rajasthan, in their formative years. They are now facing neglect, apathy, and discrimination, which is threatening their existence,” he said.

While Paul affirmed that the Christian community wanted the state’s support to continue its role in nation-building, Jain leader Bhag Chand Jain said the community’s literature should be introduced in the school curriculum. Jain also expressed concern over the attacks on Jain temples and priests in the state and sought steps to prevent thefts in the temples.

Other community leaders, including Anwar Ali Shah, Abdul Aziz Mansuri, Abdul Salam Johar, Abdul Latif Arco, Vimal Ranka, Padam Jain, Sardar Gurvinder Singh and Aruna Karnawat, attended and gave suggestions at the consultative meeting.

The state government has claimed that the exercise for the formulation of a vision document has nothing to do with the upcoming Assembly election. “It will spell out our dream for 2030 and guide us in our policies and programmes to ensure a bright future for Rajasthan,” Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said in Jaipur last week, adding that the state had already achieved significant progress in the sectors such as health and education.

“The Mission-2030 should be on everyone’s agenda. Fifty years ago, Rajasthan faced drought and water crises frequently and even the district headquarters looked like small towns without basic amenities,” Gehlot said. Though Rajasthan has emerged as a model state in social security, health, women’s empowerment, and infrastructure development, the challenges still remain in several sectors.

A dedicated web portal is also functioning in Rajasthan, through which people can share their suggestions. A special team will reach out to the people to obtain their views and ideas, while a toll-free number, contests, essay competitions, and face-to-face surveys will also collect the suggestions. The vision document will be prepared in the state by September-end.

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