Congress is known for its appeasement politics vis-?-vis Muslim votes. It is a known fact that Congress is the real communal party in the country. What is worse is that they have gone one step further on their communal agenda this year and have communalised the whole planning process. It is not just setting aside 15 per cent allocation for development of minorities, but it is the beginning of communalising budget, communalising development programmes, communalising welfare schemes, communalising banking, communalising financial sector, which were hitherto regarded as neutral and secular agencies meaning thereby that there is no discrimination on the ground of religion.
I have first-hand experience of banking and financial sector as a banker and of planning process as a state-level planner for government of Maharashtra. I am surprised by UPA'smove to direct the banks to reserve 15 per cent funds for loans to Muslims. The justification for such a direction can be found in the ill-conceived Sachar Committee Report, which has given a figure that Muslims though constitute 13 per cent of population have received only 1 per cent of bank credit. Anybody will naturally feel that there must be practice of religious discrimination in the banking sector.
As a banker I just checked up with the Indian Banks Association whether there are any complaints of discrimination on basis of religion while scrutinising the loan proposals. And behold! There is not a single complaint of such discrimination from throughout the country. Loan proposals are scanned on merit of feasibility of business model and creditworthiness of the borrower. Security considerations are also important. Millions of proposals are scrutinised and sanctioned or rejected on this evaluation. There are complaints of not processing fast enough or not granting sufficient funds or even personal grouse and sometimes for expecting graft. Let me repeat that there is not a single complaint of religious bias from throughout the country. How can then our intelligent Finance Minister justify directions for 15 per cent funds to be reserved for financing proposals submitted by Muslims?
This clearly shows that the decisions of UPA government are political in nature and not based on facts. the Sachar Committee gives only a figure without taking pains to find out the cause of underdevelopment in certain sections of the community. First, the findings are not based on facts as banks never classify their clients on the basis of religion and as such are not ready with the data of credit sanctioned to various religious communities. Second, the Sachar Committee doesn'ttell the whole truth. For example in Gujarat Bohra community is a business community and gets liberal credit limits. The same is the story in Tamil Nadu, but the Committee overlooks such facts and doesn'tcalculate the proportion of credit community-wise in these regions.
It also overlooks a fact that the tribals and Scheduled Castes or nomadic tribe groups, which are not in large number in business, also get lesser credit. To upgrade the entrepreneurship in a section of society is always a challenge and requires sustain efforts to build-up the spirit and capabilities required. Thus, capacity building is the answer to remove backwardness on any front in any section of society. But government without even attempting to do this real developmental activity has resorted to just grant quota in bank credit on religious lines. This is not only dangerous for the secular credentials of the country but also risky for the sector, which to a large extent works and competes on merit.
The same is the story for developmental programmes and welfare schemes. For instance TPDS (Targeted Public Distribution System) through which food grain is made available at a subsidised rates to BPL families. There is no discrimination on religious basis in running the scheme and there are no complaints to suggest any discrimination either. Complaints in TPDS are about large-scale diversion, bad quality, non-delivery etc. but not religious discrimination.
There is a scheme known as Indira Awas Yojana, which provides shelter to the poor and homeless. The criticism of the scheme revolves around efficiency of mechanism and corruption but not of religious discrimination. I challenge UPA government to show the complaints if any of religious bias. Even the first evaluation report of the working of new NREGS (National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme) suggests, many loopholes in its implementation but doesn'treport any complaint of any religious bias.
There is not a single complaint of any farmer of religious bias from throughout the country, about non-availability of water in command area of an irrigation project. Electricity, water, road and such other facilities are by nature secular and do not discriminate the beneficiaries on the basis of religion. I can go on and decipher each and every welfare scheme but that exercise is not required because it will be a repetition. The truth remains the same that there are no complaints of religious discriminations in running of the schemes.
The Committee speaks of backwardness in education. But this is not the problem of one particular community. It is true of all under-developed sections of society. Empowerment through education is a must but the road to empowerment is not fragmentation as suggested by the Sachar Committee. It will come through public-private partnership and through concerted efforts in the backward sections. The Committee forgot to take notice of a fact that Muslims in the states south of Vindhya are more educated and therefore more prosperous than their counterpart in north. It should have made efforts to find out the causes and suggest remedies. Let me again ask from the rooftop that please show me a complaint where access to education is denied on the ground of religion.
I challenge the fundamental premise of Sachar Committee of interpreting data of backwardness as data, which proves religious discrimination. The Committee has done enormous damage to the social fabric of the country and the UPA government in its political quest has gone ahead with dividing the society and communalising every process of government. It will not just hurt a little but will damage the integrity of the country. It is not just a question of 15 per cent allocation to one community but is a recipe for 100 per cent loss of the country.
(The writer is national spokesperson of BJP.)