Of the bitter truth that the Higher Education Survey revealstext_fields
Seventeen years ago, Manmohan Singh, the then Prime Minister of India, tasked a seven-member committee chaired by former Delhi High Court Chief Justice Rajinder Sachar to submit a report studying the plight of Muslims in the past half a century. The report, following an almost thorough and meticulous study, came before the parliament after two years of waiting. The most serious of the problems that the expert committee pointed out regarding the backwardness of the country’s largest minority is in the field of education. The Sachar Committee pointed out, citing statistics, that the main reason for the exclusion of a community of 20 crores that makes up more than 14 percent of population from national mainstream is low levels in literacy, primary and higher education. Muslim representation in higher education was just four percent! In technology, less than one percent. The report also revealed that position of Muslims was lower than Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in many states including U.P. The Sachar report made recommendations and suggestions to at least gradually uplift the community from its deplorable state in fields including education. Nevertheless most the recommendations by the expert committee were not implemented by the Centre and state governments. However, Manmohan Singh administration announced some programmes including the Maulana Azad Fellowship. The All India Higher Education Survey now unravels how Muslims are faring educationally after the BJP, which rejected the Sachar Committee report, came to power.
The results of the survey, conducted as per the direction of Union Ministry of Education for the 2020-21, has been released now. The survey found significant fall in number of Muslim students pursuing higher education in the country. Compared to the year 2019-20, in the year20-21 where Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes showed an increase of 4.2% and 11.9% respectively, Muslim students fell by 8%. The number of Muslim students has come down from 21 lakh to 19.2 lakh. The total Muslim representation in higher education is officially put at only 4.6 percent. It means a meagre rise of 0.6 percent from the four percent recorded by the Sachar Committee 17 years ago. Nevertheless the survey team attributed the shortfall in 20-21 years to the spread of Covid, the question is how it affected Muslim students alone. However, the financial plight of the community did not escape mention, which is the cardinal issue.
Is it not natural for Muslims to be ostracized from the mainstream life in states like UP, Bihar, Haryana, Maharashtra, Delhi when the extremist Hindu forces and their central and state governments systematically carry out retaliatory measures treating the entire minority community as anti-nationals, terrorists and unfit for citizenship? As many as 36 per cent of Muslim students were not able to pursue graduation in Yogi Adityanath’s Uttar Pradesh. The official survey reveals the shocking fact of 26 percent of children having been denied higher education in Jammu and Kashmir, the Muslim-majority region that the Centre has taken over cancelling its statehood. In the last election in Karnataka, the BJP pinned its hope on the removal of four percent Muslim reservation! The survey also reveals that 43 percent of Muslim students in Kerala, governed by secular fronts since its birth, are entering higher education. The Sachar Committee previously found it. The survey shows girls have overtaken boys to be at the forefront of higher education. The only way for the minority community is not to blame the darkness but go ahead without wasting time: involve in the efforts to restore a secular democratic governance in the country. And acquire the fighting spirit for survival on its own. Never forget the truth that God is not going to change the destiny of any society until it is willing to change itself.