What more is needed to stoke reaction?
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The Task Force on Border Management, one of the four that were set up in the wake of the Kargil War, reported with alarm about the way madrassas had mushroomed along India's borders. On the basis of information it received from intelligence agencies, it expressed grave concern at the amount of money these madrassas were receiving from foreign sources. It reported that large numbers were being 'educated' in these institutions in subjects that did not equip them at all for jobs — other than to become preachers and teachers producing the same type of incendiary unemployables. It expressed the gravest concern at the way the madrassas were reinforcing separateness in those attending them — through the curriculum, through the medium of instruction, through the entire orientation of learning: the latter, the Task Force pointed out, was entirely turned towards Arabia, towards the 'golden ages' of Islamic rule. It pointed to the consequences that were certain to flow from 'the Talibanisation' of the madrassas. [In spite of what the Task Forces themselves advised, namely that their reports be made public, the reports have been kept secret. Accordingly, I have summarised the observations of the Task Forces in some detail in Will the Iron Fence Save a Tree Hollowed by Termites? Defence imperatives beyond the military, ASA, Delhi, 2005.]
And what does the Sachar Committee recommend? 'Recognition of the degrees from madrassas for eligibility in competitive examinations such as the civil services, banks, defence services and other such examinations'! It recommends that government use public funds to encourage formation of Muslim NGOs and their activities. It recommends that government provide financial and other support to occupations and areas in which Muslims predominate. It recommends that Muslims be in selection committees, interview panels and boards for public services.
It recommends that a higher proportion of Muslims be inducted in offices that deal with the public — 'the teaching community, health workers, police personnel, bank employees and so on.' It recommends 'provision of 'equivalence' to madrassa certificates/degrees for subsequent admissions into institutions of higher level of education.' It recommends that banks be required to collect and maintain information about their transactions — deposits, advances — separately for Muslims, and that they be required to submit this to the Reserve Bank of India! It recommends that advances be made to Muslims as part of the obligation imposed on banks to give advances to Priority Sectors. It recommends that government give banks incentives to open branches in Muslim concentration areas. It recommends that, instead of being required to report merely 'Amount Outstanding', banks be told to report 'Sanctions or Disbursements to Minorities'. It recommends that financial institutions be required to set up separate funds for training Muslim entrepreneurs, that they be required to set up special micro-credit schemes for Muslims. It recommends that all districts more than a quarter of whose population is Muslim be brought into the prime minister's 15-point programme.
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